One of the big things that comes up when I’m doing a creative consultation with my clients:
HOW do you stay inspired to create in the midst of work/parenting/the dumpster fire news cycle/INSERT HERE?
My answer varies based on what I know to be true about the person I’m talking to – because there is no prescriptive cure that works for everyone – but at the heart, I like to think there is one thing we can all benefit from hearing.
Are you ready?
You have to honor your passion.
Whatever kind of creative you are – and I will argue that we are all SOME KIND OF CREATIVE – you will not get very far if you do not honor that thing inside you that wants to creative.
It’s a little impractical to say: You must write everyday. Many can’t, many don’t want to, many fall asleep on the couch with a bowl of ice cream balancing on their knees. This is ok, and I will never shame you for that. (Hi, I’ve done it.)
It is not productive to say: Make time for it. We make time for things we believe deserve it. We won’t make time if we don’t first learn to honor the thing. To revere our work (and I don’t mean the job you have to go to everyday) as just as valuable as every other thing – including binge worthy TV or reading that engrossing novel, playing the new video game, squeezing in your workout, or whatever.
It is unfair to say: Your kids/spouse/dog should understand you need time to create. They won’t if you don’t make sure YOU believe that first. That belief comes from honor, and you can’t honor something you don’t think you truly deserve. You can’t honor something you make excuses not to do.
Start with HONOR.
Start with shutting the door, turning off the TV, getting off social media, and not allowing anything out there vying for your attention to win.
Then do that over and over until it’s a habit. Until you have the book, the screenplay, the play, graphic novel, self-help guide, memoir crafted, honor and intention set.
P.S.To work with me for editorial and creative consulting, check out my creative consulting page or shoot me an email at anytime.
You decide when you’re ready to honor your passion.
“Rebekah is more than an editor. She’s the best story doctor, mentor, and life coach a writer could ever ask for! I came to her over a year ago with a wild, overly ambitious manuscript, with far too many POVs, and plots points haphazardly cavorting over the pages, desperately seeking purpose.
She tirelessly waded through the mud and muck, draft after draft, patiently helping me whittle down and refine my novel into something I’m truly proud of. I’m incredibly lucky and honored to have worked with her. My writing wouldn’t be a fraction of what it is today were it not for her expertise and guidance.
Rebekah gave me the courage to charge on when I didn’t think I could, the confidence to be adventurous, and most importantly, the faith to believe in myself.
Bonus: My very first query letter (she helped craft) that I sent to my dream agent earned a full manuscript request!”
Rachel Fikes, writer of Adult Fantasy
Reading through old blogs is like getting a letter from past me. It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and full of hope.
Today, I’m going back to New York – but only in my mind.
Sometimes I think about living there and I swell with panic. I remember endless climbs from the subway carrying my two-year-old and a stroller. I remember the loneliness. I remember the disillusionment. I remember the bitter cold and the blistering heat.
Sometimes, though, I remember the pizza from 5th Avenue or the bagels from 9th. The picnics in Prospect Park and all the trees we climbed. The local bar, Rhythm & Booze, where I took my kid for dinner before it got too rowdy, where we waited out storms and we got midnight fries. The time I saw THE NUTCRACKER and had a martini at the Plaza. The time I was in the same room as Daniel Radcliffe.
Then I remember the most important part of all.
That I did it even though it terrified me, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am now. And none of it has been perfect, or easy, but it was right. And thank God it’s sunny here, that the flowers are blooming, and I have a pool – that I haven’t, and won’t, ever go backwards.
#TBT to this message from past me, and all the grace carrying each and every one of us through.
“There is a moment in the midst of the waiting, and crying — a moment in between public outbursts of anger and private laughter over pizza — that you realize the grace is holding. And it’s holding you. It’s holding your baby when he sleeps in his new bedroom. It’s holding the dog when he finds a spot on the floor in your empty house and takes a nap. It’s holding your parents and brothers and all those at home that you miss and miss you. It’s holding. The bottom hasn’t fallen out of your world. You’re just in a new world.”
When I moved into my new house in LA, I wanted a yard full of poppies in springtime. A small thing, sure, but I could see it, and it was going to be glorious. Rows of sunset orange, tangerine, cream and dusty green. I bought seeds, put them in the fresh, damp ground — I expected them to grow.
As spring arrived, and the whole of California it seemed was bathed in that orange glow, my backyard filled up with green stalks. Rows and rows of green. Not a single blossom anywhere. I would walk outside, combing the —what really just looked like weeds at this point — green for the smallest sign of color.
And I was disappointed. I really wanted those flowers to bloom and they weren’t. Every time I saw a poppy on the roadside, or in my neighbor’s yard, it was a small reminder that my flowers might never bloom. It was hard to be happy for the rest of California when my yard was still poppy-free, and my expectations were totally dashed.
But, I didn’t pull up the green, even if it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. One day, maybe, there would be poppies in this garden, maybe I would get to see it, or maybe I would have moved on to some other house, some other garden, some other field of wildflowers waiting to bloom. One day, I would get my little sunset garden.
