Creating in 2020 and Other Adversities: What To Do About It (To Write and Have Written)

Yeah, it’s been a year that’s hard on creativity, and that’s showing in a lot of us. Let’s talk about why that is and what we can do about it.

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Creating in 2020 and Other Adversities – powered by Happy Scribe

Hello, everyone.

All right, so

I am a little bit concerned because I’mlooking at my magically numbered things

happening over here and it looks likemy connection’s a little bit shaky.

So if you guys don’t mind just throwing itin the chat, like, am I coming through?

Can you hear me?Although, I guess if you can’t hear me,

if you can’t understand me, this isn’tgoing to be much of a useful request.

Well, see, I’m just a little worried thatthat we might not have a good connection here.

Hmm.Oh, good.

So far.Hey, thanks, Grace.

I appreciate that.Hi, guys.

Thanks for coming back, ok.Oh, good.

More people can hear me.That’s good.

I’m just going to ignore the the little

flashy,flashy warning of bad Internet-ness,

and we’re just goingto pretend it’s not there.

So.OK, all right.

Oh, hey.We got several people who can hear me.

Yeah, that’s a good thing.So if you were not here last night

for the adventure, I’m goingto just recap that real quickly.

When last we met on the All About Me show,

I was trying to talk aboutbeing a creative person in 2020

and working through and despite adversityand the writers of 2020 not being

satisfied with subtlety,decided to overplay the theme.

And so repeatedly I lost power while I wastrying to do this stream,

and that is pretty hilarious,but also wasn’t really efficient.

I was like, thanks for underscoring

the theme, but we wantto actually have a conversation.

So we’re going to try to have

the conversation tonight andand we’ll we’ll see as far as we get.

Hopefully it will hopefully itwill run all the way through.

So I’m going to recap real quickly hereand and see if things are going away.


I yeah.

You want more adversity?

Why didn’t you say so?

Yeah, that’s that’s prettymuch how it felt last night,

that one of the three streams that Iattempted last night was on my mobile

phone, which I never streamedfrom my mobile phone before.

I just had only barelyinstalled the Twitch app.

Wasn’t entirely certain — it was like,

“I think there’s a go live option here?

I just want to tell people whathappened so I’m not missing.

They don’t think I just disappeared.”

So I’m holding it up and I’m pressed up

against the window for light and I’mholding up the phone trying to talk.

And I didn’t realize until afterwards

that my arm had gone completely asleepwhile trying to hold up the phone.

And then so afterwards I was

like, my whole arm was numb and pinsand needles and everything.

It was pretty hilarious.

So, hey, 2020 man.

But we’re here because2020 is not keeping us down.

That’s why that’s what we’regoing to talk about tonight.

But real quick, first,

some quick housekeeping based on bothstuff that I wanted to mention previously,

and I did mention last nightin the some new things.

So if you are here, you are automaticallyearning what I am calling Channel Mana,

that’s because both of themwere labeled points.

So I’m trying to relabel them in helpfulway so you can tell them apart

and that you get just for existing,just for being here on Twitch

and interacting in the chatand that sort of things.

And you’ll be able to see thatin the chat box if you’re on the desktop

at the lower, lower part of the chat box,there should be a little icon you can

click on and it will show you if you areearning things and then things you can

cash those in for and then you willalso be earning just by being here.

Awesomeness Tokens, propsto Kate Allen for that name.

And you can see your awesomeness tokens ifyou enter an exclamation mark and the word

points, no space, just exclamation mark,then the word points.

Those are what we are going to use

for the giveaways and things as wego forward with this in the future.

So, again, you don’t haveto do anything with those.

They just magically appear if you’re here.

That’s why we’re on Twitch,where you guys can

easily accumulate points and thenwe’ll do giveaways and it’ll be fun.

I heard last night that there are now adson my channel, which I guess

is a sort of backhanded complimentfrom the powers that be.

Oh yeah, you have five awesomenesstokens, Grace, bully for you, fantastic.

So anyway, so the ads — Idid not put the ads there.

I don’t, my incredibly brief search becauseI’m not actually good at this yet,

I didn’t see a way to take them off.

So I guess I apologize.

Just show up a minute or two early,get the ads out of the way and you’ll be

able to to roll with them, I think,without any more interruptions

for the rest of the stream,because I do think I have control over

whether they show upin the middle of the stream.

So, yeah.OK, great.

Yet another ad.Hey, I’m really sorry.

I guess it’s like I said,kind of a backhanded compliment.

Just if you guys just sign in for a minute

at minute early, that will get that outof the way and then we’ll be able to run.

It does look like I can limit them to 30 seconds.

I think so, yeah.

And then the only other thing Iwanted to mention, there is a button

somewhere in your viewer here,

probably here-ish.

I think that will let youclip a moment of video.

So if something hilarious happens,like my chair flips over backwards or if I

say something really pithy and you’relike, oh, mic drop, I need to save that.

Just click that clip button.

It will preserve that minute.

Or you can actually specify how muchvideo and that will be saved forever.

Normally these these videos will disappear

after about two weeks, but those clipswill be preserved on the channel.

So if you really like something or if youjust want to share something very specific

rather than, hey,here’s a link to an entire freaking long

video,use the clip function and there’s your

Twitch tutorial from somebody who onlybarely understands Twitch herself.

So, all right,

then we’re going to jump up to —

“Oh, the ad was some dude in a bath.

I did not pick up what the….”

I have no idea.

I got nothing.I mean, at least he was in a bath.

Cleanliness is good.It’s 2020.

Wash your hands.Wash your dudes.

This is that’s all I got.I’m sorry.

OK, so

I did talk a little bit last night before

everything went belly upabout the state of the Laura

works in progress and the storiesthat are coming out.

So I don’t want to recap that too much

because because that partdid make it out last night.

