8 things to learn about being creative from Wendy Harmer (a podcast)

I’ve decided to start an occasional series with creative people I admire who have a spark of unique “dive-into-life”-ness that I think we could all learn from. There. A long sentence for you.

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Image by Tierney Gearon

Wendy Harmer is my first such guest. She is a MASSIVE spirit and her impact in Australia is huge. She’s a comedian, teen fiction writer, memoirist, blogger (you must sign up to Hoopla – smart women contributors talking important water cooler stuff) and…the rest. She’s playful and she creates from a very true and honest space. The best kind. I loved chatting with her about how she does what she does. Her words helped me enormously….mostly because she is so positive and accepting of the process. She plays. She explores.

Anyway, listen in.


Some of the salient mantras and points I took:

* She used to dive into big new things thinking “everyone will be much better than me”. Over time she’s realised no one really knows what they’re doing…they’re all just trying. “Most people are being average”.

* She always wanted to edit a magazine. So. She created Hoopla. Because now the internet means you just. Can. Very true and good for anyone with dreams they haven’t fulfilled yet.

* When she gets a bit nervous she says to herself: “I don’t have to do this for a living”. Bam. Expectations lessened!

* She works 9am-3pm. Sometimes she only gets 3 paragraphs down. Sometimes she scraps the lot the next day. 500 words a day is about fair, to her mind. Phew…

* When she gets stuck, she walks away. And hangs out washing.

10 8 things to learn about being creative from Wendy Harmer (a podcast)

* She quotes AA Milne: “and how to amuse them today”. This is her aim each day. To amuse. It guides her.

* She lives by this:  “Don’t eat anything bigger than your head. But cut it up into pieces and you can eat the whole watermelon”. Which is to say, do one step at a time. Just start. Just build it. Meander. “I don’t believe in dreams,” she says. She just starts.

* But my favourite bit is her dream (as in the nocturnal type) where she wanders through a house, from one exciting room to another and another. It’s chaotic, the rooms don’t match. But each room gets more and more interesting and her curiosity takes her in further and further. That’s what creating is to her. I love this idea: creating is about adding chaotic layers, or moving from one space to another to another. The point is, moving. Stepping into the next room. Always.

Do these help you with your creative journey? I’m chatting to author Kate Grenville next. Do you have any questions – be specific – about her creative process?

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