10 June 2016

Day 30: On Setting Creative Boundaries

via wilwheaton.net

A sucker for blue eyes and mood lighting, I didn't need to see who was actually posting the link to this photograph to convince me to click

And then I saw it was Wil Wheaton. 

While I haven't been keeping up with Wil's life reboot as closely as my inner 9 year old fan girl would like to, I've always had mad respect for Wil's journey. He's a hero of sorts, even though he never really signed up to be.

What makes Wil an unlikely hero? 

  1. He knows his shit - Actor, writer, director, TV show host, gamer, geek, helped of humans, father, husband, lover of cool shit. 
  2. He does shit - Writing (this was book that solidified my nerdcrush), gaming on TV, creating cool resources for geeks and rebooting his entire life so he can feel better? YUSSSS!
  3. He makes times for shit - See reboot comment above, the post Wil wrote about his reboot and rest of blog post for deets
I'll leave it to you to take it upon yourself to read about his journey. I can only say it's interesting and inspiring as hell, especially from the standpoint of a fellow creative human in a similar struggle.

Being an adult means you have to do all these things you don't wanna do. When "old people" who were like in their 30s used to tell me to take care of myself cos it gets harder, I didn't wanna believe them. And I wouldn't have unless I lived with & cared for awesome grandparents with failing health.

Okay, adulting - you win.

Then I decided to live a life in which I also did creative schtuff. This is great when you have a supportive community around you (family, friends, Etsy homies). I was blessed enough to have that.  And like Wil, knowing that there's a creative community out there that enjoys and thrives off your contributions can make you feel a huge sense of duty to them... even to the point that you put them before yourself.

So when you start the inevitable burn out that comes with giving to a community, your friends who are going though some shit and your family, you start to think about who's gonna take care of you.  
Then, in a weird lucid moment that usually accompanies a pile of all-nighters you pulled to make deadlines, you realize that's YOUR job.



Taking care of other people is easy for me. I enjoy helping other humans and I don't suck at it. People have told me this. Should you need them, I am more than willing to provide several letters of reference. *cheeky wink*

But taking care of myself? NOPE! Gross.

Wil made a conscious decision to set creative boundaries when he said he wasn't going to cons this summer. And speaking from the nerd business perspective, this was a f*ckin' bold move on his part.

I have to stay home and write. I have to find my way back to the art. I have to find my way back to being a creative person who makes stories and characters and creative things, instead of being a person who hosts stuff, does things which are transactional nonfiction, and spends lots of time on the road talking about those things.

Ruh-roh! That highlighted line hit me deep in my guts. 

The truth is that I'm on a different creative level that Mr. Wheaton, but it does not diminish the fact that I spend time talking about things, gathering info, researching and planning out things. This all takes up about 99% of my time. The rest of it is devoted to family. So when I'm faced with DOING the actual creative things I set out to do... I'm burned out.

So - if I were one of my clients, I would tell myself to stop doing all the things and make time for myself. This is what my editor has been telling me for about 6 weeks.


It took reading about how someone else needed to set up his creative boundaries to get myself to the point where I could honestly say I needed to carve out personal time. I only didn't want to do that because all of the active socializing has been incredibly helpful thus far and has really started to shape how I approach this book writing process.

But then you'd gotta write.

So I will. I will schedule time and I will sit down to do that chunk of writing.

Then I will schedule in more time to set up nerd JERK patterns.

And then I will schedule time to snuggle my family. Okay - maybe I'll sneak in some snuggling.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog and/or peeking in to see how it's going. I truly appreciate the kind comments about enjoying this so far. 

I may not be consistent, but at least I do some of the things. I was setting some boundaries I didn't even realize I needed.

- Steph

08 June 2016

Day 28: Invisible Posts?

We're kinda making the same face!

I was trying to debate whether to use a picture of myself or this adorable cat laughing at the ridiculousness of this post. The cat won, so you're welcome, internets.

