Man, I Feel Like a…

Writer. Artist. Painter. Photographer.

I am

What makes you feel like that, like the thing you want to be?

The usual response to this is: If you want to be a writer, write, then you’re a writer.  (Same holds true for painting, photography, etc. I’m just going to use “writer” as my example here.)  This is good advice.  Writers write, so to be a writer, you should write.

I think there’s more to it, though.  Doing the work will help you feel like what you want to be, but there are things that you can do and be part of that can maginify that belief in yourself. Sometimes you have experiences that plunge you deep into that I AM feeling.  It may be for just a moment, but for that little space of time you feel your writerliness down to your bones.

One of these experiences happened for me several years ago.  I had the wonderful good fortune to get in on a writing workshop led by Charles de Lint, my favorite author.  It was a small workshop, only fifteen of us.  And we sat at a table all together and talked about writing and fantasy stories and characters, and later we talked about the business of being a writer.  And we spent some time writing and then read our works aloud and Mr. de Lint gave us feedback.  And I floated out of there on a cloud, and I knew– KNEW –that I am a writer.  I felt it!   I lose that feeling sometimes, but remembering this experience helps me bring it back.

Other things that help me grab hold of that feeling–writing in a coffee shop (actually writing, especially on a story, and not just free writing and not planning or character work or any of that); attending writing conferences; talking shop (plotting, characters, all of that) with a small group of active writers.

So my recommendation?  Do your thing, of course.  Write, paint, shoot, bake, knit, whatever it is.  But also seek out experiences that feel to you like what a “real” writer would do, and do as many of those things as you can.  Build up that feeling in yourself of I AM.  Carry it with you to help you ride through the dry spells that come to all of us.  Take it out into the world and let everyone know what you are.

It’s 2015–Where’s My Robot?

Fireworks Behind Tree
Happy New Year!  Yes, I know we’re almost two weeks into it.  That’s okay–it’s still pretty new.  And I’ve been getting things in order in my house (seriously, where’s that robot maid?) and in my planning.  And now I’m finally feeling together enough to write something up and really get this year rolling.

What do you do for the new year? Do you make resolutions?  Pick a word for the year?  Skip all of that?

I skip over the resolutions for the most part.  For one thing, I’m always making plans, tweaking them, setting new goals.  Resolutions just feel redundant.  The past couple of years, though, I have been setting experience goals.  In 2013 it was to try a new restaurant every month.  That one was great fun, and we found a couple of favorite spots that way.  Last year the goal was to try at least one new recipe a month, and that was a pretty big success, too, even though I wasn’t as on top of keeping a list of what I tried so some of the recipes are off in the ether somewhere.  This year, I’m going to go on a photo walk every month. I love doing them, yet I hardly ever make the time.  I’m going to go someplace new each month and take photos (I may allow myself to include a couple of favorite spots I haven’t been to in years because it’s been so long that they’re practically new).

Now about that word.  I tried it out several years ago when doing it became really popular.  I loved the idea of it!  I picked a word, wrote it in my journal, forgot about it by January 3.  A couple of years later I decided that the problem was that I didn’t have any reminders of my word, so I decided to create these fun prayer flags.  I picked three words for that year and made flags for each one.  I hung them in my study, and occasionally I remembered to pay attention to them, but the exercise still seemed pretty pointless to me.  I quit doing the word-of-the-year for a couple of years.  But so many people I really like and respect were doing this word-of-the-year thing that I wanted to give it another go.  I knew, though,  that I needed to do something to keep my word fresh in my mind so it could actually be a guiding light, so I held off until I could figure out something that felt like it would work.

This was four (I think?) years ago.  At the same time as deciding to give the yearly word another go, I got an UnCalendar.  And a great idea was born.  Every week before I fill out plans and dates for the week, I write my word at the top of the left-hand page.  It makes me focus on my word each week if even for a moment, plus it keeps the word right there in front of me every time I open my calendar.  I won’t say that I live by my words constantly, but writing it and seeing it every week does help me keep it in mind and make some decisions with that feeling in mind.

