Just 10 Minutes

Just 10 Minutes

Just 10 Minutes

What can you do in just ten minutes? What if I told you that you could write a book, paint a painting, clean your house, get in shape?  It’s true.  Ten minutes at a time, repeated over and over again, can get just about anything done.  And doing things in tiny increments takes off the pressure–it becomes stress free and even fun to see what you can do in ten minutes at a time.

I first started using a timer and ten minutes when I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  She recommends doing timed writings and trying out different time increments to see what works best for you.  (I found 10 – 20 minutes to be my zone.)  Then I started participating in NaNoWriMo where, to my delight, I found word sprints to join in on.  My favorites, the ones that got me to 50,000 words in 30 days six times, were the 10 and 15 minute sprints.

And then I found Kaizen-Muse™ and discovered that you can use these little pieces of time to do all sorts of things! During my trainings, Small Steps became my favorite Kaizen-Muse™ tool, and it’s still my favorite.  I am consistently amazed at how much can be accomplished in tiny chunks of time.  Give me a timer and turn me loose, and I feel like I can do anything!   I really do love my timer and my Small Steps!

And that’s what brought about this post and this new idea.  What if we all take those big, important, maybe feels too heavy tasks and ideas and break them down into ten minute chunks? What if we encourage each other to try doing just ten minutes of something we’ve been wanting to do?

Let’s take this to Twitter and Facebook.  Use the hashtag #Just10Minutes.  State your goal.  Share what you’ve done.  Get a boost.  Give someone else a boost.  Let’s take those dreams and get them started, together, in Just 10 Minutes.

On My Table–Plans

On My Table–Plans

I didn’t get to an On My Table post last week because the July 4 weekend was so full of fun GEAR Con hijinks I didn’t squeeze in any time for painting or arting at all.  To be honest, I didn’t do much of anything over the last week either because soaring temps left me flopped in front of the fan.

I did run across a need for a long range planner, and I couldn’t find anything to fit the bill, so I made this:

Planner 1

I really wanted a place to show the next several months at one time so I can see what I have planned (I have a few cool, self-paced classes planned and other fun stuff, too).  I want to be able to keep track of what kind of schedule I need to have going on, and I need to know further out than a month at a time.  Apparently I’m the only one who needs this?  Or I’m looking for the wrong thing, because I couldn’t find anything to download or buy a paper copy of.  So I grabbed some scrapbook paper and markers and made a thing!

The paper is pretty pink-flowered glittery stuff (the little ATCs are made from the leftovers after I trimmed the paper to size).  I used my favorite PITT pens and made some rectangles, and now it’s ready for me to start filling in the blanks and getting things ready to plan and schedule so I can send all sorts of fabulous stuff out into the world!  Stay tuned…this planner is the start of something wonderful!

Be A Copycat

Be A Copycat
Crazy Face Jack

An original worth copying

We all get stuck sometimes.  That painting won’t come together, the next part of that story won’t flow.  We can’t get anything new started.  What should we do?!


No, really.  Copy something you like.  Draw the Mona Lisa in crayon, rewrite “The Raven” using other words.  Copy, but add a twist.

Why? Because it gets you moving, it stirs up your creativity.  You connect with something creative that you like and you engage with it, and this helps your own creativity get up and moving.  And it often happens that once you get the brush/ pen/guitar pick/camera moving, your own thoughts and ideas start coming through loud and clear again.

How do you do this so you don’t end up just copying and never getting to your own work?  First, I don’t think that will happen.  We’re creatives, so eventually our own voices are going to make themselves heard.  But to help avoid delaying the message, try this:

  • Use elements of the original in something brand new of your own (like a fan fiction story, for example).
  • Examine the original for things it would be easy to change–colors, genders, number of people in a story or objects in a painting, time period, location, etc.
  • Pick one thing from your list and start making that change.  If you started your copy before thinking about changes, just start adding the changes from where you are.  No need to start over.
  • Pick another thing from the list and start making that change.
  • Think about other works you like and see if you can incorporate elements of one or more of those into your copycat work.  It doesn’t have to be something in the same genre or even the same medium.  A sketch of a favorite book character in the background of your Mona Lisa?  Of course!  “The Raven” flying off to a music store and playing a violin?  Why not?  Mix and match–it’s a fun game and very freeing.  Be as silly as you can!
  • Take your favorite elements from your play time and try them out in whatever you were feeling stuck on.  (It’s okay if you can’t find anything that will work–just take a look to see if there’s something there.)