You may or may not believe me (and I shouldn't care because, really, I'm just failing myself), but I have outlined 5 other days of posts and not finished writing them all. It seems that something else always comes up. Whether it's an event where other writers will be hanging out or an appointment with everybody's favorite douchebro, I'm doing stuff that doesn't permit me to put words onto screens.

If Blogger had a decent app that just allowed me to email posts from my iPhone (*cough* tumblr! *cough*), I'd like to think we wouldn't be in this predicament.

But I'm probably kidding myself about that, too, right?

I also don't happen to have enough writing projects because I started another one up again...

Maybe I just need LOTS of different things to write ALLLLLLL of the time? Maybe I just think you're all bored with me? 

The problem with writing these blog posts is that I'm still shouting out into the abyss. I'm usually fine with that. I like shouting well enough. But right now, when I have to make decisions on how to use my time best, it's starting to back-burner itself hardcore.

What is the return on my investment with writing these posts every day? 

There are lots... hold on...


  1. Getting to practice writing everyday
  2. Finding my voice and a good balance on seeing what works and what's "rough"
  3. Building up a body of work that I can say, "See? I say words about stuff!"
  4. Somewhere in those words, people might find comfort and/or usefulness
  5. Somewhere in that comfort and/or usefulness, they might share it with someone else
  6. More comfort and/or usefulness potential

Oh, alllll right, you guys. You convinced me. I'll get to work.

- Steph

07 June 2016

Day 26 - On Taking a Compliment on One's Social Media Feed

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my face attempting to take a compliment. 

The first thing you may notice is the furrowed brow, usually reserved for disbelief in words coming out the mouths of well-meaning individuals. You would not be misreading that.

A raised eyebrow in further disbelief and possible accusatory "Dafuq?"-ness? 
Yep - I'm guilty of that as well.

This was my face when my friend, Natalie, gave me compliment on my use of social media. She didn't take me as a person who would have time to update her Facebook, as I'm usually pretty busy. But I guess I'd shared some fun things and she enjoyed them. When she shared this enjoyment, I reacted in disbelief.

I shouldn't do that and neither should you.

This is where the manners your mama taught ya come in handy and you graciously smile whilst saying, "Why thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed that!" If you're REALLY smart, you also ask what they enjoyed so you can engaged with your friends in a more meaningful way that you both enjoy.

(There was a lot of "enjoy" in that sentence - where's my Thesaurus-Rex when I need him?)



So let that be a lesson to you all. Take a compliment and think of ways to thank people for liking your work. 

PRO TIP: Ask your friend what kinds of things they like ready in their feeds and try to see how you can work that into your social media in a meaningful way.

I'm gonna try practising this move more often at social events. I'm also going to try spreading out the love on my feeds a little more. There's a bit in my book where I have a lot of research to do about social media automation in order for maximum audience engagement. We'll see how it works in the real world, eh?

- Steph

05 June 2016

Day 25: Little Love Letters of Fashion

Textile artist, Rebecca Saylor, felt inspired to sketch me in a dress with a pram. I love her.

Back when I was cool, I used to draw - A LOT! I would ride public transit around San Francisco and just sketch random humans. Sometimes they were hot and I was instantly in love with them. Sometimes they just looked so ridiculous, I *HAD* to get it on paper.

On one such instance, I was drawing a ridiculous hipster on the BART and the person sitting next to me nudged me, pointed at my sketchbook and nodded toward the guy. When I smirked and rolled my eyes, we both shook with silent giggles while this b.o. laden dude bobbed to his super hip music.

Those quick sketches made me so happy. I still carry around a tiny sketch book these days and sneak snapshots of people at events. There's something about listening to speakers while drawing them that makes me happy.

Photo by Rebecca Saylor
When my crafty twin, Rebecca Saylor of Oodle Ba Doodle, sent me a text on Sunday with a sketch of a pretty girl in a polka dot mint dress, I was instantly in love. When she told me that she'd sketched it because she missed me, my heart broke a little and I *almost* started tearing up.

