“As the years pass, I find that I just don’t have the patience to sit and type on a computer all day long, the way I used to. I feel time moving by quickly, the years roaring by, and I don’t want to suddenly find myself being 80 years old, thinking, “Oops! I spent most of my entire life on a computer!”
Meet Alexandra Franzen, author, columnist and one of a kind communication expert. I came across Alex’s work three years ago, and I immediately fell in love with her kind voice, her sharp wit and her unique take on all things creative. So much that when she launched her very first writing workshop in San Francisco a couple of months later, I hit “sign up” and booked a flight without thinking twice.
As life would have it, I only got as far as Heathrow Airport, London, before a particularly violent stumach flu caught up with me and made the rest of the trip impossible. (Talk about anti-climax!) So I didn’t get to meet Alex then, but I’ve followed her work since and she’s been a reliable source of inspiration to me on everything from writing, to playing more and working less, to how to deal with social media. (She also introduced me to OM, Orgasmic Meditation. But that’s a whole different story 🙂 )
I’m thrilled to share her writing with you today.
What does living a creative life mean to you?
The author Elizabeth Gilbert has a beautiful definition of what it means to live a creative life, which she discusses in her book Big Magic.
Gilbert says that there is a desire inside of every human being, a desire to do more than just “consume” things … a desire to “make” things, too.
When you feel that desire—the voice inside that says, “I want to write things! I want to make stuff! I have things to say! I want to contribute!”—and then you listen to that voice, instead of telling it to “shut up and be quiet,” then … you are living a creative life.
Of course, it is very easy to silence that voice because you feel afraid, or ignore that voice because you feel insecure. That is why there are thousands of books and blogs and podcasts devoted to helping people live a more creative life!
What do you wish you would have known when you started this work? What knowledge
or insight would have made the biggest difference?
When I was very young, like many aspiring writers, I had this very beautiful, delusional idea that I was going to write one great novel, sell it to a publisher, make millions, and then be all set for life! Haha! I spent about six months chasing that dream before I began to realize, “It doesn’t work like that.”
These days, I earn a living as a full-time writer, which feels amazing—a serious dream come true—and I earn money in a variety of ways, including client projects, e-courses, teaching workshops, book sales, and so on.
I’ve learned that pretty much every professional writer on the face of the earth operates this way, too. Even New York Times bestselling authors often have to supplement their income with college teaching gigs, copywriting or ghostwriting on the side.
Having a “side job” doesn’t mean that these authors have “failed” at being authors! Having a “side job” is just the reality of what it often looks like to be a working artist.
If I had known this back when I was 18 or 19 years old, it probably would have helped me to be a bit more practical and business-minded and feel more empowered, instead of confused!
What trips you up? What kind of resistance do you struggle with the most,
and how do you move through it?
My greatest struggle, right now, is figuring out a way to do the work that I love—writing—but without having to spend 75% of my waking life sitting in front of a screen.
As the years pass, I find that I just don’t have the patience to sit and type on a computer all day long, the way I used to. I feel time moving by quickly, the years roaring by, and I don’t want to suddenly find myself being 80 years old, thinking, “Oops! I spent most of my entire life on a computer! Well, I guess that’s it! It’s over now!”
I haven’t found a solution to this dilemma yet, but I’m working on it. It frustrates me greatly and I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Americans are notorious work-aholics who really struggle to put their work aside, go outside, and play! So I suppose I am working on shaking off centuries of a highly “Americanized” work ethic so that I can write, work, but also have a beautiful life. Ha!
What are you currently working on that you’re exited about?
This year I created a course called Unstoppable which is full of stories, inspiration, and writing exercises for people who want to write (or write a lot more) but who get stuck, blocked, insecure, or simply run out of time. I’m really proud of this course and people seem to be enjoying it! It’s always fun to get an email from someone saying, “I finally started my blog!” or “I finished writing a book!” and knowing that I was able to help in some way.
Next year is a wide-open canvas. I honestly don’t know what I am going to put out into the world, yet! I have about a dozen book ideas and workshop ideas, too. To be totally honest, I am probably just going to take things one month at a time and create whatever feels most exciting, in that moment. It will be fun!
Thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts on your lovely website. I appreciate it so much! xo.