Friday, August 27, 2010

Stealing Plums-An Interview With Molly Anderson-Childers

Molly Anderson-Childers is a writer, artist, photographer, and creativity consultant. Her work has appeared in local and national print publications, including Southwest Colorado Arts Perspective, Edible San Juan Mountains Magazine, Images, The Durango Telegraph, The Four Corners Business Journal, newWitch, On the Wings of Poetry, Eternal Portraits, and more. She has also been published extensively online, and contributes work regularly to: , , and She publishes two blogs, and She founded the Durango writer's group, Wild Women Writing, in 2008, and leads their monthly meetings. She is currently hard at work editing her first novel, Stealing Plums.

Persist: In your piece, “101 ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself,” published on Creativity Portal, you mentioned that you had recently quit your job to pursue a freelance career. Was it difficult at the time to make this decision? Was there a “straw that broke the camel’s back” that catalyzed this decision? Any regrets? No matter how slight...?

Molly: Quitting my job was the easiest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I hated the job, because I wasn’t treated with respect by my bosses, and I didn’t feel safe there- I carried Mace to work every day! The straw was an awful performance review- I’d worked hard for months, but instead of receiving a much-deserved raise, I was told I’d have to improve my sales figures or be terminated. It was all about the money- my efforts meant nothing to them. The only regret I have is that I didn’t torch the place…

Persist: In your first 50 tips from the same article, which strategies for breaking down creative blocks work the best for you and how did you discover them? Is there a strategy for finding strategies?

Molly: I’ve honed these strategies after many desperate battles with my own creative demons. As the founder of a writer’s group, I have also had the benefit of working with some amazing women who have shared their strategies with me. When I’m feeling creatively blocked, a change of scene always helps. Taking a long drive, visiting a favorite bookshop or gallery, or just going for a walk with my dog can give me the fresh perspective I need to attack the page with renewed vigor and inspiration.

My strategy for finding strategies? I ask every writer and artist I know what helps them out of the creative doldrums, and then I take their advice. Another strategy for finding strategies? Follow your heart. What are you called to do? What do you love? Do it, and find your inspiration there.

Persist: When you gave yourself the time and freedom to create after leaving your job, how immediate was your ability to “practice daily?” Do you find it challenging to sit down every day and create? Was having an irrelevant job the only barrier?

Molly: After quitting my job, my schedule- and my creativity- was wide open. Sometimes it’s tough to focus, as my studio is at home and I do most of my work there. Time management and organizational issues can be a hurdle if you’re working out of a home-based studio, but my joy is in sitting down to write, and it is usually effortless once I get started.

The challenge is finding time (and motivation) to do dishes! Money issues also enter into it at times- freelance work doesn’t offer a steady paycheck, so learning to budget is very important if you’re thinking of making the leap from day job to dream job. The great thing about it is with the added pressure of paying my bills through my creative efforts, there’s not a lot of time to worry about writer’s block. I’ve got deadlines to deal with, new assignments coming in- a steady stream of inspiration is flowing. I find that the more I write, the more I want to write. It’s self-perpetuating.

Persist: How do you actively differentiate forcing an idea to happen and simply opening yourself to inspiration? Which is more essential, in your definition of success, discipline for the sake of producing or finding inspiration?

Molly: The difference between forcing an idea and finding inspiration is tricky. I maintain that 90% of writer’s block is just laziness, and lack of discipline. I’m inspired every day. I’d hazard to guess it’s the same with most people. When I sit down to work on an article that’s due, even if I’m not feeling inspired, I’m not so much forcing an idea as forcing myself to stop procrastinating and slacking off.

Making the time for that inspiration and acting upon it is the hard part. Those who actually do something about it are the ones who succeed where others fail. I think that discipline and inspiration are equally important aspects of my work. Without discipline, all of those fabulous ideas would never get written down!

I firmly believe that you can discipline yourself to become inspired on demand. The two are inextricable, in my mind. At times, stories appear whole and breathing, like a bolt from above. It’s wonderful to be in The Zone, taking dictation from the Muses…but that state is fleeting, and not always easily accessible. However, with a discipline of writing daily, you’re more likely to become inspired than someone who only takes pen in hand when the mood strikes him. Getting started is the hardest part. Once you’re into the second or third page, you’ll find your inspiration and time will fall away.

Persist: In fact, what is your perception of success? Why? Has this changed often throughout your life and career?

Molly: I was a kid in the eighties; my perception of success at that time was loads of money, a closet full of stonewashed jeans, fancy cars and a mansion on a hill. As I’ve grown up, this perception has changed. My perception of success now is working for myself, on my own terms, and being able to live comfortably on the fruits of my creative labors, with no day-job distractions. My dreams are simpler, but no less dear to me. Now, success means doing the creative work I love all day, every day, and getting paid well for it.

Persist: Anything else on your mind these days?

Molly: I’m gearing up for a writing/art workshop in September called “Text off the Page.” I won a scholarship from the local Women’s Resource Center, and can’t wait to attend. In other creative news, I’m expanding my scope as I take on the role of creativity consultant. I help clients take their work to the next level, with dynamite strategies to beat creative blocks, solve problems, and banish the demons of procrastination. I’m also editing my first novel,Stealing Plums, and will soon be seeking an agent. I’ve always dreamed of being a novelist…now, I’m making that dream come true!

In the photo below, Molly offers us a Gerber daisy; a symbol of creativity, passion, and inspiration.


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