Rebecca also has been sketching lately, mainly to unwind and  do something new. When I asked her what had inspire her to start this series of drawings, she said:

They are just for fun. I wanted to learn to do fashion sketching so I just started watching people around me and trying to interpret that onto paper - I'm a super beginner. I like to think of them as little love letters of fashion.

Getting one of her love letters made my day in a huge way. I'd been feeling a bit down as of late and she perked me right up. I mean, a PRAM in the background?! C'MON! I ***LURVE*** the idea of being British enough for a PRAM!

What can I say, the woman knows my taste. She did design & make my wedding dress, after all!

And then there are those love letters (YOU know the ones) for the folks that are just TOO good.

This hipster was so over the top, he was practically begging to be immortalized! I'd like to thank Rebecca for capturing his douche essence so perfectly, from his redonkulous hat to those tubes socks with sandals.

I can't wait to see whatever she draws in the future. You can check out her sketches by following her on Instagram. You'll also get sneak peeks behind the scenes of her lastest plsuh creations she designs and her cats! Oooooohhh, the cats!

Loves and sketches.

- Steph

04 June 2016

Day 24: Shutting Up to Write on Paper

The first completely full Shut Up & Write Boise event I've ever been it! - via
I've been experiencing the magic of Shut Up & Write for a while now. I'd like to think the sparkle hasn't worn off. And it hasn't. People keep coming in and contributing. It's a wonderful environment in which to steep, letting all the creative juices flow through you.

What's been wonderful to witness is the evolution of everyone's projects. Dick finished a book and is tweaking things now. Conda is working on another part of her series. Nick is trying to get people to back him for a indie publishing deal (like Kickstarter for books!) through InkShare. These guys are hardcore.

I didn't even mention Natalie and her memoir. She's in a tight editing crunch and I'm just in awe of the process. This weekend she posted that the Panic Monster was rearing its ugly head (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to watch this Ted Talk about what it's like to be inside the mind of a procrastinator). I suggested the following:

She never got back to me. She's very serious & probably hard at work now. ;)

But Natalie shared something with me that I'd heard before, but had forgotten (because we creatives only have so much bandwidth, right? Okay - we humans...).

Natalie wrote her book on paper.

Like, with a pen in a notebook.

I've heard of this. It's how I do ALLLLLLLL of my other writing. I'm super old school. I hardly ever take notes on my phone; I've always got my outlines and poetry done in journals. 

Seriously, I have at least 5 different notebooks with different purposes that I tote around with me everywhere. I totally get made fun of, but it works, because I know where my notes are, dammit!

Same goes for pens. I have no shortage of pens. I adorable pretty much any writing implement you'll let me get my pudgy little hands on. I have a denim pen roll that I squeeze two pencils and a Micron into sometimes. 

I really like writing and drawing, you guys.

So when Natalie and Lori from the group both shared about how they were transferring their books from their notebooks on their laptops and editing/adding things as they went, something inside me went, "Well, you've got nothing to lose."

I'm proud to report that after a week of only writing a post-it's worth of brilliance, I filled 3 (almost 4) pages full of delightful wisdom that I really am pretty proud of.

I guess I'm just had to put it on paper.

Thanks to Natalie and Lori for the inspiration and Greg, as always, for his patience and encouragement.

- Steph

03 June 2016

Day 23: Tiny Screens and Self-Esteems

"How ever will anyone find my hashtags on my authentically sourced manuscript?" she asked herself, hoping someone would notice how very early 90's "Blossom" slash Tom Petty she looked. (via)
On my way to work on a tiny screen, I started writing my book this week. The big book - the biggest thing I'll have ever created other than a human. (Humans count, right?)

It was going pretty well, all things considered. Sure - it was only 8 minutes with which to expound upon the joys of selling one's knitted puppy apparel, but those were 8 minutes I would've wasted staring at old farts in frumpy Fiats on the freeway.

