It's Glue It Tuesday, and since I'm sitting around looking at the Oregon rain and wishing for real summer I thought I'd use that idea as my focus today.
That's the super-summery version I got with my Hipstamatic app (I love that thing).
This is more what the card really looks like:
That's really all that's on my mind right now. June in Oregon is usually still chilly and rainy with a few bouts of sunny heat that's hard to get used to because it comes on so fast. Back home in the Chicago suburbs they've already had lots of sunny days, the kids are playing in pools and running around in shorts. Summer seems to come so late here, and then it leaves so early. Most of the time I like the rain and the textured skies, but in June I wish for summer.
It's the end of Round 2 of ROW80. It's been a busy round inside my head, but I'm not sure I have much to report as far as anything to show for my time.
Of course I know it's not true that I don't have anything to show. I have figured out a lot of things about my own process and about how stress affects my creative work. And I actually have a pretty decent outline of the major second-half points for my story and a few thousand new words for the story, so there was even some writing going on during all of that contemplation.
Just now, because I wanted to address how I did on the actual goals I set for this round, I went back to my first post of Round 2. And these are the goals I set:
Writing practice –just writing to play with words, describe what I see around me, sink into words on the page, as often as I am able
Movement practice–stretching, dancing, moving in ways that feel good to reconnect with my body and start to overcome the chronic pain I’ve been experiencing, as often as I can
Oh. I've been doing all of this. Maybe not as much writing practice as I intended, but I think that's because I've let myself get tangled up in "shoulds." I really had simple goals set up, and I've been doing them! And yet I've been pressuring myself and telling myself I'm not getting things done, not meeting my goals. It just goes to show you that those voices in your head aren't always right or truthful. Don't believe everything you think.
I'm feeling really good now. I think I'm going to head home and write!
Meanwhile, while you're browsing around, check out this great guest post that Morgan Dragonwillow shared here on MuseCraft™ this morning: Connecting to My Muse.
My creativity resides in my hips and when I begin feeling stuck I know it is time (past time) to turn on some fun music and move to the rhythms. I am a writer and poet and I believe that movement is the most important part to keeping the words and creativity flowing.
When I think about my writing I think about the wonderful books I have read and the first and most significant is Natalie Goldberg and her book, Writing Down the Bones. I remember taking her book with me on a four hour drive and devouring every word. Lucky for me my partner back then liked to do most of the driving.
I still have that little book and I still often carry it with me for inspiration. She talks about sitting in cafes in Taos New Mexico and teaching others to write even before she was an author herself. She would go to craft fairs and sell prose for a dollar. I thought, wow, what moxie. I could not imagine writing for other people. Well I could but only in my dreams.
About the same time that I read her book I read another fabulous author by the name of Gabrielle Roth. Her book, Maps to Ecstasy: Teachings of an Urban Shaman, stirred something in me that bubbled up and could not be contained. Dance. Movement.
Writing, dance, movement, writing, this marinated in my soul for years until I had the courage to act on it and began writing seriously the beginning of 2012.
I use dance and movement to connect to my muse, to my higher self, whatever you want to call it. Music and movement help me to open up and allow the words to flow.
Now I did mot start out writing poetry. Yes I wrote a few poems in high school and as a young adult but I did not take it seriously let alone have the confidence to continue with it. It was not until I saw a picture writing prompt on Shah Wharton’s, Words in Sync, that poetry began to stir within me once again. Stir, it began to boil. It took hold of me and did not let go.
I had forgotten for a time what poetry means to me; now that I remember I live and breathe it. I turn tragedy into words on the page. I take the bleeding gaping holes and mend them with my words.
Morgan Dragonwillow is co-host of @StoryDam and creatrix of OctPoWriMo (a poetry month in October) Morgan Dragonwillow is intimate with shadow and dances into the heart of it. She believes that diving in to what most people try to avoid makes great fertilizer for creativity whether it is writing, painting, or using other mediums for art. She currently lives in Marietta, Georgia with her partner, their Pekinese and their fluffy, long haired tabby. You will often find her online #wordmongering with her #StoryDam team and writing community.
Lots going on today, so I'm just going to toss it all out here and let you sift through it as you like. My last post was called "Hodgepodge." I'm starting to wonder if I should make that a category!
First, it's Glue It Tuesday. I don't always manage to fit this in, but when I do I always enjoy my time spent cutting and pasting. This week I combined thoughts from Max Daniels and Lisa Sonora Beam with some found inspiration work a la Julie Gibbons, and I started my journal collage with the question "what matters most right now?" Here's the answer so far:
Last night was my first time doing my Creative+Practice work from Lisa Sonora Beam's class at the time I chose for myself. Last week, Week 1, I started late in the week and was haphazard about when and where I did the work. This week I promised myself I would give myself the time and the space to actually do this, to show up for myself and do what I am being pulled to do. But I got home last night and wasn't settling down to do it, even after my promises and cheerleading. I realized that I wasn't doing the work at my designated time because I was uncomfortable.
