I am contemplating some changes to the blog and my newsletter and would love to know what you would like to see. So whadya think?
There are other things, of course, but that's the big one. Too much going on this year, and NaNo has been tough! But I'm going to hit 50K on Friday, and I'm thankful that I was able to get things together enough to make that happen.
I'm also thankful that every time I do NaNo I find out a little bit more about my own writing process. I think over the past two years the combination of ROW80 and NaNo has brought me to a place where I am starting to believe I can figure out how to finish a novel. And that's huge for me. HUGE.
I'm thankful for finding a great critique group that expects to see pages from me every other Wednesday. I'm still stumbling a bit, trying to get a rhythm in my writing life, but having people waiting to see something from me is an excellent motivator.
So that check-in... I am standing at 43,414 words right now. I was behind for most of November, but I caught up yesterday. I haven't written today, but I will. I intend to hit my 50K on Friday, a day early, so I can have the day off Saturday to lounge around and get ready for a holiday party that evening. And then on Sunday I will be posting revamped goals for the rest of this round and also for the completion of my novel. Overall, a pretty good check-in today, I think.
Now if someone would just finish those sweet potatoes, bake my pumpkin bars for me, and fill in these gaping plot holes, I'd be golden! Happy Thanksgiving!
I've been writing and writing for NaNoWriMo all week (I even missed the ROW80 check-in yesterday!), so I haven't made any new art journal spreads or anything like that. So this week I'm sharing the new OTTLite on my table and the fantastic washi tape spool my partner made for me (he made it in October, but it's still pretty new to me).
Do you ever catch yourself wishing that things were easy or saying things like, "Why can't this be easy?" or "I want this to be easy!"? What do we mean by that? Do we actually mean that we want a life that is effortless, where we never have to exert ourselves or stretch ourselves in any way? I don't think that's actually what we mean when we're wishing and hoping and longing for easy. I think if we didn't have things to work toward and strive for, we'd get bored. I don't think we really mean "easy" at all.
So what do we mean when we wish for easy? I think we might really be longing for a clear path--knowing where we're going and the steps to take to get there. I think it's the uncertainty of what comes next, of what our next move should be that makes us wish for that chair on the beach and effortless days.
I think when I find myself complaining that something is too hard, that I wish it (whatever the current "it" might be) was easier, I'll remind myself that easy isn't what I'm looking for. Instead of asking how things can be easy, I will ask myself "how can I clear the way to move forward?" Semantics, yes, but I think it's important.
Does this relate to my ROW80 check-in and NaNoWriMo? Oh yeah. I've been whining to myself for the past two days that this next section is too hard, I want it to be easy, why won't it be easy? Today, just a little while ago, I realized it was the wrong question. I don't actually mind spending hours writing, staying up a little too late, skipping other things to get in some words. So it's not easy I'm looking for. What I'm really needing is a focus, a plan, a clue. So the question I need to ask myself is "how can I figure out what I need to write next?" "How can I make the next section make sense as a lead-in to what's going to happen after?" "How can I plan things so I don't have so many stops and starts and stuck places?"
Maybe just writing along getting all the thoughts down, knowing the basics of what I'm going to put in that spot before I get started is a form of ease. I don't know. But I do think I need to be focusing more on how to know what I'm going to write when I sit down rather than focusing on how I want things to be easy. Because the truth is, I don't care that much about easy. I just want to get my words flowing again.
What would you like to have going more smoothly in your life? What would you like to get unstuck? How can you clear the way for yourself to do the things you want to do?
This one is also from No Excuses Art Journaling. It's a collage of November colors and images to set the mood for the month. The course says to do this collage at the start of the month, and I did begin it then, but I just finished it this weekend.
The text is from "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing
That beautiful box you see was a birthday gift from my friend Laura. I'm going to use it to put little bits of art supplies in. And the little pile of stuff in front of it is treasures I pulled from the pocket of an old coat. I like to have pretty, interesting things to look at while I'm creating.
I seem to be repeating myself a lot lately. ROW80 check-in, been doing some writing, not doing much else, moving slowly but making progress. Same post I wrote last Sunday, I think. But you know what? That's fine.
Sometimes repetition is good. Sometimes falling back on doing the same things is helpful. As creative people, we often think that we need to keep doing new and different things. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves that way. Certainly it's a great feeling to do something completely out of the norm. It's a thrill to do something you've never done. Still, I think that if you're in the middle of something big (NaNoWriMo, anyone?), having routines to fall back on can help you reach your goals.
So right now, with some stressful things going on plus being mid-NaNo, I am very grateful for my routines. I am happy that I have some structures put in place that let me keep writing and doing things I want to be doing without having to give every ounce of energy I have to do it. So I say "hurray!" for doing it all again.
How about you? Do you have routines and structures that you fall back on during busy or stressful times? Are they helpful? I'd love to hear your stories.
