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Anne Janzer From Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert
Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA
Monday, July 11, 2022

Anne Janzerhttps://annejanzer.comAuthorMon, 27 Jun 2022 21:50:27 +0000en-UShourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3Noticing Your Musehttps://annejanzer.com/noticing-your-muse/https://annejanzer.com/noticing-your-muse/#respondTue, 28 Jun 2022 21:49:00 +0000https://annejanzer.com/?p=35356

This post is based on an excerpt from The Writer’s Process Workbook—an interactive guide to exploring and optimizing your personal writing process. This comes from the section on learning to welcome (and support) the Muse in your writing.

Creativity isn’t a gift from the gods—it’s a product of our minds. And by learning to make room for it in busy days, we can enrich our writing and our lives.

Let’s refer to the creative systems within us as the Muse. The Muse embodies the mental processes that help you find the perfect analogy, a fascinating story, or an unusual approach to your topic.

The Muse is the seat of creativity and combines many processes, including:

  • Associative thinking
  • Intuition
  • Empathy
  • Brainstorming
  • Contemplation/mind-wandering

It may seem like the Muse lives outside of our direct control.

We cannot force creative insights to happen, but we can invite the Muse into our lives. And the first step is to pay attention to the Muse when it shows up, and to welcome it with open arms.

Notice when the Muse is present

Inspiration doesn’t always arrive with a blinding flash or a big “Aha!” moment. Sometimes the Muse whispers quietly in your ear. Those ideas waver at the edge of your consciousness. Your Muse might be shy or easily spooked by the presence of other people, urgent tasks, and the rush of the day.

If you want more creativity in your writing or your life, start by understanding what the Muse feels like when it is present. Learn what thoughts, activities, or mindsets attract the Muse when it shows up. Then learn to spend more time engaging in them.

How well do you know your Muse?

The first step in welcoming the Muse is simply noticing when it wants to contribute. Pay attention to situations that attract your Muse.

Grab a pencil and note where and when your Muse shows up.

Places: Where are you when inspiration shows up? (At your desk, in the shower, on a walk?) List as many of those places as you can.List as many of those places as you can.

Are you alone? With one or two close friends or colleagues? Surrounded by strangers in a coffee shop? Does it matter? (Write it down)

Time of day: Chronobiology suggests that biological creatures follow different rhythms and timings. Are you more creative first thing in the morning? Last thing at night? When you wake up at 5 a.m. and don’t want to get out of bed yet? What times are especially fertile for you?

Other observations: Have you noticed any other trends in your personal creativity?

If you’re not sure of these answers, spend a few days paying attention to the quiet voice of the Muse as it shows up with unexpected associations or interesting ideas to explore.

Use the Muse Journal worksheet (which you can download here) to keep track of when the Muse appears in your life.

Once you’ve done that, you can integrate more of those activities, intentionally, into your writing life.

And if you found this useful, check out The Writer’s Process Workbook: Simple Practices for Finding Your Best Process.

]]>https://annejanzer.com/noticing-your-muse/feed/0Reasons Not to Rush the Writinghttps://annejanzer.com/reasons-not-to-rush-the-writing/https://annejanzer.com/reasons-not-to-rush-the-writing/#respondTue, 14 Jun 2022 18:10:00 +0000https://annejanzer.com/?p=35296
Grape vines in the sun

“Let this take as long as it takes.” 

That is my new mantra. It’s surprisingly relaxing, and a marked shift from trying to pack as much as possible into each day. 

We eagerly absorb stories of aggressive schedules, tactics to keep our inboxes clear, and life hacks to get more done every day.

But this rush to be productive can be futile and toxic. “Getting stuff done” isn’t the same as doing the important things. 

In writing, true productivity is seeing your work through to the end, and getting it out into the world. Sometimes that requires you to commit to doing less of other things.

Too often, though, we rush through the writing.

Despite our instincts to the contrary, going faster does not make us more productive—in writing, in our other work, or in our lives.

And the rush to be productive is particularly damaging to writing. Here’s why.

We all want to love the writing

I’ve written about finding flow in The Writer’s Process—it’s that state when we are ‘in the zone,’ absorbed in the work, unaware of time passing. 

