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Why You Need to Show Up (Even When You’re Not Feeling It)

Here’s another myth and misconception: creators would be creating whether or not we were getting paid to do it. This argument is most often used in an attempt to devalue a creator’s work. “Why are you charging X? You’d make it just for fun anyway.” The things is… no. I would still create, absolutely, but not at this pace, with this focus and intensity. For creators who do this for a living, it’s why you need to show up even when you’re not feeling it.


“Most of us have an expectation that we should feel in the mood to do something. We should be excited, rested, focused. And when we do it, it should be easy, comfortable, fun, pleasurable. Something like that.”

Leo Babauta


This job is not easy. It is not always fun. That’s the reality even when I’m not struggling to manage my spoons. There are days when, just like any other job, I have to psych myself up to go to work. I need to remember the big picture. Sometimes I just need to think about the bills that need to be paid.

Most of the time I can find my excitement for a project, and let that carry me along. After all, I chose to write this particular book for a reason. Commercial prospects aside, there was something in it that interested me. There was something that I wanted to say. If I can reconnect to that, things go smoothly.

But like everyone else, there are also days where I’d rather sleep in, read a book, or binge something on Netflix than go to work.

Why You Need to Show Up

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Today is Our 6th Anniversary in Finland

In a lot of ways it’s hard to believe that we’ve been here this long. Katie and I aren’t doing anything special to celebrate our 6th anniversary in Finland, other than going about our normal lives. Which is sort of the whole point.

I don’t talk about being an American expat in Finland much these days. There are a lot of reasons. The biggest one is the political climate in the United States. I have the audacity to not just live someplace other than “America”, but actually like it and even prefer it. As such, I’ve been called a traitor, a commie, and far worse things along that general line. Not just by random internet weirdos. By (former) friends and family members. There have been threats. Enough to give me another reason to not want to go back.

There are a lot of people I know who would like to get out of the United States right now, but can’t. To the “love it or leave it” people I say: it should be so easy. I’m uncomfortable writing about why I love living in Finland so much, because I feel like I’m rubbing salt into the wounds of people suffering under the current regime. Plus, you know, the toxic nationalists who want to kill me for daring to engage in the pursuit of happiness somewhere else.

I am in many ways at the mercy of two governments. It is best to not make waves or draw too much attention to myself and my opinions. Most of my business comes from the United States. To make a living, I can’t upset anyone that might negatively impact my ability to sell my goods and move money around. 99% of my concerns originate on the other side of the Atlantic. I actually trust Finland to be reasonable.

So we’re going to mark this occasion by having a normal day. Hopefully, we’ll continue to have many more here.

Today is Our 6th Anniversary in Finland

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Why We Create: To Save Our Sanity

“Art has always been the raft on to which we climb to save our sanity.”

Dorothea Tanning, Salon, 2002

My wife Katie frequently states that for her, art is therapy. It is how she both escapes the world and processes it. All of her work is personal, even the dolls that people think are just cute little tchotchkes.

For me it is about self-expression and creativity, but on another level it is the thing I can do. Since the 2009 economic crisis, across my life in Finland, and through the current pandemic, I have not had to worry about finding a job, being laid off, or suffering the abuses of corporate overlords.

While I do have to worry about having enough spoons, how I use them is within my control. No one is telling me that I have to be at my desk and functional by 8 am, Monday through Friday. If I am, great. If I’m not, I rearrange things. The work still gets done, but it’s completed as I’m able.

This takes a lot of emotional strain off of me. Which means that it’s also managing my anxiety disorders. If you want to talk about taking steps to save our sanity, that’s what being a professional creative is for me.

To Save Our Sanity

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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Journal

Why I’m Focusing on Copywriting Skills

Knowing the problem you’re solving for is becoming a running theme in my life. It comes up often as I’m helping my wife Katie get her business set up. When consulting with creators and small business owners, it’s one of the first questions I ask. At the moment I’m applying it to various aspects of my own writing and publishing career. That’s why I’m currently working on my copywriting skills.

For me, writing is a business. The problem I’m solving for is paying the rent, covering the bills, and hopefully building up some savings for a rainy day. You might want to win an award, or get plaudits from notable critics, or just be seen as a “legitimate” creator. I am not, as I must repeat daily, unconcerned with quality. To make a living, though, I need to be able to work quickly and economically.

My goal with copywriting is to sell more copies of my books. New releases, my backlist, all of it. Better copy, whether it’s on a product page, a newsletter, or a blog post, can help move more units. Better sales means I might be able to slow down a little bit. Which would address perceptions; releasing fewer books, further apart in time, will lead some people to believe that they are better because they took longer. Seriously.

Why I’m Focusing on Copywriting Skills

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Learning How to Give and Receive Critique

Hank Green has posted a wonderful and informative video about learning how to give and receive critique. Good feedback is vital for any sort of creator, but not all critique is created equal. The first thing you need to do is learn to separate the chaff from the wheat.

There is a cultural phenomena right now where people think that all opinions hold the same weight. What the late Isaac Asimov referred to as “the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” These people have an expectation that you will accept their criticism with the same gravitas as you would a bona fide expert.

Opinion is Not Critique

I will admit that I struggled with this for a long time. The way I was raised was to listen to people, be kind to them, and hear them out. To not listen to what they had to say was rude. I also abhor confrontation. In spite of this reputation I have for being brusque, blowing off people that don’t know what they’re talking about is uncomfortable for me.

As Hank classifies them, these are the opinions of people who are outright wrong, and people just looking for a reason to be mean. It’s not useful critique because there’s nothing to learn from their remarks. Critique isn’t supposed to be about the creator, it’s supposed to be about the work. This sort of critique sometimes seems like it’s personal, and aimed at the writer or artist or performer. It’s really all about the person issuing the opinion. They’re flexing some degree of power over your emotions, and threatening that they in some way hold influence over your career.

The real bottom line, though, is that most people simply don’t know how to deliver critique. People who have been to art school are taught this. Most writing classes do as well. You know that you need to be constructive and relatively kind. Because your turn will come to be on the receiving end. Most people offering opinions these days not only lack expertise, they have no skin in the game.

And that’s how I’ve learned to ignore most people. I actively solicit the opinions of people I trust to tell me the truth, that also know what they’re talking about. While I still read reviews and other feedback, and pay attention when there is valuable commentary, I have to take everything with a grain of salt.

Learning How to Give and Receive Critique

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