I’ll just reiterate very quickly that ifyou are interested in Air,

which is the latest of the elementalanthologies,

or if you are interested in Hear Me Roar,which is an anthology about women

and dragons,I have stories in both of those and they

are available as a combo dealand there’s information about that.

If you just check my social media, excuseme, just check my social media.

You should be able to easilyfind that I know it’s on.

You know, if if you can’t find iton my Facebook page, scroll a little bit,

or ping me and I’ll happily referyou to where that happens.

So and then.Yeah.

So let’s just move on and getinto the nitty gritty of stuff because

I’m terrified it will all disappear again.

So let’s move ahead.

Oh, question on whatthe button looks like.

I believe I don’t have it in front of me.

I believe it looks like a little clapper,like a traditional film clapper.

You know, like

that was probably a way to screen capthat if I had that,

I can’t open the screen withoutcreating the audio loop of doom.

You know what?Let me see.

Oh, yeah.

It does look like a movie clapper,top right corner on the iPad.

I believe it’s lower right on theif you’re looking at in a browser.

Oh, hang on.I’ve got a

twitch clip


Let’s see what let’s seeif the interweb can do.

OK,well, there it says tap the screen during

the stream and it can create clip button,I’m just I don’t know,

I was hoping it would bring up a nicelittle picture if I can share with you.


I’m just going to trust that you’re allreally smart people and can work that out.

That’s my that’s my theory.

So, yeah, pocketgoddess!

You were very useful.Thank you.

All right.Yes.

You have to click inside the video itselfbecause you’re bringing that up.

But I don’t think it will pause me, because

nothing can stop mebecause it’s my stream.

Ha ha ha ha.

All right.Oh, bother.

You got some friezes going on.

I was worried about giving me this bad

Internet thing, and I don’tknow what’s going on.

And it may be possibly lightning strikes,multiple power drops, I don’t know.

Could have had something to dowith affecting my Internet service.

But we’ll get as far as we get.That’s how we’re doing.

All right.We’ll get as far as we get.

So one of the things that I’msupposed to be working on

was working in two projects rightnow that actually have deadlines.

I’m always workingon multiple projects because

I am not good at focusing.

I’m, basically my processis I am a caffeinated lemur.

That is my process.

But the two main things that I’mworking on right now are a

story for the next elemental anthology,

which is Water,which is due at the end of the month.

And I have about a thousand words writtenand they’re really, really bad words.

But we’ll talk about that in a minute,I guess.

I guess I’m working through projects.

I have another story that Iwas commissioned to do…

Commissioned, not exactly the right word,

I was invited to be a featured author

in an anthology, so I’m not sure whatthe actual correct verb for that is.

And that is.

So I’ll talk about that in just a second.

That’s something that I was working

on last night and then in kind,which is Book three in The Shard of Elan,

an epic fantasy series,and that is a huge project that I am

amazingly behind on because book two cameout in September of 2019

and I was honestly expectingthat Kin & Kind would be done by now.

But 2020 happened.

And that’s what we’re goingto talk about tonight

and why my other storiesare going slowly as well.


I am friends with a lot of creativepeople, authors, artists, theater people.

You know, it’s just when you’re

a creative nerd you kind of hangout with creative nerds.


I have heard just again and againand again how much harder it has been this

year to be creative and to get stuffdone and to be productive.

And and I have some thoughts on that.

And by the way, I again,

this is for discussion, so please feelfree to throw things in the chat.

I want this to be back and forth.

It’s not just me pontificating,

you know, sometimes don’t feelfree to disagree with me.

Feel free to explain where Ineed to consider something else.

Feel free to ask meto expand on something,

feel free to outright contradict me.

That’s that’s fine.


you know, I just I’m all aboutrespectful conversation here.


one of the things

let me back up.

I think this is difficultfor for a number of reasons.

Creativity — Ihave not been streaming very long.

But if you were in from the beginning,you heard me talk about how necessary

creating is for a healthy personlike that is part of our humanity.


so we need to be creatingbut in the hierarchy of needs,

things like food,right, do rank higher than creativity.

Creativity is one of those needs, but it’sa subordinate need to things like oxygen.

So food, shelter,

physical safety, those have to beaddressed before we can create.

And we know that, like, that’s that’s

already well expressedin psychological circles.

And I’m not going to go into that here.

What we find, though, is that in 2020

and let me back up, I am havingan extremely comfortable apocalypse.

I am keenly aware of the fact that I am

not in dire straits and I’m very,very grateful for that.

So I just want to start with that.


I’m still feeling pressures,even though I’m not in dire straits.

And there are other people who are feeling

a lot more pressure and who have pressuresthat are impinging on those

core more critical, immediate needs likefood and shelter and physical safety.

And, you know, like.

Somebody who’s a friend of mine,and so they are my friend.

So I’m thinking about them.

So I’m getting some of that pressure here.


yeah, definitely harder.

This year breezed through halfa million words last year.

I can barely make myself lookat a document but document this year.”

I know, right.

So earlier this

this spring, you know, I

my husband and I self-imposed our ownlock down before it went official

for for a number of reasons that I’mnot going to take the time to go into.


during those first two weeks,

I got involved with one of my writer

groups and we weregoing to have a strong push weekend.

And I wrotethirty thousand words in a weekend,

which is a lot, by the way, like,honestly a lot.

And I think 25000 of themwere actually decent words.

The last four hundred were pretty hideous.

I’m pretty sure I typed them in my sleep,

but most of them thatcame out were pretty good words.

But that was at the beginning.

That was in lockdown

was our self-imposed lockdown.

And so at that point we were still

thinking I was still stupidly optimisticthat we would do the right thing.

And I’m not going to get terriblypolitical here, but that probably was

enough for me to have an ideawhere I am on this situation.

You know, when we started in,everybody was talking about, you know, oh,

to use this to take this timeand use it to your advantage.

And I was absolutely one of those people.

