Matt’s top tip for authors? Protect the time you set aside for writing with your life. It is so easy to prioritise perceived obligations and the tasks you believe you should be doing ahead of writing because there are times when writing feels like a frivolous activity. Especially when you aren’t happy with what you are writing and when it isn’t being read. However, if I am not writing I don’t feel like I am living the way I want to. I lose my verve. And a life without verve isn’t worth living. So do whatever you need to in order to protect that time you set aside for writing. Let the people close to you know why it is important and put the time in your diary to write before you put anything else in there.
Sydney-based Matt Jackson is the founder of Affectors, a TEDx speaker, poet, and sought-after business coach who works with national and global clients. Matt graduated from Melbourne University with BAs in Arts and Commerce and has worked diversely, including in advertising where he translated creative concepts for business people and business concepts for creative people. Now as a poet and speaker he performs to international business, scientific, medical and artistic audiences. Find out more about Matt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/affectorsmatt
Why do you write? My childhood was full of disruption so writing started as a kind of self medication to protect myself from environmental factors that were outside of my control. I write to reflect on events and create an illusion of order that calms me. I remind myself every day of what Jerry Juhl had posted above his desk whilst writing for the Muppet Show: “Not writing is worse.”
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Making music or performing theatre. Like writing they use language to stimulate the mind and stir the emotions. They delight in sound, pattern and meaning. Through their own language they mimic natural patterns and then violate the audience’s expectation to make a memorable experience. Perhaps this is why I enjoy performing my poetry so much.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Convincing myself that not being published wouldn’t stop me from writing. That took ten years. Originally I wrote because of the way writing affected me. Once I graduated from university I wrote with the goal of being published in mind and I lost the joy. I didn’t write for ten years. When I started again it was because I wanted to feel that joy again. I eventually achieved my goal by no longer pursuing it.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The unexpected moments when my subconscious takes over and it no longer requires effort. The question I get asked most often is, “how long does it take to write a poem”. The answer is very unsatisfying for the person. If I write every day then it will take a very short time and very little effort for me to write something I am proud of. If I don’t write every day then I won’t be able to write something I am proud of no matter how much time and effort I put into it. So the answer, from my experience, is that it takes writing every day in order for me to write a poem in less than an hour that I am proud to perform.
—the worst? That my subconscious never asks for my permission to write about me and often the results are terrifying. The writing that I find most fulfilling and inspiring comes from my subconscious. The process of writing is transformed into an exhilarating experience which is similar to running through a maze in the black of night and knowing that there’s a Minotaur in there with me. The result of the process is that I come face to face with an aspect of myself that I was hiding from for a very long time.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Believe in myself more and accept that rejection from close-minded people is a fortunate occurrence. It is hard to believe in yourself when you are pursuing something different to your school friends, family and peers. You feel unsatisfied when you are trying to fit in and you feel alone when you are doing your own thing. Eventually you realise that the more you do of what you love the more likely you are to end up in the same room with people who believe in you. That takes time to realise.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Playing it safe is a self-imposed death sentence to living the creative life you want to. There were times in my life when I allowed myself to believe in the illusion of security. I wanted to feel safe so I desperately wanted to believe that some jobs offered security in the form of a salary. I studied for those jobs and I worked in those jobs for years until I watched people get walked out of the building as soon as the business was in trouble. Today I find security in the activities that bring me joy and open my mind to new perspectives. There is no activity that offers me these things all the time, but reading and writing do so more than any other activity.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
In The Age of Affect, Matt Jackson, whose clients include Adobe, QBE, CBA and The University of Sydney, explores how business affects people, drawing on decades of experience as a practising artist and owner of two businesses, as well as the experiences of 15 of his peers. Uniquely dispersing 53 poems and stories that bridge the gap between art and commerce, the book covers:
The importance of creating a Culture of Courage
Leading with Authenticity
Discovering Passion and Purpose
The Relationship between Art and Commerce
Understanding Decision Making and Drive
Goal setting & building a Community
Filled with examples and relatable stories, The Age of Affect integrates what we can learn about the art of business and what the business of art can teach us.
The book is available here.