What “The Artist’s Way” is doing for me

I’m on week eight of The Artist’s Way now. So I thought I’d share what this program is doing for me as an artist, writer, etc. It’s the “etc” that I didn’t know was there. There are many issues TAW brings up that you never quite knew were there. I knew some of the issues obviously, that I was a blocked creative and that this needed to be fixed. I also knew this was likely due to a few life experiences that stood out in my mind. But I had no idea how far this would take me and I love it!

I’m great at morning pages and awful at artist dates. I choose to do my pages on 750words.com.

Yes, I’ve dealt with some of those unsavory life experiences and early childhood scars that became on barriers to my creativity. Fun stuff!

I’m allowing myself to play again. Play guitar, play in general… I’m unemployed, so you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem. But like a typical blocked artist and recovering addict, I quickly moved to fill up my schedule. I have a part-time job at a recovery center, I have my own freelance writing business now, and I am still running You Deserve Reiki.

I have found my creative energies seeping into YDR. I have redecorated my therapy room:

Much creative energy has gone into redecorating the Reiki room at White Dove, including the energy it took to manifest that lovely Mayan tapestry on the wall!

Much creative energy has gone into redecorating the Reiki room at White Dove, including the energy it took to manifest that lovely Mayan tapestry on the wall!

I have new ideas for the blog. They are not posted yet. I’m deciding to take the blog into a new direction and write more posts about self-care, which is the idea behind me getting into Reiki in the first place three years ago. Self-care is the idea behind the name, “You Deserve Reiki.” I also believe self-care is essential to our survival as human beings! So more posts about it are about to happen. I can give people Reiki, but I think I will give clients more if they receive some self-care ideas as well.

Like I mentioned, I am giving myself more time to play guitar. I am even seeking out some lessons.

My guitar is a pink Dean rescued from a pawn shop on Bell Road in Phoenix for $169. I love her.

My guitar is a pink Dean rescued from a pawn shop on Bell Road in Phoenix for $169. I love her.

I also found this fun app I am just getting into called Yousician.

Thought I'd try a new medium for learning.

Thought I’d try a new medium for learning.

I haven’t gotten too far into it yet. I think when I do, it will require some in-app purchases. That may be OK. The point is to have fun and enjoy playing the guitar without my pesky perfectionist tendencies popping in. Also, the point is to get back into playing like I did in college when I was 18 — right before quitting the guitar altogether for a full-time radio job. I had to drop out of guitar class because of the hours I worked, so I put it down completely. Total black and white/all or nothing thinking! I got carried away in career, life and addiction. Now it’s 18 years later. I AM GOING TO PLAY GUITAR NOW.

Another screenshot of Yousician, which is kinda like Guitar Hero.

Another screenshot of Yousician, which is kinda like Guitar Hero.

There are other silly things too. I’m putting a lot of creative energy into a new wardrobe because I have a new life that requires a dress code for my job at the recovery center. I’ve also lost 30 pounds since September by eating an auto-immune-friendly, anti-inflammatory, mostly-Paleo diet. I’ve had a lot of fun hitting thrift stores to create a new look. It’s risk-free since I’m being thrifty about it. I’ve found some really awesome clothes for a fraction of what I’d pay for brand-new. It takes the anxiety out of rebuilding a wardrobe since I don’t have to worry about the money aspect of it. This is all a part of self-care too — especially the diet which is presided over by a doctor.

I put a lot of energy into organizing my writing space at home. Sometimes, the closest thing to an artist date for me has been coloring a mandala (adult coloring is a trendy new thing now) or watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. Giving myself time and space to play has been one of my biggest challenges!

One of the most important things is the writing. That’s the reason I am doing this. I am tackling issues about the creative writing (or lack thereof) in my life. Now I’m actively working on one of my three novels. I just started a short story. I’m always writing poems. In an effort to get more serious and focus about where this is all going, I also purchased a stack of books from Writer’s Digest.

Do you see where this is going?

Do you see where this is going?

