#LiveFully Interview: Jeff Goins (part 1)

Evan Forester —  March 28, 2012 — 1 Comment

If you have an ounce of creativity, this interview is for you. Even if you don’t, you’ll still find reasons to love this guy. Today we have the honor of interviewing Jeff Goins. He is an amazing writer with a lot of influence, and even has a new book coming out in August. You can find all of his great writing advice and check out his e-books on his website http://goinswriter.com

The stuff Jeff has to offer here is gold. We tried to edit it down, but there is too much good stuff! So we’ve split the interview up into two parts, and there are three different ways you can digest it.

First, we have the video recording of our google+ hangout. Second, we transcribed the interview if you prefer reading to watching a video. Third, tomorrow, when we post part 2, we will also include a downloadable audio file so you can listen in the car or on a run or wherever you want.

And now, if you prefer reading…

You write a successful blog about writing. It is pretty specific and you frequently stress the importance of focusing on one thing. How did you come to the realization that you need to focus on one thing? And, how did you determine that the one thing was writing?

I don’t think you have to focus on one thing for the rest of your life, I think you have to focus on one thing at a time. I think the problem, or challenge, for creative people, and probably for most people, is that focusing on one life aspiration at a time is scary because you are forsaking all other opportunities to focus on that one thing

What if you get it wrong?

People are afraid of this when picking jobs or pursuing certain passions. What if you pick the wrong thing? The problem is, what we shouldn’t fear, is picking the wrong thing. What we should fear is what most people do, which is not picking anything.

We spread our interests around so evenly that we live a pretty mediocre, unremarkable life. And that is what is scary me. So when I pick things, I don’t pick them confidently. If I am going to write about something a certain topic pursue a certain passion, I don’t know for sure that is the one thing I should be doing.

I know that I’m pretty good at it, and that other people get life from it, and that I love doing it. So if there are criteria, those three are pretty good.

But even if you pick something, there is going to be fear and hesitation. There are other things I do, I play guitar and like to make guacamole. There are other things that could be my craft.

So how do you pick that one thing? I’m not sure, but I think you just do, and you decide courageously and realize you don’t have to do it your entire life. But just for the time being, even if it is just for a day or an hour, there is incredible fruit that happens when you focus on one thing at a time and try to get good at it.

We live in a time and age where there are so many things we could be doing at any given time, that focusing on just one skill is something we don’t give enough attention to.

In Every Writers Dream, you say, “there must be a life behind the writing.” Could you explain what that means a little bit more?

I got that idea from Stephen King’s memoir on writing. He says something like, “life is a support system for the arts.”  And now I’m realizing that the opposite is true: art supports life, not the other way around.

If you pursue something, any craft. It could be creative or practical, and you fall in love with it, it is easy to become obsessed. It is easy to structure your whole life around this thing and forsake relationships and commitments, even other things you enjoy doing. The problem is, when it comes to something like writing especially, writing is supposed to illustrate life. It is supposed to inspire us and reveal something to us that we wouldn’t understand otherwise (at least, that’s the sort of writing I want to do).

If all I am ever doing is writing, and I’m not living, then the well is going to run dry and I am going to stop getting inspired. And it is just not going to be healthy. You see this with authors, musicians, and even with entrepreneurs. People get so focused on this thing that is supposed to add value to their lives or add value to the lives of others, but instead it consumes every facet of it.

But that is not what it’s for. Writing is illustrating life, and if you aren’t living, then you’re out of balance. Sometimes the best thing you can do for writing or creativity is to not create, but to go and live. Then you use those experiences to inspire your art.

Questions for our readers:

What “one thing” should you be focussing on? What is stopping you?

Are you living in such a way that inspires your art?

Make sure you don’t miss part 2 tomorrow. You can quickly subscribe by e-mail here, just to be sure you don’t forget!

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Evan Forester

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This post was by Evan, an adventure enthusiast learning to #LiveFully in New Zealand. He now writes for Embracing Exile.