Do you love writing? Do you love stories and storytelling and find pleasure in doing the work, writing your stories, creating your characters? Sometimes I let it become nothing but work, just another thing on my to-do list. I forget sometimes to reconnect with the pure pleasure and fun of making things up.
This fabulous episode of the even more wonderful Magic Lessons podcast from Elizabeth Gilbert is about the fun of making things just to be doing it. It's a great reminder and listening to these wonderful women talking about creating for no one but yourself is a beautiful thing.
I love that word, "traveler." It's right up there with "adventure" and "wild" for me, favorite exciting words that make me want to jump up and do something. And of course I love notebooks. I'm pretty sure that's come up before. So last week when I got a glimpse into the world of the Midori Traveler Notebook, I was hooked. Sort of. I didn't like the sizes. I don't want to have to send away for inserts all the time, and I don't want to have to make my own all the time.
I decided I would just make my own Midori Traveler (also called "fauxdori" which is so cute!) in a size that works for me. I spent hours on Pinterest, Etsy, and YouTube (favorite links below) looking at examples and watching how other people made theirs. I came up with a plan, picking my favorite parts from everything I looked at, and I got started.
I decided on red vinyl for the cover because I didn't feel like waiting until I could get to the leather store. I was going to line the vinyl with fabric, but I found this fabulous stuff called Kraft-tex Kraft Paper Fabric. It acts like fabric and paper--its wonderful. I picked some up to paint and collage for my liner. I got turquoise embroidery floss to finish the edges to make sure there's no peeling of the layers, and I got rainbow elastic because I needed elastic, so why not rainbow?
I painted and collaged the liner then glued it to the vinyl. Then I used a five-pronged leather punch to make holes for the embroidery floss all around the edges of the notebook.
I added the rainbow elastic, mostly the magenta and flame orange section (because it's one five-yard piece of elastic, so I picked a section). I decided to put the holes side-by-side rather than one above the other (which is how it's set up in the real Midoris) to give me two same-sized bands on the inside.
Then I added the elastic "belt". In the real Midoris the hole for this is in the middle of the back cover. I saw a few people putting theirs on the spine, so I did that with mine, too. So far so good, although I just finished the notebook about an hour ago so it may be too soon to tell.
I gathered or created my filler books. The first one is a Moleskine Cahier that I worked a few pages in several years ago then let languish. I decided I should go ahead and use it, so I changed the title on the cover and put it into my fauxdori. It's going to be for project plans and notes. The next one is a greeting card that I added some decorations to and then filled with scrapbook paper to make a sort of Smash Book for visual journaling and glue-booking. The third is dot-grid printed paper bound into pretty scrapbook paper. This one will be for writing practice, notes, etc. And the last one is a blank book that came inside an art journaling book I got several years ago (and can't find in my house to tell you the name of). I cut it down a bit so it will fit into my notebook. The journals that I bound are half-sheet size (US 8.5 x 11 inches) while the Moleskine is slightly smaller, but I don't mind the disparity in size. They are all close enough that they work fine together, and I like the idea of making my book a size that lets me pick up refills when I want instead of always having to make them.
Here's the filled book:
I used the elastic to insert the middle books and then large rubber bands to attach each of the outside books.
Last but not least, I added Post-it pockets inside the front and back covers to hold all the little notes and scraps of paper that accumulate.
And now it's ready to use for creative planning, note taking, writing practice, vision collages, and whatever else I think up, all in one place!
Do you have a Midori Notebook story? I'd love to hear how you use yours. And if you have pictures, please link in the comments so we can all enjoy them. Thanks!
My Notebooks board on Pinterest (not all Midori, but there are a lot there)
There's a ton of stuff out there. I still have loads of videos saved to watch later, and every time I open Pinterest there are new posts. So go browse around, see all the cool stuff, and maybe make a Traveler of your own. Have fun!
I'm finding myself really needing to get my body moving. After years--YEARS, for crying out loud!--of inactivity brought on by some injuries, some medical issues, and a lot of laziness I am so very out of shape. I can't do a lot of things I want to do--hiking, walking on the beach, going on photo walks--because of how out of shape I am.
Of course I've started multiple programs of my own devising (and sometimes someone else's) in the seven-ish years this has been going on. But for one reason or another I keep falling off the plan. Now, time to start again. This time, though, I'm going to try to gather a group of like-minded people around me so we can do this together.
I talk about the Kaizen-Muse™ Small Steps around here all the time (you may have noticed). I'm going to put them to use for my health and fitness. Starting Monday, March 16, 2015 I'm going to do a 100 day challenge of just 5 minutes of movement every day. I'm going to make a small list of possible movement options below, but any kind of movement will do.
I'll be tweeting about this with the hashtag #Move5Min. I'm also going to start a Facebook group called Body Pages so we can chat and encourage each other, and after this 100 days we can decide on what other challenges we might want to give ourselves. I might also do a weekly blog post where we can post links to our own blogging if it seems like there's interest in that. Leave me a note and let me know if you'd like that option.