Sunday afternoon, while I was doing homework at the kitchen table with my son, my eyes traveled to the backyard, to all that wild green, and they caught on something.
Bright, vibrant, wide open, bathing in sunlight. A few perfect poppy flowers.
When I look closely now, I see a multitude of blooms waiting to open up, promising me flowers for days, more than I even expected.
Expectations can create a false sense of urgency, they can push your patience into panic, your faith into fear. They can make you feel like everyone around you is getting the fields of wildflowers you hoped for, while you are getting green stalks of flowerless weeds. But patience pays off in time. Not pulling up the flowers you planted because they aren’t blooming yet, pays off, too.
Waiting for that warm Sunday, when the sun touches the garden just right, and the first little flower opens up, pays off in spades.
I wrote my first novel during my then 2-year-old’s afternoon naps in my tiny living room in Brooklyn, NY. Writing it was a fever dream & I was consumed. I poured everything I could muster into it.
But I learned a lot writing that book over and over. I got close to signing with agents and met many of my core writing community during that time. I also learned how to let something go when the time was right.
I used the only guide I had as an early writer: the books I was falling in love with. I copied Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth, Maggie Stiefvater and Leigh Bardugo. I spent way too long revising. Like three years. I obsessed. I didn’t want to give it up.
I wrote another YA fantasy, & it was better because I was a much stronger writer then. I landed an agent & I went out on sub. I wanted the sale, and it never came. It was time to go back to the drawing board again.
I also kept writing screenplays. Then, thanks to a real life fangirl experience, I fell in love with Comic Con. I became deeply fascinated, rooted, to what it meant to be a fan. I wrote a screenplay set at Comic Con that was about grief & isolation & being alive.
I ended up submitting that script to Austin Film Fest & placing in the second round of the competition. I decided to write it as a book. I’d never written anything contemporary before, or this personal, or this truly, deeply completely ME. It was exhilarating.
During the writing of that book, we decided to move to LA, and then I decided to part ways with my agent. To go back into the query trenches was terror inducing, but staying where I was no longer felt right.
I began querying again in January 2017. I had a 100% request rate. It was a roller coaster of feels. And then it was nothing. After few reluctant passes, mostly silence, I felt powerless, & confused, & I was not doing great with it.
I started writing a book with my writing partner. For six months, we wrote ELLIE IS COOL NOW on Wattpad & I worked on a solo book in the background. Then ELLIE took off. We were nominated for the Watty Awards, and won! It was freeing, and empowering.
January 2nd, 2019 I decided to query five more agents. I decided that would be it. Whatever happened, it was well with my soul. I searched MSWL on Twitter, & that’s when I saw Devin Ross. I had a punch in my gut that I should to query her.
And then she requested. Then she emailed me less than a week later in the middle of the night to set up a call. I ran around the house. I punched the air. (& maybe my husband a few times from excitement.
She offered to represent me. She loved this thing I loved and wanted to work on it – wanted to work with me. It was exactly where I was supposed to be, a whole year later than I expected.
The journey we take as writers is a lot like the journey we take as people. We think we have a path we’re on, & that we know where it’s leading, what it will look like. We even think we know what we want. Then we learn: we don’t know, not a lick.
Your journey may be different. It might seem easy for me to say “Never give up” because so far that’s worked well for me. But it isn’t. There’s nothing easy about looking back. At any point I could have stopped – I DID stop even – & I might never have gotten back up.
Now I have to believe that book will sell (and sure, another will if not that one but that’s not the point) – I have to believe somewhere very near is my next yes, and somewhere out there is yours.
Never give up. No matter what.
I’m thrilled to say that I am now represented by Devin Ross of New Leaf Literary! She’s fierce and whip smart. Her passion for my book is the stuff of dreams. I’m an over-the-moon and flying-through-space kind of excited about partnering with her to build my career in new, awesome ways.
It’s a journey, y’all. This publishing journey. This life journey. It’s a ride full of twists. It’s sitting and thinking and digging deep. It’s getting up and doing the work.
I couldn’t be happier with all the dips and ebbs, the massive climbs, the sweeping views I’ve already experienced. I can’t wait for all the things to come, and glad I have this person in my corner to help me pull the best punches.
Here we go…!
I took roads never expected to take, leaps I had been afraid to make, and I loved every bleary-eyed, wild, weird and wonderful moment. Even the really horrible ones.
I experienced some of my biggest professional let downs to date alongside some of my most profoundly exciting accomplishments. I decided that every moment will work together for my good no matter how grim it feels as I wade through it.
I taught myself to think differently about almost everything. I let go of a method that was leading me to madness. Depression and anxiety peaked, and I had to learn how to feel and war my way through without going under.
I changed the way I went for my goals, what I believed about the story I was living, what would happen when I set my eyes like flint.
I learned to be quiet.
I learned to take responsibility, forgive, redeem and reward in a new way.
