It was November 2010. Maybe it was a dark and stormy night, I don’t recall. But I was going through a dark night of the soul, that’s for sure.
You know, a proper dark night of the soul, when you feel your chest being crushed under the weight of so many dying dreams that nothing can offer even a bit of comfort.
When the usual hack of, “Well, others have lost empires,” doesn’t help at all.
That’s when I found out about NaNoWriMo. I found out that I could self-publish stories. On Amazon. And sell those stories to people for money, which I could then use to purchase various goods that are needed for one’s survival.
I thought it to be the best thing ever, and so I dropped out of college and started punching those damn keys.
There were a couple of things that I hadn’t thought through though:
I had never written a novel.
I had never written a novel in English.
I had no idea what it took to actually self-publish a book.
I had no one to sell the damn thing to.
But, as I’m so fond of saying, we sometimes need a lot of courage to do something. Other times, we just need to be so dumb that we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into.
One of the most famous stories in Homer’s Odyssey is that of Ulysses encountering the sirens.
Upon his return home from the Trojan war, Ulysses stumbles upon the sirens – magical creatures of the sea, whose singing bewitches sailors and lures them to their deaths.
Ulysses, aware of the deadly nature of the their hypnotizing voices, instructs his men to plug their ears with beeswax and to tie him to the ship’s mast. As the ship approached the siren’s island, Ulysses becomes enchanted by their singing. He commands that his crew untie him, but his men, their ears full of beeswax, ignore the desperate please of their captain, rowing the boat to safety.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite how the story goes…
Nine years ago I launched this blog. And each year, for the past nine years, I’ve been celebrating, congratulating myself, offering folks all sorts of discounts, free downloads, and the likes.
I think I wrote and published well over a million words by now. Probably even more. Who knows? Who cares?
After all, the blank page that I have to fill right now with words doesn’t care about my previous articles, short stories, or novels. All it cares is that I transform its emptiness into something worth someone’s time.
This is what being creative means: to turn the white page, the blank canvas, the empty document into something by sheer power of will, which is, at times at least, quite a painful process.
And don’t believe anyone who tells you that being creative can be effortless. They are trying to sell you something, whether it’s an e-book or e-course.
After nine years as a full-time blogger, and sixteen as a writer, I can tell you that there’s no shortcut for hard work.
That’s why today I’m sharing with you nine tips that… well… I’m not even going to pretend these tips are going to make the process effortless, but they are going to give you a bit of clarity, which I found to be extremely useful, especially when you’d much rather bang your head against your keyboard than struggle to string words together in a coherent manner.
“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”
I can’t tell you where to find your muse-guy. It might be a corner-booth in a crowded bar. It might be in your own house, in your own bed, as you struggle to fall asleep.
You might even find your muse in the subway, as you ride home after work.
Stranger things have happened.
I can tell you only that when you find this muse, every civilized instinct in your soul will disappear. You’ll suddenly feel this itch, impulsive as hell, a complete disregard for rules or consequences.
In case you’ve missed it, this year I’m designing, building, and launching a new project every month, using mostly no-code or low-code tools and platforms.
In January, I’ve launched blogsy, a hybrid built in WordPress and Adalo. It’s still a work in progress, as I doing a complete overhaul of the platform that allows you to submit blogs and articles.
As a sidenote, that’s what I’ve decided along the way, that I’d allow myself to blend and refine , going back and forth and changing a lot of things.
For instance, what I launched as The Art of Marketing in February has become The Toolbox, a curated list of hundreds of resources for bloggers, marketers, and content creators, while The Art of Marketing became its own blog.
This month’s project became irevuo, a platform dedicated to helping modern polymaths connect seemingly unrelated dots and apply knowledge acquired from various disciplines in their own lives or creative endeavors.
Both The Art of Marketing and irevuo are built on Ghost, and I believe this requires a bit of an explanation, because I’ve been building and launching blogs on WordPress since 2012.