I was like, hey, we’re going to get some

time where, you know, I’m not going to bedistracted by going different places.

I’m not going to be distracted by yourfriends asking me to go out to eat or

to go to a party or, you know,I don’t know, whatever.

I was like.I can totally just focus.

I can totally just get some stuff done.

And I was really productivein the beginning.

And I was gung hoabout getting stuff done.


and I thought, as did most of us,I think that that was going to be

a temporary situation whilewe got on top of this.

And then we kind of optednot to get on top of it.


what we what most of America thought was

going to be a a short term situationturned into something much, much bigger.


that took a completely aside

from the physical environment of I livein my house and nowhere else,

there was a lot of psychologicalshifting that happened.

I will just tell you from a very personal

level, I felt a massive sense of betrayalfrom my government, my country people.

We had

a lot of decisions that were made that

we’re feeling consequencesof at this time.

And and I watched and — noteven going to, this was huge,

this was a huge part where I watched

people I had known,people I thought I knew,

and I watched the meltdown on social mediaand get bogged into, oh, my gosh, so much.

Yeah, I read I reada study this this week.

Sociological studies that thirty one percent

of Americans believe a conspiracytheory about the virus.

And I’m like, yes, of course,I absolutely believe that

because every single one of them is

on my social media feedpromoting things for me.

Yeah, Natalie’s talking about,

“That rose colored Hooray,

I have a nice blockof time to write stage.”

You know what?That was an actual stage and I did take

advantage of that’s when I getmy thirty thousand words in a weekend.

That’s not where I am now.

And you know, again, the the samestudy that I was just referencing,

I went ahead and wrote wrote down becauseI just thought this number was amazing.

74 percent of Americans

believe their fellow citizens are behavingin ways that are making the country’s

recovery from the pandemicsomewhat or much worse.

If 75 percent of us agree that we’redoing it wrong, can we do better?

This is where we are,

you know, and and let me tell you, justacknowledge because I admitted this

last night, this morning,I don’t know something to my husband.

I am absolutely aware that I havealways been something of an idealist.


sometimes things are right just because

things need to be a certain way,just because that is the right way,

not because that’s the practical way oror the convenient way.

But we do the right way becausewe do it the right way.

And, you know, sometimes these arestupid things that don’t matter.

Like the toilet paper goes over the top.It doesn’t go under,

It goes over.

There is not a world in which that makes

a difference, but that’sthe right way to do it.

OK, so and I admit that sometimes Iget hung up like that is that is me.

And I can be a

bit of an idealist,and we do things the right way because

that’s the right way,but I feel like this is the right year to

have standards maybe.

And I also feel like that idealism is

making me a special targetfrom the universe this year.

So I’ll just I’ll just admit that — I

don’t want to say that I’man optimistic person.

I mean, I’m incredibly optimistic or

incredibly lazy, but my suitcaseis still sitting out in my bedroom

waiting to go somewhere.

It’s not

going to happen.So, yeah,

anyway, that’s that’s where I am.

So, yeah, if you

if you’ve read Shard of Elanand you read Ariana, and I don’t ever,

ever write characters based on people,that’s just not how I work there.

But but Ariana, it’s like “this isthe way things are supposed to be.

So they must be this way becausethat’s the way they’re supposed to be.”

I probably was writingmyself at that time.

I’m sorry.Naive, idealistic.

Yeah.And and that’s that’s why I’m frustrated.

And that’s why creatingthings has become harder.

Oh, hold on.

I saw somebody in the chattalking about being a real adult.

Let me jump back up and find this.

Oh, Grace was renovating, but yeah.

Renovating, absolutely.

First of all, it does count as creative

work and it absolutelycounts as productivity.

So I’m just going to give you creditfrom here for that to have happened.

Yeah.Good job.

And she’s she’s just hittingthe motivation stage now.

“Spent all day yesterday reading about

nonskid dog friendly flooringoptions like a real adult.”

Yes.Laminate laminate plank.

I love it.Love it.

All right.And then.

Oh, hey, Joel.So is

is it Joel or Joe?

I’m sorry anyway.

Yeah, OK.Yeah.

So Joe’s right on top of what we’re going

to be talking about when I eventually getthere, dragging myself through,

writing a novel, forcing myself to writeto the outline a few hundred words a day.

Oh my gosh you are.

You’re given the teaserof where we’re going.

That’s excellent.Good job.

“Suitcase out in 2020 is the travel versionof for sale baby shoes never worn.”

I know, I know.

I just I just a few days ago had my Japan trip definitively canceled and

so frustrated.

And so here’s here’s why I’m frustrated.Let me tell you.

Sorry guys, I it’s my it’s my stream.You can’t stop me.

Oh, Joe, thanks for clarifying for me.

I appreciate that.


I because I travel a lot and I signed up

for a lot of emailsI get automatically

from the State Department on just like,hey, there’s unrest in Ecuador.

Hey, this, this is the travelsituation and whatnot right away.

There’s not unrest in Ecuador.

That was a past tense thing anyway.

So I get this email

from the State Department’s likeTokyo is in the midst of a covid-19

a pandemic outbreak,and it’s really terrible.

And their health care system is stressed

and you should definitely,definitely not be traveling.

And I’m like,

no, like, yeah, they arethey are at a high level of alert.

But that’s because they’rereally conscientious about it.

Like like they’re I’m pretty sure they’re

their new cases, like is just under twohundred and my state’s in four digits.

So it’s not really a thing.

And so I was talkingto a friend in Tokyo about it.

She’s like, do you know how many people

are hospitalized in Tokyo rightnow with with with covid-19?

How many.Twelve, twelve people hospitalized.

And I get the email about howit’s too dangerous to be to be.

And I’m like, Throwing a fewrocks here in that glass house

are we here, US?OK.

Anyway, all that to say.

Let’s go, let’s go and actually refocus.Hi.

Hi.Here I am.

