Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Kent Sanders, and I’m an author, creative coach, consultant, and college professor. I teach courses on film, storytelling, and the arts at St. Louis Christian College in Florissant, Missouri. I also write on creativity, the arts, and productivity at https://kentsanders.net.
I host a weekly podcast called “Born to Create,” where I interview artists and entrepreneurs on developing the habits and mindset for creative success. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and here: https://kentsanders.net/podcast.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
With my last book, The Artist’s Suitcase, I wanted to write a book filled with practical, short chapters for artists of all kinds. Many of the chapters in the book were originally blog posts. I feel it is important for books to be shorter rather than longer, which is why it’s about 120 pages. You can read it in just a couple of hours.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I always feel inspired when I was a great movie. One of my favorites is “Citizen Kane.” Orson Welles demonstrated a huge amount of creativity and innovation with that film. He was far ahead of his time and wasn’t afraid to tell a story in a unique way.
I also love getting out into nature for walking or hiking. The fresh air and sounds of the wilderness are like a shot of inspiration to my soul.
How do you deal with creative block?
A few things:
1. Outline your material before you start writing.
2. Just start writing and the ideas and content will come. Action produces emotion.
3. Go see a great movie, listen to great music, or read a great book. That will inspire you to keep moving.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
The biggest mistake is to be boring. If it’s boring, people won’t read for very long.
Editing, cover design, marketing, and other items are important. People will forgive some grammatical errors or even a mediocre book cover or interior layout. But they won’t forgive being boring.
So, work hard to make your book interesting. Tell stories. Use illustrations and charts. Use short sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. Do everything you can to keep the reader’s attention.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
The title needs to indicate some type of promise to the reader. For example, my book The Artist’s Suitcase: Essentials for the Creative Journey clearly says whom the book is for and what it’s about. Non-fiction book titles should be straightforward and clear. Titles for novels are different since they are stories.
Book covers should be designed for professionals. If you are going to spend money on something, spend it on editing and book cover design. Look at other books in your niche or genre to see what it selling and how those book covers communicate the ideas of the book.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I like to see if there is any truth in negative feedback. What can I learn from it? How can the feedback help me improve?
We usually view critics as a negative force, but they can actually help us improve and grow if we can get our egos out of the way first.
That said, criticism can definitely hurt. But when you approach your creative work as a professional, you understand that it’s not personal. They may be criticizing your work, but your work exists as a separate entity from you as a person. That is why you have to emotionally distance youfself from your work to a degree.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I am not as emotionally tied to my writing as I used to be. I used to only write when I feel inspired. But now I understand that no matter what my emotions, I can sit down and write because that is what professionals do. They create on demand.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Best thing: having a completed book and feeling the satisfaction of seeing it through to completion.
Worst thing: The slog of editing.
Most surprising thing: The power that a book has to give you credibility and authority on your topic.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Both have to be present in order to create a successful book. It’s enjoyable to create a book for fun, but if it doesn’t serve a reader in some way, it probably won’t be successful. You can serve a reader many ways: by providing entertainment, information, or inspiration.
is the difference between having a business and a hobby. Writing, even though it’s creative by nature, must be focused on meeting the needs of the reader.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Any emotion—even negative ones like fear or anger—can feed into your creativity. However, I find that positive emotions like joy, love, and peace are much better suited to creative thinking and activity. It’s important to get away from as many of the negative influences in your life as possible.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Several things I’ll share:
1. Take a nap every day.
2. Create something every day.
3. Deal with unresolved conflict with people. Conflict will kill your creative energy.
4. Hang around successful people.
5. Read good books that will help you grow in your attitude, ambition, and perspective.
6. Your mindset is a huge key to creative thinking.
What are your plans for future books?
My next book is called Born to Create, and it’s a story about a burned-out music teacher who finds his creative spark again. It is a teaching story that will communicate the five keys to creativity.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I once played the role of Johnny Casino in my high school production of “Grease.”