The time I picked for my work is right after I get home. Feed the cats, clean the litter boxes, change clothes, get a drink, sit down and practice. It makes sense, the cat tending happens every day so I can always pair my practice with that, and sitting down to work for a while might even make a good transition from day to evening (I struggle with transitions, but that's a story for a different day).
And yet I was uncomfortable sitting down to do my creative work. I felt like I should be doing something else--cleaning up in the kitchen, getting started making dinner, some sort of responsible thing. But most evenings when I get home, after I take care of the cats I tend to zone out, cuddling with said kitties, watching TV, doing not much of anything. And for much longer than my creative practice took, because I settle into this resting and relaxing period and have a hard time breaking out of it to get up and do anything else. But last night after my practice I went in the kitchen, cleaned up a few things, and made dinner. And I still had time after to do some writing, some reading, and some lounging.
The discomfort remains, though. I think somewhere deep down inside I am feeling guilty about taking care of myself first. And I didn't even know I had that kind of thing going on! I believe very deeply that we must care for ourselves, that we aren't really going to be much use to anyone else if we aren't caring for ourselves. So why is it so hard to put my work before household chores and things I think I should be doing? I'm not sure, but now that I have realized I have this going on I'm going to work on it, stay aware of it, notice when it's happening, and see what I can do about it.
Oh, and writing? Two sentences eased me back in. I guess maybe it wasn't the time for a big goal. So my goal is back to just doing some writing each weekday. I like it. I don't feel stressed about it, my story is swirling around in my head again and I actually feel like writing. I'm going to take that as a sign that I'm on the right track.
I'm keeping track of when I've done my Creative+Practice work by tweeting when I'm done (yesterday I was fancy and even included a photo!). I think I'm going to do the same for my writing. If anyone else has things they want to work on, and you want to cheer each other on and offer a bit of accountability let me know. I'd love to have you with me on my journey, and I'd love to be part of yours, too. Leave me a note, and let's connect and get some stuff done!
I've been hesitant to talk too much about my flaws and failures. What kind of coach falls prey to the same things she helps other people deal with? Oh yeah. A human one. A human one who needs to remember what she tells people all the time--we all need to connect with mentors and teachers and people who support and cheer us on our paths. We all need help. So, here's a little bit about me getting caught up in a downward spiral and my journey back out.
This whole year, plagued by illness, injury, car troubles, and the accompanying money woes that go with all of that, I have been trying to make plans, jump into things, busy my anxiety and depression away. Coupled with a leaning toward self-sabotage and procrastination, I've just been setting myself up for failure and a reinforcement of my "I never do what I should, never do anything right" feelings.
This week, though, a few things happened to push me into acknowledging that I've just been plunging into plans to try to shake myself out of my doldrums.
First, Lisa's class started up again, and I realized that it's an invitation. It's an invitation to slowly build up to something lasting, something that can keep me afloat during dark and stressful times.
Then Thursday Jill did a call about self-sabotage and not showing up for yourself. It was like someone shined a spotlight on my behavior. It became so clear that I was making sure that I don't move ahead with my dreams.
At first I found myself starting to make all sorts of new plans to "get myself going" and things like that. Then I stopped myself. I asked one question: "What do I need?" Not what do I want to be doing (writing, coaching, teaching), or what do I think I should be doing (cleaning and organizing, making better plans for my life). What do I need?
I need breathing space, calm, peace-of-mind
I need a support structure, regular practices that help me sort my thoughts and get that calm space I need
I need to care for myself
A huge problem of mine is impatience. I want all of this right now. My plan (oh, I just can't help myself--I love to make plans!) is to take things day-by-day. I'm going to finish out this round and begin the next one with the goal of making one daily step, connecting with people here, on Twitter, on Facebook to have some accountability.
So what does this mean for ROW80 and JuNoWriMo? Writing is in my soul, I can't stop thinking about writing and stories, so I'm not going to stop doing either of these. I'm just going to really dial back my goals. For the rest of this round, and for the rest of June, I am going to set the goal of writing at least two sentences every weekday. Small steps, one of my favorite tools from my Kaizen-Muse™ training. And they work when I remember to do them (have you ever noticed how hard it can be to follow your own advice?)
I've been rambling. I hope you're still with me. I hope you'll remember that even when you're not practicing your creativity, even when things are dark, this is normal, and you are not alone. And if you want to talk about it, I would love to connect so we can help each other along.