Stress can come out in in two waysand they are

that is increased productivitythat can be either frantic or focused.

We’re goingto keep it really general.

You can either stress up and get stuff

happening or you stress down and thatlooks like it might look like depression.

I’m not talking aboutclinical depression here.

I’m talking about

let’s just call it a general malaise.


so that you’re it is completelynatural to see both of those happen.

Some people trend toward one or another

and they will tend to do onefirst or more strongly.

But both reactions are completely normal.


so you can you might go you might go

and binge-clean a closet or youmight go and binge a series on Netflix.

And one is a very active responseand one is very passive response.

And both of them arecompletely normal responses.

And so I had a huge burst of writingactivity and that later that disappeared

and I can pretty much tell youthe exact day it disappeared,

that will get political.But so I won’t.

But I, I can tell you the momentat which my brain went,

“Sorry, we’re in survival mode.”

And for me, handling stress involveslearning.

I’m very much a science nerd.

My day my day job is science nerdy.

And so I will fact check.

I am I’m a crazy fact checker.

I am a you know, I will gather resources

and gather knowledge andand that sort of thing.

And so I have coping mechanisms.

But also my coping mechanisms requireme to acknowledge what’s going on.

I’m not good at escapism, so that’sjust my personal hang up anyway.

You can

you can you can go through thosephases and they’re normal.


the other thing that is,is hard for me personally with this is

the the novel that I’m supposedto be working on right now,

Kin & Kind

And we do the spoiler free because it is

book three in a series,but it has riots in it.

It has plague in it.

If you’ve read book two at the end of book

two, there’s some stuff that happens thatattaches to those in a very political way.

Now, that book came outin 2019.

That plot was written waybefore any of this came up.

But I am first of all,I’m approaching the story.

It’s not escapism for me right now.

OK, but secondly, I’m also just very aware

of the fact that my readerin 2020 is going to have a completely

different set of eyes to read thoseevents than my 2019 reader would have.


you know, to to be talking about thepolitics surrounding a spreading disease.

You know,

in 2019 when I started writingthat, that that wasn’t a loaded topic.

And now I don’t care how I meant it,people are going to read it differently

because everybody’s lifeexperience is different right now.

And so that makes it hardand frustrating for me to approach.

So even when I want to work on the story,I’m like, OK, let’s do this.

And I sit down and I’m like,

oh,because I look at this and all I see are

all the conspiracy theoriesthat are sitting in my feed.

So there’s there’s waysto deal with this one.

It’s riots-lite in the story.

We’re not going to actuallywalk through any riots.

We’re just going to have someacknowledgement that they occur.

But we’re not going to spend time there.

And and I’m going to I swear, I’m goingto work out a way to fix the politics.

It’s going to happen.

But ultimately, what I –Yeah, thank you.

She says that’s rough,

especially when you set up the dominoesbefore the paradigm shift.

I swear that book was already in printin September of 2019.

Like nobody knew this.

I wasn’t in on the long con conspiracywhere in the 1970s they started

engineering this virusand I wasn’t in on that.


that was sarcasm please.

Hashtag sarcasm.

All right.

So anyway, all this where this is is I’m

caught somewhere in my personal mentalstate between, it’s completely legitimate

to tread water whenthings are not going well and you can’t

just be a machine and turnon the tap and dump out a novel.

It’s completely legitimate to tread water.

And the other part of my brain is.

But the purpose of an author is to writestories to process life in a safe way.

So I should probably write a story sopeople can process life in a safe way

because that’s the hugeadvantage of fantasy.

Right?Like I write speculative fiction.

If I write contemporary fiction and Ilike, let’s write,

Let’s talk about the novelcoronavirus in my novel.

Excuse me, that’s I mean,

this might be helpful for some people, butthat’s not it’s definitely not escapism.

It’s definitely not

nobody would read that for fun,I don’t think.

But fantasy has a amazingly long tradition

of being a safe way to processbad stuff happening.

The really, really, really classic example

being it’s not the Nazis movingacross Europe and threatening

London.It’s, you know,

the dark lord moving across MiddleEarth and threatening a Hobbit.

And I’m grossly oversimplifying there.

So please, you know.Yes, I know.

OK, but

but but realistically, I mean,fantasy is great for that.

And so I feel like maybe that’swhat I should be doing now.

So that’s that’s all the background nowI’m like, let’s what do I do with that?

Like that was an awful lot of setup.

It was way too much first act, Laura, sorry,

but I heard somebody sayyesterday they were talking about how this

is tough because the world has gone outof my control

and I’m hearing them say that, I was likethe world was never in your control.

Like like let’s just acknowledge that,

like, you had aspects that youfelt were predictable.

That’s fine.Sure.

But you never had control of the world.

And and I’ll be honest,

as a person of faith, I feel like there issomeone who has control of the world.

It’s definitely not me.And that helps.

But also acknowledging that I don’t havecontrol of the world and I never did

makes makes the

before and after a littleless dramatic, I guess.

So that’s one way to think about it.

So let’s talk about things that are

in my control because it sure ain’t theplanet and it sure ain’t other people.

So let’s talk about thingsthat are in my control.

And one of them is routine.

And this is I normallyam a very active person.

I travel a lot.

I go out of I go out of town regularlyto teach workshops in a non 2020 world.

I travel on

trips domesticallyand internationally frequently.

I, you know, was alwayson the move constantly.

And I drive an insane amountin a normal year, not 2020.

It was just let’s just say upfront,

everything is not-2020 or 2020.

And this year, since March my routinehas been blown out of the water.

I don’t drive.

I normally drive two or three times

with the average American doesin a year and I’m not driving at all.

And what I discovered quickly was

that because I’m not driving,that’s when I listen to my audio books,

that’s when I listen to my podcastsand that’s when I listen to my music.

And so I all of those things disappeared

from my life and I wasn’t evenreally thinking about it.