I partnered with my destiny. I partnered with a writing partner. I learned that to be truly successful at either, you must be truly transparent and willing to grow.
I gave myself validation. I believed in my talent. I discovered a new process.
I won every battle — even the ones I lost. Because I was up, doing it, and I was not going to take NO for an answer.
I lived. I took time off from writing. I went on trips and flew first class. I asked for MORE than I’ve ever asked for and I watched it come my way.
In 2018: I learned to be me again.
I can’t tell you how to be you more fully, how to live your big life and what that will look like when you do, if you are. But – never settle. Stop settling. As Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to be found playing it small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
2019 better get ready.
PS. There are two more IO strategy sessions up for grabs with our genius Jenny Beres. If you think you want more for your books and want a way to MAKE IT HAPPEN.
WHAT YOU GET:
- 90 min to 2 hour strategy sessions with JENNY BERES – genius of IO Strategy and the one who designed our ELLIE IS COOL NOW campaigns. The same campaigns that drove our reads to almost 70,000 reads.
- A detailed and customized Influencer plan specifically for YOUR book.
- Video trainings to take you to the next level.
I already shared how we used influencer marketing to help readers discover ELLIE IS COOL NOW.
(Read here if you missed out!)
But I gotta tell you, this decision came a lot easier to Alex, my co-author, than to me. Selling wasn’t a natural thing to me. And even though we were giving it to readers for free through Wattpad, make no mistake – we were selling.
And selling is an art form all it’s own.
The first time I posted on Instagram about ELLIE, I didn’t even put a link to the story. Asking people to read felt… uncomfortable. But oh man, I wanted them to read.
I knew that awkward whimper every time I posted couldn’t go on.
And I decided to do what needed to be done to change it.
Y’all. I love to write. I dream in stories and I think in plot points, but what I’ve learned watching ELLIE explode on Wattpad is that a passionate readership is its own stunning love affair. It makes the hours alone in the room feel even more rewarding. Because after the writing is done, the readers are the ones who give the story a whole new life.
Learning to create meaningful campaigns with influencers is an incredible, versatile tool to get your story in front of readers who will fall in love with it.
And once you learn how to work with influencers to help build your readership, you can turn around and recreate the magic again and again.
For every book you publish.
For any platform you publish on.
And I want that for you. I want that for me.
I want that for every dedicated writer with a story to tell. This influencer table is overflowing with delicious food and room to spare.
If you’re an author, if you have a book out RIGHT NOW, or will have one out soon, if you want to learn a strategy to sell your book using influencers, drop me a comment and I will tell you more about a supacoo way to do JUST THAT!
Now that the writing of ELLIE IS COOL NOW is wrapped (but new chapters are still being posted weekly on Wattpad — we like to keep y’all in suspense), I wanted to share a little bit about the ride.
First, some back story:
ELLIE IS COOL NOW is the rom-com I’m co-authoring under the pen name, Faith McClaren, and we publish chapters every week on the free reading platform, Wattpad.
My co-author, Alexandra Grizinski (pen name, Victoria Fulton), and I began posting our story at the end of May.
On August 27th, we were selected for a featured list on Wattpad, curated by the brilliant minds at Wattpad HQ.
One week later we were longlisted for the yearly celebration of storytelling known as the Watty Awards.
We were shortlisted.
Then we won.
It’s been a dream come true + a blast and there’s more to come.
But it didn’t happen by magic. (Okay, maybe a little magic. We are unicorns after all.) When Alex and I jumped aboard this train, it took a minute to find our seats in the first class cabin where all the popular books seemed to be hanging out.
Then we had an idea. A coffee-fueled epiphany.
And fortunately we knew exactly who we needed to help us make it happen.
Our friend (and Alex’s business partner), Jenny Beres specializes in Influencer Outreach Strategy. It’s a talent she’s employed with top clients and companies to get them the best advertising bang for their buck. So we thought, if she could do it with skincare, why couldn’t she do it with our book?
We know that what sets stories apart — in any sense, and not just on Wattpad — is reader engagement. On Wattpad, that meant numbers. Eyes on the story. Votes. Comments and interaction. In a sea of free content, what brings new readers is visibility.
Jenny used her skills as “the LeBron James of Influencer Outreach” (direct quote from her Linkedin), to create an influencer campaign at a price point we were excited about.
That campaign began the first week of August.
Now, if you’ve read this whole post (hi, you’re awesome) then you’ll know all the baller sh*t hit the gilded fan the third week of August.
It is not a coincidence. It’s a direct result of marketing.
This week we climbed over the 60k reads wall. We get to share our story with readers who LOVE it. We have found our spot by the window in the first class cabin and we just ordered a bottle of champagne.
I know a lot of us are writers with books coming out – or already out. Many will be writers with books coming out. To most of us — myself included — marketing is an opaque and terrifying orb of mystery. But here is an example of when it worked.
I would love to hear: have any of you used influencer outreach for any of your books?
Let me know in comments!