Later on in the week, I decided I needed to do more than spend 8 minutes tapping at a screen. So I set up shop at a local coffeehouse/garage, treating myself to a mocha with whipped cream after an intense workout and got to work... reading things that would just make me hate & doubt myself for HOURS!

Lemme give you a pro-tip: 

Do not ask Louis C.K. if you're a writer, even if only through Google. If you do, he will tell you:
"I typically don't write out in the world. I think people who do that are exhibitionists, showing off that they are writers. And I say that because I've done it -- you want to be in a coffeehouse with your notebook and look really thoughtful."

And if you're procrastiworking by doing research for what makes a great expert, you could also twist in the winds of self-doubt for hours after reading the following super insightful article from the Editor-In-Chief & Director of 99U, Sean Canda:  

The Creative World's Bullshit Industrial Complex: 
Don't fall into the trap of being an expert before you're ready. We have enough of those.

Add in some insecurity and self-doubt and you've got the PERFECT writing environment in which to assure creative humans that they can achieve their dreams with a little help from a friend... moi.

Needless to say, at this point, I felt like utter shite. Who was I to advise them on how to be awesome? I was barely holding together my awesomeness... or what was now seeming to be perceived awesomeness.

As the post-punk bards started thrashing around loudly in the garage that was hooked up to the venue, I found myself surrounded by 20-somethings, hipster grab on parade, all trying to look thoughtful with their notebooks.


I wanted to grab a big chalkboard sign and put some other shit on parade for a minute:

I got 1.5 pages, 12 pt, double spaced. Basically, I wrote a little more than what would fit on a post-it. And I wanted to be proud of myself because I sat down a got words out. But there was this nagging voice int he back of my head:

Don't write because you want to be rich or famous. Write because you have something to say.

I have LOTS to say! I have sooooo much help to give. And yet, because in my intial project proposal (and on this blog) I openly stated that one of the goals of all of this writing is to be able to meet two people I super admire, Mindy Kaling and/or Tina Fey, this would seem to diminish my worthwhile goals?
I wanted to say that lofty goals are put out there because they keep you going. And just because I wanted cool things didn't mean I couldn't do a lot of cool things for cool people along the way.

 So, with those goals in mind, did that mean my meaningful contribution to the creative arena at large was a farce? Did I seem like I was just grubbing for gaudy homies?

No. No, it didn't. 

Reason: I'm willing to work my ass off whilst helping as many humans as possible in order to become a better human. 

If I wanted fame, I could find an easier way that staying up all night writing shit. If I wanted fortune, I'd go get a higher payin' job. If I wanted celebrity, I'd get my fat ass on a f*ckin' reality show! Lord knows I have the personality for one.

There are plenty of people who I admire that write things I enjoy consuming. But my favourite books are written with something to say other than "Look at me, I'm cool." They often say "I wasn't cool. I got a little better with a lot of hard work."

THAT, my friends, is why I kept typing. Those wise words from Mindy Kaling and my introvert twin, Meredith Smith. She's like the Amy Poehler to my Tina Fey.

I poured out my sad-faceness about my current inner dilemma and she did what she does best: present facts logically in order to prove a theorem. 

In this instance, her theorem revolved around me being a "crafty guru" that belonged in her circle of experts. 

Her logic for dismissing my insecure self-talk were sound. Her evidence regarding my methods and their effects on people who were trying to figure themselves out have been shown time and time again in people I have helped for almost a decade.

She was right. I wasn't doing this for money or fame (although I do want to leave a legacy for my son that shows his momma worked f*ckin' HARD to get him things by helping others), but it would be sweet if those things came along with it. 

I'm writing this book in spite of my puny self-esteem. I'm writing it on tiny screens and on pump-breaks at work. I'm writing and researching it while I work out 3 times a day and lull my baby to sleep. I'm putting in so much work on meeting people I can help and learn from, sometimes I forget I need to spend time with my kid!

When I realized how much of myself I've been pouring into this book, I knew Meredith was right.

Haters gonna hate, but makers gotta make, b*tches.

- Steph

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