Spark Your Creativity In 8 Minutes A Day: Interview With Book Coach Lisa Tener
Sep 22, 2021
“You make something and you hope it inspires people. To actually see their faces light up as they encounter it--that's so fulfilling.”
Lisa Tener, writing coach and author, is launching her latest book project today! It’s more than a book however. It’s the culmination of her many years of experience helping writers write. In my interview with Lisa below, she shares her story and motivation for creating this unique journal for writers and anyone working on a creative project.
Lisa: Oh, wow. Where do I start? I guess one reason it's special for me is that I'm passionate about journaling. Journaling has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. Journaling helped me heal from a chronic illness; leave a stressful job and pivot to an entirely new career I love--but one I didn't even know existed; nurture my creativity without judgment; grow as a person, mom and partner/wife. And journaling inspired my books, including the very first one.
So I know what journaling did for me and I'm super-excited to share it and see what it can do for readers. I also worked through the journal myself this summer and I had a blast. It's fun when you can create without worrying about the "product" and just explore freely.
Laurie: How did you become so passionate about helping writers write and publish books?
Lisa: I co-wrote and published my first book with a traditional publisher (HCI). It took me seven years to go from idea to published book. That experience inspired me to help others accomplish writing and publishing an exceptional book much more quickly.
But the actual business came to me over time. First, in a yoga class, like a download, I had this vision of sharing the tools I came up with to write in flow, craft a successful book proposal and revise my own work.
I started offering workshops, "Magic for Your Muse," which one of my clients suggested become "The TENER Method for Creative Flow." That led to creativity coaching, which quickly became book coaching, because the people who came to me for coaching wanted help writing and publishing a nonfiction book.
With The Joy of Writing Journal we're coming full circle, where creativity is at the center. You can use this journal to support any and all creative projects--simple journaling, working on stories or articles, writing a book, making art--it's a bigger canvas than my other work.
Laurie: You’ve had quite a journey to get to this moment, having to delay the launch by 9 months because of illness. As you reflect back over this time, how do you feel?
Lisa: I feel extremely fortunate--both to have recovered my health and to have had this time to find more balance in my life. If I'd launched the book in January, I don't think it would have been as enjoyable an experience.
After healing, spending more time in nature, slowing down, I feel ready to jump in and enjoy this journey rather than push and try to control it.
Laurie: What have you learned about yourself, the creative process and getting your project done during this time that you’d like to share with other writers/creatives? What surprised you?
Lisa: There's a part of me that's very type A. I strive. I went to MIT undergrad and then for business school; I ran a nonprofit organization for 10 years; and now I run my own business as a book coach. In all these jobs I pushed myself hard. Too hard.
The illness taught me to slow down and allow for magical things to happen to me rather than to push. For example, today, I started off on my computer doing lots of launch activities--mostly emails to ask generous friends, family and colleagues to help me spread the word about the book. But then my mother in law Mimi Sammis texted and said, "Let's shoot that video for my instagram. I'm at the beach."
So I had to get off my computer and go to the beach. It was just the most glorious mid-September day--warm and sunny, with a slight breeze. We ran into my sister-in-law and several friends and I showed them the book. They were all so excited about it and, of course, offered to purchase the book on Amazon on launch day (9/22). It made me feel so supported. I got to ride the wave of their enthusiasm.
You make something and you hope it inspires people. To actually see their faces light up as they encounter it--that's so fulfilling. It's the answer to a prayer.
If I stayed at my computer, I would never have experienced that level of joy, enthusiasm and support from the people I ran into and from nature! Plus I got to go for a beautiful walk afterwards on Narragansett Beach!
I think also, you asked about what I've learned about creativity through this drawn out launch process. One thing is that launching a book requires creativity, too. And this part of the creativity is something you don't need to do alone. You can invite others to join in and make it co-creative. Many extraordinary people contributed to this project
including my publisher, beta readers, editor, video participants, video editor, coach and producer, along with friends and family cheering me on!
There are just so many people involved in a creative project like this and one truism is to let each person shine--some direction is good but allow space for their creative input and you end up with a better creation.
Laurie: In your writing classes and workshops, you incorporate movement into helping writers prepare to write. Some of your prompts in the book suggest movement and being in nature. How did this come to be? What inspired you to bring in movement?
Lisa: I'm fairly kinesthetic. I don't do well with sitting still to meditate. My meditation is motion. I practice qigong, I walk in nature, I dance. It's natural for me to incorporate that into some of the prompts and the videos. Moving creates a free flow of both energy and ideas, releasing stuck places to allow new perspectives to emerge.
Laurie: You mention videos. The Joy of Writing Journal literally sparks the reader to engage in the prompts with some unique interactive components. Tell us about these aspects of the journal and how you came up with these creative ideas?
Lisa: My publisher, Tamara Monosoff, gave me the idea to include QR codes that link to additional multi media content to enhance the journaling experience. With the QR code links, you might hear other writers sharing an inspirational story, listen to a guided meditation or download a pdf pep talk from me. I had a lot of fun adding these creative pieces — it’s like making the experience of this journal multi dimensional.
: And I had fun creating my mini video
for you too, sharing how I use movement and nature to get my energy and ideas flowing. How do you motivate yourself for your own writing?
Lisa: The biggest thing is making the time. That's where the Joy of Writing Journal is so helpful. I would wake up and record my dreams, if I remembered them, and then go straight to The Joy of Writing Journal to the day's prompt. After that, if I felt like writing other things, like a blog post or working on another book, I would do that. The journaling gets you into a state of flow where it's easy to keep going and enter a bigger project from an already creative state.
Laurie: It’s like beginning writing from ‘rolling start’. You mentioned that you went through the book and completed the 30 days of writing prompts. What was that like to be a student of your own work? What unexpected delight did you experience?
Lisa: I felt scared to work through it myself. What if the prompts didn't do anything for me? What if I got stuck or felt uninspired?
Two surprises - one was how much I enjoyed it and how it supported my creativity. The other surprise was that some days I did feel a bit stuck. I'd make the list as the first part of the exercise and feel resistance to the prompt. Sometimes, I'd let it go and move to another prompt. But I'd return to the sticky prompt the next day and often those resistant prompts were the juiciest. I just needed time to let it stew, I guess.
Laurie: After so many years of writing, editing, teaching and coaching writers, what would you want to say to every writer to get writers writing and complete their project?
Lisa: Be kind to yourself. We spend so much time beating ourselves up about not producing enough work, not writing enough, not being good enough. It's counterintuive but often, the kinder you are to yourself, the more your resistance can melt away. But you do need to create opportunities for yourself to write. In writing The Joy of Writing Journal, my goal was to create easy opportunities, short blocks of time consistently, and easy exercises so that flow could happen spontaneously.
Lisa Tener is an award-winning book coach, creativity catalyst and author of the book The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. Lisa has helped thousands of aspiring writers and authors access their creativity, find their voice and write and publish groundbreaking nonfiction books through her coaching services and courses. Dozens of her clients have won prestigious book awards and/or signed five- and six- figure deals with major publishing houses. For over a decade, Lisa has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course. Lisa offers private coaching and award-winning nonfiction writing courses at LisaTener.com. Follow Lisa on Twitter, Instagram or join her private Facebook Group (Write and Create with Lisa Tener)