When we find the groove of the work and stay there, something magical happens. We stop behaving like supercharged drones hurrying through the work toward some joyous future time when all of our efforts will be rewarded.

The rewards happen instantly, in the work itself.

Sometimes that experience is the only certain reward for our writing. So, you’d like to reach that flow state as often as possible. Yet, a desire to be productive can harm it.

You can’t immerse yourself with one eye on the clock

Trying to stuff more things into our day means watching the clock. Counting your minutes. Optimizing.

These things sabotage the state of flow.

Image of surf, with words .

Auditing or tracking your time (for a brief spell) can give you valuable insight into how you spend it. But fixating on the minutes and hours of the day slams the door on working in a state of flow.

We can only find flow when we immerse ourselves in the work and let it develop in its own time.

Here’s how to apply this approach to your writing.

1. Identify the next step.

Understand and respect your process. Don’t attempt everything at once. (I’m going to write a great blog post right now!

Instead, honor the fact that the writing process has many phases. Pick the next step and immerse yourself in it. 

For me, this means dedicating time for freewriting before tackling the first draft. (The freewriting file for this post was three times longer than this finished post.)

I also commit to leaving adequate time for revision and polishing. 

2. Give that next step your full attention.

Sometimes you zip right through a step. Often, though, writing or revising takes longer than you planned. If you immerse yourself in the writing, then you will give it sufficient time.

Honor the work by not rushing through it. 

Honor yourself by giving yourself the time to craft.

However, there is one more person to remember as you take this project: the reader. Because if the work never sees the light of day, the reader never benefits.

3. Recognize when it’s good enough.

Don’t get stuck over-optimizing.

You cannot do everything to a standard of perfection.

Remember, true productivity means getting your work out in the world. At some point, you must ship. 

What would this feel like for you?

What if you commit to relaxing, not rushing through your writing but letting the work take the time it takes?

If your experience is like mine, two things may happen:

  1. You are more relaxed and present as you do your planned writing.
  2. You are less likely to try to “squeeze in” bunches of tasks that detract you from that important work.

Will you reach a state of flow? Perhaps. If nothing else, you will feel better, more relaxed.

You pay for this improved state by sacrificing two ideals:

  • Trying to do everything
  • Striving for perfection

We are imperfect. We won’t get everything done, and we won’t do things perfectly.

When we acknowledge this reality, we can do the most important things, and may even find the rewards in the work.

We respect ourselves and our writing when we don’t rush through it.

Give it a try with whatever you’re doing. The next time you find yourself rushing through a task to check it off, while thinking ahead to the next task, stop. Tell yourself, “This will take the time it takes, and I’ll honor it by simply doing it.” See how it feels.

Related reading

Here are two books that may help with the ideas in this post:

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman is one of the most powerful books I’ve read about acknowledging the limitations of your control over time, and getting on with a meaningful life.

The Writer’s Process (by me) will help you recognize and respect the various components of the longer writing process.

]]>https://annejanzer.com/reasons-not-to-rush-the-writing/feed/0Get the Word Out, Free in Junehttps://annejanzer.com/get-the-word-out-free-in-june/https://annejanzer.com/get-the-word-out-free-in-june/#respondThu, 02 Jun 2022 18:00:00 +0000https://annejanzer.com/?p=35224
Phone on a wooden deck, displaying cover of audiobook of Get the Word Out

Got big plans for your summer vacation? How about getting started on that dream of writing a book? 

During June, you can download the audiobook of Get the Word Out: Write a Book That Makes a Difference entirely free from Apple.

Free. Zero dollars. Nada. Woohoo!

What you’ll hear

This book contains all of my best advice about writing a nonfiction book—from the first glimmer of an idea to finding your people after publication. It encapsulates my theory of servant authorship, and applies it to every step of the process.

Topics include:

  • Clarifying your audience and purpose (picking your “pond”)
  • Getting past your inner gatekeepers
  • Owning your expertise and communicating your authority
  • Choosing a publishing path
  • Writing the manuscript without burning out or becoming a hermit
  • Using a book as a beacon to find your people

Listening to this audiobook is like having me virtually by your side throughout the writing process. And not just me—it includes stories and research from countless successful nonfiction authors.