Will this exercise always directly help your current work?  No, not directly.   It will always help shake things up, change things around, get things moving.  Sometimes you’ll find something that helps move your current piece along.  Sometimes you’ll find that you just had a good time, and that’s worth plenty all on its own.

Cover Reveal–Soul Prompts!

Cover Reveal–Soul Prompts!

I am really excited to share this with you. I love writing prompts. I also love work that takes me deeper into myself and helps me listen to my own inner wisdom. I think Soul Prompts by my friend and fellow writer Morgan Dragonwillow is going to combine those two things beautifully, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
And now, I turn this over to Morgan to introduce her latest treasure to you!

I am pleased to reveal the cover for Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice.

Soul Prompts Book Cover2d

Soul Prompts is a spiritual writing experience that gives you a direct line to the source of inspiration.

If you could communicate with your soul would you?

If you could hear what your soul’s plan is for this life, would you want to hear it?
What if learning to communicate with your soul could help you get your words on the page?
Soul Prompts will help you connect to that voice within whether you want to have a deeper spiritual life, a better understanding of your purpose, discover which path to take next or to help you get your stories written.
Are you open to the possibilities?
It’s time to have a conversation with your soul.
This book is for you if you want to:

  1. Take your writing to a deeper level.
  2. Explore your connection to your soul.
  3. Live a more spiritual life.
  4. Have a better understanding of your writing journey.
  5. Figure out your next step.
  6. Discover where your words come from.
  7. Learn why your soul chose this life.

And so much more.
Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice – Paperback and ebook – coming out this October!

This beautiful cover was created by the artistic and wonderful Andrea Moore! Working with her was a pleasure and she was very patient with my questions and suggestions until we were both happy with the results! If you are working on a book and don’t have a cover yet, I highly recommend you have a chat with her!

Andrea Moore a

Cover Artist

Andrea Moore grew up in a town so small, on top of a marsh, that the mosquito was considered the city bird. She uses her degree in computer graphics and her artistic abilities to sprinkle joy throughout local consignment shops and Etsy. Andrea is now breaking out of the box further as she explores the adventures of book cover creating.

Fun Trivia Game
What’s a party without a game? In this game you will hop from one blog to the next, finding the clues and when you think you have the answer, go back to Morgan Dragonwillow’s post, Soul Prompts Book Cover Reveal Party, and put the answer in the comments. The first person with the correct answer will win a signed copy of Soul Prompts and a $10 Amazon gift card. Have fun!


Where in the world is one of my favorite places to sit or walk and connect with the source of creation and to remember we are all one?
CLUE: There are a lot of trees. Next stop L.S. Engler’s Writing Blog
Good luck but most of all have a great time!


Me aAuthor

Morgan Dragonwillow is a poet, survivor, lover of all things magical, dancing with words, recovering perfectionist, and indie author that (mostly) doesn’t let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam and creatrix of #OctPoWriMo. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she’s a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn’t.


On My Table–Pocket-sized Pleasures

On My Table–Pocket-sized Pleasures

Early last week and the week before I was so busy I didn’t even get to do an On My Table post.  I didn’t have a chance to actually make anything, either.  It was kind of sad.  So over the weekend I made up for it in spades!

The finished Symbols ATCs--10 tiny paintings for my 100 Paintings Project

The finished Symbols ATCs–10 tiny paintings for my 100 Paintings Project

As you can see, I finished up my ATC paintings.  Ten tiny (2.5″ x 3.5″) painted symbols for my 100 Paintings Project (and a swap I was in).  I’m really happy with them and will probably do more of these, maybe another set of symbols or maybe a set of something else.