This year my word is “expansive.”  I have “devotion” and “bigness” alongside it to keep it company, just to see if having multiple words changes anything for me.  This word, this idea of expansiveness, feels huge to me.  It feels like a stretch.  It feels a little scary and like living an expansive life might be something I don’t know how to do.  It’s a good word.

Mostly the things I do to set up the new year are designed to give me a feeling of possibilities, fun, and a clean slate.  I think those are great things to start a year with and much lighter than resolutions and plans to give things up and all that.

And you? What are you doing? How are you starting this new year?  I’d love to hear all about it.

Muse Moon

Full Moon 01

I love the full moon.  I love watching the moon in general, but the full moon is especially spectacular and always feels special.  I never lose interest, never get tired of looking at it.

I’ve been a moon and star watcher since I was little.  My mother would often find me standing in the back yard just looking at the sky, and if she ever wanted to know if the moon was full or when it would next be full she just asked me.  I always knew, just from watching the sky all the time.

I got older and read about the moon and learned about names for each month’s moon and special foods and colors and such that go along with each one.  And I kept watching her, month after month, always there and always changing, and I loved her even more.

Over the past few years, I’ve participated in a couple of online full moon circles for making wishes and art and celebrating each month, and I’ve loved doing them and wanted to do something of my own.  I came up with the name Muse Moon a couple of years ago, but the timing didn’t feel right for getting started.  I didn’t want to jump into an arena that already had enough performers.  But the circles I was in have slowed down, changed formats, or gone away and opened the way for my kind of moon watching.  2015 feels like the right time for Muse Moon, so here we go.

This is going to be a sort of mini newsletter all about the moon each month.  I’ll put in some of my artwork and maybe photography, some writing (maybe poetry, maybe other) and anything else that comes up for that month.  And prompts and links to guide you in creating your own full moon writing and art.  I’ll get a Facebook group started for us to share what we make, too, because I love seeing what different people do with the same starting point. Creativity goes in so many directions!

So that’s it.  That’s what Muse Moon is all about. Sign up below (it’s free), and I’ll send out the first newsletter on January 5 with all the goodies and a link to the Facebook group. Hope to see you there!

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Muse Moon 05

The Things I Do

December Views

I’ve been kind of quiet these past couple of weeks (although I’ve been blogging a bit on my personal writing website, Mythic Writers).  Things are a little rough right now.  This will be my first Christmas without my mother, and she loved Christmas so much.  Everything is reminding me of her, especially since this week we just moved the big pieces of furniture we brought from her place into our house.

Mostly I’ve been keeping in touch with my creativity through photography, taking pics throughout each week of the ordinary yet beautiful things around me (I’ll be doing a write-up and sharing lots more photos than the three above in my December newsletter–you can sign up for it there in the sidebar).  I’ve also been getting some things ready to introduce to the world in the first few months of 2015:

  • Your Writer’s Path: A Personal Guide to Writing Your Story Your Way-this one will be a monthly coaching for writers to help them tell the stories they want to share with the world
  • Muse Moon–this will be a monthly art journaling and written meditation on the creative aspects of each full moon
  • Flash Journaling–this is a quick and fun art journaling + writing technique that helps you get thoughts down in small amounts of time and space
  • Aristotle’s Plot–this is a story-planning mini class based mostly on Aristotle’s Incline

There are a few more things stirring around, but these are the first ones I’m going to dive into.  A couple of them might have their own mailing lists, so I’ll get the sign-up forms ready for you in the next couple of weeks.

I will probably be quiet again here for the next couple of weeks, although I’m going to try to prepare some rerun posts to share while I’m hibernating.  I will be sharing a write-up of my new planner I’m putting together, though, so if you’re into planners and journals and art and office supplies, stay tuned.  This is going to be so cool!

See you next time!

