07 October 2011

Guest Post: Author Jenny Hansen on Creativity

Please join me in welcoming author Jenny Hansen as our guest today. In her post, Jenny shares some thoughts on the creative process and also reveals one of the sources of her own creativity. This is the first of a column that will appear regularly and feature a member of The Life List Club. I recently joined the Club, whose members each share a Life List that contains their projects and personal goals. The club members also post articles every other Friday on the topic of getting things done and achieving your goals.

My article on how to stop procrastinating is on LLC member, Marcia Richard's Blog.

Kicking Your Creative A$$
by Jenny Hansen
Thanks for hanging out with Gary and I on his first Life List Friday! I’m honored to be hosting the party here at his place on this auspicious day. Enjoy the blog hop! J
This Saturday marks my 11th year with my local writing chapter, OCC/RWA. I’m fired up about this month’s meeting as it honors our 30th Birthday. It should be a rip-roaring day of fun and learning. The monthly meetings nearly always bolster my creativity.
Speaking of creativity, I’m sad about the passing of Steve Jobs, one of the most creative and innovative industry leaders that I will see in my lifetime.
The depth of his impact on the world at 56 years-old is almost unfathomable. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt summed it up perfectly: "Steve defined a generation of style and technology that's unlikely to be matched again."
In his short time on Earth, Jobs lived at least a full lifetime. Possibly two. His diligence and hard work combined with his creativity to produce brilliance. Since finding out the news, I’ve been ruminating on the lessons available from Jobs, particularly for us artists. Because, make no mistake, he was an artist, especially when it came to product development.
On the artist front, I made dinner for good friends of ours a few weeks back. The husband in this clan is a very successful musician. It hit me, before he came over, that I know a great man, who is very successful at his CREATIVE career, and not once have I asked him about his creative process.
Here I spend all this time on writing craft and process… Why have I never asked my friend about his creativity?
I can only say that it falls along the lines of not wanting to act like a groupie with him when he’s off stage. I like to think that when all of us are successful New York Times Bestselling authors that our friends will give us a break when we go to dinner at their house.
Rather than pepper us with all the “writer groupie” questions like – Where do you get your ideas? How is the book going? Blah-blah-blah – I’d like to think my friends will just tell me about their insane mothers, or provide advice on how to fix my complete lack of fashion sense. (In other words, the things we talk about NOW.)
Still, that particular day had been full of Creative A$$ Kicking with my own WIP and my enquiring mind wanted to know. "Walter,” I asked, “you’ve made an album a year for TWENTY years now. What is the creative process that allows you to do that?”
He smiled at me, a really benevolent cozy smile that made me feel better about bringing work to his Saturday night of fun. And then he said, “I don’t really know.”
My response was, “WHAT? That’s it? Come on! I thought this music business was different than being a writer. That’s what all my writer pals would say.”
He looked at his wife, who is a major force in his success, and said, “Well SHE books the studio each year and tells me about three weeks beforehand that I need to write fifteen songs.”
She and I exchanged an eye-roll and I said, “There’s got to be more to it than that.”
His response: “Jen, every year when it’s time to record a new album, I feel like I’ve done it already and those are all the songs I have to write." He paused a moment and added, "Then I’ll hear my mother’s voice in my head, like she’s right there talking to me”:
“Walter, you said you wanted to be a musician; it was what you trained for and practiced at. It was the only thing you EVER wanted. So, get off your a$$ and write some music, and quit crying about it.”
And he does, every single year. He goes to the place in his mind where his music lives and hangs out there, scribbling, until the music comes.
Ever since this conversation, he’s been one of my creative inspirations: He trusts in his creative process and has the discipline to sit down and kick himself in the keister, now that his mother isn’t there to do it.
His answer challenged me to create a writer's version of that Memo from Mom above my computer screen, to assist me on those really crappy days:
You want to be a writer. It’s all you’ve EVER wanted to be.
It’s what you spend all this time and money on, training and practicing your craft.
Get off your a$$ and write your page and QUIT CRYING ABOUT IT.
It’s working for me so far.
What about you? What helps you bolster your creativity? What helps you finish a page that’s going badly? Do YOU ever feel like you just can’t write another word? What has helped you bust through this fear and get to the other side?
About Jenny Hansen:

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing. In addition to being a founding member of Writers In The Storm, Jenny also hangs out on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her solo blog, More Cowbell.

Visit other Life List Member's blogs for more insights on getting things done.


  1. That is a fantastic story! I totally need something like this, only I need someone else to tell me to get off my rear and get to work. I'll have to figure out some sort of butt kicking system :)

  2. Awesome! I'm going adopt Walter's mom's voice for my head. :D Such a great point. We can spend so much time trying to figure out how we're going to do what we're going to do instead of just doing it. Thanks for reminding us.

    Gary: Welcome to LLC! It's so nice to have you join us. It's such great group *sniff* *gets tissue* :D

  3. Thanks for visiting Jennie. I'm glad you liked Jenny Hansen's post. She is a great story-teller and I also like her conversational style. It's something I need to work on for my writing. Maybe I should add it to my Life List!

  4. It's nice to have you for a visit, Sonia. I also enjoy interacting with all the LLC members. And stop crying! :) Isn't it interesting how we all don't think we're creative enough and practically have to be forced to Just Do It!

  5. OK, I'm gonna try this comment thing again. (Me and Blogger had some major words this morning.)

    Jennie: Thanks bunches. I love my little sign about my desk. It REALLY helps!

    Sonia: I agree from your comment on another Life List site that procrastination seems to be the theme this week. I'm becoming a huge "just do it" fan. :-)

    Gary: You are a wonderful writer, so thanks for that compliment. I'll treasure it. And can you hand Sonia another tissue? She's getting my new sweater all wet!


  6. That's "above my desk" Jennie. *sigh*

  7. Jennie!!! That is some ass-kicking post you have here! I was just talking about this with a friend who does music. It's tough out there but you gotta follow your passion, and not just that, you have to EARN it. So thank you for truly inspiring me today, I really needed that! :)

  8. What a pumped up post, Jenny. Love the advice. I need to print your quote and tape it at my desk, which first must be cleaned and then I need to buy leopard pants and then I'll write a** kicking books. Ok, ok, the pants are just cause you made me want them at your ROW party. Love the advice, though.

    Now, off to read Gary's first guest post!


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