I certainly made, I never made a decision

to stop listening to podcastsor to stop listening to music.

But that’s when in my daythose things fit in.

And then they were that was gone.

And so I just kind of thosefell out on their own.

One of the things that I’m doingthen logically made perfect sense.

Oh, I’m staying at home.

Suddenly my Japanese language study will

just skyrocket because I haveall this time here at home.

No, I’m using a program called Wanikani,

which I have no affiliationwith whatsoever.

But if you’re trying to learn kanji,I actually recommend it.

It’s pretty good.

It does not teach Japanese,it teaches kanji.

So you’re just learning the characters,not the grammar,

but it’s a it’s a basically kanji

flashcard program,but a little bit better than that.

And I had been progressing pretty well

and pretty steadily until suddenlyin April when I was home all the time.

And my my Wanikani progress just took

a nosedive, just faceplanted in the sidewalk.

And I was like, why,how I have all this extra time?

How is it not how am Inot making progress?

Well, because I found out I did so muchof my Wanikani practice on my phone while

I was standing in linesomewhere or something.

I didn’t sit down and carve out,OK, it’s four o’clock.

I’m doing my kanji practice.

I just had a system where Iworked it in throughout the day.

So that change in routine,

even though it’s felt like somethingthat should give me a lot more time

to spend on it because it wasn’t builtinto my day anymore, it was gone.

So those are all things that I mean,one is just one example, but, you know,

podcasts, audio books, music, that’sthose are all art participation things.

Those are all refilling the gas tank.


that you,suddenly all of that was gone.

All of that input was gone.

And I didn’t even realize it at first.

I had no idea how much musicI was not listening to.

And then yesterday I was driving homefrom a medical appointment in my car and I

went ahead and I started some musicplaying on my phone through the car.

And I was like, whoa,I’m listening to music.

And it hit me that I have not listento music in months, and that’s crazy.

So just

kind of stepping back and assessing.

All right, look, I actually have control

over a lot of things that I could bemaking different choices about,

but it didn’t occur to meto put music back into my day.

And and I’m not binge watching

quite quite as much asa lot of people are.

I did I totally made room to watch the newUmbrella season, Umbrella Academy season.

But I haven’t.

I’ve still.

I never have watched too much TV,

and I still don’t even while I’m here,so but I should probably make make room

to put some more art back in ifI’m trying to get art out.

So that’s something I’m going to makesome conscious decisions about.

The other thing that I can do is

be a grown up,

I guess.

And this does not mean just muscle through

it and,you know, just have the moral fiber to be

better than this, because that’smy day job is in behavior.

That’s not how that works.

And that’s it’s really not how that works.Oh, hang on.

We got somebody

“in the lack of structure from external

events I feel like, thisis my sense of time

Is this big skein of yarn unraveling

endlessly into the future with nothingsolid to bump into to contain it.”

Yes.Yes, this is my life like I have.

I do not foresee a time where my days are

going to be differentthan they are right now.

I really, really don’t because sorry,

I don’t believe we’re goingto have a vaccine in two months.

It just it’s not going to happen.

So for the foreseeable future, this is it.

Which is part of the reason, honestly,

that I’m doing this,because I have there is no way in my 2019

life that I could have committedto regularly being in a studio

on a regular time having a regular

program, because I might have to bedriving somewhere to for a workshop.

I have to catch a plane or whatever.No, no.

Here, I’m OK.

Where else am I going to be?

And simply watch

the movie.

The movie I have quoted more than anyother this year, Zorro The Gay Blade.

I think it’s 1981.

But I could be wrongon the date, on the year.

But in it it’s just stand up.

It’s, it’s part Zorro moviepart send up of Zorro movie.

But in it one of the charactersis like oh wow.

Like this, this money was used on thisnecklace rather than on a you know,

public service, publicworks and public services.

You know, it’s just a little chastisement.

“Oh, you could have bought a lot of roads

with that, paid for a lot of roads forthe people” and the character’s like, “Roads?

What do the people need roads for?

They never go anywhere.”


it’s supposed to be just somebody being

like Marie Antoinette anddisdaining the common people.

But I just keep hearing, what do they needroads for, they never go anywhere.

And so what do we need calendars for?

What do we need cars for?

Whenever you never go anywhere.

Sorry, that was a bunnytrail and I went down it.

So, yeah.

Grace, I was thinkingabout you, Grace.

I usually see Grace this time of year.

Every year, Grace liveson the other side of the planet.

But we always get together in July and

yeah, that didn’t happen.

But we have the internet.


So anyway, where I was going is I need

to be an adult and make decisions, adultdecisions about things I can control.

One of the things that I have to make

adult decisions about is Iam a professional writer.

It is my job, so I should probably do it.

However I should do it is not enough.

Again, my day job is in behavior.

And “why aren’t you a better person?”

Isn’t a complete behavior plan itself.Fortunately though,

my day job is is behavior and I can comeup with a better behavior plan for this.

So let’s talk about ways that I’m getting

stuff done and I’m startingto make gear shifts for me

with the caveat that this is nota recipe, this is a guideline.

And please adapt to your own things.

I’m going to tell you things that areworking for me or that I intend to do.

I’m going to tell youhow to live your life.

If you want to curl up in a comforterunder the bed, I’m not going to stop you.


first off, work on other things.

So, yeah, let me let me start

with and I’ve got this novel that hasriots and a plague and freakin lot

of politics and honestly, some reallyheavy themes all built into it.

That sounds really hard right now.

But, you know, I could work on the water

story or I could work on the Havok storyor I could work on something else.

And I last night, I deliberately sat down

and started the storythat I was asked to do

as a featured author.

And I had so little ideaof what that was going to be.

And it was so bad.

And I just said, I’m going to keepgoing until I finish this.

It’s it’s relatively shortand a fairly easy word count.

Really short word count.