On My Table: Autumn Fairy Gifts

Things have been kind of busy around here what with the holidays coming up (Thanksgiving is already over!), the end of the year racing toward us, and lots of planning going on for noveling and coaching and classes.  I haven’t had nearly as much time as I’d like for creative projects outside of novel outlining, but I know keeping my hand in the creative ring is really important for my general outlook on life.  So while I’m busy with a lot of in-my-head stuff right now, I’ve been making a point to do some photography.  Lucky for me, Mother Nature has really been helping out with this fantastic, constantly changing fairy ring right next to where I park my car at work.

Mushrooms 1

Mushrooms 2

Mushrooms 4

Mushrooms 5

Mushrooms 6

What about you?  What do you do when you are busy but want to keep your hand in the creative game?  Leave a note and let us know–we all like to add ideas to our stash.

 

Frazzle Dazzle

Holiday time! Sparkly decorations and parties and food and friends and family time! Frazzled time? Sometimes.  This time of year can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed rather than warm and fuzzy.  So what to do about it?

Holiday Mix 2

One of my favorite de-frazzlers is list making.  I know!  I saw you rolling your eyes.  I’m not talking about the productivity lists, the every-single-minute-accounted-for lists, the lists with so many items there’s no way you can do everything in one day, nothing like that.  I’m talking useful, calming lists.  Want to give it a try?

First, decide what the actual purpose is for making this list. Is it to make sure we don’t forget to do certain things that we want to get done? Or is it that we have so many things that we think we need to do that we can’t possibly keep track of all of them without a list? The former is a good reason. The latter might indicate that your lists need some work. Figure out what you really want from a to-do list, what you want it to do for you, and go from there.

For me, I want my lists to be filled with things I really want to do in a day, things that will make my life better or easier, things that will move me forward in my creative dreams, things that I can put on a done list at the end of the day if I want to make one and feel really good about having done. I want my list to be like a friendly guide showing me the way to where I want to be.

How do you turn your lists into friendly guides to the life you want?

Tip #1: Cut down your daily list drastically. Only add on things that move you forward in the important areas of your life or things that you really do want to do today that you are worried might slip through the cracks of a busy day (that’s why my list tells me to make a grocery list—so I don’t end up at the store trying to remember what I need to buy). Don’t put down every little thing you think you want to do or should do today. Just put down the truly important stuff.

Tip #2: Prioritize. Some days you will have things that really do need to be done that day. Put those at the top of your list. After that, prioritize by what pulls you the most, the things that feel like they will really move you in the direction you want to go. Some days you might need to rest and be calm because life has been too hectic lately, so you might put “knitting” or “painting” on your list, and you might want to put it fairly high up because you really want to fit that in. Let what is important to you today, right now, guide you in deciding how to order your list.

Tip #3: Categorize. Decide on the areas of life you want to give time and attention to regularly. Maybe even make a master list of sorts (for me, my master list is writing, coaching, organizing my house into a haven, and improving my health). This shouldn’t be a very long list—probably no more than five things. Make sure that your daily list has something from at least one or two of these areas so you know you’re working on the things that are most important to you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself after you write your list:

  • Does this list make me feel like I’m going to fill my day with important things I want to do?
  • Will completing the tasks on this list make me feel like I’ve done a good day’s work?
  • Does this really need to be on my list?
  • Is there some way to make doing this easier, more pleasant, more fun?
  • What part of my life does this item make better?
  • Will something bad happen if I don’t do this today?
  • Will something bad happen if I throw out this idea and just don’t do it at all?
  • If this really needs to be done but I don’t want to do it, can I pass it on to someone else?

Let your intuition guide you as you add and remove things from your list. Ask yourself how you feel about adding or removing a task. Experiment with leaving off things you thought for sure you needed to have on your daily list. Let your list become a helper instead of your keeper, and give yourself more time to actually go out and do the things you like.

A little end note—NPR offers a list of reasons to make lists: 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists. Lots of great reasons and ways to use lists for your best interests.

And another note: this article was originally published in my newsletter, although I’ve edited it for the blog and added a new picture.  Doing a blog post was on my list of things to do for the week, but I’ve been feeling too busy, so I used the “how can I make this easier?” question and came up with something I hope will be useful to all of us.

