Interviews

Tips from a Productive Creative Master

Guys, I have a very special guest for you for today's "What's Up Wednesday" post! You all know we’re focusing on upping our fitness this month by logging our Minutes in Motion for our Productive Creativity. (And if you haven’t already downloaded your PC Journal to track yours, you can get it by subscribing to the blog.:D) My guest today is one of Time’s Top 25 Bloggers and he’s no stranger to health, fitness, and Productive Creativity. He’s the author of focus, The Effortless Life, and many more helpful titles written to help us live more minimalistic and happy lifestyles.

Without further ado, please welcome Leo Babauta to the blog today!

Thanks for being here, Leo. You’re a busy man and your time is much appreciated. :) Got your green tea? Let’s get started:)...

1. You’re a vegan, right? And this is the ultimate eating clean plan. You’re a runner and strength trainer. Again, ultimates in the field of fitness. How much of your success do you contribute to your eating and fitness routines?

Leo: My health and fitness are central to everything I do -- it has made me happier, better able to focus on my writing, better equipped to play wildly with my kids, able to walk everywhere and enjoy life to the fullest. I’ve learned that what I used to think was pleasurable -- eating junk food, shopping, mindless entertainment -- is not nearly as satisfying as a good workout or a simple healthy delicious meal. Just a note about veganism: while I believe it’s the most compassionate diet, it’s not necessarily healthy, depending on how you do it. Like any diet, you should focus less on junk foods and more on whole foods like lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains.

Tania: This is very true, Leo.  These are the principles that we have been working on improving in order to improve our PCness (Productive Creativeness;D) here.

2. According to a recent survey, many people responded that they don’t have time to eat right and exercise because of work and school schedules. What are your tips for the rushed and rambunctious?

Leo: Simplify. Most people commit to too much, cramming their schedules full because they think they can do more than they really have time for. Start eliminating commitments, leaving only what’s most important to you. For me, that’s family, writing, reading and fitness. My day consists almost only of those four things. Also, cut back on surfing the Internet and watching TV. Once you start making space, you’ll have time for healthier foods.

Tania:  Great point, Leo!  Cutting back on activities can help us make room for things we love!

3. As a dad of 6 babes that are homeschooled, do your children eat the same foods that you eat? What approach do you take if they don’t like the food what’s served? (I’m afraid that if I serve tofu, something might come flying at the back of my head while I cook!)

Leo: My kids are omnivores, except my 5-year-old daughter Noelle, who recently decided she wanted to stop eating animals. I loved that -- I didn’t force it on her. I believe in leading by example instead of forcing. So I share my delicious vegan food with them, but when they go out to a restaurant they often order meat (mostly chicken). My wife Eva cooks vegetarian meals for them now, but for awhile she was cooking chicken and fish. They don’t seem to mind too much that we stopped making meat dishes, because we make them veggie versions of stuff they love -- spaghetti, tacos, pizza, chili, soup. They don’t mind tofu too much because they’re getting used to it, though we rarely make it for them.

Tania: Aw, that's sweet.  Children are so empathetic and tapping into this at this age is great.  Way to go, Noelle!

4. Since this is Minutes in Motion Month, can you give any tips for making a difference physically to those that are just starting out?

Leo: The two most important things are to start, and then to be able stick with it. Most people don’t start because they dread it, so I recommend starting with just 5-10 minutes a day, and make it easy -- just walk, or play a sport you love. Focus on enjoying the activity rather than getting some kind of health benefit. If you can start with a small amount, you’ll get fitter gradually, and if you can stick with it because it’s easy and you enjoy it, you’ll make huge gains over the course of a few months.

Tania: Beautifully put...love it and stick with it.

5. How did you manage change when things got tough? Or did they ever get tough through the changes? (I get the impression that, as a laid back guy, you probably have few struggles, is that right?) :D

Leo: I struggle all the time, just like anyone. When things get tough, I find new ways of doing things so they’re not so tough. I take the easiest course, like water, though I also alter the landscape a bit so the easiest course is also a healthy one. :) So I’ll find a workout partner or go on runs with my wife, so that working out is fun and I’m more likely to do it because I’m accountable to someone. When I start doubting myself or feel like quitting, I’ll find another thing to do that’s fun and that excites me.

6. What’s the single most important tip you can give our readers that are struggling with taking up the healthy and fit lifestyle in order to make the quality of their work clearer and more focused?

Leo: Use exercise as meditation. I love meditation, and have found that running, or any kind of exercise, can be done the same way -- by focusing on the present moment, by cultivating mindfulness, by paying attention to your breath. This becomes not only a way of relieving stress and finding calm and clarity, but mindfulness practice that you take into the rest of your life. When you work, you’ll be better at being present and focusing at the task at hand.