Short is not necessarily easy,usually the opposite for me.

But I had a fairly short count and

I am just going to keep typingno matter how hideous it is.

Until I complete a rough draft,

I did, it’s heinous.

Oh, my gosh, you guys, it is so badbut it’s done and I can edit a rough

draft, so I’m goingto work on something else.

And it’s going to be awful because I’m notin a place where my rough drafts are good.

I have multiple times sat down and written

a first draft, which was very nearlya final draft on at least two occasions.

I know I’ve written the first draft

that only changed a few wordsand one of them won an award.

One of them was published on firstsubmission and was nominated for an award.

Like, I can do that.

That ain’t happening in 2020.

There is no way I can expectthat in 2020.

We’re not doing that.

So I just need to puke some words ontothe screen and I can edit them later,

but I can work on other things becausethen something is getting done.

Water is going through the pump.

It’s not good waterbut the pump is not going to rust.

I have no idea if that analogy works.

I’m really sorry. It’s just this is whywords just come out of my mouth, OK?

And along with that,I am reducing expectations.

So as I just said, that first draftthat I just did is absolutely hideous.

I will be the first personto tell you it is wretched.

Nobody’s allowed to see it.It’s awful.

It looks like I vomited words on a page.

OK, but my goal wasn’tto get a finished draft.

My goal was to get words down.

You have to duct tape

the mouth of your inner editor and letyourself do some reduced-expectation work.


you know that when I.

Yeah, when I’m working with behavior,you know, we talk about shaping and I’m

starting with the lowest level, most grossapproximation of the finished behavior.

But you have to start somewhere and thenyou can refine it and make it better.

And that’s the exact same thing is true

for me right now with my roughdrafts and my writing

self care, I am not remotely goingto pretend to cover self care.

There’s a million and one blog posts,

articles, podcast,everything else about self care.

What I’m going to say is

maybe think about itin a little bit different way.

It’s not, light a scentedcandle and take a bubble bath.

Not that that’s wrong.

Feel free to do that ifit makes you happy.

But there are other more practical aspects

that I think get looked over frequentlyand possibly especially right now,

things like exercise

when we’re all staying home, whereit’s easier to get really sedentary.

And let me just be very clear.

I am not a runner.

I am not throwing shadeat anybody who’s not

doing some amazing workouts right now.

Quarantoned is not a realisticexpectation that I have, OK, but I am

consciously trying to monitormy activity level.

I don’t want to be completely sedentarybecause that affects my mood.

It affects my health.

It also affects my mood.

And the this is there’s a lotof documentation on this.

You know, if we get if we start sittingstill, we’re going to start getting harder

and harder to get in ahappier or better place.

So just be aware of that.

And again, that gets harder.

The more frustrated, the more depressed,

the more any of that that you getmovement gets harder.

So it’s something that youneed to intervene for.

At least I need to intervene early on.

Otherwise it can get cyclical.

And I’m aware of that.

And I use a, I have a Fitbit.

I use a step counter to just kindof monitor where I am with that.


all kinds of data on sunlightand mood and health.

So get some steps, go outdoors,get some vitamin D

so many ways that that isgood for you and diet.

And I know that

particularly in the US, this has notbeen associated with good eating habits.

Just going to tell you right now, look,

guys,this is eighty five percent dark chocolate

right here on my desk whileI’m having this conversation.


not not in any way pretendingthat I have the high road here, but

things to be aware of and I’m not goingto tell you like, oh, no,

we’re going to gain ten pounds and in induring the pandemic and it will be awful.

No, that’s not my point.

My point is actuallymore of a science-y bent

that we know how our microbiome,all the other flora in our gut,

actually has a big effect on ourmood and our abilities to

to focus

and all the thingsthat we’re talking about

and what we eatwill turn over that flora in our

microbiome and and have and havethat effect on our mood.

And so it’s

just, again, something to be aware of.

If I find myself getting into a cycle,oh, maybe I should make better choices.

Maybe that would make it easier for me

to make more better choicesand that sort of thing.

Oh, hang on.

There’s some stuff happening in the chat,and I completely missed it.

Hold on.

I’m sorry we get backand see what this says.

Oh, yeah.

Writing and exercisinghave a lot in common.

Starting is alwaysthe hardest part, right?

I mean, it’s easy to say, “oh,I’m going to sit down and start that.

I’m going to sit down and start the book.

I’m going to run a marathon.”

Yeah, I can’t just whip that off.

So, OK.

And oh, just get backon the exercise bike.


I always surprised surprise to rememberthat I actually like to exercise.

Right.It’s one of those things and I’m,

I’m the same way about showers and this isgoing to sound terrible and probably

somebody is going to takeit the wrong way.

But I’m always like,

oh I don’t want to get in the shower,I don’t want to get in the shower.

I don’t want to get in the shower.

And then you get the showerand you’re like, oh, it’s nice.

But I just that there’s a threshold thereand then you’re like, exercise.

Oh, I don’t want to work out,I don’t want to work out.

I don’t work at.Oh

I kind of like moving but maybenot working out but moving.

Yeah.So yeah.

And, and I am not above bribery.

I will completely bribe myselfinto doing things that is 100 percent.

I’m an adult.That makes it legal.

All right.I can make whatever deals I need to.


you know, I had something that I’ve been

looking at for my office for a while and Iwas debating on whether or not to do it.

My brand new office

I was debating whether or not to do it.

And then I said, OK,this that story that I was working on last

night, that I’m just going to keepgoing until I got to the end.

No matter how hideous it was,I got to the hideous, hideous,

hideous end and I hopped overto the online store and hit the button.

And that was my reward for getting tothrough that terrible first draft.

“So gardening has been my salvation.”Oh, yeah.

That is yes.It’s movement.

It’s sunlight.You get good, like you just hit everything

I just listed on one thing.

Gardening is one of those things that I amalways in awe of other people who do it.

