What writing my book taught me about BIG creative projects

As my new book, Anna Mason’s Watercolour World, is now well and truly RELEASED into the world, I wanted to share with you some lessons I learned from writing it

The means are just as important as the ends

Right now I have a healthy dose of the natural nerves we all get when ever we put something ‘out there’.

And there’s a certain intensity to that when you know anyone can leave you a public review on Amazon!

But as my book is released, I also feel about as confident as I can that it’s going to serve its readers really well.

And that’s because the process of creating it was so enjoyable.I do believe that when you enjoy something, that state pours into what you create and other people pick up on that. We’re often told in our culture to push on through and to strive strive strive, but operating out of that headspace, in my experience (as I’ve done plenty of this too!) usually results in stress and burn out and ultimately a creative product that’s perhaps just a bit ‘meh’.

Whereas,  if you’ve enjoyed doing something; if it’s given you a relaxing, fun experience, that’s a great result, regardless of the opinions of others. THIS IS 100% THE CASE FOR PAINTING TOO, BTW.

What does enjoying the process look like in reality?

I’m often talking about how, when you paint, you should aim to be in ‘flow’. But of course that applies to most things.

And on a flight back to the UK from filming a Craftsy class in Denver, instead of trying to catch some shut-eye on the red-eye, I felt compelled to open the notes app on my phone and write down all the sections I wanted to include in this new book.  The focus was on how I could do the best possible job of helping those people who want to paint like me, whilst also being really personal and sharing plenty of myself.

There was no over-thinking it, the ideas just flowed and felt really good. Exciting but calm at the same time if that’s possible! Joyful I suppose.The benefits of breaking a big project down

And from that starting point I went ahead and planned out what each and every page should look like.

I wanted the book to be a total reflection of the material inside; so reflecting beauty, nature and the uplifting effects of a sunny day.

From there, all there was left to do was to write the thing!

At 145 pages long, that could be really intimidating.

But with my sections, and then pages all planned out I didn’t feel that at all.

When something’s broken down into a series of smaller steps, and you simply focus on THE NEXT STEP in front of you, there’s no stress.

The support of others

I was lucky enough to have a fantastic Editor, Becky Robbins, who was excited by my book, encouraging, and also able to practically help with page layout ideas. It felt great to have that support, and sharing what I was working on was much more fun than going it alone (again this is the same for learning to paint too!).

So I’m thrilled that the end product, this gorgeous book, invites people into my watercolour world but fires them up to take on their own watercolour projects and develop their own creativity.How to get a copy

If you’ve read the book (and liked it, haha), I’d love it if you’d consider leaving me a review on Amazon.

And if you’ve yet to read it, you can get it now on your version of Amazon wherever you are, including:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

(Disclosure! If you click through from these Amazon links I get paid a tiny amount per book by Amazon, 👍)

And you can also get it at Barnes & Noble (US), Indiebound (US)Jacksons Art (UK) and Waterstones (UK)

Also, it’s been sold to publishers in China, Japan, Russia and France so once their translators have done their magic, expect these editions to be released later this year.

~HEADS UP~ If you ordered a signed copy direct from me when I was offering them, the last was dispatched by Phil & I around the 14th April (check your emails for a notification) so wherever you are, you should be receiving yours very soon if you haven’t already. 🙂

Your own tips for taking on big creative projects

How do you stay cool calm, collected and enjoying the process when you’ve taken on something massive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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  1. Desmoond Townsend on April 26, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Hello Anna I stay calm by doing a drawing and painting of an animal and landscape.i also find going to the seafront in Paignton Devon just relaxing and looking out at the gorgeous sea and going to the zoo…

    • Anna Mason on April 27, 2018 at 9:28 am

      We’re off to Devon this summer Desmond, very relaxing!