Round 2 of ROW80 ends next week! I have been drifting along this round, trying a little of this, a little of that, having a hard time settling in to anything. Nothing has felt like quite the right fit this round. I'm kind of glad it's winding down, although on some level I feel like I never really got going.
I have mentioned being stressed on here and to friends, but lately I've been realizing that it has been an extremely stressful year, and my usual ways of dealing with stress aren't actually getting me anywhere. I have a tendency to drift around and be unfocused (someone needs to meditate or something!), but it's been particularly bad in these days. So I'm going to spend the rest of the round and the time before Round 3 kicks in putting some things into place that will maybe help me deal with it. I'm also going to put some things to help me with my focus in place and see how that works out.
Between now and the beginning of Round 3:
Start a writing blog or journal (or make some sort of special category here for personal posts? Thoughts on that anyone?)
Tell someone the things I want to get done each weekday
Find a few people to create a small, supportive accountability group (ties in with above idea, may be the same idea)
Continue yoga practice and maybe add in some shorter practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays (currently doing it Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
Put all of my journaling and art journaling stuff together and make it easily accessible
Set up a good work station downstairs
Lest you think that all is too, too sad, here's a rundown of what has been going right. I have figured out a couple of key scenes for my WIP and have written them! Yes, I have been writing. I haven't been near the required output for JuNoWriMo, and right now I'm not even doing my personal goal of 500 words/day, but I've been writing things that work really well for my story, and I've figured out some really important pieces of the story so this is good.
That's what's going on here. How's everything on your end of the world? How do you deal with heavy stress? Does it throw you off track like it's been doing for me, and what do you do with it? I'd love to hear about your experiences.
A quick ROW80 check-in since it's getting late, and I'm tired. But I didn't want to skip my check-in because I feel like they help me stay focused, and I feel like I'm really closing in on what works for me and my writing life, so I don't want to have any blips right now.
As I mentioned before, I signed up for JuNoWriMo. It seemed like a great way to get back to work on my novel that has been languishing. And in some ways this has been true. Just not in the bragging rights for writing 1,667 words a day sort of way.
I've been working regularly on the novel and finally have a vision of where the story is heading. I've been working on a very sketchy synopsis to help me see some of the major points, and I've been working on a couple of scenes that needed to be included earlier in the book to let me go where I need to with the story.
This is all actually really great, and I'm really excited. For the first time, I think I know how to actually finish a novel-length work. But I have found that I'm working more slowly than the JuNoWriMo pace. This is okay, though. I feel like I've found my work style, at least for this story.
I've decided to be a JuNo rebel and set a goal of 500 words/day for myself because I'm finding that doing some freewriting and scene planning and then doing some actual writing is working really well for me, and this goal feels good.
So here's a takeaway for you--start with a plan or a structure, but keep listening to your intuition and make changes that feel good for you even if they aren't following the rules. It's good to have a starting point, and challenges like JuNo are great starting points, but always listen to your Muse--she knows what she's talking about--and follow your heart.
I'm checking in for ROW80, mostly because I missed Sunday's check-in. I got busy, and then I got exhausted and just couldn't get my thoughts together to write a post.
I'm meandering down my writing path. I only have a few hundred words written for JuNoWriMo. I'm kind of stressed out right now, and I am unfocused. And my writing muscles haven't been exercised enough lately, so they're out of shape and don't want to get moving. I find myself drifting along, doing a little of this, a bit of that, looking at the thing over there, and I am not getting much of anything done anywhere.
The weird thing is that for the first time in the seven or eight years that I've been poking at the story off-and-on, I can see its shape. I can feel the whole structure of the story. It's been through two NaNoWriMos--the first one left me with a dreary partial draft and a whiny, dull protagonist. The second one is the one I'm continuing with right now. Both times I had sort of an idea of the ending but no idea why it happened or how I would get there. This time, I know that stuff, but I still can't seem to settle down to write.
So now it's time to ease myself into actually writing this story. I know there are lots of things piling up that are helping me stumble, helping me avoid my writing. You probably have lots of stumbling blocks, too. Often we try to figure out why we aren't writing or creating or doing whatever it is we want to be doing. Guess what? It doesn't matter!
We don't need to know why we're blocked. Maybe at some point it will be useful information, so maybe later we can have a look at it, but to get ourselves unblocked the "why" doesn't matter. The doing matters.
Let's all do this together--pick one tiny little thing, five minutes' worth of something at most, and do that. Don't plan ahead to what you'll do after that. After comes after. For now, pick a thing that's easy and quick and do it.
My something? Pulling out my notebook, notecards, and pens, getting my music turned on, drink refilled, writing area set up. That's it. Then I'm going to do whatever I feel like for a while, but this time I'm going to do it with all of my writing stuff out in plain view, right in front of me.
So what about you? What are you wanting to do right now that isn't happening? And what little step can you take to get you on the path?