My sister started a great new big,big new garden this year,

like as many people did, and I, I amhelping her by not touching her plants

when I go to visit.I can drop a cucumber at fifty paces.

Just that’s my skill so.Yeah.

Oh good, good.Somebody gets me about the shower thing.

Yes.Thank you.

Hate getting in and theydon’t want to leave.

See.OK, I’m so glad that it’s not just me

because it just sounds like Inever wash, and

I swear that’s not 100 percent true.OK, yeah.

Reinforcement.Oh I think I’m so glad I understand

positive reinforcementand behavior right now.

I don’t know how people who don’t

understand that aregetting through anyway.

Oh, let’s go back tolet’s go back to topic Laura.

That be a good thing.So what was I saying.

Oh microbiome.

Just be aware that I’m nottelling you not to eat junk food.

By all means, eat the junk food,

but be aware that if you’re only eatingthe junk food, it will affect your mood.

And that’s just science.All right.

The other thing, I have a secret weapon

that I pull out on a fairly regular basis,and I’ve done this for a long time.

And it’s a surface,

And it’s a

oh, if I were if I were a good programmer,

I would have looked thisup before I did my show.

They’re not binaural beats.That’s something different.

But it is something else where they’veprogrammed the music in a certain way.

There’s beats in a certain way that it

will affect it actually makes itfeel a little bit like movement.

And it can it’s it’s stimulatingthe brain in a certain way.

There’s some research out there on it.

I’m sure, you know what, I’m going to say

if it’s a placebo effect,

it’s an effective enough placeboeffect that I’m willing to pay for it.

So I have a lifetime membership to the site.

So I use their music fairly often.

And prior to 2020,

any time I had to sit downand do my accounting,

not my favorite chore.OK,

but if I do sit down and either go throughexpense reports or you know,

calculate all my book expenses and salesor whatever, any time I had to sit down

and do my math, I would turnon Brain FM and let that play.

For about five or 10 minutesin my in my head

and then get in and do my accounting,and it made it honestly, like, again,

if it’s a placebo effect,it was worth paying for

because I feel like itdoes make a difference.

And I’ve used it for theyhave focus versions.

They have creative versions.

They have sleep versions,

which I frequently would useon a plane while I was traveling.

Anyway, it can just help get yourbrain into the mode that you want.

And if you don’t believe in it, fine.

And if you do believe in it, fine.

And if you’re like, I don’t believe in it,

but I believe in faking myselfinto thinking it works fine.

So OK.Yeah.

Brown noise.Yeah.

And some people who do that kind of thing

to spend that kind of stuffdoesn’t work well for me.

You match to your mileage of course.

But you know, this is something that isallegedly it has more programming to it.

You know what I’m willing to say?

There’s there’s some science to it.

I know that some of the way the sleep ones

work and I’m not not prepared to havea scientific discussion on this,

but the the beats are just slightly you

know, the emphasis in the musicis just slightly there.

And it’s designed to beused with headphones.

So you get a little bit of a surround

experience and it does just a little bitto make you feel like you’re rocking.

And it is not a conscious effect,like you’re not going to feel disoriented

or dizzy or anything,but you’re listening to it.

But it does just enough to kind of getyour brain into a little bit of a swaying,

rocking, cradling motion and then youcan quietly go to sleep.

So whatever your mileage may vary

the Bill Evans channel on Pandora,

I am not familiar with that one,but thanks for throwing it

into the chat because this issomething that we can check out.

So anyway, just where I’m goingwith that is have a fight and find

a secret weapon,find something that does work.

I have my own writing playlist.

Of course, I don’t tend to do a playlistper project, but I do general

mood playlists or just general I’mgoing to write something playlists

and or I’ll just get in a particular

mode and I’ll be like, I needLindsey Stirling in my life or something.

Excuse me.

So that’s something I need to be moreconscious about putting in,

because like I said,most of my music listening time was built

into other things, like being in the carthat I know are not happening now.

Jazz piano, OK, yeah.

And just find find the thingthat works for you and bring it in.

And then again, I just go back to,you know, word vomit.

I’m going to reduce expectations.

I’m going to throw a bunchof stuff on the page.

And one of the things I have found over

the years is the less I edit,the less I worry about making my first

draft good,the better my first draft usually is.

And I say usually because I knowlast night my first draft was bad.

It’s very, very bad,

but it’s better than it would have been if

I had been stressing about, oh,gosh, look how bad this is.

I need to fix it before I can go on,because then I would still be there

17 hours later trying to make it workand it’s not going to be working.

So reducing expectation.

So, uh, three, three years ago, Ihad some sort of we still don’t know

exactly what it was,but I had some sort of infection

in my thyroid that just kind of wreakedhavoc on my brain and my focus.

I first started noticing something waswrong, not physically,

but because I couldn’t concentrate,I couldn’t focus on things.

And I started swapping words like I wouldbe typing and I would swap homonyms.

I’m sorry.Yeah.

And look I’m doing it right now.

And these are like I would write theirinstead of there, that kind of stuff.

And this is stuff that Iit’s not what I do.

I’m I’m a professional writer.

I know which there is there.

But I would just swap it and then I’d come

back and I’d catch it and be like,this is not me, what’s going on?

And we finally thenthen I started noticing

eventually some physical thingsthat led us to a thyroid diagnosis.

And I had all kinds of stuff going on,blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I also had a story deadlinethat I was supposed to be writing,

turning in a story.

And it was not happening because I

couldn’t stay focused and I couldn’twrite and I couldn’t do anything.

And my editor for that storywas really, really kind.

She saw, you know,we were connected on social

media and she’s like, hey,I know you got stuff going on.

If you need a littleextra time, let me know.

And I’m like,no, like I’m going to get this done.

And so I just, you know, again, it was oneof those things where I just sat down.

I’m like, I’m just goingto keep my fingers moving.

