Today on #authorlove I am so excited to feature Ryan Smith, who is not only a good friend of mine but who also happens to be hilarious, brilliant and really really ridiculously good-looking. Ryan is here to talk about his book, Confessions, which is meant as a guide for writers (and all creatives for that matter), on how they can get out of their own way and become who they’re meant to be: artists. Ry and I went to film school together, as I’m sure you’ll be able to tell from his entertaining book trailers (watch them below, they’re pretty great) and I am incredibly proud to be hosting him here!
Me: So Ry, give us a brief snapshot of what your book is about.
Ryan: This book is about facing your own worst enemy – yourself – head on and overcoming the “Monkey Mind” that can cripple your creativity, your productivity and in some cases your wellbeing. It’s about altering the way you perceive creativity and your relationship to it in order to become a better, happier writer.
That is the serious description. The not so serious description is that I make fun of myself for 180 hundred pages for how ridiculous I have been in creating.
A subject I’m all too familiar with! Why did you write it?
I wrote it as a challenge to myself, primarily. I challenged myself to finish writing a book, and I thought this sort of genre would better lend itself to achieving that because I was so obsessive over my fictional work, fussing over every sentence. I challenged myself to be open and honest because I am the ultimate introvert and I keep so much of myself below the surface. Initially, what I thought I was writing was something to help writers look at creativity and their relationship with it in a revitalizing way, but when I got into it, I realized I was working through my struggle and my attempts to understand and tame it. I hope people get as much out of reading it as I did writing it!
Who is it for?
It is, as the subtitle says, a writer’s guide, but the concepts I talk about are not exclusive to writers, especially the ego struggle, fear and self-doubt. We all, creative or not, suffer from the machinations of our inner demons in varying degrees. The first half of the book doesn’t deal with writing, it’s all about taming that Monkey Mind. After that, my creative writing degree kicks in and I get into new ways of looking at creativity, story structure and dealing with the whole creative process in a way that is more organic.
Are there one or two particularly salient points that you feel can really help creatives get out of their heads and on with their work?
The first point revolves around not making writing harder than it has to be. I think that has a lot to do with ownership. Our egos sink their teeth into our work because we deem it as “ours,” something to be protected and obsessed over. If we look at our creativity and the stories that arise from that as being separate from ourselves, there is a freedom in that separation that opens up creativity and productivity because we’re getting out of the way of the story and unburdening the baggage we tend to put on our work. Think of yourself as being separate from creativity.
The second point is one that was a long, hard lesson for me to learn: focus on intentions rather than expectations. If you are just focused on the end result, then 99 times out of 100 you will be disappointed even if the outcome is successful, because it’s not exactly how you envisioned it to be. If you focus on an intention, then your energy is on achieving that goal, but without any preconceived notion. My writing improved and my productivity went through the roof when I made that shift, but most importantly, I was a lot happier.
Plans for the future?
I’ve already started on a novel that I’m very excited about, and I will be releasing some short films to help promote that when the time comes. I’ve had a lot of fun making the book trailers for Confessions. So much so that the video company my wife and I have, SPIRO Creative is now offering book trailers as a new product. I am dropping shameless plugs left and right!
Speaking of shameless plugs, I will definitely be signing up for that when my next book, Summer Constellations, comes out May 1, 2018 ;). You self-published. How did you find the process? Is it something you would recommend to other writers?
It is a challenging process in that you wear so many hats, but it has been a rewarding learning experience. My weakness is self-promotion – I hate talking about myself – so this was a sink-or-swim position for me to be in that has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m grateful to be strengthening myself in that regard.
I self-published this book because I didn’t want to spend so much time trying to find an opportunity. I wanted to make one for myself and go after something bigger but with forward momentum. If I get noticed by a publisher great, if not, it was a tremendous learning experience and hopefully I can use it to get my foot in the door for my fictional works. I would recommend it for those who want to make their own “Yes” and aren’t afraid of a lot of work, especially in promotion.
I hear you about the self-promotion, a necessary evil for most authors*. Sigh. Any other writing hacks or things you like to do personally while “creating”?
Writing hack, I like that! I guess one of my hacks is for problem solving in the writing process – I let my subconscious do the heavy lifting for me. The stuff that comes easy and flows on the page is one thing but once I hit a problem that needs to be solved in order to continue, I write down the question I need answered. If I’m lucky, I can write out several possible answers and choose the one that best fits the story or has the highest stakes. If I’m stuck, I move on to something else, but set the intention of figuring it out. The subconscious goes to work, and sometime later when I’m disengaged, like washing the dishes or something like that, Eureka! I get the answer. I have scrambled out of the shower to write down epiphanies more times than I can remember. So, I’m not pushing myself and I’m clean!
A big congratulations to Ryan, I’m sure will be hearing a lot more from this talented guy in the future. Have a look at his hilarious book trailer and if you’re a writer with a book coming out, well, you’ll know where to go to get one just as good!