I fiercely defend my writing time. I’ve turned inward a lot because of this. I’m hyper focused on myself in a selfish way. But recovery is a selfish act. Yes, this is creative recovery as described in TAW. But I see this also as a larger part of my recovery from addiction as well. There was a point where I lost myself. More likely, I lost myself again and again over the years. Now my job is to get myself back more and more (I thought I had already but more was revealed). My job is to give myself back my hopes, dreams, my ability to play, and those original yearnings I had towards fulfilling my purpose.

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Soon to be writing for Inside.com!

I am proud to announce you’ll soon be seeing my name pop up on Inside.com and the Inside app (for iOs, Blackberry, and Android). Time to put that news writing and journalism experience to work!

I made this video about it because I’ve been making lots of videos for my Wichita radio listening audience on my Facebook fan page since I’ve been off the air in January. Making videos and talking to my listening audience on social media has been tremendously creative and healing for me in my time of unemployment — which I now consider the greatest adventure of my life.

This has been a great opportunity to return to writing. Period. I’m back to working on novels and poetry. I’m taking The Artist’s Way course. I’ve landed four freelance writing gigs so far in just three months. I’ve gone to work part-time as a Peer Mentor in Training at the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas’ Crossover Recovery Center. I’m also still running my Reiki practice out of White Dove. I’m busy doing such a ton of creative things that life is a joy!

So thank you for reading this blog, watching the videos, liking the page, and otherwise just coming along on the journey!

Follow on Twitter @heatherlarson 

A couple advancements in my writing career

The word of the year for me so far is “reinvention.” 

I’ve always been a writer. From horrible teenage journals in the 1990s to the journalism courses of my early 20s…there’s always been pen and paper in hand. Over time, my habits and talents have evolved. There was the SEO content writing period. Then there was my needing to be a journalist to legitimize myself as a “writer,” because if you aren’t getting paid it isn’t real, right? It doesn’t count…I think this is covered in the part of The Artist’s Way I’ve already read. Class begins Sunday and I’ve read up to chapter two already.

Let’s do this.

I went through my screenwriting phase — which I’d like to get back into by the way. If only my bills can pay themselves so I can do all this non-stop 24/7 with absolutely no balance, right? haha.

Here’s what’s next! 

I’m excited and feeling like I’m giving birth to more of a stable and exciting writing career than ever before. I’m finding new ways to build my platform and segue into being more of a healing arts writer. More on that to come. I’ve also found an exciting new opportunity I can’t yet talk about. Yes, I’ve written about health before as well as general interest articles for magazines and websites. It’s time to get back into that.

If you’re interested on what’s going on and what’s happening, keep checking back.

My other blogs: 

I’ve also got a couple other blogs I’m writing if you’re interested. One is about my work as a Reiki Master, YouDeserveReiki.com. The other is one I’ve had for years that encompasses all that I do — the writing, Reiki, radio, food, hobbies, music — whatever. Since it’s the grab bag of all I do it’s called Everything Heather.

Check me out on YouTube: 

I’m also starting out on YouTube. What’s great for me about this art form is I’ve made enough videos now since I’ve gotten off the air that I’m telling a story. It’s not a screenplay, poem, short story, or novel. It’s not a blog post. It’s an arc of videos I’ve been putting out since the first week of January. I’ve got (to my surprise) quite a loyal following of those who’ve listened to me on the air in Wichita for the past four years. I decided why not take them with me into my new, post-radio life? As I take risks and make journeys, I’m bringing people along in this story. As I make changes and start new, I’m bringing along an audience. It’s amazing how YouTube can do that for you. This is also helping me broaden my social media skills. It’s my personal opinion all authors can benefit from that.

As soon as something is published, I’ll post about it here!

Some of the old writing I've been sorting through lately. Yes, I wrote for "Veg News" back in the vegan days!

Some of the old writing I’ve been sorting through lately. Yes, I wrote for “Veg News” back in the vegan days! I even framed my article. 

 

I’m re-starting my freelance writing business!

Great news! I am re-starting my freelance writing business!

I gave it up in January 2008 to return to full-time corporate American living when I took a job as a digital editor at Westwood One Metro Source in Scottsdale, Arizona. I worked a morning shift updating news feeds for what ultimately became 98 radio station websites. Then I moved over to the Entertainment News desk and was assigned pop (CHR) and AC music stories as well as television stories about sitcoms, actors, and reality shows.