Tania: Mindfulness is a big part of a PC lifestyle.  Love your advice here!

7. Speaking of focus, please tell us about your latest diamond projects and what we can look forward to in the future from a great Productive Creative like yourself.

Leo: I only work on one project at a time, and don’t plan the next projects after that. Right now I’m doing a course with Courtney Carver called Clutterfree, where I help people get free of their clutter. After that, we’ll see what I’m excited about!

Tania: We can't wait to see what that'll be!  There you have it guys...straight from a PC Master! Eat clean, exercise, be mindful and maximize your PCness, just like the Master.

It’s my sincerest hope that if you've been under a rock :) and aren't already a subscriber to Leo’s blog or haven’t gotten your hands on some of his reads that you do so...soon. And I also hope that you've learned something valuable that you can apply to your own Productive Creative life today.

Thank you so much, Leo, for stopping by. We've really enjoyed having you here and look forward to more great content coming from you and Zen Habits.

Follow Leo on Twitter @zen_habits and check out the Zen Habits store. And follow me on Twitter and Facebook to stay motivated in your PC journey with challenges and inspiration!

Leo Babauta Bio

Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger & author. He created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog (according to TIME magazine) with 200,000 subscribers, mnmlist.com, and the best-selling books focus, The Power of Less, and Zen To Done.

Babauta is a former journalist of 18 years, a husband, father of six children, and in 2010 moved from Guam to San Francisco, where he leads a simple life.

He started Zen Habits to chronicle and share what he's learned while changing a number of habits:

  • Quit smoking (on Nov. 18, 2005).
  • Became a runner.
  • Ran several marathons and triathlons.
  • Began waking early.
  • Became organized and productive.
  • Began eating healthier
  • Became a vegetarian.
  • Tripled his income.
  • Wrote a novel and a non-fiction book.
  • Eliminated his debt.
  • Simplified his life.
  • Lost weight (more than 50 pounds).
  • Wrote several best-selling ebooks.
  • Started a successful Top 25 blog.
  • Started a second blog for writers and bloggers.
  • Created a leading blog on minimalism.
  • Gave up his car, and is now car-free.

What struggles do you have with living a PC lifestyle?  Let us know in the comments so we can help!

Books, Blogs, and Broods...Oh My! Sean Platt Does It All!

Being able to balance life and work is key to balancing mind and body.  Sean Platt is a stellar example of a man with a plan.  He has his game together and it shows in his projects.  He is a dad, author, and blogger among many other things.  He recently took time out of his busy schedule to share with us things that have helped him get to where he is.  Notes: Sean thinks I am complimenting him, but I am not.  I simply state facts.  He is a master, but is too modest to admit it.  J  Thanks, again, Sean, for your time and your grace!

Don’t forget to check out all of Sean’s writing Yesterday’s Gone, Writing Online, Syllable Soup and much, much more!

Enough of my ranting…you came to see Sean and here he is!

You are a busy, busy man whose family plays a prominent role in your life/career.  If anyone knows how to get projects done and live life, it’s you.  What organization tips and tools have helped you balance it all?

Hey Tania, thanks for the compliment!

Yes, my family is the most important part of my life, and the biggest driving force in my career. Not only do they help me recognize where I want to go, they do everything possible to support the drive.

Balance is the hardest thing of all, by far. The last three years I’ve had to write ridiculous amounts of copy, both for myself and to pay the raging bills. Balancing it all is, at times, a nightmare. Only now am I surfacing enough to get my head above water enough to see land, and the bigger picture.

I am extremely fortunate to have a remarkable team: my partners David Wright, Danny Cooper, and Tracy O’Connor are all amazing, and all help move our collective engine forward.

The best advice I can give to anyone just starting out online, or someone without a team, is to be patient. Even if you can do everything, you can’t do it all at once. So stop pretending you can. Breathe deep and take your time, you will eventually hit the finish line.

But remember, whatever your life and your career goals, living them is a process, not an event.

Your words seem effortless when you write.  What is the most difficult part of being a writer or writing for you?

The most difficult part for me, by far, is knowing where to focus my attention. The reason my words seem effortless is because I write almost exactly like I speak, which enables me to write with tremendous speed, and with a style that zips all over the place, like in conversation.

During my last two years spent as a ghostwriter I’ve written everything from sales letters to wedding vows to fiction to speeches and blog copy, so I can write fast, furious, and across practically any genre. Yet, having that skill set makes me feel schizophrenic at times since I don’t know where to focus my creative energies. I just finished Season One of Yesterday’s Gone while in the midst of releasing a few social media and writing books, and right now I’m juggling the production of some children’s fairytales and a collection of short horror stories for grown-ups.

