Creative Careerist: Janice Hardy

Meet the Creative
Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, BLUE FIRE, and DARKFALL from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She also blogs about and teaches writing at The Other Side of the Story. You can visit her online at www.janicehardy.com or via Twitter @Janice_Hardy.

What does an average day look like for you in your creative career?
I’m lucky that I have two creative jobs and they both let me work from home–author and graphic designer. I get up pretty early (about 6 a.m.), and spend my mornings as a writer. I write until lunch (anywhere from 500 to 2500 words depending on the scene), then in the afternoons I put on my graphic designer hat. If there’s no graphics work, then I might continue writing or working on book-related things. In the late afternoons, I read blogs and check social media and do the business/marketing aspects of writing.

How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?
Lots of hard work and trial and error. The big turning point for me as an author was when my friend found the Surrey International Writer’s Conference and suggested we go. It was my first big conference, my first time pitching to an agent, and my first time getting out there as “a writer.” Between a disastrous pitch session (I totally flubbed my pitch), and a master class on pitching where I realized my book was seriously and irrevocably flawed, I was pretty demoralized (tears were involved). But the fantastic workshops the rest of the weekend stressed original ideas and gave me a great idea of what I needed to do to write a book I could sell. I came home feeling inspired, dug through my old ideas file, found an old outline for a book, and turned it into my debut novel, The Shifter. Had I not gone to that conference, I don’t think I would have ever gone looking for old “original” ideas and written that book.

What excites you most about your work?
Getting caught up in a story. There’s always a moment where things click and I see connections and layers I never consciously planned. The story takes on new life and meaning and becomes more than I anticipated.

What is its greatest challenge for you?
Endings. By the time I get to the end of a story I’m ready to be done, so I rush it. It comes out flat and more summary than story, and I always have to go back and rewrite it at least once. I’m working on fixing that now, so fingers crossed my new process works.

How do you get your best ideas?
I think it’s important to give yourself the freedom to brainstorm and think about cool ideas even if they don’t look like they fit the story at first. My subconscious is a much better writer than I am. I let things simmer in my brain and it finds cool links and ideas and then springs them on me. Sometimes the best idea comes from things my first instinct was to say no to.

What do you do when you get stuck?
Take a shower. It’s almost a clichĂ© now, but it’s true and it works. Doing something where my brain can work while I’m paying attention to something else always lets the answer pop into my head. I’ve had more a-ha! moments while drying my hair than you’d believe.

How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?
Being an author and a graphic designer makes creativity part of my daily routine, so it’s easy. Creativity pays the bills (grin). My mother was an artist, so she made sure I had crayons and paper as a child, and encouraged me in all kinds of creative activities as I grew up. Creativity has always been a part of my life and it’s become part of my identity.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?
If you love being creative, do creative things. Make it part of your life and not something you feel forced to make time for, like it’s a burden. I write because I love it, and even if I never sold another book I’d still write. I get the urge to draw so I grab a pad and pencils and draw. Whatever creative outlet works for you, dive in and have a great time. You never know where it’ll lead you.

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