During the holiday season, children dream of sledding in the snow, making snowmen, and opening Christmas or Hanukkah presents. Many adults ponder: Oh, to be young again!
When was having fun with simple pleasures meant only for children? It wasn't. But when an adult trades in their imagination for the pursuit of an income, part of the price they pay is losing their heart of a child.
Maybe that's why writers and other creative types love to lose themselves in their craft. It's a way to cling to their childlike self by way of their imagination. However, once the writer becomes a published author, she also becomes a business woman. Thus, she's thrust into the world of marketing, promoting, and networking. It's not that making money from our creativity is bad; it seems it can be a wonderful way to make a living. But, if when we cross over to being a professional author we lose our heart of a child, that is a bad thing. If that happens, we're no different than a company CEO concerned with nothing more than the making of money. Therein lies an extraordinary challenge:
How to keep the heart of a child even when you're a business person.
I've thought a lot about this challenge the last several weeks, since I've been busy marketing my children's book. What I've learned is that like so many things in life, if something is a priority to you then you'll make the time to see it happen. Whether it's spending time with family and friends, exercising at the gym, or even writing on a regular basis.
Here are a few ways I've discovered to maintain my heart of a child:
1- Learn to say NO! I've already had to say "no" to a number of social or marketing activities - it can all be just too much. I've had people say: "But you could sell a lot of books there." Oh, well. I would rather spend time with my family and friends, than to sell a few more books and become a nervous wreck in the process.
2- Be Smart/Be Selective - Being able to say "no" becomes a bit easier when I do my homework: Where will my time be best spent? Where is the vendor/shopkeeper the most excited to host/feature me?
If I must struggle to set up a book signing with someone, then they're probably not really that interested. If they're not that interested, it will probably just be a waste of my time to be there. By being selective with how to spend my time, I seem to end up with marketing opportunities that are not only profitable, but fun as well.
3-Maintain Time with Family & Friends - This is so important. In the midst of the holidays and marketing my book, my life could be spinning out of control right now - but it's not. My husband and I still take time to have date nights, and I've maintained my attendance in the writer/artist groups where I'm a member. Basically, I didn't give up my life's routine. I didn't give up myself when my book was published just to make a buck. You might be thinking: It sounds like she doesn't even care if she sells that many copies of her book. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's like so many things in life: What you grasp will always remain just our of your reach. I believe that by maintaining my sense of self I will draw the right people and opportunities to me - at the right time. I can't tell you how many times people have contacted ME to sell my book at their store/library/etc.
4-Have Fun! Whether it's taking a little trip, going to a movie, or sledding down a snowy slope, it's important to remember to smile and laugh - and to cause others to do the same.
5-Flex Your Imagination - I love the scene in Miracle on 34th Street, where "Santa Claus" encourages the cynical little girl Susan, to use her imagination: "...You've heard of the French Nation, well, what about the Imagi-Nation?" Below: Actor Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus) demonstrates to Natalie Wood (Susan) how to be a monkey.
While it might seem silly to be so light-hearted as an adult, it will not only add quality to your life, I believe it will add quality to your writing.
By the way, I highly recommend watching Miracle on 34th Street as a wonderful way to give your "heart of a child" a big boost!