  2. Rachel Leah on April 26, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Hello Anna, I just received your 2nd book “Watercolour World”, rightly named. I love your straightforwardness
    in showing and telling in every detail of your painting process including finding inspiration while peacefully walking in a garden, photographing tips for the best reference to paint from, and so much more. Many thanks for sharing so much of your personal thoughts as well in your amazing book. I can’t wait to paint the ‘Garden Bird’ you provided including all the colourful written tutorials. Many thanks, Rachel

  3. Anne Holt on April 26, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    My son, who’s in the UK, bought me a signed copy of your book for my birthday. I can’t wait for July when I can actually read it. I have really enjoyed the challenges of each of your classes. I love gardening and nature so your classes are perfect at every level. You have given me the confidence to know that I can paint a picture to be proud. Thank you

  4. Kim Perman on April 26, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Just wanted to say that the book is fabulous I can’t put it down, It makes me smile with anticipation just to
    see the cover let alone whats inside. I can’t wait to start painting again x

  5. Sue on April 26, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    I just ordered your book and I am confident it will have excellent paintings to inspire me. I agree with you as far as the stress isue is concerned. It has been a source of joy for me as I love to paint flowers…I love your work a lot Anna.

  6. Wendy Thornley on April 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Brilliant book as the first one was, worth every penny
    Thank you xx

  7. Turquoise on April 26, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Hi. I can’t wait for my copy of your book to arrive in early May!
    Yes stress is a killer. I have lots of strategies. My most recent one, for procrastination, is, to tell myself, “Just do a little bit now.” And once i start painting, i can’t stop. And now that Ive learnt your 6 Stages of Painting, it’s like a road map, so i know what to do next!

  8. Ana Murza on April 27, 2018 at 1:11 am

    Hello Anna, this early morning (27.04.2018) I had a happy, humongous surprise: your “Watercolour World” book arrived. I can only thank you for the coupon and signature. I still do enjoy your first book but this one reflects without a doubt your passion and love for art. I am happy beyond description that I have your books. Wishing you, Phil and Ben all the happiness in the world!
    Kind regards, Ana M.

  9. María S. Fernández on April 27, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Ojalá se venda en Argentina!!!

  10. María S. Fernández on April 27, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Ojalá llegue a Argentina!!!

  11. elaine pritchard on April 27, 2018 at 3:36 am

    I am so anxious for my copy of your book to arrive. I ordered it when you first sent the email notice.

    My concern is I am hoping you are billing me because I didn’t know what to do about the fee.
    If you could fill me in on this situation I would be most grateful. If I do not have copy in route please let me know and I can get it here in a couple of days..
    I want you to know just how much I enjoy your program. I am finally to the point where I have a hard time stopping. I do try to pace myself because when I get tired I start making mistakes.. I am enjoying the tutorials very much. I realize I haven’t posted many paintings so far but I do see lots of improvement.
    Sooo excited!!!

  12. kimiyo on April 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Hello. I bought a book from Amazon in Japan. I am very beautiful and happy

    • Anna Mason on April 27, 2018 at 9:26 am

      Oh good to know you can get a copy there. Is it the English language one Kimiyo?

  13. Debbie Wayment on April 27, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Hi Anna

    I’m lucky and have had your book a week or more now and have read it right through and cannot wait to start the new projects in it. It’s lovely and very well produced (I work in publishing so we’re uber critical). There’s been a bit of a lull in my painting and this will kick start me again. It’s so easy to get distracted by all sorts of menial tasks but once I am painting there is no stopping me. I always believe when you have a list of tasks that you should ‘eat that frog’ and do the hardest one first and the rest seem so easy after that. Wishing you Ben and Phil all the best and thank you, Debbie

  14. Jenny on April 27, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I have got your book in the netherlands.Thank you for your very beautiful book.
    Still a question. HOW COULD I GOT THE GOOD FLOW? Page 50. Can you explain it better for me? What happens when I do it wrong?
    I have problems that I think to much and too long.

  15. Jenny on April 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Is there also a translation in dutch?
    Greetings Jenny

  16. creatingincolors on April 27, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I pre-ordered your book with your personal note, and it arrived in the USA a few days ago. I have only had time to quickly leaf through it, but I already know it is a beautiful treasure. It is sitting next to my comfy chair where I will settle in and read every word. Painting, coloring and creating keep me cool, calm and collected, and so will reading this book!

