Author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide, Kate Hanley Chills with Drink Readers

Hey there, welcome to Day Three of the Author Interview Series! I’m having so much fun with these interviews.  Today, I’m talking to Kate Hanley, author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide: 77 Simple Strategies for Serenity, a collection of quick, in-the-trenches self-care strategies.  Hmmm.  Why does that make me think of the upcoming holiday season

To enter the giveaway for a chance to win a complete, signed set of all the books featured in the giveaway, visit the post Welcome to the Author Interview Series Giveaway: Enter Here! and leave a comment.

Theo: The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide is all about finding serenity in life’s most common and taxing situations.  I was wondering if you had any special advice for writers seeking chill. Do you see certain situations in which writers tend to go into a tailspin?

Kate: Oh yes, there are many. Most writers I know have a love/hate relationship with deadlines—they love to write them on their calendar and then pretty much ignore them until they are urgent, and then they start cursing the deadline as if it is responsible.  I say this with love, as I do this myself. My best advice for getting going on a project is to do a simple visualization—”see” yourself sitting at your desk, hands flying across the keyboard, the perfect words appearing on the screen. I think we all do this informally—you’re walking to the mailbox and your opener suddenly pops in to your head, or you think about all the points you want to include in the piece while you’re on a walk. Sitting down and consciously envisioning what you’ll write before you write it helps you court the muse, and blazes a mental trail that your body then merely has to follow.

Also, a lot of writers I know (and again, I include myself in this group) have moments of pure panic about the current and future state of media—how will we survive and flourish in the digital world as publishers demand more rights for less pay? You’ve got to find a way to anchor yourself in the present moment instead of spiraling off in to various scenarios about the future. A super simple way to do this in the moment is to bring the soles of both feet to the floor; it literally grounds you, makes you feel a bit more supported, brings you in to your body and out of your head, which is where all the stressful thoughts originate. A more long-term endeavor is meditation. It helps teach you that absolutely everything changes, even on a moment-to-moment basis, and yet there is always a part of you that remains still and calm in the midst of the maelstrom. Meditation also helps you think creatively—I am continually awed by the brilliant thoughts that bubble up when I’m meditating regularly—which will help you shift and grow with the changing media landscape. And its stress reduction benefits are off the charts.

Theo: I love how you describe rolling out your yoga mat in your Brooklyn apartment among the scattered toys and trying to squeeze as much yoga as you can in before one of your two kids wakes up.  I’m curious how you fit writing into your life these days?

Kate: Two words: Child. Care. (Wait—that’s one word!) I tried to squeeze my work in during my children’s nap times. I nearly lost my mind. I know some Moms can do it and do it very well. My hat is off to them. That is not my reality. I sacrifice a lot of discretionary income for three full days of childcare a week for both of my kids. I make it a point to exercise on those mornings and then write like hell until it’s time to relieve the sitter. I leave the house and go to work at the library on a nearby college campus. I make it a point to bring water and snacks. The only thing I don’t like about this approach is how sedentary it forces me to be—I feel I must sit in the chair and produce as much as I possibly can on those days, particularly since I’m paying for that time. That’s another key reason for the water bottle—it forces me to stand up and walk up the stairs to the bathroom.

Theo: When did you first think of yourself as a writer?

Kate: I had a poem published in the Providence Journal when I was in the fourth grade. That was a thrill, but what really made me feel recognized as a writer was when my grandmother asked me to hand write a copy of the poem. She had it professionally framed and hung it in her kitchen. Despite that initial success, it took me almost three more decades to pursue writing professionally and exclusively. Ironically, it was the yoga teacher training I did, thinking that I wanted to stop working on the computer for a living, that gave me the confidence I needed to start freelancing.

Theo: When your writing gets stuck, how do you get unstuck?

Kate: I am a huge proponent of what Anne Lamott refers to as “really shitty first drafts”. When I’m feeling totally stuck, I force myself to spew out whatever I can think of on to the page. Then I get up and do something that involves my brain and body working together—cooking, yoga, cleaning, walking to the grocery store—which always helps me think a little more objectively. When I come back to what I initially wrote, it’s rarely as bad as I had feared and it just needs a little cleanup. The hardest part for me is starting. Once I’ve started, the rest flows much more easily.

Theo: What advice do you have to writers starting out?

Kate: For me, I had to quit all part-time jobs and really be scared about not paying next month’s bills in order to put myself out there enough to earn a living as a writer. In general, I think finding a community of other writers is invaluable for the camaraderie, the support, and the tips you pick up. (I joined freelancesuccess.com and made some lifelong friends there.) And you need to become comfortable with several areas that have nothing to do with writing—understanding contracts, negotiating, marketing, bookkeeping, and my personal least favorite, following up on unpaid invoices.

Theo: Do you have any tips about building a platform?

Kate: My biggest tip is never assume that you can just write something fabulous and an enormous audience will naturally grow. You’ve got to work at it, which means getting comfortable with promoting yourself. Talking about your self and your work is typically hard for writers–if we were true people-people, we likely wouldn’t have chosen a career that requires us to spend so much time alone in a quiet room. So my first piece of advice is: accept that you need a platform and admit that you will have to promote yourself in order to build it. It really helps if you write not only what you know, but what you’re passionate about. Because between writing the things that pay the bills and writing the blog posts and tweets and Facebook statuses that promote the work that pays the bills, you will be spending a lot of time talking about your subject matter. It really helps to love it.

I’m learning that when I think about platform building in terms of cultivating a community of like-minded people (what Seth Godin calls a tribe), the work to promote myself feels less like work and more like sharing. And sharing is nice. It can actually inspire you to get out of bed in the morning on those days when you don’t feel like doing anything.

Theo: Where can readers find you online?

Kate: My personal website, where I talk about whatever I darn well please (in the wellness arena) on a sporadic schedule, is msmindbody.com. I also blog weekly at Whole Living, takepart.com, and (every so often) at the Gaiam Stream of Consciousness blog.

Twitter: @KateHan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Ms-Mindbody/238215830323

To enter the giveaway for a chance to win a complete, signed set of all the books featured in the giveaway, visit the post Welcome to the Author Interview Series Giveaway: Enter Here! and leave a comment.

This entry was posted in Interviews. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide, Kate Hanley Chills with Drink Readers

  1. Thanks for the fabulous interview! So many books to read/buy! Or maybe I’ll win the contest?!

  2. Wendy Colbert says:

    Love it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s