On My Table: Space

On My Table November 12

I haven’t had much to share in the On My Table category lately with all the life happenings and the recent reconfiguring of what I do. I’ve been feeling the lack of making things, and it reminded me that for a long while I’ve been struggling with a lack of consistent journaling and writing in my life, too.

I started circling around the problem as I have umpteen times in the past couple of years. Years! (At some point I may write about how a teacher and coach falls into a trap she helps others escape, but not right now.)  I threw myself back into the maelstrom of “I need space to set out my notebooks and have them close at hand but my house is too messy and I have no room and I just can’t fix it!”  And then I reminded myself that I am a Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coach, for crying out loud!  I know how to deal with this sort of overwhelm–it’s what we do.  We’re overwhelm busters (among other things).  I probably should have talked to one of my fellow coaches about my difficulties–we could have gotten to this conclusion ages ago!  But, at least I’m there now.  I found an inroad into getting where I want to go.

Last night, after reminding myself that all I need to do is take one Small Step, I had an epiphany. I would like to do some of my writing and journaling at the office, but I didn’t have a good place there to set out my journal and pens and things to act as a visual reminder for me.  My journal, pens, notebook, etc. do not take up that much space.  Where could I put them?

I thought about what I needed from such a space.  Accessibility from my chair, including visually because seeing my tools makes me reach for them more often.  Enough space to open a notebook and write in it without having to move anything.  That’s pretty much it.  Did I have anything like that in my office?  Yes.  How about that catch-all corner of my desk?  It was home to random papers (hey, that’s where that recipe got to!), bottles of vitamins, expired coupons, and my fingerless gloves.  That space was plenty big enough for my writing and journaling tools.  And it’s behind me but off to the side so I see that corner in my peripheral vision every time I turn my head slightly.  It’s a perfect spot, and it was right there all along just waiting for me to look for something (some place) small.

You know how long it took me to clear the space?  Three minutes.  No, really.  Three minutes.  The recipes went into a folder of recipes I had already set up, the vitamins went into a drawer, the coupons went into the garbage, and the gloves went to the opposite corner of the desk.  Then I set my tools in the cleared space, and I was done.

Is this the perfect, end-all-be-all solution to my problem?  No.  But it’s a good start.  It’s going to make picking up my journal or notebook and writing a bit much easier.  And you know what happens when you make your work easier and do a little bit of it?  It gets even easier to do more.

The take-aways from all of this?  Your writing, your dream, your work needs space.  You do not have to have the perfect space, just space. You can do one small thing and make just a little space for yourself and your dream and get started right there.

So go!  Make some space for yourself.  Do a little something for your dream.  I’m going to go write in my journal.

I See the Future

fortune teller

I do! It looks exciting.  I don’t have all the details yet, but they are coming clearer all the time.  Woooo… (That’s a spooky ghost sound, by the way.)

Couldn’t resist.  It’s Halloween, after all, and it’s my favorite holiday.  I had to throw a little bit of cheesy spookiness in the mix.  But I have been making some plans for the future, and it’s looking pretty yummy.

First, you may have noticed that the site has a new look and a new name, MuseCraft™ Writers.  I’m loving the writerly look of it, and it’s easier to find and follow links and things in the sidebar, so navigation is easier, but it’s still fun and creative looking and not stuffy or boring at all.  I’m thrilled with it.

Don’t let the new name worry you.  I still love creativity and creating in all its forms, and I will always be interested in working with any creative who wants some company and encouragement on their path, but I will be offering a lot more packages and classes aimed at writers.

That brings me to my next bit of future fun.  In January I’ll be launching a month-to-month novel writer’s coaching package.  It will include a monthly planning session and weekly emails to help keep you motivated and moving forward in your novel writing.  I’m leaving the time open ended because some people may only need a month or two to finish a book while others may be just starting out and need more time.  Details (and a name) for this will be coming soon, but I’m so excited by the idea I couldn’t keep quiet.

Also in January I’ll be opening a free “Just 10 Minutes” group to help us keep moving on our creative dreams.  Every month we’ll all pick something to work on (a creative project, decluttering project, whatever your dream needs right then), and we’ll dig into it together ten minutes at a time.  Sign-up info on this will be coming in December.