It's funny, every year as Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approach, I start feeling the pull to be healthier, eat better, get some exercise. Maybe because I realize somewhere deep down that it's really easy this time of year to get caught up in the busyness and let self-care slip away. And I know, even when I don't act on it, that caring for myself is the starting point to living my dream creative life.
What does it mean to really take care of yourself? It can mean many things and take many different forms. It won’t be the same for everyone. To find out how you might need to be taking better care of yourself, take a look at your life as it is. Where do you find yourself saying things like, “I wish I had time for X” or “I can’t seem to get things done,” or “I wanted to do such-and-such project, but I couldn’t find my materials, and by the time I gathered enough of them, I was too tired to make art.” Are there things you keep putting off, things you really want to be doing? Are you doing too many things every day that you really don’t want to be doing? These are signs that your self-care needs a boost.
Self-care might mean giving yourself time and space to follow your dreams. This often means we have to cut out some things in our lives, though, so be prepared. Even if they are things you want to toss out, there can be some stress and sadness and discomfort over the changes.
Self-care also means getting things done when they need to be done so you don’t stress yourself out with the pressure of waiting tasks hanging over your head. Stress and pressure crush creative dreams. Think about what “stress” and “pressure” mean, and you’ll know this is true—stress and pressure in the tectonic plates of the earth cause earthquakes!
Self-care means finding shortcuts to give yourself the time and space you need without compromising other things you need such as your health or the happiness of your family and friends. It can mean knowing when to just lie down and enjoy the sunshine or put your feet up and just rest. It is finding people and places and books and objects that help you achieve a sense of peace and pleasure.
So after reading this, maybe you’ve decided you want to make some changes and start taking care of yourself differently, more deeply. Good! As you get started, keep this in mind—don’t try to change everything at once. Learning to deeply care for yourself and nurture your Muse takes time. You cannot change every ingrained habit at once—the final result will be stressful rather than pleasant and will feel like a chore rather than feeling like a long, warm hug.
What are some concrete things you can do to start caring deeply for yourself and your Muse? I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have many answers yet; I’m just starting out (re-starting) on this self-care journey myself. But I do have a few ideas.
One of my guiding words lately is "thrive." It's something we all need to focus on. Thriving. Taking real care of ourselves, not just the bare minimums. To help myself thrive, I'm starting out by focusing on eating, because one of the most important ways we can take care of ourselves physically and emotionally is by feeding ourselves good, nourishing, pleasing food (yes, pleasing--food should be a pleasure, but more on that another time). Of course, we don't want to spend hours every day cooking. So how do we thrive while still leaving time and energy and space for our creative pursuits?
I believe the issue of self-care and creativity is one I need to revisit often. I'm going to use this reworking of an old newsletter article I wrote as a jumping-off point to start giving regular attention to--ME! I believe that taking care of our physical selves (and this includes our environments) is a necessity because our physical selves directly effect our emotional, spiritual, and creative selves.
My first step on this path: starting a journal to talk to myself about self-care, how I'm feeling, how this is affecting my world, what I think I would like my self-care to look like.
What about you? Would you like to join me in examining our physical sides? What would you like to start with?
It's ROW80 check-in day. I decided that makes us checkers. So...
As in all November posts, all I have to check in about is NaNoWriMo.
I am moving along pretty steadily but have still not caught up on my word count. I have realized that I don't have enough conflict (or anything else) planned for the section leading up to my first major plot point, so I am doing some discovery writing and what-if brainstorming, so I think I will be able to work my way through this. Meanwhile, I'm in the middle of a fun scene about a demon, so I am really enjoying myself right now.
Anyone have recommendations for good spooky stories--novels or movies? I could use a little structure study.
That's my week so far. What's up in your creative world?
I almost missed the ROW80 check-in today. Was I writing? No. (Well, a little.) I was reading a really fun book, though, and it completely took over my whole day. (Ravensblood by Shawna Reppert.) And I'm not even sorry!
I'm still behind on my word count for NaNoWriMo. But I've been writing steadily, and I'm enjoying my story and feel like it's coming together nicely. I'm also waking up every morning with story thoughts in my head, and it's usually the last thing I am thinking about as I'm falling asleep. I feel enamored of the story, but the love feels a little tenuous. I don't want to ruin it by putting on too much pressure and focusing too much on word count. I want to focus on how much fun this story is.
As I mentioned, I've been reading, so I'm on target with my reading goal. I got in a little bit of art journaling time today, too. I am enjoying giving myself time and space to figure out what I really, truly want to be doing. It's hard sometimes. I find myself slipping and wanting to make plans and fill all the spaces, and I have to pull myself back and remember that I am trying to find what my real loves are. It's a good journey so far, but not as easy as you would think it would be.
And now I'm off to bed to read a little more before sleep. Happy writing everyone!