Toward the end of the week, my new Gelli Arts plate– 3″ x 5″ and perfect for the little projects I love!–arrived in the mail.  So over the weekend I spent some quality time with the new toy, too.

My new Gelli Arts plate and some prints on tracing paper for future 100 Paintings Project fun.

My new Gelli Arts plate and some prints on tracing paper for future 100 Paintings Project fun.

The rest of this week has a lot of writing work to do and then a Steampunk convention over the weekend, but I’m hoping I’ll get in more play time so I can share what I made with you next week.

What are your plans for this week?  What are you making?  Leave a comment and let me know, and if you have photos please share a link.  I’d love a look!

Good Things, Small Packages

Good Things, Small Packages

I love a grand gesture, a giant cake, a huge display of lights at Christmas.  I do!  I love big, shiny things.  But you know what I love even more?  Tiny, sparkly little treasures.  They gleam and glisten and entice you to draw closer, focus in, get still and attentive.  They’re mesmerizing and full of wonder.

Small Things 1

So what does this have to do with creativity coaching or a creative life?  So much!  Small things are beautiful and powerful and full of everything we love.  And Small Steps will get us to those dreams we love.

In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™ we’re all about small things–Small Steps, Small Questions.  We love them!  Why?  Because they do so much while being so easy to wrap your brain around.  This also has to do with a creative life because being a creative doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  We live in a busy world.  We have a lot going on.  Things that fuel our creative dreams and fit into the rest of our lives are priceless!  Small Steps are the way to get there without letting everything else fall away.

Convinced?  It’s okay if you’re not sure.  We’ve been taught to believe that we need to do big things, make huge changes, do something dramatic to change our lives.  (Have you seen some of the things people do when they want to ask someone to marry them?!)  So Small Steps may seem weird at first.  That’s okay.  Try them out anyhow and see what you can do.  Here’s how:

First things first.  Pick your dream.  What’s something you’d like to get started or make progress on?  What creative dream would you like to come true?  Write that down.  Put the note someplace you’ll see it often.  There.  That’s a Small Step and  it’s a reminder of what you want to do.

Next, ask yourself a few questions.  Write down the answers if you like (it’s okay if you don’t have answers right away or only have a few), but most importantly ask the questions.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What could I do in just five minutes? Two minutes?
  • What would feel good to do right now?
  • What is the smallest thing I can do that is connected to my creative dream?

Now, pick one of those small steps and do it.  Do it again tomorrow, or the next time you have five minutes (or two).  Try this out for a week, maybe two.  Then look back and see what you’ve done, one Small Step at a time.  Give yourself a pat on the back!  Then make a new list of things you can do and do one.  And now you’re on your way to your creative dream!

There’s still time to sign up for the MuseCraft™ Explorers’ Club (starts July 9).  We’ll talk small steps, we’ll walk them together.  We’ll have fun and make our way toward those creative dreams together.  Join me?

The Structure of Creativity

The Structure of Creativity

This is a reprint, with slight alterations, of a newsletter article I did a few years ago.  I’m reposting it after several recent conversations with people telling me that they don’t like to-do lists and schedules and things because they feel restricted, boxed in, constrained.  But there’s also a lot of talk about not getting much of anything done, and I really think the two things–resistance to structure and lack of progress–are connected.

I’ve noticed something about we creative types. We like to feel free and wild, flying around the
aether with our creativity spreading behind us like wings. Structure? Bah! We don’t want structure!
We’re free. You can’t put us in a box!Jellyfish

The thing is, without structure we often lack focus and direction. We float along, shapeless, like
jellyfish pushed and pulled by the tides. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a jellyfish.

Here’s an important secret—structure is not our enemy. It’s more like the skeleton we hang our
creativity on, the underlying form that helps us determine what direction our work will go in. At an
immediate, project by project level, structure is deciding that you’ll work on a painting today instead of
a novel or work on photo editing instead of an art quilt. It helps us get things done by keeping us from
trying to do everything all at once.

