I had the honour of interviewing author, blogger, podcaster and business coach Charlie Gilkey. He is the bestselling author of awesome book The Small Business Life Cycle: The No-Fluff Guide to Navigating the Five Stages of Small Business Growth. Charlie also helps creatives win in all they do everyday. He started the community and website – productiveflourishing.com, to work with creative people to help them roll up their sleeves and start doing something with their ideas and vision, rather than just to sit and dream. Charlie also hosts the uber popular podcast The Creative Giant Show which is super helpful for creatives who want to grow and thrive in their businesses. You can also connect and chat with Charlie on Facebook or Twitter.
Here’s some resources I share in the update:
1. The Small Business Life Cycle: The No-Fluff Guide to Navigating the Five Stages of Small Business Growth by Charlie Gilkey. This book helped me understand where I was as I’ve been beginning my writing… and product creation business. Super helpful especially if you’ve chosen to Go Pro as a writer and treat your writing like a business.
2.Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells (Write Faster, Write Smarter 3) by Chis Fox. I first heard of Chris and this book as well as others on the Sell More Books Show. Super helpful if you want to write books you love AND understand what hungry readers are looking for in your genre.
3.Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld. This is really helpful to learn how to dig deeper into the theme of your story.
4. Lastly a shout out to Domi at inspiredcoverdesigns.com. She worked on the book cover for Book #2 in the historical romance series.
I had many Aha Moments in this chat with Charlie. And you’ll hear toward the end of this podcast, where he nails me on something that I must have said subconsciously…. love it when people are willing to be honest with you so that you can learn and grow 😉
So, lets get on with the summary of the interview.
*People tell themselves different stories of what it means to be a creative person. We ask where we fit – sort of like asking are you my mother? we ask are you my label… do I belong here? Charlie suggests that being a creative person is like living with a series of connections and disconnections and random thoughts and ideas all at once. Seeing the dots connect and sharing those dots is really what it takes.
*Charlie tells his story of being a military logistics coordinator and working on his Ph.D in Philosophy at the same time. He began to wonder how he could move battalions and still struggle to get a 6000 word paper done. As he started researching how other people did creative work – their deep work – he came across Cal Newport’s super helpful book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This book helped him take his business to the next level.
“Many of us creatives have to see where we’re going before we get started. We forget that we create ourselves by creating.” @charliegilkey [Tweet this]
*There are myths we tell ourselves that structure and creativity is on opposite ends. Charlie says writers can create the types of habits; social environment; conceptual environment, between what you consume and how you organize your ideas that will help you to do something with your ideas.
*As writers, when you’re in the flow state of writing, if you over-structure you’ll shut it down. The 2 different styles of writing – drafting and editing – also relates to this. If you let the editor in when you’re drafting you’ll also shut down the flow state of writing.
*On productivity: Try working in creative blocks. There’s been studies done to show that your body recycles after 90 to 120 minutes. So you have energetic cycles throughout the day. If you work in 3 creative blocks, it’s easier because most of us know about how much writing we can get done in a creative block.
*Sometimes we overestimate what we can get done in a day, so we try to push more creative blocks in the day, when you’re really tired. In turn, this causes a fit and start cycle – writing 2000 words one day and then waiting a week until you get another creative burst.
*Charlie mentions a Psychologist friend of his who has done studies on happiness and productivity. He says people who have a consistent output were consistently happier and productive then those who tried the fit and start cycle. Imagine that you could use 2 creative blocks for the rest of your life. You could get more done and you’d feel better about it – then if for only one day a week you were on fire.
2 Ways creatives get out of flow:
1.Distractions: Like social media; email; choosing to do the laundry, dishes, during writing time. Solve this dilemma by figuring out what works for you – Example: use anti-social or freedom, etc., so you can’t go online during writing time. Choose to keep writing even when it’s tough – stick to your creative time block.
2.Interruptions: cat walks into the room and throws up on your foot; your children run into the room while you’re writing. Solve this dilemma by having conversations with your family, and agreeing on a certain time block for you to write – and offer to watch the children, or the cat or whatever while they do something they love:)
Going Pro with Your Writing
(Charlie talked about seeing your writing as your business and taking it seriously… this is something that I really needed to hear. I’ve been too scared to take it seriously, but it’s like the penny dropped for me – it’s time to jump in…:)
*It’s time to choose: Either you’re in commercial writing or you’re not. Get out of the middle! If you want to write as a hobby that’s great. Do that.
If you want to write words that people buy you are automatically in commercial writing. People want to stick to that middle – that safe zone – they don’t want to treat it like a job, but you won’t get the benefits of going Pro if you don’t jump in.
“Going Pro doesn’t mean you do a bunch of stuff you don’t want to do or you let go of creativity and joy…” @charliegilkey [Tweet this]
*There’s a lot of head trash going on with creatives around marketing and selling their books. You spend all this time pulling something out of yourself and then when it’s time to put it out into the world you feel like a used car salesman. Marketing your book is just part of taking something that you care about and putting a price tag on it. That doesn’t make it dirty.
“People buying stuff from you, is just one way of them transferring their love and appreciation. That’s all it is.” Charlie Gilkey
If you’re writing fiction, you’re delivering delight. If you’re writing nonfiction, you’re delivering education, entertainment or inspiration.
*It turns out that your bank won’t directly transfer or convert education, entertainment or inspiration into paying your mortgage. But once you work through the fear of selling, there is huge joy because every sale, that’s people deciding to spend their hard earned money on something you created for them. And in a time where people are watching their money, that’s a sacred gift to give to somebody.
When you take the step to be a commercial writer, you’re in the business of positioning – and marketing and all those different things come with that. You’re joining a bunch of others who don’t necessarily have it all figured out better than you; who aren’t smarter than you… so join the party 😉
*The authors who win, are relentlessly focussed on delighting their readers. Ask yourself, what are you doing to build your audience and your platform? Have the courage to reach out to your readers and ask them is this something you would like? Choose to make a “conversation plan” instead of a “marketing plan.” Remember everyone starts with only 1 reader and then it grows.
Stand Tall Creative Giants
*Charlie talks about how to Stand Tall and Step Big as a Creative Giant. Creatives often downplay what they can do. You need to understand that you can be this powerful, creative and compassionate force in the world. And you don’t have to give up something that really matters to you. So many stories we tell ourselves about creative success is that we have to give up something that matters to us. In Charlie’s blog post, he talks about how to stand tall and do something with your creative ideas.
*Understand that you are not alone. The doubts, fears and challenges you face are just what it means to be human. To create and serve other people is when we thrive.
If you find yourself playing smaller so you’re not hurting other people’s feelings, join more creatives who understand you at the community at productiveflourishing.com 😉
Have you embraced who you are as a creative giant? I’d love to hear what you create that delights and adds value to people. Please add your thoughts in the comments.