I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, but these are the ones I’m super excited about right now, so I’m starting here.  What are you excited about this week?  Drop me a note and fill me in.

Happy Halloween!

Where’s My Map?

SeattleMap 2

Do you ever feel like you’d just love a road map that tells you exactly what to do, step by step, to get where you want to be?  I do!  I know that living a creative life and building creative dreams doesn’t work that way.  But oh, sometimes I really want it to!

I’m still working on how I want my coaching and creative lives to look.  I didn’t do anything with it last week as I had a suddenly, extremely ill kitty to worry about.  She’s out of the hospital and mending but not great, but we’re feeling hopeful now so I’m stepping back into my meditations on changing my world.

I’m figuring out how a move toward more writing-centered focus (which includes journaling, which I deeply believe is important for all creatives) will look, what my website might include, what I’ll want to write about from this new focus.  I’m figuring out how I want my shift to look and feel while I’m in the middle of it, because how the shift happens is important, too.

So how do you make a major shift in your life focus?  I like to do it Kaizen-Muse™ style (of course).  I’m starting with Small Questions to help me figure out my first Small Steps (my two favorite KMCC™ tools!)  Right now I’m asking “What does the website of a writer’s coach look like?” and “What does it talk about?”  I’m tinkering with questions about how talking about general creativity will still fit into the mix, but I don’t have a good, solid question for that yet.

If you’re looking to make a shift in your creative life (or any part of your life), I recommend starting with some good questions–questions about what things might look like in your world as you make your changes, questions about how the old will fit in with the new.  Ask your questions, and then go about your business.  You don’t need an answer right away.  Ask your questions once a day, maybe at the same time, maybe as part of a tiny ritual (I like to write mine down sometimes–in my journal, on an index card, on a sticky note).  And then don’t push for an answer.  Keep asking.  Your brain will take hold of the questions and run with them, and answers will come.  Just listen.  That’s what I’m doing right now.  I don’t know if, once I have some answers, I’ll write about it or just make my changes.  You’ll probably figure it out based on what you see here.  I do know that I’m excited to make these changes, and I hope you’ll come along for the journey.  I think there’s lots of great writing to do in the days ahead.

Miss Caisha 2

This is my darling girl when we were visiting her in the ICU veterinary hospital last week. She was already starting to feel a little better, and she’s home now, but it’s been very scary and stressful. So I couldn’t resist putting her picture here to show off the adorableness and remind myself that things are better.

 

Painting My Way Back to Writing

Collage of Me

If you’ve been reading along this year, you know I’ve been focusing mainly on painting and art journaling.  I’ve been really enjoying this immersion into visual arts, but lately I’ve been feeling the pull of language and words and story and writing.  It seems that I’ve painted my way back to being a writer!

I think having multiple creative pursuits is a good thing.  I think it keeps your mind fresh, it gives you a break from your main focus, it’s good for your brain.  And in my case trying out diving deep into just one area of my creativity really brought home to me what my first creative love is.  All of the focus on painting and art journaling gave me a creative breather and opened up some space for introspection and inner conversation on what really lights me up and brought me some good, exciting understandings of myself.

So I’m going to be focusing more on my writing again, but I won’t be giving up my other creative activities.  I will be looking at them more as the hobbies I practice in addition to my primary creative work from now on.  That feels right and comfortable for me.

What’s that going to look like around here?  I don’t know yet.  I don’t see myself not talking about art journaling, photography, painting, etc.  So that won’t go away.  I do want to start building up a coaching practice that’s more focused on writers and writing, although I am planning plenty of journaling talk and possibly some journaling classes. I deeply believe that everyone, not just writers, can benefit from some form of journaling, and I believe there’s space for all types of creatives here, not just writers.

That’s what’s on my mind right now.  I am feeling in transition, and I wanted to share a little bit about what feels like the beginning of something new.

What’s going on in your world right now?  Anything new coming up on your horizon?  I hope you let yourself be open to what might be coming your way.