This week Kelsey Horton takes a seat in my red interview chair.
Welcome Kelsey, please have a seat!
1. Tell me about yourself and the book / books you have written?
I just published my first book Robot Coconut Trees: Break Through Writer’s Block, Unleash your Creative Voice, and Become the Writer You Already Are.
It’s a passionate book designed to kick-start writers into action through creative exploration, journaling prompts, exercises, and motivation.
I also write about empowerment and creative writing at KelseyHorton.com, and I’m creating an online course to help people start their own blogs and share their writing with the world.
2. When did you write your first book?
I just published Robot Coconut Trees at the end of February 2016.
3. How long did it take to write your first book?
Overall, it took 13 months to birth Robot Coconut Trees into the world. But there were a lot of stops and starts during that time, including a five-month period of not working on it at all. Some pieces of the book were adapted from blog posts that I had written beforehand, which made the writing process easier.
4. What was your motivation to write your first book?
Every writer I have met has experienced the same doubts and fears: we don’t know how to begin, we have “Writer’s Block,” we are perfectionists, we don’t know what to write about, we don’t know whether anyone will like our work…
Those universal writing blocks were my motivation to write this book. I wanted to write a colorful and authentic book on how to break though these writing blocks with joy, realness, and grace.
5. What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
When I started writing Robot Coconut Trees, I had a deep and overwhelming belief that I was incapable of writing a book. The doubts rattled around in my brain: You have a short attention span… You don’t have that much to say… You aren’t an expert and no one will care…
Through the process of writing this book, I had to repeatedly look that doubt in the eye. I learned to take a deep breath, let those thoughts rattle amongst themselves… and then write right over them.
6. Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
After I wrote the first draft and received feedback from test readers, I sat down to edit my book and just felt crushed by a feeling of unworthiness. I was sure that I had devoted all this time and energy to writing a stupid and worthless book.
What sustained me during that time was my belief that we co-create our life experiences through our energy and our beliefs. I knew that the longer I stayed stuck in that “My book sucks and no one will like it” mindset, the worse my book would be and the fewer people it would reach. So I hustled every day to readjust my mindset around my book, and every time I found myself edging into doubtful thoughts, I caught myself and redirected those thoughts.
7. Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
I start every project just by writing and seeing where my words will lead. This helps me determine what I’m even interested in writing about.
I didn’t write Robot Coconut Trees in order – I wrote each chapter as I felt called to do so. Once I had written about half the book, I wrote each chapter title on a sticky note and pieced them into order. By doing this, I could visually identify what topics I needed to add to the book in order for everything to fit together.
8. What is the best thing about being a writer?
Sharing something that feels bold and personal and risky for me, and receiving messages back from readers saying “Thank you for writing this. It really hits home for me” or “I was so inspired by your book that I started my own blog.”
I am in this business to ignite hearts, transform lives, and change the world. So having that feedback loop of knowing that my words actually helped someone… there’s no feeling quite like it for me.
9. What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Running into my own doubts and fears over and over again. Every single day I put the activities from Robot Coconut Trees into practice to keep me and my writing on track. The doubts still come as frequently as they did before, but I now have the tools to move through them more effectively.
10. Have you ever considered quitting writing and if so how have you worked through this?
I have never considered quitting writing. For me, writing is a practice – a way of coping and showing up in the world. I kept journals and scribbled secret poems to myself long before I started writing for the public, and I will continue to write for the rest of my life.
11. What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I have very short stints of free time where I can write, so I have learned to make the most of it:
Almost all of my writing begins in my journal. In the morning I scribble in my journal while I sit on the commuter train that takes me to my day job. On my lunch break, I hide in my cubicle, scarf down cold leftovers, and continue to write in my journal. Then at night when I get home from work, I transpose my writing onto my laptop and try to shift it into something meaningful – a blog post, a poem, a chapter of a book.
12. Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
I definitely procrastinate in my writing life, particularly when I’m scared or on the brink of a huge breakthrough. I handle it by practicing self-forgiveness – catching myself in my procrastination, giving myself a hug, taking a deep breath, and telling myself: I forgive you for avoiding your passions. I forgive you for wanting to stay small.
And then… I take one small action to break through that procrastination. I write one paragraph of a blog post. I send one e-mail to a potential collaborator. I respond to one facebook message. These micro-steps help create the momentum to propel me forward again.
13. Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
Characters. As a reader I am drawn to the truth and the humanness of the characters in stories – if I’m transfixed by a character, I hardly care about the plot.
14. What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
1. Begin. Dive right in. Write something, share it, write something new, and share that too. Write a book. Launch a blog. Life is too short to be so resistant to your creative dreams.
2. Your guilt over wanting to be a writer will not help you, and it will not help anybody. Drop the guilt and dream a little bigger.
3. Let go of the outcome. Surrender. Stop checking to see how many people have clicked on your blog post or bought your book, and surrender again. Surrender deeper. Trust that the Universe is working behind the scenes to get your writing into the hands of the exact people who need it, and stop freaking out.
15. How do you manage social media as a writer?
Although I have an account on pretty much every social media network, I mainly post on Facebook because I love that platform the most. I post quotes and pictures from other authors, I write little vignettes about my day, I ask questions, I share what books I’m reading. I love connecting via social media.
When I start feeling overwhelmed by social media, I pause and step back. Social media is an amazing tool that we can use to connect with readers, but it isn’t worth stressing out about.
16. Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
Smile. Be kind. Let go of the outcome. Write something down. Begin when you are terrified. Learn how to meditate. Be more authentic than you thought was possible. Read about the Law of Attraction. Find like-minded friends and writers.
Start a blog. Share yourself boldly, over and over again. We are here to write, but we are also here to be glowing human beings and create good in the world. Don’t lose sight of your big and beautiful non-writing life.
17. Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
I experience stretches of time where I feel creatively blocked, but I don’t stop writing during those blocked periods. Even if I have no ideas whatsoever, I will sit and write “I have nothing to write about” over and over in my journal for ten minutes a day if I have to. When we continue to show up on the page day after day, we create the space for the watershed of creativity to come back to us.
18. Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
I actually was in the middle of writing a completely different book, and I stopped halfway through to write Robot Coconut Trees instead. So… yes!
19. What do you wear to write?
I’m a fashionista – I love bright colors, mismatched patterns, sequins, neon, anything vibrant and explosive and over the top. When I write I make sure I’m wearing at least one wild and colorful item so that I can truly feel like myself.
Thanks Kelsey, great interview. I have taken some things from this:
- One of the ways to get rid of Writer’s Block is to keep turning up every day and just writing anything down until my creative juices start flowing again.
- I am going to surrender more and trust the Universe.
- I started learning about meditation but gave up. I think I shall go back to it.
- I love your writer fashion look! Neon, sequins and mismatched colours!
Kelsey’s book is available here.
Next week Tom Hocknell climbs into my red chair.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>