Current Role: Writer
I run a blog at creativeunblocking.com for emerging artists and writers looking to overcome obstacles in the creative process. I recently published my first non-fiction book, Creative Unblocking: Bypass Self-Doubt, Tap Your Genius, and Complete Your Best Work. I’m also finishing up a novel and a short story collection, both of which will come out later this year.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Spending 70% of my working hours writing fiction and the other 30% connecting with and mentoring other creatives through my blog and online courses. I’ll have released at least 3 novels and 1 short story collection.
What was your ‘aha’ moment?”
I had a dream near the time of my graduation from journalism school about walking through a turkey farm and having all the turkeys turn their tail feathers simultaneously in my direction as if rejecting me. The next morning on my way to school, a wild turkey ran across my path. I didn’t even know there were wild turkeys in the Ottawa area.
At the time, I’d been feeling depressed and anxious about the fact that, although I was about to get my Master’s in Journalism, I found the work exhausting emotionally and stifling creatively. I hadn’t had much luck pitching stories or securing employment. When I saw the wild turkey, I decided it meant my writing was too wild for conventional journalism, and I needed to try another path. I had a major case of writer’s block though, so shortly after the dream, I began an intensive study of the creative process that continues to this day. It led me to start my blog, Creative Unblocking, and to write and publish a book by the same name.
What was the best advice that you received?
David Sherry, who co-founded Death to The Stock Photo, shared with me his secret for remaining detached from the outcome of his projects: “I’m trying to adopt a perspective that 50% of the time, it’s gonna work, and 50% of the time it’s not. Therefore, everything I do can work or not work, and that’s just how it is.” I love that idea, because it eases the pressure on any given project and lets me focus on the process instead of fears about how the work will be received.
What was your most embarrassing moment at work?
Before I started writing full-time, I worked as a senior consultant for a company that makes software for advertising agencies. One day, after a particularly difficult client call, I had a complete emotional breakdown in front of 50 people in an open-concept office.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I wrote two novel drafts I thought were so awful that I lost them deliberately. If I could go back in time, I’d keep them, because even though the stories were broken, the underlying concepts were sound.
Also, between my turkey dream and the beginning of my full-time writing career, I spent a lot of time paralyzed with doubt. I’d love to tell my younger self that doubt is no excuse to not write, and that the more I wrote, the more confident I’d feel.