Anna Burgess Yang

Tinkering With Ideas #006: Trying new things

Published over 1 year ago • 2 min read

Hi Reader 👋 -

Happy Thursday. I'm writing this from Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, a quick getaway with my fam during that weird week between Christmas and New Year's when we really have no idea what day it is or what's going on.

Somehow all five of us managed to sleep together in one hotel room....

But after a night of tossing and turning in an unfamiliar room that was a bit too warm and listening to various people cough and snore, I feel more like this...

1) Reflection:

During my freshman year of college, I attended an open mic night. It was early in the school year and I didn't know many people yet. I sat alone in the commons area, clutching a copy of a poem I wrote, unsure if I'd gather up the courage to share it.

I sat through countless other students reading their work or singing songs — including full audience participation in a rendition of "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis. Finally, I worked up the courage to read my poem.

What has changed dramatically since that night, now more than 20 years ago, is that people routinely share things in public. The internet and social media have made this common. The first time I hit "publish" on a blog post was also terrifying, but by sharing creative work, we can find other people who say, "Hey, I really love what you're doing" or "I'm working on something similar — let's chat."

2) Product:

Last year, my major writing accomplishment was waking up early and writing for at least 30 minutes per day. This year, I've been looking for ways to improve my writing.

As a writer, I have been well-aware of Scrivener for years. Unlike other writing tools, it purports to be designed for novel writing. I tried it... and hated it. The learning curve is steep. And as a product person, I was really irritated that I couldn't just "figure it out." I abandoned the product.

Then, this year, I made a valiant effort to work on a novel during National Novel Writing Month (failed once again, but that's a story for another day). Success in NaNoWriMo is often dependent on "preptober" or a lot of pre-writing work done in October.

I decided to give Scrivener another try, this time with the aid of YouTube videos. Finally, I got it. I understood what made Scrivener uniquely capable of helping writers organize novels.

My 2023 writing goals including on... maybe a book? So I'm glad that I gave Scrivener another try.

3) Tip:

I was listening Jay Acunzo's latest podcast episode, "Welcome to the Jumble." (I've chatted with Jay before; he's great). He talks about the energy / stamina required to do creative work while also raising small children.

I felt this very deeply. When my kids were little, it took everything I had just to make it through the day. My own creative work often fell by the wayside.

But when my oldest was maybe seven or eight, I figured out how I could sneak in time to fulfill my creative urges: do art with them. I'm not talking about kid crafts. I'm talking about watching a YouTube tutorial (Let's Make Art is a fav) and they could paint alongside me, or find some other art project to work on.

All of our art supplies — paints, markers, paper, colored pencils, etc — are stored in a cabinet in our kitchen. Family art time became a thing. Pick something, anything, and we all work together at the table. Even if the kids only had an attention span of 30 minutes, it was a way to "fit" art into the day.

More Resources:

That's it for this issue of Tinkering! See you again in two weeks.


Anna Burgess Yang


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Anna Burgess Yang

Writer. Productivity Geek. Always Tinkering.

Practical tips to make your day better & make your life easier.

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