This week, we have on Mark McGuinness, poet and professional creative coach, to talk about his new book Motivation for Creative People: How to Stay Creative While Gaining Money, Fame and Reputation, and the most common obstacle that writers and other creative professionals face and how to deal with it.
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Mark McGuinness never set out to become a coach. His is a poet’s heart. But when he followed his curiosity about the possibilities of hypnosis as a means for unlocking creativity, he became “totally entranced by it,” he jokes, and eventually became a trained hypnotherapist. He found that that his most interesting clients were writers with writer’s block or actors with stage fright or directors stressed with managing the talent, and eventually focused his coaching on creative professionals, helping them learn how to combine their creative skills with business skills.
Why Your Inner Critic is (Potentially) Your Best Friend
“If we didn’t have an inner critic, just think about the mediocrity we’d be satisfied with putting out.”
Mark’s first book Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success grew out of his experience as a creative coach. One of the most common problems that creatives like writers face, he says, is they have a pretty active inner critic that tends to be such a skilled wordsmith that he/she/it can be particularly debilitating and oddly effective for a writer.
The first step in dealing with an overactive inner critic that keeps you standing in your own way, Mark advises, is to appreciate it for what it’s trying to do — our inner critic is trying to protect us from screwing things up. Just don’t let it take over. You don’t want to make your inner critic go away…you just want it to have better manners. Becoming more conscious and self-aware of your inner critic using meditation and hypnosis, or even imagining a dialogue with your inner critic, are good strategies for making your inner critic work with you instead of against you.
Motivation for Creative People: How to Stay Creative While Gaining Money, Fame and Reputation
Mark’s follow-up book Motivation for Creative People: How to Stay Creative While Gaining Money, Fame and Reputation, also grew out of his work as a creative coach. It began as a blog series for his corporate clients. Companies are always looking for ways to motivate creatives, he says, so he wrote a 15,000-word PDF giveaway to help build his coaching business. But as more and more professional creatives came to him asking for workshops on motivation, his 15,000-word PDF grew into a full-length book.
Mark defines motivation as whatever gets you moving. In his book Motivation for Creative People, he identifies four different types of motivation: Intrinsic Motivation – The Joy of Work; Extrinsic Motivation – Rewards for Work; Personal Motivation – Your Values; Social Motivation – Influences. A professional creative’s goal is to strike an effective balance between different types of motivation so they can get their work done even when they don’t feel like it, Mark says, so understanding and identifying motivations is key.
His goal with this book is to help creatives stay creative while gaining all the rewards as a professional, while staying true to oneself, and while staying connected and communicating with the readers and audience that their work is ultimately going to have an impact on.
- Focus on one task at a time. Mark is a big fan of monotasking. He says, “When it’s time to write, then put everything else out of your mind. Switch off the phone, the internet, do whatever you have to do to unplug.”
- Raise your self-awareness by meditation, or simply paying attention to how you feel about your work. Once you get used to spotting the patterns of your own behavior, Mark says, then you’ll gain a better understanding of what truly motivates you.
- Embrace your Inner Critic. If your Inner Critic is freezing you in place with fear and anxiety, Mark suggests having an inner dialogue with your Inner Critic. Understanding the purpose of your Inner Critic — which is to help you put out your very best work — and developing an appreciation for it will go far to break up a stubborn case of writer’s block.
Why do you do this thing called Indie Publishing? What motivates you? Is it the promise of fame and fortune, or the satisfaction of seeing your own words in print, or simply the joy of writing and sharing?
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