"You gotta stop watering dead plants." ~Pinterest wisdom

One of the things that gives us the most joy about The Creative Academy is the spirit of the people in it. We wanted a community that supports each other and remembers that writing shouldn't be a combat sport. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams is critical to getting through the hard times.

Alas, some of us might be hanging on to people who don't support us. There are a number of reasons we hang on to toxic people in our lives—we might feel that we've known them too long to let them go, or we might not even recognize how toxic they've become. Now is a great time to clean those people out of your life to make room for the people who will add to your joy.

We've collected some articles to help you with that:

If you're not sure what constitutes a toxic friend, this Hey Sigmund article shares some of the many ways people poison us and this Science of People piece provides great names for those folks. Even if you don't have any toxic people in your life, there's some great fodder for characters on these pages!

Here's some advice from the smart business brains at Inc.com on how successful people handle toxic people.

And then with a bit of a different tone but some equally compelling advice, Bustle shares 6 ways to cut a toxic friend out of your life for good.

~ New this week ~

Writing sprints for everyone!

We are delighted to be partnering with the Richmond Public Library to share our Creative Academy writing sprints with anyone who wants to join! Get a taste for the power of writing in the energy of a group — from your own home! — by joining us on Monday nights from 7PM to 9PM Pacific right here: https://zoom.us/j/963003204.

Add the link to your calendar then drop in anytime during the two hours and get some words written or pages revised. Note that the link only works on Monday evenings from 7 to 9.

Your host is none other than author James McCann! (You can 'meet' him by watching his conversation with Crystal on our YouTube channel. The link is below).

New on our YouTube channel

So many new conversations with authors to check out! Here are a few to whet your whistle.

Barbara Poelle, literary agent with the Irene Goodman Agency, discusses what she looks for in a query, how she pitches projects to editors, and how she approaches career building with her authors. This discussion gives you a peek into how one agent works and offers advice for how you may want to pitch your work.

Angela Ackerman, the co-author of six bestselling writing guides, writing coach and international speaker, believes that writers should never stop striving to learn and grow. Her desire to help writers in new, innovative ways is a love that led to a powerful collaboration that became One Stop for Writers®. Hear all about this amazing resource for writers.

YA author James McCann talks about turning your novels into audiobooks. He talks about all the things you should consider, from whether to read your book yourself or hire a professional, what platforms to use, and so much more!

A quick request to you —

if you watch a video that you love, please subscribe to our channel so we can can change the ugly URL to one that uses real words!

~ For Creative Academy Members ~

New in our Members' Only community

Author branding and career-building tips and advice were the focus of Crystal's office hours this last week, with a focus on working with cover designers, setting up a perma-free book, and budgeting for your writing and publishing.

In Eileen's Happy Hours, she tackled ways to help increasing pacing in a novel and how to use red herrings in your story so they feel natural to your readers and never like a cheat.

Donna's not-secret-but-not-recorded Mastermind group celebrated lots of wins, affirmed that magic is not woo-woo when it works (which it has been for many members!), and shared some great ideas for getting back on-track when we're feeling kind of meh. These convos take place every Thursday at 10AM if you want to take advantage of the hive mind.

Writing sprints and special topic gatherings

Special event for Story Stormers

This Saturday, Feb 2nd at 5PM Pacific, members who've been participating in the StoryStorm are meeting to discuss all of their story ideas.

Writing sprints

Turn-out at our 7:30 AM writing sprints is stunning those of us who 'don't do' mornings, and our evening sprints are gathering speed on Monday night from 7-9PM (in partnership with the Richmond Public Library!) and Tuesday through Thursday at 8PM. Add a couple of these times to your calendar and watch your word count grow!

Book Passion discussion

Our Book Passion special event will be lead by Eileen who'll be sharing what it is about Liz Nugent's Unravelling Oliver that makes this a book for her keeper shelf. You still have time to read it and join the convo on Monday, February 25 at 7PM Pacific.

Get access to all of the ways the Creative Academy will help you make your writing a priority. Become a member here.

~ Creative Advice Prompt ~

Create a list of all of the people your character interacts with on a regular basis. Are any of them toxic? (Keep in mind while toxic people in real life are a drain, in a manuscript they give you room for increasing conflict!) Why does your character maintain a relationship with the person who is toxic? What do they tell themselves about that person?

Eileen, Crystal and Donna