Fresh Take Friday: Ashley Coleman

Fresh Take Friday is a bi-monthly series spotlighting creatives of color and their perspectives on creativity, positivity and getting sh*t done. For the inaugural post, I'd like to present to some and introduce to others, author and creator of Ashley Coleman. 

To learn more about Ashley's work, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Your latest book, "Love On Purpose" sheds light on why we must be intentional when we choose to show love to others - mostly romantically. but there are a number of great gems that can be adapted to platonic relationships, too. What inspired you to dig deeper into what it really means to love with purpose? Where there any challenges you faced during your writing process, and if so, how did you overcome them?

AC: Honestly, it just came from watching so many misconceptions on my timeline. People spew out their thoughts on various different things all day. And I just realize that so many people have it all wrong when it comes to what love really entails. They’re so selfish when they think about relationships and I remembered when my now husband, boyfriend at the time, first said to me, “Love is a choice, it’s a decision.” It really changed so much about what I thought love really was. It helped me understand my responsibility when it came to love. When you accept that, I think that everything else changes. How you speak to other people, how you communicate with your partner, all that. And then there was my revelation of how God loves us. He gave his son, that was an action. If we are in his image, then we ought to love like he loves, which means in action, not just words, and not just when it feels good to us.

There’s always challenges in writing. I took off running at first and then hit a crazy lull. I had so many other projects going on and then finally I said, you need to finish this book. All the other stuff you are doing is not as important as this message. So what could have essentially took about 6 months, probably took about two and a half years just by virtue of stopping and starting.

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid?

AC: In a perfect world, productivity is definitely those moments when you cross everything off the list you wrote that day. Ha! Nothing gives me more satisfaction than putting a line through tasks. But honestly there are just some days when you’re like, “What did I even accomplish?” It’s all about staying focused. That’s the biggest challenge for me at times. The biggest distraction is definitely my phone. It’s like, you come to a task that’s harder than expected or a page is taking too long to load and there I am scrolling and wasting time. I’ve resolved to putting it across the room or sometimes in another room when I really need to buckle down.

The tools I really swear by at the moment are my notebook, yes a pen and paper. My Passion Planner which keeps me on course. My chalkboard wallies where I write out my projects for the quarter, Asana, an online project management interface, and Google Drive.

As a blogger, you've often discussed consistency and how it is important to building your brand. How can creatives become better at creating systems for themselves so that they producing content (whatever it may be) regularly?

AC: Consistency really is key. I know that it sounds like this thing that people just say, but think of most of the people you admire and then think about how consistent they have been in producing quality content. Success and consistency really go hand and hand. When it comes to creating better systems, I think it’s really just knowing what works for you. Like, research other peoples’ systems and then sort out what fits with your personality. The biggest systems I have in place are really:  

+ Batch writing, writing multiple posts at one designated time.

+ A designated writing day. Every Wednesday, I make sure I have either completed a newsletter, blog post, or filled in an outline for a new project.

+ Scheduling social. Every Sunday, I schedule social posts for the upcoming week.

+ Timed Writing. Instead of focusing on pages or word counts, when working on a book, I would set timers for 30 minutes to write, uninterrupted.

Whatever your field, you have to just try some things on for size and see if they help produce better results. For me, these are a few of the things that have just tried and I liked the results. But only after spinning my wheels and feeling completely overwhelmed at times and knowing that I had to figure out a better way to get it all done.

Photo: Ashley Coleman

Photo: Ashley Coleman

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings?

AC: Well, first and foremost, I feel like it’s important to say that sometimes I just allow myself to be there. Sometimes we are so caught up in the grind that we don’t give ourselves time to just feel whatever we’re feeling. Sure, you can’t stay there, but I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you keep pushing those feelings down which sometimes affects your craft in the long run anyway. Outside of that, I will sometimes read which always gives me new ideas and new ways of thinking of things. I will just do something I enjoy that has NOTHING to do with business like going to the movies or hosting friends. I typically will turn to my husband because we are such a big support system for one another in that way. We talk each other off the ledge constantly as we are both creatives. I persevere by knowing that my work is really bigger than me and how I feel at the moment. For those of us who believe in God, we know that we were put here for a purpose and we don’t really have the time to waste. God will get it done, with or without you. And I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I am on the team. So I push past being uninspired or doubt or whatever else we come up with knowing that my work is needed.

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives?

AC: Man, I think my freshest take on creativity at the moment is being in tune with you and that little voice inside. We are SO distracted. We’re looking too much at other people and their lives and we have to really turn inward and assess, who am I? What do I want? How will my creativity exacerbate my greatest gifts? And really being present. Art and creativity is honestly just this reflection of what it means to live, to experience, to participate. We have to make sure that we are actually doing those things in order to keep creating. So I’m inspired by every part of living and breathing. Everything that I see, taste, touch, hear, and smell inspires me. I literally have new ideas everyday, at times it’s overwhelming. But I never want it to stop and I have just learned to write them down and some ideas I explore and others may be for later. But I always write them down.