Don’t worry about taking notes. You can find graphics, research, and a workbook based on the methods in the book from my Resources page.

Download it today, and get started on your book.

Download the book for free

Other free audiobooks on Apple Books in June

The book is part of a broader campaign on Apple Books for audiobook month (June). Check out all of the options here.

My other discounted audiobooks through June

Three other audiobooks of mine are discounted to $1.99 through June: The Writer’s Process, Writing to Be Understood, and 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails.

All are $1.99 on Chirp, Apple Books, and Google Play. Find the links here.

Get your free audiobook from Apple Books here

Don’t Show Me All Your Researchhttps://annejanzer.com/dont-show-me-all-your-research/https://annejanzer.com/dont-show-me-all-your-research/#respondTue, 31 May 2022 17:00:30 +0000https://annejanzer.com/?p=35209
Pile of documents, with title .

If you write research-based nonfiction, you have to figure out how to deal with supporting research.

How much should you include in the body of the text, and how much in end materials? There’s no single, right answer. Often it comes down to personal preference and voice. But the decision affects your relationship with your reader.

Let’s look at the dangers of getting the balance wrong.

Too little research: A missed opportunity for trust

Citing external research establishes the reader’s trust.

Third-party authorities can back up your key points, for example, or help convince reticent readers.

Citing current research demonstrates that you’re up-to-date in your field—especially important in fast-changing, research-based fields like science and technology.

Context matters, too. In scholarly and academic writing, authors commonly shore up every point with multiple citations. But don’t bring that same approach to writing for a general audience. How many of us read academic journals for fun?

Too much research overwhelms the reader

Beware of trying to show readers all the research you’ve done—especially when you’re writing for a general or non-specialist audience.

Relying too heavily on citations can backfire, eroding your own authority and the reader’s trust.

Most non-specialist readers have a saturation point for dealing with citations. Once you hit that saturation point, two things can happen:

  • The reader tires of all the citations and stops reading.
  • The reader loses trust in your authority.

That second point is the unexpected one.

When every important statement begins with “According to,” your own voice and opinions disappear. You cede your authority to other people rather than claiming it yourself. The reader sees you as a curator of research rather than an expert.

Find a balance that establishes trust

All of that research you’ve done contributes to your expertise—which is why people read your work.

The reader wants to trust your expertise. Do the research, but don’t cite all of it.

You want people to know that you’ve done your research? That’s what footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies are for.

How much research should you include? That depends on your personal voice and style, the reader’s expectations, and how skeptical the reader might be about your content.

As an example from my own books, Writing to Be Understood relies on research and includes endnotes and a bibliography. But I limited the actual citations to a couple per chapter, to avoid overwhelming the reader.

33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails is short and fun—entirely free of footnotes or bibliography. I mention research informally in the chapters and put further reading and research citations into online resources for the book.

Serve the reader’s needs.

Strategies for finding the right balance

The presentation of research becomes part of your writing “voice.” You may want to tinker with it for different projects.

Read other authors you admire in your genre.

  • How many direct citations do they include in the text?
  • Do they describe research in their own words or use the words of others?
  • Do they rely on footnotes or endnotes? How do they demonstrate their research?
  • What’s the balance of research to story or explanation?

Examine how those decisions affect the way you feel about the author, then decide what makes sense for your situation.

If you never cite research, see what happens when you back up a story with a vetted data point.

If you include a lot of research or come from an academic background, experiment with making a statement and then pointing to a footnote. See what it feels like to share your research-based expertise in your own voice.

Other reading

Research or procrastination?

How much research should you do?

How Nature Makes You a Better Writerhttps://annejanzer.com/how-nature-makes-you-a-better-writer/https://annejanzer.com/how-nature-makes-you-a-better-writer/#respondTue, 17 May 2022 17:41:23 +0000https://annejanzer.com/?p=35107

Cuesta Park Consulting & Publishing publishes books and online courses for writers and marketing professionals. Books are available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats from a wide range of retailers. For more information, visit AnneJanzer.com.

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Name: Anne Janzer
Group: Cuesta Park Consulting
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA United States
Direct Phone: 4155176592
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