This is a free 6-weekly class where you are tutored and taken through the key elements of the book with Chase Jarvis himself, for about an hour. There is usually a long Q&A session at the end as well. It takes place live each Saturday – 6pm UK time – but the content is then up on webpage shortly after.
In this post I want to share the main takeaways from Week 1.
The first takeaway is in essence a daily mantra for creatives:
We are all Creative!
Believe Creativity is a muscle!
Do small Creative acts in daily ways.
You don’t need to see a painter cut off his ear to know that being creative is just as much an emotional/passionate state of being as it is a job of work like any other, needing continual inspiration and daily input.
We are all Creative – most of us need to use it – that part of us – more regularly.
In fact Chase has a saying which puts this the best: Do the verb to be the noun.
You have probably heard of writer’s block? I’m not sure if there is an equivalent in other artists’ endeavours? Painter’s Block . . . Embroiderer’s Block . . . Musician’s Block . . ?
Creativity is a muscle. So what’s your daily work out and is it in your calendar alongside your physical workout?
You’ve not got either? Then that’s a whole different blog post!
Athletes don’t just train a couple of times a week. Most will train everyday, but they vary what they do and tailor workouts to specific skills in their disciplines or areas of their bodies.
Small Creative acts in daily ways. If I focus on writing, which is my predominant creative sphere, then I need to write everyday on my main project. I also need to do research. I need to read other writer’s words and see how they do their thing. I need to play around with words – use them, flip them around, drop them into different orders, see what happens and what they can do.
How do these three elements fit into you creative sphere?
The next big takeaway is IDEA.
I – Imagine what you want
D – Design a system to do it!
E – Execute the plan!
A – Amplify
What do you want from your creativity? Is it a full time career? Is it the ‘me’ time you rarely get? Is it to create art for your family and friends? The what is a value set against a graph it is the sum of your desire for your creativity.
Once you’ve decided (and it is okay to change your mind!) what you want then you need to design a system to accomplish that want. There are plenty of generic systems out there but you need to design one which fits your current life and circumstances. How much time can you put aside each day? When? What sequence do you need to create in? Get your system!
Now you have the want and the system, you’ve got to execute! Start creating and keep doing it, in line with your system, every day, or the days you’ve allocated to being creative. This is down to you. You may have the support of family and friends to help and encourage you, but ultimately it is you in the cockpit – fly the plane!
To finish with you need to amplify. Take your system and improve it, build upon it, make it slicker or bigger. Develop your want and alter it, enlarge it. Increase the time you spend on your creative endeavour. Change the days you do each element on. Switch to every other day but increase the time in one go. The choices are yours to make.
Chase Jarvis and CreativeLive – they’ve made a huge difference to my creative attitude and output. See what they can do for you.
(And no, I’m not being paid my them – they don’t even know I’m here!)
To begin at the beginning, this is not an exhaustive comparison of Connelly and Grisham. There will be plenty of writers/journalists out there who have already done this better than I can.
These are my thoughts and notes from a great interview with the two authors by the bookseller Waterstones, earlier this evening.
Connelly and Grisham have been writing for a similar length of time, around the thirty year mark. Both are bestseller authors.
Connelly writes novels with a number of repeating characters. Detective Harry Bosch is his mainstay, but then there is the Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller, journalist James McAvoy, and his latest detective Renee Ballard.
The majority of Grisham’s novels are stand alone, with only the recent ‘Camino’ stories being based on the same protagonist.
So, should you write serial characters as a new writer, or have a constantly refreshed cast? The success of both authors would seem to suggest its a tie on that score.
Connelly and Grisham both have work schedules which begin on January 1st.
They are both full-time writers and their writing habits reflect this.
Newer writers may have to work their writing in around other jobs, but there is a key point which is be disciplined. Whether you have all the time to write or practically no time, you have to sit down and write.
Connelly and Grisham both write in areas that they are very familiar with.
Connelly’s stories are very much based in Los Angeles and his previous career as a journalist covering crime clearly still has an influence on his work.
Grisham was a lawyer and most of his books are legal thrillers, with his latest ‘Camino’ books straying from that to a roguish bookseller.
I’m not a fan of the old adage ‘write what you know’, but both authors very much are of the opinion that you should write in areas which you are knowledgable.
What you know the best might not be your current career area. Your interest in sports or politics, cars or mental health, may be what you know best?
Whatever your key area of interest, make sure you keep up to date, read and watch everything you can find and look out for those story ideas.
Ploter or Pantser?
Connelly and Grisham both know what the end scenes are before they begin writing the first scene.
Grisham tends to be more heavily plotted than Connelly.
For you as a writer, plot or pants, but make sure you know where the end is before you start at the beginning.
Connelly and Grisham generally stay within their ‘genre’. Success probably has a part to play here, but they know the lay of the land and they find plenty of stories there.
Grisham has written non-fiction and sport-based stories.
As a writer you can jump around the genres but you will probably find more success in those areas of your knowledge and expertise.
Connelly and Grisham are both fans of Ian Rankin.
Connelly has had his Bosch stories made into a very successful Amazon TV series and a movie made of The Lincoln Lawyer.
Grisham has had a number of his books made into big movies, such as The Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, and The Firm.
Both writers still see themselves as novelists and TV/Film are interesting side-tracks.
So what’s keeping you – get writing!
Connelly and Grisham could do with some competition!
Dan doesn’t know me and I’m not getting any kickbacks.
This is just a really great podcast and you should check it out.
This is the first thing I listen to on a Saturday morning when I’m fixing breakfast.
The format quickly becomes familiar and I defy you not to shout out ‘I do that’ at a similarity in routine, like you would shouting out ‘snap’ in the card game.
He starts by getting the writer to describe their writing place surroundings and then ask for clues about their current projects.
– standing desk, books, posters/paintings, pantser so all plotting in my head, notebook, music, and a timer . . .
This is followed up, generally, by a revealing of their working day.
– lots of promises of a better routine but generally write during the evening, use of a timer, minimum word count, lots of dog interruptions . . .
Plotting, characterisation, ideas, and all sorts of other nuggets – like the business of writing – come out of their conversation.
– pantser so often the characters know before the plot before me . . .ideas will be a character or piece of dialogue or a mood from a piece of music . . .
There is quite a back catalogue of episodes now, so plenty to get yourself into.
I don’t believe that copying another writer’s routine will ‘channel’ their success, but I definitely come away from these episodes with a sense of ‘maybe I’m not doing too badly after all’.
When you share a number of habits with writer’s you admire, or even have never heard of before, you gain that sense of community which often is missing in what is, on the whole, still a fairly solitary profession. Especially, if you aren’t even published yet.