The beauty of Karen

Last week I enjoyed 24 hours of decent health before phlegm-gate started, which was lucky because that’s when Karen and I had arranged to meet at Jamie’s. We’d first met three years ago when she and her wee family were last in the UK visiting relatives, so we had a lot to catch up on — and catch up we did! In that time we’ve both written books, started teaching and built businesses that are manifestations of our hearts, so it was qute something to be able to compare notes and witness how far each other had come. Of course, after lunch we decamped to a Milsom Street bench to take the obligatory portrait-of-the-blogger, something that made us both squirm (okay, maybe I squirmed more — Karen, I’m sorry!), but we got the shots and with a breathless embrace we said our farewells. Just before we parted, we held hands for a moment and Karen told me I seemed happy now. When she’d first met me I’d only just moved to Bath and was getting ready to teach an evening class that would prove to change my life. Those first months here hadn’t been easy, and I remember talking to her about grief in a way that proved it was still so present in my everyday life. So to hear her words last week — for her to have seen and noted the changes in me — was a gift that I’ve been carrying with me ever since. Thank you for that, my friend x

This is how I write: Danielle LaPorte

Danielle LaPorte

Ever since I finished writing my book I’ve been a bit obsessed with how other writers write. Writing a book — writing any lengthy piece — is such a solo mission it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has to smudge herself with burning sage and pray to the gods of Polaroid before she begins (I might be joking… Maybe). So today’s post is the first in a very occasional series of interviews with writers to see how they get in the zone and get their words on paper. I’m also asking them to share photos of their writing space with us, so we can be nosy inspired.

First up is the indomitable Danielle LaPorte. Danielle is the author of Style Statement and The Fire Starter Sessions (hitting book shelves in April 2012) and today sees the launch of her next e-program-of-awesome, Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. Co-authored with book proposal whizz, Linda Silvertsen, it’s exactly what you need to craft a book proposal that’s gonna get you that book deal. And here’s what makes it extra useful: they’ve included lots of real-life proposals from published authors (including me!) Those alone are worth investing in. Seriously. After our Fire Starter call back in 2009 Danielle was generous enough to send me a copy of the proposal she’d written for Style Statement. Having a real-life proposal in my hands helped me craft my own when the time came. I’m forever grateful to her :)

SC: What do you use for writing a) notes/ideas/brainstorming and b) your book?

DLP: Everything begins in hand notes in my Moleskine notebooks. I prefer the ones withe the craft covers. 6×9. I can outline a whole book in two pages. If I can get down the four core ideas, then it all begins to flow.

Then, and I love this part: pattern recognition. I move on to using one inch square light yellow sticky notes (you see I’m very specific about these things. Squares help me think mo’ better than rectangles. Can’t explain.) I write down different ideas, concepts, words on dozens and dozens of sticky notes. And then I lay them on a large piece of art board and I begin to cluster them. I start to see which are the Big Themes, and I place the supporting ideas under the obvious umbrella concepts. And THAT becomes the outline of the book or program. Works every time.

Then I do my first Table of Contents on my trusty MacBookPro (or my Mac Air if I’m traveling.) And I don’t look back.

How do you begin?

Usually in the bath tub. Really my best ideas come with heat and bath oil.

Describe your writing process (edit as you go? Shitty first draft? Daily word count goal?)

I have no typical, writerly “measurables”. If I had to write X pages per day, or X words a week, I’d faint from lack of creative oxygen — couldn’t bear it.

I write what feels good, when it feels good. And of course, sometimes what feels good is slamming a deadline, so I don’t drift from the goal: which is to create something awesome and impeccable and ship it. But I do prioritize mostly on emotional/creative pull.

What do you do when the words aren’t coming?

Nap. Organize stuff. Buy too much on iTunes. I also visit my Alexander McQueen and Donna Karan coffee table books. And Rilke.

Please describe any writing rituals you have (I’m assuming you have some as all writers I know have some, including me)

Well, I pride myself on being able to write anywhere, any time (being too sensitive about your surroundings can be such a creative cop out). Like, with kids dueling with light sabres by my desk, or in airport terminals, I manage to just tune it out and keep putting words on the screen. But ideally, I have a morning walk, a lush green smoothie. My desk is tidy. I light a honey beeswax candle, some hand-rolled incense, I crank some chanting tunes, and I play my wireless key board like a hot damn piano.

What’s your favourite part of the writing process/madness?

Crafting the one sentence that says it all.

* * * * *

Thank you for bringing us into your space today, Danielle — it’s the one inch square sticky notes that are staying with me!

Full disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Your Big Beautiful Book Plan because I absolutely believe in it. So if you click on the link and decide to invest in the Plan, i’ll get a few dollars in return (which I’ll be reinvesting in more books. Yay for books!)

Something for the weekend

So no sooner was I feeling better then BAM! I’m hit with a head cold. Ah, the joys of toddlers and their germs. This auntie has had to keep her head down while she works on her new course (which I am LOVING and so proud of) but that’s left no extra time for blogging (hence the silence — thank you to those of you who’ve reached out to make sure i was okay!) There was a window of health on Tuesday so I popped into town to have lunch with a friend who was visiting from the States — we took a few portraits of each other, much to the amusement of the Big Issue seller behind us. I’ll share the portraits next week — she’s a hottie.

I don’t just like this phone… I think I need it too

[audio] Seth Godin on the future of books

How incredible is this miniature home?

Who needs Photoshop when you can do this?

How to be alone on a holiday

Thinking about using Cartolina Postale for Xmas cards — so lovely!

An arsenal of feminine power… Feeling beautiful

Amazing street art (here too)

I remember most of these! Evolution of Madonna’s magazine covers

Holga for the iPhone

Huge lake could increase chance of life on Jupiter Moon!

[Video] Three tips for dealing with procrastination (i’m loving Corbett’s new video style – dude has an appealing bashful charisma)

Love this list from Andrea: Places I’d like to spend the night

The art of being an ambitious female

Angie’s doing 100 Days of Winter

Big congratulations to Joy! I can’t wait to read her new book

These Movember shots made me smile (all the waiters in Jamie’s are currently sporting ‘taches)

And finally, I’ll be making a hot toddy once I’ve published this post. Oh yes i will!

Enjoy! xo

Something for the weekend

I enjoy shooting with my analogue cameras, digital cameras and my iPhone equally — it’s all about creating images and recording moments for me — so when Annie Leibovitz pulled out her iPhone I gave a whooop of joy. Decades of photographic snobbery crumbling right there!

[video] this is why I love Miranda July: A Handy Tip for the Easily Distracted

These body mosaics are amazing (and check out these collages)

[video] this stop-motion video made from jelly beans reminds me of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer (still the best!)

Loved Jamie’s post about how she planned the year ahead (related: Clare’s tips for creating a one-page biz plan)

[more video!] Foxes jumping on a trampoline (via Angie)

Want! Vintage cameras turned into nightlights

I am loving this 404 error page

These are impressive, and a little creepy: Back to the future II

Also impressive: the 24-hour Flickr mountain

Melody Miller fabric

Bought this lovely fabric (above) to make some cushions and then discovered the fabric’s super-talented designer follows me on Twitter — i mean, what are the odds? So everybody, meet Melody Miller. Melody, meet everybody!

How about this place for a magical getaway?

The perfect Christmas present for the man in your life: Beard hats!

Van life

So pleased with my leather iPad cover! Would make a great pressie

Thinking about making an Instagram calender

Currently burning this gorgeous scented candle

[music] Call Your Girfriend a cappella

Lego jelly moulds

And finally, I saved the best video for last: Marcel the Shell with shoes on is back!

Enjoy! xo