Tag Archives: freelance

Top 10 Newsletters For Writers and Everyone Needing Some Creative Inspiration

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of some of my favorite inspiring, informative, and encouraging newsletters for writers and everyone interested in a little creative inspiration. All are free, and 1 or 2 offer paid subscriptions for more posts.  Greater input means greater output. Or they just make great fodder for further procrastination.

1. The Paris Review has been in existence since 1953 and showcases the best the literary world has to offer. It’s filled with short stories, interviews, and poetry, both current as well as from the last century, that are both inspiring and enlightening. Subscriptions to the newsletter are free, and there are several options to choose from. Well worth the time to read both the latest and those from the archives.

2. 10 Things Worth Sharing is a weekly newsletter from Austin Kleon, best-selling author of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work, and Keep Going. His blog, which he adds to almost daily, is just one of the most interesting and thought-provoking collections of information, book reviews, music, movies, ideas, and ruminations on life. I’ve learned so much from his work, and the info he provides has led me to so many new people and ideas to research further.

3. The Imperfectionist is from Oliver Burkeman, the author of Four Thousand Weeks. He is a productivity guru with a fantastic insight into just what productivity is, understanding our limits, and explaining how to accomplish the truly important goals in our lives. His newsletter is a reminder of how to keep things in perspective and stop spinning our wheels trying to do the impossible.

4. Craft Talk comes by way of Jami Attenberg, author and essayist. She also promotes the writing challenge #1000words of summer, and several more random writing challenges throughout the year. Her newsletter is an honest, open window into the everyday life of a best-selling author and the challenges, hard work, and rewards it offers. She also provides advice to authors at every stage of their work.

5. The Art of Noticing from the book of the same name, is by Rob Walker. One of the most important parts of exercising creativity comes from our ability to use all our senses to notice what most people overlook, and his newsletter provides all the prompts that will inspire and challenge you to do just that. He has a very relaxed, easy-to-read style of writing.

6. Internet Archive is a digital, non-profit library of free books, movies, music, videos, software, and more. Their archive is beyond extensive; they are the largest digital library in the world. The newsletter highlights some of their accomplishments, new additions, and progress in their journey to digitizing basically everything.

7. Subtle Maneuvers is a twice-monthly newsletter from Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals. In it, he shares his thoughts, advice, and insight on how well-known individuals have overcome struggles, challenges, and time constraints and gone on to produce great creative works, and how you can too.

8. The Honest Broker is an interesting and informative weekly insight from music critic, author, and musician Ted Gioia. In it he shares little known information about music and culture, sharing stories and research collected over many years, and writes eloquently and honestly about subjects you can feel his passion for. I’ve made some great Spotify playlists based on his recommendations.

9. Iridescent Ordinary is a recent find for me. It’s by Rubi McGrory, and it’s a fun, lighthearted, and gentle approach to maintaining a daily practice. Delivered twice a week, it offers tips, workshops, playlists, meditations, and other reminders to step back and breathe. Good nudge for anyone trying to establish any type of daily routine, whether it be writing, exercising, or meditating.

10. Total Annarchy is a twice-monthly newsletter from author and marketing expert Ann Handley. It’s loaded with info on both writing and marketing. She’s got a great writing style, a great sense of humor, and a great reservoir of information.

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Creativity is Nonlinear

From Austin Kleon’s
Steal Like An Artist

As I pursue this passion for writing that I’ve had since I was a child, I find myself revisiting many subjects I have written about before, as well as other attempts I’ve made at expressing my creativity. Lately, I’ve gone back to doing graphite drawings of old signs. I’ve always been fascinated by the expressive fonts as well as the old-fashioned art of sign making. Must be tied into my love of words.

All of this has bolstered my deconstruction of the creative process, which is also a favorite subject of mine.