There are also greater structures in our lives that help us feed and nurture our creativity, things that
make it easier to create when we want to. Some of these are the same things that help us get to work on
time, get ready for bed, buy groceries for the week. Our daily, weekly, monthly routines can become a
structure to help us shape our creative time and space.

Structure adds form and substance and beauty to our creativity.

Structure adds form and substance and beauty to our creativity.

I know the word “routine” sometimes has a bad reputation. We frequently use it as a synonym for
“dull” or “boring.” But having routines keeps us from having to reinvent the wheel over and over to do
the things we need to do. If you create and choose your routines with intention and thoughtfulness,
with an eye to making time and space for your creativity, your routines can become the structure that
lets your creativity thrive.

So how do you build a structure for your creativity? The same way construction workers build a house
—one beam at a time. This is especially important if you are a multi-creative. Don’t try to force long
stretches of time to work on all of your creative pursuits every week. Start out either by choosing a
favorite creative pastime and working that into your life regularly or by finding a particular time each
week (for me, it’s Thursday evenings) and dedicate that time to doing whatever creative thing pulls you
when the time comes.

Work this new piece into your existing structure—you’re building an addition, not creating an entirely
new dwelling. Look at your routines and your schedule, decide what is and isn’t working and tweak
things to make them work better, then find the places where adding in creative time will work best. I’ll
go back to the Thursday evenings I mentioned as an example. For me, my regular schedule leaves me
with the whole house to myself on Thursdays after work, so this is a natural time to work on creative

Once your new addition has become a comfortable, regular part of your life, look around for the next
place you can add on to your routine. Eventually, as with building anything, if you work steadily and
thoughtfully, you will have a life structure that will leave you the time and space you need for your
creativity. You’ll be able to do the things you want, and your Muse will thank you for it every day.

There’s still time to join in on the adventure in the
MuseCraft™ Explorers’ Club!  Sign up today
and start down the path to your creative dreams.

On My Table–Paintings and Plans

On My Table–Paintings and Plans

This week has been filled with planning things for the MuseCraft™ Explorers’ Club and working on more paintings for my 100 Paintings Project.  Basically, lots of fun over here!  I really love weeks like this.

Small Paintings 1

I am still loving small paintings and symbols, as you can see.  And metallic paint, of course, which is why I just can’t seem to get a nice, sharp image darn it!  But I’m not giving up my shiny stuff, so I’ll just have to deal with a little blur.

I’m having lots of fun planning collages and exercises and things for the Explorers’ Club.  This planning and fine-tuning stage is probably my favorite part about creating classes.  It’s just so much fun, so many possibilities, so many things I might do or create!  I love being here.  I think planning the details is my favorite part of pretty much everything–it’s a space that’s so filled with possibilities I feel like I could do anything.

What about you?  What’s your favorite stage of creating?

Hope to see you in the MuseCraft™ Explorers’ Club so we can create together!

On My Table–Backgrounds and Adventures

On My Table–Backgrounds and Adventures

Things have been really exciting around here!  It’s been a real potpourri of a week with a little of this and a little of that happening all over the place.

So what have I been doing?  I’ve been working on backgrounds for some ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and for my new coaching circle coming up in July (more about that below).

Background Collage

Last week I participated in a blog tour, and this week I have links to some of my invited bloggers who are keeping the tour going:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd last but not least, I am launching the MuseCraft™ Explorers’ Club!

I am really excited about this one.  I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time now, and it’s finally time.  The club is a place for creative dreamers, explorers, adventurers to gather together to discover our creative pathways with companionship and fun and plenty of helping hands.  This is going to be six weeks of really getting our creative dreams revved up, energized, and moving forward, and I can’t wait!

The club will be happening July 9, 2014 – August 13, 2014.  This first one will be a beta group where I’ll be asking for lots of feedback and making tweaks in the program, so it’s a slightly smaller group, and there’s a huge discount on the price.  So what do you say?  Do you want to come on a creative adventure?  Come on, let’s go!

On My Table–A Blog Tour

On My Table–A Blog Tour

Okay, it’s not really on my table, but it’s what I was working on this past week (and some paintings, of course), so I thought I’d stick with the normal Monday routine a little and use my usual title.