So yes, I wrote about Justin Bieber for Westwood One when he was a new YouTube phenomenon and the Jonas Brothers before Nick Jonas became an ab-slinging “Jealous” singer. I interviewed all those “Survivor” cast-offs (whose names I can’t remember now though it was fun) as well as some pretty cool actors from shows I actually liked — like the people from NBC’s “Community.” There may actually be audio of me interviewing Donald Glover on somebody’s aging hard drive somewhere…sigh…

Now he’s Childish Gambino and I’m doing morning radio on Power 93.5 in Wichita, Kansas playing his music! Life is full circle sometimes.

But since I’ve been here doing radio since January 2011, I’ve let the freelance writing fall away. Where did it go? Well, radio keeps me busy. Then I started my own Reiki business as I am a Reiki Master. That means I can practice on you as an energy worker as well as teach you the traditional Japanese art of Reiki.

But it’s time once again to hang up the “freelance writer” shingle outside my door. I used to write for CNET’s Webshots.com, reviewed a Mana concert while sitting front row (best sound ever), and created a kickin’ music festival podcast for the new defunct MelodyTrip.com… Actually, most of the sites I wrote for are now gone. It’s been seven years. I also have some journalism experience in print publications, especially in community magazines. There was a time I even wrote SEO copy. Jane of all trades…Master of…well, Reiki!

Check out my clips here on my Contently.com page.

Here’s what I would be fantastic and experienced at writing about for new clients: 

*Holistic health & wellness.

*Reiki, Quantum Touch, Massage, Energy work, energetics, angel healing, polarity, cranial sacral, animal Reiki, Seraphic Wisdom, metaphysics, meditation, spirituality, chakras, health spas, yoga, and more.

*Music, entertainment, and pop culture (often with an extra dose of snark and great quantities of humor).

*Gluten-free, allergen-free cooking and living.

*Concert, album reviews, and band interviews.

*Press releases, social media, and marketing materials.

*Commercial ad copy for radio spots.

*Guest blogging and ghost writing blogs for your company.

*Conducting interviews to either transcribe into Q&A for your website, or to use to create articles and original content for your company webpage. (I have years of experience conducing interviews with non-profits for radio public affairs shows as well as A-list celebrities for live on-air purposes as well as experience in conducting interviews for journalistic articles).

*Coaching and tips for those who are about to be interviewed by the media.

*Traditional and new media subjects; changes and trends in media.

Now to find my first freelance writing job! I was inspired this morning after a friend needed a rush job on some proofreading. Here goes nothing!

Introducing, me! The newest (old) freelance writer on the block!

Introducing, me! The newest (old) freelance writer on the block!

Please let me know how I can meet your writing needs via email at everythingheather [at] gmail [dot] com.

Should I get an MFA in creative writing?

I really hope someone will see this post and comment openly and honestly. Because I came across this blog started by some ’08 MFA grads and it’s really got me thinking.

I really just want a master’s degree. I could get it in anything. But getting an MFA in creative writing just sounds so fun to me. I work full-time in radio as a morning personality and my writing has therefore taken a backseat over the last six months. I just now started freelance writing again for HalogenTV.com. I usually write general interest-type features. This marks the second time I’ve written about a vegan lifestyle, which is one of my interests. I wrote a “How I Went Vegan” piece years ago for Veg News magazine. (See it here on my Media Bistro profile).

I like writing for HalogenTV.com because Halogen — the cable channel and website — is all about social good. As someone who wrote “bad news” for so long (local, national, and entertainment gossip) it’s really refreshing to write about topics that affect society in a positive way. I’ve done journalism for broadcast, online, and print. It’s a great skill to have and I’m certain it makes me a better broadcaster.

As a morning personality, I have a responsibility to my city to be responsible on the air. If you’ve heard our show, you know we play a lot of music and have a ton of laughter happening every morning. But every once in a while some major newsy thing happens, like the day Bin Laden was killed. And we can’t go on air our normal joking selves on a day like that. It’s then that Journalist Heather Larson snaps to attention and comes on air with proper presentation of the facts so our listening audience is served properly.