One of the most challenging, as well as exciting parts of pursuing your creative instincts is the nonlinear path it takes. There is no destination point, no moment when you’ve “arrived”. Just an endless stream of loops and twists, usually mirroring our lives in the process. Each project we take on leads us to something else or winds us back to the beginning. That dreaded blank page or canvas. Each harvest leaves us wondering what to plant next, and that we probably should have planted those seeds in the ground already.

It never gets easier. Whether it’s your source of income or your means of creative expression, you still have to make the first move. The muse will not come looking for you, and gently guide you by the hand. Inspiration will not come and hunt you down. In the words of Laurie Anderson, “None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.”

Everyone has their own unique rituals for waking that inspiration inside. And not one of them is foolproof. My latest one is to sit quietly, drink one complete cup of coffee, and just let my brain wander for 20 minutes or so. I don’t read emails, check social media or the news before I’m done. It seems to allow my brain to clear itself, and go wherever it wants to go right now, but then it’s time to get to work. There’s no guarantee that this will work tomorrow, or next week. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mason Curry’s Daily Rituals is just loaded with the rituals of some of the most creative and inventive minds in history. It’s a fascinating look at how different, yet alike we all are.

Did I mention it never gets easier? There is so much happening around us, so much changing in our lives every day. Things we notice and those we don’t. Jobs change, relationships change, and sometimes the people we count on and believe will always be in our lives are suddenly gone. Finding a way to insulate ourselves from success, from failure, from the bumpy ride we are on, we must rely on our creativity for that beacon of light. It can be the only constant in our lives. Only for today, because tomorrow is never promised, and yesterday is long gone. Make something beautiful today.

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Every Small Step Is Progress

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year? Or the end of the month? What steps will it take to reach those goals? These words echo in my head each and every day.

Setting goals is a major part of becoming who we want to be, but they can just as easily set us up for failure. Finding that middle ground, those attainable steps that push us forward, without burning us out in a month or leaving us too much time for doom scrolling and binge-watching. Not reaching that goal you set of 2500 words a day will not make you work harder. It will just stall out whatever progress you are making. Be kind to yourself and set goals that may stretch you, but you know you can do. Success fuels us to continued success and accomplishments to more accomplishments.

Many self-help books and articles will tell you to take your goals, break them down monthly, then weekly, then daily. Sounds simple enough. It’s a very defined, organized, check it off the list and move to the next item approach. Just one task after another. It’s structured, it’s orderly, and there’s not a lot of decision-making or creativity involved. Seems very logical. I, however, am not. I’m just not that deliberate. I sit down Monday morning, look at the list, and instantly decide I want to paint today (even though I had hours I could have done that the day before). Or clean the grout in the shower. Or take my car in for an oil change or do anything at all that’s not on that list, even if it’s something I’ve been putting off for years. It feels like someone is telling me what to do and I don’t want to do it, whatever it is.

I’ll be the first to admit, this is still a learning process for me. Right now, setting up my goals for the week has been the best method for me. I like to work on multiple projects at a time, and this allows me the freedom to do that. On Friday afternoon, I set up my list of what I need to accomplish the following week. That way, I do have some structure and deadlines, but it’s not so forced. When I’m not so “task oriented” I also remember to pay attention to what’s happening around me and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Spontaneous lunch with an old friend-absolutely! Although it’s not on my list, it’s creative input, and generates ideas for that next article about the challenges we are all facing these days. Knowing my goals for the next week also gives me the weekend to think about those projects, keep them floating around in my subconscious, and get excited about them. Taking notes of course because I inevitably forgot that great idea character name I just had an hour ago.

Reevaluating our aspirations regularly reinforces our motivation and helps us to see what is and isn’t working. It also offers insight into what is truly important to us.

Goals can make or break us. It just depends on how willing you are to be honest with yourself. What you think you should be able to do versus what you know you can do. Remember to keep your eye on the prize, whether it’s fame, fortune, artistic expression, or just making a nice life for yourself. One step at a time, however small it may seem, gets us that much closer. Just keep moving forward.

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Filed under amwriting, Art, Creativity, freelancer, Writing, writinglife