Detail Collage

Details from a few of my favorite painted pages–in squares, of course, because I’m loving squares right now.

So, about that blog tour…I was invited to join in on the tour by Theresa of Indigene Art Forms.  This blog tour has been going on for a while, and everyone who participates gets to invite others, so there are lots of links to follow back through the tour.  Give yourself a little gift and follow the link path–there’s lots of great stuff to discover!

For the tour, I’m answering four questions about myself:

What am I working on?

Right now possibly the biggest thing is my 100 Paintings Project.  I have always considered myself a writer who dabbles in art, but I am wanting to claim that title of “artist” for myself, and I’m starting with a big pile of paintings!

I’m also working on a really fun coaching circle (MuseCraft™ Explorers’ Circle) that will be starting in July–I’m really excited about this–it’s going to be a creative adventure!  What could be better than that?  Info and sign-ups are almost ready to fly out into the world–I’ll keep you posted.

What else am I working on? (Because I’m always doing bunches of things, it’s just in my nature.)  Working on a new blog posting schedule and a couple of cool ideas for blog challenges for late summer and fall.  Working on some downloadables that I think are going to be great fun.  And working on, or at least thinking about, restarting my newsletter.

Things are going to be really exciting around here starting in the next couple of weeks, and I am thrilled that some of my ideas are going to get out into the world to share with everyone!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m still in the fairly early stages of my visual art work, but I think that some of my creativity coaching experience and my writing experience are making their way into my art and helping to put my own personal stamp on it.  In coaching I work with making small changes a lot, and I find that I approach my paintings that way, adding a few dots here or lines there and then letting it be until the next idea comes.  And from my writing I seem to have brought the idea of leaving some things to the viewer’s imagination–I’m finding that I really like a small amount of detail and a lot of hints of things.  I may branch out and do things like more shaded and detailed faces, etc., but right now I’m really enjoying what I’m doing.

Why do I write/create what I do?

My writing and painting tends to be about mysterious things–fairies and magic and secret things that are hard to see.  I like to explore the ideas of hidden realms and magic in our own world in my writing, and this is starting to emerge in my painting as well.  I don’t have an explanation for why I love these things, though.  I always have (my mother will tell you that by the age of two I had to watch every monster movie that came on, and I never missed a showing of Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz.)

I think we are born with a pull toward certain things.  We often learn to cover it up, ignore it, pretend it isn’t there, but our hearts have things they gravitate toward, and mine loves all things strange and weird and inexplicable.  And I think it’s very important to listen to what pulls your heart, and if you can’t hear it or feel it any more, I think it’s incredibly important to excavate for it.  As Rumi said, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

How does your writing/creating process work?

It works best in small bursts.  I am rarely the sort who sits down to work and stays there for six hours.  I lay down a layer of paint then wander off to do other things while it dries, then I come back and do the next bit–sometimes that means painting for ten minutes, other times I might be there an hour depending on what I’m doing.  But bits and pieces and spurts work best for me.  For writing, too–I write best when I set a time for ten or fifteen minutes and then sit back for a minute or two (or five if I need more coffee or tea), and then do it again.  I guess I’m a sprinter rather than a marathoner.

So there’s a little bit about me.  Now the super-exciting part of the tour!  I get to introduce you to some great fellow creatives who agreed to join in on this journey.  Go visit their blogs and see what they’re up to, and make sure to check in next Monday (June 9) for their blog tour posts.

Adriane Giberson

Adriane is a creative human living in BC, who has on occasion been called a Renaissance Woman. Ever delving into the mysteries of the life of art and the art of living & sharing the journey via the interwebz.

You can find Adriane online at http://adriane745.wix.com/theartsyfartsychick

Paula Kumert

Paula is a memory keeper, making time and space for her creativity in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

You can find Paula online at http://keepitsimplemakeitgreat.blogspot.com/

Barbara Martin

Barbara is a writer, artist, and all-around creative making lots art and hosting meetings and workshops for fellow creatives in Oregon.

You can find Barbara online at http://www.barbaramartinart.com/