4 Ways to Work Through a Creative Block

How to get past writer's block

But first, the publishing news worth reading this week:

How to Grow an Amazing Fiction Readership (She’s Novel): “Whether you want to build a full-blown career as a novelist or just bring in a few extra bucks on the side, growing your readership is pivotal to making sales. In fact, selling your stories usually goes a bit like this: Publish a book. Tell your friends and family. Realize you actually have to market this thing. FREAK OUT.”

Calling All Foodie Freelancers: 20 Dining and Food Magazines to Pitch (Kristen Pope on The Write Life): “Don’t limit yourself strictly to ‘food’ magazines and publications. Many other publications, ranging from travel to regional magazines, include a food or dining section, and even more are open to food-related pitches, so keep an open mind when trying to place stories about the culinary world.”

9 Research-Backed Ways to Spark Your Creativity (Michael Hyatt): “Creativity is essential to leadership and business. But we don’t always feel very creative. And I know some people doubt they’re creative at all. The good news is that all of us can easily become more creative.”

5 Tips for Overcoming Marketing Writer’s Block (Chadwick Cannon): “I hear a great many authors tell me that they have these great ideas for how to market their book, but when it comes time to put those big ideas on paper in a streamlined and practical way, their minds freeze up. Or that they have strong thoughts on what their promo copy should say, but then can’t get started when they finally sit down to put it on paper.”

4 Ways to Work Through a Creative Block

We all get stuck sometimes. Last night I was sitting on the balcony with Jarrett and whining about not knowing what to write for a post. We had finally called it quits with work for the day, packed away the laptops, poured the wine, and were watching a thunderstorm roll in. But I was using these precious moments of leisure to complain about the work lying ahead of me the next day.

Isn’t that always how it is? We check one day of work off then immediately start to ruminate on the next day.

I’m convinced that tomorrow’s work is the private terror of the creative mind.

As soon as we hit our goals for the day, we start dreading tomorrow, when we’ll have to sit down and face that blank page again. And what we want, more than anything, is for it to go away. And if it can’t go away, then we sure as heck better be struck by a bolt of inspiration between now and then.

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Book Deal News: The Once Upon a Chef Cookbook by Jenn Segal

jenn segal once upon a chef book proposal

Here it is, the first announcement day of 2016! This time congratulations are in order to Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, who will be publishing a beautiful cookbook with Chronicle Books. Here’s the official deal listing from Publisher’s Marketplace:

publisher's lunch book deal jenn segal once upon a chef

I’m so excited about this book for two reasons (well, actually it’s more like two trillion reasons, but I’ll spare you the exhaustive list):

Reason #1.

Jenn is such a success story and a great inspiration for anyone who’s on the journey of building their platform. Jenn’s big dream was always to write a cookbook. After graduating from college, she went to culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine and began working in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants like the L’Auberge Chez Francois. But, as she wrote in her proposal:

“Not only was I the only woman in a hot kitchen full of big, sweaty men, but I was also not at all right-sized for the massive equipment that surrounded us. At 5 foot, 2 inches, I had to get lifts on my shoes just to reach the plates. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to cook in a restaurant kitchen, just imagine trying to juggle multiple orders in your head and cooking on four different burners with food in the oven at the same time. Plus flames, sharp knives, hot pans, and an incessant stream of orders. It was terrifying!”

I love this story because it shows how not every food job is the right fit for everyone, no matter how passionate you are about food. I’m 5 foot, 2 inches, too, and I can tell you that the restaurant world is just NOT designed for the slight of stature. But you know where height doesn’t matter? In the writing and blogging world.

So when Jenn gave birth to her son and decided to stay home with him, she hung up her chef’s whites, picked up her apron, and went back to that cookbook dream. The problem was, she needed a platform.

And a platform she built. Over many years—one recipe and one blog post at a time—Jenn built a wonderful, engaged, and highly active community at Once Upon a Chef. She now has over 4 million page views, an email list of over 100,000, and a real connection to the people she’s helping. That right there—a close sense of knowing your readers and being dedicated to serving them—is the real purpose behind platform-building.

Lucky for us, Jenn has graciously agreed to share a few bits of advice about what it was like building the platform that got her the cookbook deal of her dreams:

What one thing worked best for you to grow your audience and increase traffic?

In the beginning, contributing to larger blogs, like HuffPost, Parade and Serious Eats, exposed me to a broader audience and drove lots of traffic to my site. (Reach out to the editors; sometimes it’s not as hard as you think to become a contributor). More recently, I moved away from the typical blog format/design and invested in a custom site redesign, which increased my numbers dramatically.

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Cacio e Pepe Recipe from Rose’s Luxury & HarperCollins on Why Emails Sell Books

Cacio e Pepe Rose's Luxury Recipe 1

Are you ready for the simplest fancy recipe you’ve ever made?

Meet the Cacio e Pepe Pasta from Rose’s Luxury in DC.

In case you haven’t heard of Rose’s Luxury, it was named the best new restaurant in the country in 2014 by Bon Appétit. So I’d say it’s pretty darn good.

We went to Rose’s for the first time last December for my birthday and stood in line in the freezing cold for an hour, waiting for them to open. They don’t take reservations and had just made the best new restaurant list, so we were not the only fools twiddling our gloved thumbs on the sidewalk.

When we finally made it in in, we ordered just about everything, but as usual, my favorite thing was the simplest thing. It was this Cacio e Pepe Pasta.

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What to Read and Eat This Week: 25 Podcasts for Readers, Plus What to Do With Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

best book news and publishing news


Engaging Audiences Through Twitter in Just 15 Minutes a Day (Kirsten Oliphant at JaneFriedman.com): Kirsten writes about platform-building and the creative journey at Create If Writing, but here she is on one of my favorite sites, Jane Friedman’s blog, sharing tips for how writers and bloggers can get more out of Twitter in just 15 minutes a day. Kirsten and I will be chatting on her podcast in the next few weeks about publishing and platform-building, so keep an eye out for that interview!

Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch on the Future of Publishing: How an Invention From the 1400s Will Fare in the Years Ahead (Michael Pietsch, The Wall Street Journal): “Ever-larger retailers and wholesalers bring significant margin pressure, which will lead to continued conglomeration. Social media will continue to expand the writer’s ability to connect with readers; publishers will deepen their relationships with writers, but they’ll also create content of their own. As runaway books sell ever-larger numbers, publishers will earn more on their biggest sellers—which will keep driving up the advances they pay for potential hits. At the same time, publishers will need to innovate and challenge assumptions about every aspect of the business.”

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