  17. Jacqueline Banyard on April 27, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    I bought your original book and when I saw your new one I ordered it straight away and eagerly looked forward to delivery, I am in love with it, your personality shines through and I hope to catch your enthusiasm. You are an inspiration and I am looking forward to many sessions enjoying your words of wisdom, beautiful images and hopefully interpreting some of your paintings.
    Thank you Anna

    • Anna Mason on April 30, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Thanks so much for the review Jacqueline (if you could see your way to doing one on Amazon for me I would be really grateful) x

  18. Julie Fry on April 27, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Anna, first, the book is a real treasure trove in every sense, so thank you, I understand the effort it has cost you! Second, from the middle of 2016 I have been plunged into stressbusting on a mega level here. It started when the wonderful New English Orchestra I worked with decided to close after 40 years of international music, and as its central administrator and long term friend and PA to the conductor/founder, I was asked to produce the book of memoirs! That took an age to write and is massive and full of photos down the years, which all had to be collated and scanned! Then I had to sell it, mainly to hundreds of members and supporters, and post it off whilst organising our final events including a special book launch! Through that time I followed your course as much as possible and drew comfort from painting…meanwhile our home became bombarded by noise as houses either side were turned into student flats. I care for our daughter who has a fatigue condition and we also opened our home to a profoundly deaf refugee while her asylum case went through (now successful!) Now we are selling our home to move to more inspirational greenbelt, and my paint table often was dismantled to show maximum space to potential buyers, so I worked on with pencils! I am sorry I have failed to continue logging in to appreciate other members’ wonderful art, but it has been a truly difficult period of our lives. But I can still say that my artwork has kept me sane and the appreciation of it by friends and those who have received it as a gift or have purchased pieces, has been so encouraging! Tutorials I have completed have not always been shared as other demands have been made on my PC, but your teaching has made a big difference. So a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU! x

  19. Nancy Rousseau on April 27, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    I’ll leave you my methods if you give me a commission!
    I don’t have a book, or a blog nor a website neither you tube. But I have walls of art and friends have cards and artwork but I don’t take orders so my help might not count.

  20. Cyndi Negrucci on April 27, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Anna,
    What a beautiful book! I couldn’t wait to receive it but it was well worth the wait. I have your first book and this one is equally precious to me. I relax just reading your books. (Over and over). Thanks for putting in your precious time to complete it. Happy painting!

  21. Rene o cobar on April 28, 2018 at 3:30 am

    A new book. Yes yes yes !!!!!! I learn so so much from the first one, it has paint and water stains all over. It started me on an adventure of watercolor painting. I have been painting a!most everyday since I bought the book 2 years ago, I can’t stop. Thank you Soo much for all I learn from it . I just order the new one from amazon and I can’t wait for it to get here. If funds would not be a bit tight right now I’d be on ur website all day long painting, again thank you so much for the inspiration you gave me. I’m disable so I had to take antideppresants daily. A month into I began painting I notice my mood inproving I havent taken any pills to relax me anymore its been a year and 11 months, how’s that for relief from stress. Regards ROC

    • Rebecca Laffar-Smith on October 7, 2019 at 9:45 am

      Hi Rene,

      Funny you should say that about antidepressants, I am only new around here and have been enjoying all the free tutorials Anna has online. My darling daughter, Rebecca, bought me a 6 month subscription for my birthday. I, too, have been able to come off all my prescriptions recently. I loved art at school but through the years ‘real life’ got in the way. Now I am enjoying a cuppa with the paint brush still in my hand (why put it down) lol. Hopefully I can impress my grandchildren with some pictures since they, too, love my stick men. Resting on Anna’s wings for a short while, perhaps I too can grow my own wings, so my own art can help me to fly.

      Kind Regards,
      Stephanie Hewitt
      And the bio pic is my darling daughter Rebecca Laffar-Smith
      who is also a published author – Bec J Smith
      Perhaps I will get to illustrate one of her children’s books one day and make it a family affair.

  22. Susan Grahame on April 28, 2018 at 3:40 am

    You are an amazing woman Anna Mason. Your book arrived one month earlier than expected and I read it cover to cover on the first day, which means I’ll be recommending it to all my friends in the botanical art group that I belong to plus art friends in New Zealand. I should have said that you are an amazing juggler and it is inspiring the way you never drop the ball. Thank you for all your sharing.