I don’t really know what’s going to come

out, but I’m going to keepmy fingers moving.


I just

puked up a story and it was,

you know, painful, like painful, it’slike pulling teeth to get things out.

But, you know, that actually turned outlike once I just once I just said,

I’m just going to go and I don’t carehow bad it is, I can fix it later.

It actually came out a lotbetter than I expected.

And it actually turned out to be a storythat I really, really, really like now.

And and I just sold a reprint of it.

So, like, it’s a,

you know,

getting out of your ownway is a big part of this.

And just understanding that I don’t itdoesn’t have to be good the first time.

It really, really doesn’t.

So I’m just going to puke some words.

So anyway, this is this is where I am.

One of the things I wanted to invite and Imentioned this very briefly last last

night during one of my franticattempts to reconnect with people


so many people have told me that they are

relying more and more,not only because we want to connect

with other human beings who are not allof us are seeing on a regular basis.

But but we just kind of wantmoral support in the creativity.

So next week, next Tuesday,

we’re going to have a group create in herehere in this virtual space right here.

And I’m not calling it a writein because I don’t care if you write.

I don’t care if you draw.

I don’t care if you’re editing video,if you’re cross stitching, whatever.

just the only the only thing

that I’m asking is that you come and youbring something creative to work on.


and we’re just going to be kind of a moralsupport space while we work on things.

And I’m I’ll tell you right now,I’m usually not a great fan of write ins.

I’m not good like,

“oh, let’s a bunch of us meet up

at a coffee shop and write together” I can’t work that way.

That’s not how I get stuff done.

But I am frequently happy to host

something like that so otherpeople can get stuff done.

And I’m all about the moral support

and I’m training myself to be betterworking in different environments.

And hey, this one next week I’ll still be

in my own house before I’m like,I don’t have to worry about

noise from the coffee shop orwhatever that might be in the way.


So if you if you if you are interested,

please join me next next week we’re goingto have a little bit of a work in a create-in

and it will be very, very,very loosely structured where we have some

work time, some chat time,some work time, some chat time.

And you can come and goor do whatever you want.

Oh yes.Sorry, I was just getting to that.

Will it be organized and sprintswith talk time or more free form.

I’m going to say it’llbe somewhere in between.

We are not going to talk while we’re

working because that personallymakes me rage-y

But I,

I don’t know that it’s going to be superorganized because I

sounds like more structure than Ipersonally want to impose on anybody.


but yeah, it’ll probably be a little bit.

Hey, let’s work on this.

Hey does anybody have you know,do you want to brag on what you did.

Did you have a question?

Do we need to talkthrough some some stuff?

Do we have any ideas on howto unstick, you know, whatever

that kind of thing is.So very ish.


do you guys have anything?

You’ve been fantastic aboutthrowing stuff in the chat.

Do you have any other things that are just

really great tools for youthat you would like to throw in?

My direction, because I am wideopen to suggestions this year

for so many reasons.

So, you know, always feel freeto throw stuff into the chat


Yeah, so that’s that’s mostof what I had for tonight.

And I think that I made it throughthe entire thing without dropping.

And the lights are on and my light,my little LED is glowing.

So I think this is good.

So thank you guys very,very much for coming back

tonight and for hanging out with meand for throwing things in the chat.

And I am — absolutely I have somethings that I want to talk about,

but I’m absolutely open forrequests or suggestions on

business or craft orcreativity or anything.

And I’ve got some what I’m hoping is some

pretty cool things that will be coming upthat confirmed enough yet for me to,

uh, to to say yet,because I don’t want to mislead people,

but I’m hoping there will besome cool stuff coming up.

Oh, yeah.

For The Words. I know a couplepeople who use For The Words.

It’s a browser based video gameand she’s explaining here.

So you write and your word countbasically counts as your attacks

for different mobs as you go through, so.

Oh, so you would have completely stopped

writing in March without it,then hey you know what? then it worked.

Awesome. Grace used FocusMate a few times.

Oh, interesting.

A 50 minute video, random video call withthe stranger who wants to get stuff done.

That sounds amazing and terrifying.

So obviously, obviously there’s a market

for that and there arepeople who benefit from it.

So that’s fantastic.

“It really stuck. I avoid it because I knowit will make it work.”

That is the downsideof being an adult,

There is no adult-ier adult to make you adult,

you have to be your own adult.

Such a pain.So yeah, I,

I get that.

I was talking with a friend about,

you know using.Yeah.

As I said I’m using bribes but usingreinforcement for, for myself.

But OK, if I do this then I can have that.

She’s like “but I just get that.”Like, like I can’t help you.

But at some point yougot to tell yourself.

“You will get it when youget this,” like I’m sorry.

There you go.

So OK.

Well hey guys, I thank you somuch for hanging out with me.

I am going to wrap here because I need

to go get a drink because Ileft my water downstairs.

So I’m real glad nobody

clicked the make me hydrate button becauseI left my water downstairs.

So I’m starting to feel that now we get

that and then I’m going to sitdown and work on my words.

Tonight, I have a short story that’s

hideous, that needs revision, and I haveanother story that needs a first draft.

And so I’m going to workon one of those two

and maybe maybe next time I’ll tell you

how it wentor maybe next time I’ll just really hope

that everybody forgot and wewon’t talk about it at all.

One of the two.So

thanks for hanging out and Iwill see you guys next Tuesday.

Oh, I do want to mention I’m moving

the time back a little bit because I washearing from people

that it was a little bitinconvenient being that early in Eastern,

that time in Eastern meantit was pretty early in other time zones.

So people do that.Yes, Joe, do the words!

We are all going to do the words.

I’m going to go do the words right now.

And then I will

tell you next week how many words I did.That’s the plan.

All right.Thank you, guys.

Thanks for coming.I hope it was fun.

And yeah, I will see you later.Take care.

Go, go do something fun. Good night!

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