Very different.

And while I like writing all over the place, sometimes I think it would be better if I would just focus on writing one thing at a time!

You have a great writing partnership with David Wright.  How did that come about?  What recommendations can you make to those looking into writing with a team?  Has the writing team mode helped you manage the many pokers that you have in the fire?

Thanks, yes, David Wright is an amazing creative partner, and I’m very lucky to be working with him.

Our friendship and partnership happened in the most wonderfully natural, organic way. My first website was Writer Dad, which was the domain name Dave wanted for his first website, too. However, he never purchased the name and when he went to buy it, he found out I had – a guy who lived on the opposite coast, who he’d never met before.

He started reading my site, loved the way I wrote, then reached out and introduced himself my second week online. We’ve been friends and collaborators since almost day one.

Writing with a partner is absolutely wonderful for me. I love writing in isolation, too, but I’m collaborative by nature and most of the books I’ll be publishing are co-authored.

The best advice I can give is to never let ego get in the way. Ego is the enemy of amazing. Relax and let the creative chemistry do the heavy lifting and you will create superior art. And yes, absolutely, without a solid writing team behind me, my fries would have burned a long time ago!

You are Ghostwriter Dad.  How did you decide on your platform or was it a natural succession in your road map?  What advice can you give to those still struggling to figure out what their platform should be? Do you feel a writer’s platform should be directly related to writing or is a platform a platform no matter what the content in a publisher or the market’s eyes?

Ghostwriter Dad’s origins are sort of funny. Writer Dad had given me a lot of attention when I first started out, but zero dollars. After about six months chasing attention, and slowly bleeding my bank account, I realized I needed to start selling something. I was a fast writer and could sell my services, so I did.

I popped the word ghost in front of the word writer and piggybacked off the online brand I’d started to build, simple as that.

However, if I were doing it all over again, there’s no way I would have ever started a site about writing. I love Ghostwriter Dad and always will, but there are a million and one blogs about writing, and it’s extremely difficult to stand out – no matter how good your content is.

Under no circumstances do I ever think a writer’s platform should be directly related to writing. It should be related to whatever will help that writer bond with their audience most. Chasing attention from fellow writers is a losing game, for the most part, especially if you’re trying to write books. Other writers are too busy writing their own books to help you market yours!

My only goal with Ghostwriter Dad is to help struggling writers. The site isn’t set up to make money, nor would I ever intentionally start a website about writing aimed for big revenue. I’d much rather make my money from readers than from writers.

Recently, the masterful Justine Musk posed the question “Are fiction writers screwed?”  on tribalwriter.com.  While she is not of that mindset, she points out that many in the industry are. What is your take on that?

I like Justine a lot, but no, I don’t believe fiction writers are screwed – at all. Fiction writers have never had it better. Nearly all the top 100 paid downloads on Kindle are fiction, and some are from self published authors. That’s never been possible until now.

A more accurate statement is, “Fiction writers with no ability to market or desire to learn the basics are screwed.”

A marketer who knows how to write reasonably well is far more positioned to benefit from the Kindle economy than a great writer without a clue how to market.

You recently released your serial fiction “Yesterday’s Gone” with David Wright.  What is your next big project?

Oh man, we have more projects in development than we can count!

Something I just released, that I’m ridiculously proud of, is the children’s poetry title, Syllable Soup. I’m in love with the language in this project, and am proud the title hit Number 1 in children’s humorous poetry on Amazon.

I also love the trailer Dave made for the book! Check it out below.

I’m following that up with a collection of children’s fairy tales: three traditional fairy tales retold in my voice, along with three new fairytales written by me.

Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel are both currently available as .99 singles.

Dave and I have a book of six short stories (with killer endings!) that we’ll be publishing in November, then I have an untitled writing/marketing book for Ghostwriter Dad, scheduled for release on December 26. January starts strong with the release of Yesterday’s Gone’s second season, followed by a FAT publishing calendar throughout the rest of 2012.

 

Sean Platt is an author, publisher, and entrepreneur. He is author of Writing Online and co-author of the groundbreaking serialized fiction, Yesterday’s Gone. Smart writers follow him on Twitter.

There you have it guys…write hard, write fast, write often. And in your own voice.  Think you can do what Sean is doing?  I don’t know if I can, but I certainly want to try!  All the best to my guest and to my readers…no matter what your goals are. 

Let Sean know what you think of him in the comments!  J  Be nice.

Thanks for stopping by everyone!  Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook and leave your email up top there so I can drop you emails when posts are published!