  23. Satendra Sharma on April 28, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    You are my inspiration in artwork. Seems like you are not only an artist but a good photographer. Reason your paintings speak itself of the shading and color variations your produce. I don’t know how you doing this. The fine details depict that you have lot of patience in you and get absorbed into it until it is completed. That extraordinary sixth sense you have no other artist may be having in the world. I can only bow down and say amazing, amazing and amazing.

    • Anna Mason on April 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Thank you Satendra! What a lovely comment. I wish you the best with your own painting going forward.

  24. Wilma (Holland) on April 28, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you soo much for taking the time to release your second book.
    Haven’t much time to paint because I’m taking care of my old mother, but we enjoy reading it together.
    My mother 86, is a great fan of your watercolors.
    Lots of love from the land of the tulips.

  25. Theora Turner on April 29, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Where can I buy this book in South Arica? I tried ordering it online from you but without success.
    I will be in Spain for a month from 8th May to 3rd June . If I can’t buy it here I will try again when I return to order from you directly .

  26. Janet D'Ambrosio on April 30, 2018 at 2:07 am

    I love this book! Wish I had an autographed copy but I am thrilled with this “big” book! I plan on studying it closely, using it as my new companion and inspiration.

    Thank you Anna !

  27. Tuija on May 1, 2018 at 10:02 am

    So awesome and beautiful book! Love it.

  28. Pat on May 1, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    I did a double take when I saw this beautiful book on the new books display at my local tiny library. I usually have to ‘place hold’ the books I want to look at but here it was in all its glory. Now everyone can be inspired!!!!! 🙂

  29. Kathleen Ruyle on May 9, 2018 at 1:53 am

    So anxious to get your book but haven’t yet received it or an email saying it was sent. See where you got my order and it was paid for by my PayPal account. Checked my address info and that was correct also. Guess it just taking longer. I also ordered one for my friend at the same time.

  30. Anna Stewart on May 10, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I loved your first book and absolutely love love your new book – thank you so much

  31. Cynthia D Lane on May 15, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Just finished reading your new book Anna! You did an amazing job on this book and I like the fact that you really shared more about yourself, where you find your inspiration, & how it all began for you. It’s very inspiring. Very well done!

  32. marten on May 16, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    Purchased! Completely knocked out by the wonderful paintings. I believe we are all only seeing the early beginnings of Ms. Mason’s incredible talent and this work of teaching will lead to so much more!

  33. Patricia Roncone on May 18, 2018 at 1:38 am

    Anna, your new book is gorgeous and very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. I look forward to learning more from your book and from the online school. I just recently purchased a camera so I will be reading the photography and composition tips. Excellent work!

  34. Hellen Woldhek on May 11, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Just found you recently on the internet. I am drawing in colored pencils and pastels but want to try my luck in watercolours too 🙂
    Ordered both books for my birthday and all the paints from the supply list to get started. I am going to try the books and if the method is something I like to do I will join the online school for sure. I am looking forward to give it a try and admire the pieces in your gallery so much. Hope to become that good over time.
    Thanks for sharing your talent with us all.
    Love Hellen

    • Anna Mason on May 12, 2019 at 12:01 am

      Excited for you Helen! Hope my method works well for you!

  35. Rebecca Laffar-Smith on October 7, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Having just started this process I have been taking loads of notes. Now I have this book I found I have all the notes I need right here in one place. Love this book. But now I want the other one, too. With Christmas coming up, if I put in an order to my darling daughter, Rebecca, now I might just get it early.

    Yes, my darling daughter, Rebecca, bought me a 6 months subscription so I can paint and learn along with Anna.

    Kind Regards
    Stephanie Hewitt

  36. Syndy on February 17, 2020 at 2:40 am

    Thanks Anna, love the tips, they’re so helpful.
    It’s great to have that BIG vision, and cascading goals is a great way to achieve it, it’s almost a surprise when it’s done!
    The other great tip is small course corrections often, basically when things don’t go as planned, you’re not back to square one – it’s not a failure, you’re not a failure – make a small course correction and keep on going.

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