So again, journalism is a good skill to have. I wouldn’t get a degree in it these days just because of the job outlook on that. I think now if you want to do journalism for a living you should get a degree in new media or just learn how to make tablet apps.

But really, why get a master’s degree in creative writing? 

It’s probably worse than the bachelor in liberal studies I obtained from Boston University last year! Every time I tell someone I have a BLS, they ask me if I can say, “would you like fries with that?” in Latin. But how many of us actually use the degree we have in our career? Radio personalities certainly don’t need a degree in anything. I know many in my industry who have no degree at all.

So this decision I am struggling to make isn’t about a career move, although I’m sure a master’s degree of any kind can’t hurt a person no matter what their chosen career path is. Wanting to get an MFA in creative writing is about feeding that part of myself that actually liked to attend creative writing class in summer school. As a kid in Scottsdale, AZ, I used to love the long bus ride in summer school in 100+ degree weather just because it took me to my creative writing class. And sadly, it was the only true creative writing class I ever had. I have taken screenwriting at the community college level (twice!) and every English class I could lump into my schedule. I love language classes too (you mean I can sign up for Arabic next semester? Let me just register for that right now). I’m the type who has a box of old journals — a really big, heavy box — stored in the darkest recess of my home. I swear, I will do something with them someday… You also may have noticed you are reading WriterHeather.wordpress.com. Enough said!

So I think my desire to do an MFA program is really about taking my creative writing side to the next level while getting a degree. Is that a good reason to dedicate a huge chunk of time in my life to getting an MFA in creative writing?

Because let’s face it — school is for people who need to be taught. 

I can write creatively on my own. I can write on my own time and figure out how to publish. Anyone can do that. It’s like people who take classes on how to blog… Really? You paid to take a blogging class? All you have to do is open a Blogger or TypePad or WordPress account and get it done. You do read blogs don’t you? I mean, I don’t want to be that person who has to be taught something that can just as easily be figured out with a little curiosity and independence.

But if I enroll in an MFA program, I’ll be around other writers! I’d be in a community, an environment! I’d feel like I was a part of something. I’d feel like I had peers. I’d have professors who would encourage me. Right now, I’m writing in what little spare time I have (like right now, on a national holiday). No one encourages my writing, save for my Halogen editor who is awesome and just doing her job.

Sorry for the long posting today. Thanks for reading down this far! I’m really not sure if I will enroll in the MFA program that has caught my eye. I’m just a year out of BU and still remember all too well how much time and dedication it takes to balance work, school, and life while doing a degree program. At the moment, I really am enjoying lazy Sundays with coffee, a gluten-free bagel with vegan cream cheese and HBO. Maybe in seven more months, I’ll be adding homework to that Sunday morning ritual…

Follow me on Twitter @heatherlarson or leave me a comment here, please!

How to make a video go viral

I guess I’m just in a marketing mood today.  People were re-tweeting this piece earlier on Twitter about how to make a video go viral.  As a budding video creator myself, my ears perked up.  It’s an interesting take on the viral secrets of success. I’ve been making a few videos while on the air at the Peak, and I think mine fall into the “bored at work” category.  They’re far from going viral though.  So far, they’ve been good icebreakers on social networking sites with people I presume are listening to me.  (In the very least, they’re following me on Twitter, where I tweet about being on the air).  If nothing else, I am giving people another way to relate to me and get to know the station.  I’ll work on that going viral stuff as I make better videos!

Shedding some light on how PPM works

Found this great article today about how Arbitron makes PPM happen.  I know it has little to do with writing.  But many writers also happen to just kind of fall into sales and marketing, so I thought it was worthy to share on the blog.  I’m a writer who also works in radio, in fact, I consider myself to have been raised in radio.  When I started in broadcasting, we were taught to aim whatever we did on the air towards the elusive Arbitron diary keeper.  But today, that diary keeper has become a PPM wearer.  This women in the article is the one I’m speaking to on the air.  It’s nice to “meet” her finally, if only through a short article.