I love to learn, and I've been sharing what I learn on this blog for almost 6 years now!
I had an email from a lady the other week and she asked me, “How do you continue when things are tough?” This could be about writing, or just life in general, but for me, it's about constantly learning from others and changing based on what I learn.
When I first started this site, my mentors were people making a full-time living online and the mindset of entrepreneurship – which helped me escape my day job.
Then I learned about writing books and non-fiction, and then about writing fiction and deeper creativity. I feel like I circle around these topics, learning new things from new people all the time. I devour books every week, writing copious notes in my many Moleskine notebooks. I'm a learning junkie, but I also try to put things into action, and this keeps me constantly motivated.
There have been some key mentors in my life, but all their teaching has come from books, seminars and online programs, not from 1:1 discussion.
These people put their knowledge out in multiple formats to help a broader spectrum at one time, and I now try to do the same. When people email me asking to be mentored, I say ‘go read my books, read this blog, listen to the podcasts, or come and hear me speak' that's how I pass on the mentoring relationship. I hope you will do the same with what you learn.
Our mentors change over time, so I wanted to highlight some of mine at the moment.
Robert McKee STORY conference
I've just returned from the 4 day intensive STORY course taught by Robert McKee, and it was absolutely mind-blowing.
I've now written 8 fiction books – from short stories, to novellas and novels, and I felt that this was exactly the right time for me to learn what he had to teach. I was going to blog about what I learned but seriously, I have 130 pages of notes and it was way too deep to try and capture in sound-bites. I'm also going to be processing for a few weeks before trying to incorporate it all into my 2015 creative works. It's not about screenwriting, so much as story itself and how that resonates through people for maximum human impact.
If you want to check out this stuff, read the book STORY, and if you are serious about investing in your creative writing career, then take the multi-day seminar. He also has an online video program, Storylogue, but to be honest, I think the live experience is far superior (but obviously more expensive!)
Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Dean and Kris have 30+ years as full-time writers and they've seen the full spectrum of what the publishing industry can offer – from trad pub deals, to indie, to owning their own publishing company and physical bookstore.
Their advice is completely devoid of any hype or short term tactics, it's all about creating a long-term successful career as an author. They are also both prolific writers and incredibly humble, plus they're fun, and seem to have a good marriage 🙂 What better mentors to have!
I've read all their various non-fiction books and taken a number of courses. The ones that have particularly helped me are:
- The Pursuit of Perfection and How It Harms Writers
- Course on Productivity – how to write more words per day, get more hours in the chair and get out of your own way.
- Paying the Price Lecture – for those who take this writing life seriously and want to have longevity in the market
Turning Pro is the only book I own in print, ebook and audiobook. Pressfield kicks my ass every time I read or listen to it, and I make sure to read it every January to assess whether or not I am closer to being a ‘pro.'
When I interviewed Steve earlier this year on my podcast, it was a true pinnacle, because talking to someone who had been a mentor to me for years was very special. You'll hear it in my voice – I am a little star-struck!
I've been listening to the audiobook of Turning Pro in the last few weeks, trying to up my creative game. Pressfield's books are really about mindset and what really matters, leaving behind the ephemeral to get to the heart of why we do what we do.
His quote from Krishna is particularly important to me right now: “You have the right to your labor, not the fruits of your labor.” Think on that before moaning about book sales!
I've said before that I was so inspired by Tony's self-help books and information that my aim was to become a professional speaker like him, and change people's lives in the way he does. His book, Awaken the Giant Within, helped me to overcome a lot of mindset issues and start to create, another pivotal moment in my move from IT consultant to creativity. I've never been to one of his live events, although that is on my list for the next couple of years.
But Tony makes my list again at the moment because of his new book, Money: Master the Game. It's his first book in many years and comes from his anger over the 2008 global financial crisis and how the lack of financial education costs people far more than they could imagine. I consider myself a decent enough business-woman, but I have made my share of financial mistakes, both in business and in property. I've been reading this book slowly, and will continue to re-read until I understand it and have made the changes necessary to my own financial setup. It's incredibly value packed and may change your life! I have bought the print edition as well as digital as it is the kind of book you need to digest slowly.
I listen to podcasts when I do chores or go to the gym, or travel and I find it's a great way to learn about new things and discover lessons learned from people in all walks of life. I'm loving the Tim Ferriss show at the moment and particularly enjoyed this episode with Kevin Kelly. I also like the James Altucher show, particularly this episode with Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame.
In terms of self-publishing and related topics, I also listen to the Self-Publishing Podcast (for laughs NSFW), the Sell More Books show (for news and marketing tips), the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast (for deeper interviews with top self-publishers), and I've just started listening to the Author Biz, about author-entrepreneurship.
Put away your self-development inner cynic!
I hope I don't have too many cynics in my audience – after all, my relentless positivity would probably put you off over time! The world I live is in brimming with possibilities and exciting projects and a never-ending stream of learning and creating. If your world doesn't feel that way, then you need a kick in the creative rear!
These are just a few of my mentors at the moment who help me push the boundaries of what I can achieve in my week, my year and my life. You will need to find your own mentors for what you need to learn, but DO find them. After all, if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room!
I'd love to hear about some of your mentors, now or in the past, preferably from books/seminars/courses so others can benefit. Please do leave a comment below and join the conversation.
Flickr Creative Commons: still learning by Anne Davies