So who's in? Leave a note here, tweet with our new hashtag, join in the fun! I can't wait to see what 100 days of Small Steps will do.
Overwhelm is one of the biggest, most pervasive stumbling blocks we run into in our creative lives. We all suffer from it at least now and then, and if you have multiple creative passions (like me!), you can get hit with it just about every day.
It's especially easy to fall into overwhelm when we're trying to figure out what to do next, either on a current project or in starting a new one, but it can hit at any stage of the process.
The good news is, you don't have to stay in overwhelm when it comes. In Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coaching, we often call ourselves overwhelm busters because this is one of the issues we work on the most with clients. We know you don't have to live with it, and now you know, too.
So how do you get out of overwhelm?
My favorite technique for getting through overwhelm and back into creative fun is taking small steps. I mean tiny! The littlest ever, and if you think it's small try to make it smaller. It sounds kind of silly. It can be, and that's good because having fun helps subdue the overwhelm beast. You can make a game out of finding the littlest step ever. Just break your tasks down, and you'll start moving forward again.
What does it look like to break something down into the smallest steps? It looks like deciding to do a project and making grand plans that are so big they leave you frozen. So you make the steps smaller but still feel overwhelmed. So you make the steps smaller, and so on until you find a step you can actually take without the overwhelm.
Here's an example. Let's say this is you: "I want to write a novel! I need to write 1,000 words a day!" (Cue overwhelm.) You realize you need to break things down. That could look like this:
I'm going to write one scene (that still feels like a lot--stirrings of overwhelm)
I'm going to write one page (still some overwhelm)
I'm going to write one paragraph (feeling better but still not sure about everything to put in there so you still find yourself avoiding it)
I'm going to write one sentence. (Great! Most days this step might be small enough, but some days you might still feel some overwhelm)
I'm going to take out my notebook and pen/open the story document/create a story document (this one is doable)
Do the smallest thing you can find to do for your project. You can do an entire project this way, one teensy, tinsy small step at a time, honest (and you can do one step more than once a day, too, if you feel like it). Often you'll find yourself doing more once you get your toe in the door. But if you don't, if you do just the smallest step, that's progress. Pat yourself on the back and keep doing it!
Life is busy. Sometimes, it feels really hard because there's always so much to do. And then we want to write books or paint pictures or create things on top of everything else! We have to figure out a way to fit it in, and when we do that, then comes the really hard part. We have to get started!
Is getting started really the hardest thing, though? A lot of us have it in our heads that starting is hard (I know I do). I've heard the phrase "getting started is the hardest part" so many times, about so many things--diet, exercise, writing, pretty much everything I might actually want to do--that it's kind of ingrained as truth now.
We've been brainwashed into thinking starting is hard, but it might not actually be so hard after all. Especially if we go out of our way to make it a little bit easier.
If you have a tough time getting started on projects, make a decision that you're going to do everything you can to make this project easy. Deciding up front that it's going to be an easy project, and reminding yourself as you go that this is going to be a smooth-sailing, easy thing, can change how you perceive your project. Deciding that it's going to be easy can make it feel easier.
But back to getting started. A lot of projects seem to have a natural starting place--chapter one, the first quilting stitches, the first strokes of paint on canvas. These are where we begin, right? But do we have to?
Instead of beginning in what seems like the one-and-only starting place, look for easy entries into what you want to do:
Want to write an article? Make a quick list of things you want to put in.
Want to create an outline for your novel? Set up the document first before deciding anything else.
Want to paint a picture? Set out your canvas and brushes and paints (or, if that's a lot right now, just set out your canvas and save the brushes and paints for later).
Then walk away. Save the list or the outline document. Tighten the paint caps. Leave. You have started. And it was easy, right?
Now, keep doing things this way. Every time you're going to work on your project, look for what feels easiest to do. Every time you sit down to work, ask yourself "what can I do to make this easy?" The easy thing might be the next part in the work, or it might be something that you would normally think of doing later in the process. Go by what feels easy and doable, not what "should" come next.
Creativity doesn't have to be hard work. It's okay for things to be easy whenever you can make them that way. Your work won't suffer from making it easier, and you'll enjoy it more if it's not a struggle. Give yourself a break. Take the easy way.
I've been thinking about retreats a lot lately. I've never been on a big group one, although there are some I would love to go on and will get to someday. But I've been thinking about what I'd like in a retreat, why I want to go on one. I'd like to host some. Some one-day retreats, some weekend retreats. Maybe at some point a whole week retreat.
As I'm dreaming about retreats and brainstorming hosting some of my own, I'm wondering about what the rest of you might like, might be interested in, etc. So, if you don't mind, would you take a moment to answer a few questions? I'll keep you posted on what I come up with after getting some feedback. Thanks!
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.
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!
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.
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.