1

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!

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10

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.

 

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3

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.

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4

Footsteps

I am still working to get back to some sort of normalcy, maybe a little bit of a routine, maybe something-or-other to focus on.  I'm also putting some thought into changes I might want to make around MuseCraft™.  I'm looking at the things I really love and playing with ways to bring my coaching and creative life and deepest interests together.  We'll see how that goes!  I'll definitely keep you posted.  Hopefully this will bring a return to blogging weekly--right now I'm going with what feels comfortable as I figure out what's next.

Meanwhile, to help me find my next steps I'm taking Whitney Freya's 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge. It's a low time commitment, no pressure, doesn't require me to pull out all of my supplies.  It seemed like a good way to get back to some art journaling and creative play.

I also signed up for an October writing class at StoryWonk. Sufficiently Advanced Magic: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I've been feeling a pull to get back to story writing, and I love using classes to get into (or back into) a creative project.  Plus, I just love Lani and Alastair at StoryWonk.  I've been listening to their podcasts for years and adore how much they love storytelling.

That's everything I'm letting myself get involved in right now.  I think when you're returning from a big, life-changing something-or-other it's important to remember to go slowly, take the smallest steps you can, take lots of breaks.  I remind myself of this.  I'm reminding you of this.  Slow is fine.  Slow is perfect!

So, until next time--go slow, go easy, enjoy the journey!

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10

Turtle

I am finally back from my long trip, trying to find my way back into everyday life like a turtle returning to the sea.  Or maybe like a small child dipping her toes into the cold water, not really sure she wants to jump in.  But unlike the child, or even the turtle, there's not much choice when the ocean you are dipping into is life itself.  Picking up and carrying on is the only way to go.

When I left on August 17, I mentioned here that I was called away on a family emergency.  My mother, who has had cancer for the past three-and-a-half years, was in critical condition.  I flew home and spent the next 11 days with her at the hospital.  On August 28 she went on to whatever comes next for us all.  Then came a whirlwind of funeral plans and the funeral itself, packing her belongings and emptying her apartment (my poor family--aunt and uncle and cousins--got stuck with so much of it as I had to return home too soon!), and then a cross-country drive in her car.

Now I'm home, and trying to get an idea of what life is now.  I don't have any creative plans or goals or challenges to share about right now.  I have only been back for a few days after three weeks and a major life change away, so I am still getting my bearings.  But blogging is a thing I do, and I want to get back to the things I do, to a life not centered around crisis and sorrow.

For now I'm going to continue reading a lot.  I'm going to snuggle my kitties at home and the dogs here at work.  I'm starting a new knitting project, a knit-along that started September 1 (SweaterBabe's Mystery Scarf Knit-Along).  Knitting is calm and soothing, and also perfect as we move into the cooler Autumn weather.

I'm not sure exactly when I'll be getting back to anything like normal.  Maybe never--maybe I will find myself making lots of changes and stirring things up now.  Life will definitely be very different.  I used to talk to my mother at least twice a day and often more, small and frequently silly conversations sometimes only two or three minutes long.  Now I will be looking at what will fill those spaces.  For now I'm just being, but I did want to let everyone know what's going on with me.

Enjoy the slow ride into Autumn!  Take care of yourselves!  And thanks for your patience as I slowly get back to the world.

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10

August Challenges

I love August!  I have loved August since the first year I went to school (in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up, school starts in August rather than September).  There's always been so much promise in the start of a new year for me, kind of like in January, but for me I feel that new year vibe even stronger in the Fall.  I love new classes and subjects and schedules, all bursting with good new things to learn and try and practice.

I think my love of that back-to-school wave must have been seeping in even though I didn't realize it, because this week I signed up for three creative challenges for August--one for writing, one for journaling, one for photography.  I should find plenty of new things to try with these!

Writing: I'm signed up for DIY MFA's Conquer the Craft challenge, which is actually a 29-day challenge.  I'm going to use it in conjunction with a group I signed up for called My 500 Words that focuses on--I bet you know this one--writing 500 words a day.  After August I plan to do it only one weekdays/work days, but for August I'll use if for the 29 days of Conquer the Craft.  This might even fit in with my #Just10Minutes practice, at least on some days.  If I'm on a roll, I can write 500 words in 10 minutes, so I might try to push for it a few times just as an extra challenge.

Journaling: I'm also jumping back in on Lisa Sonora Beam's ROOT 30 Day Journal Project.  I sort of participated in January, but I was still heavily in a Lull phase and didn't get all the way through.

Photography: And finally I'm doing the Life in Black and White challenge. Thirty-one days of black-and-white photography.  Since getting a digital camera, and then an iPod Touch, I never shoot b & w anymore, and I used to love doing that with a film camera.  I'm looking forward to focusing on some photography plus getting back to black-and-white.  I even got two new apps for my Pod (Noir Pro and Hueless) to try out for the challenge.

So what about you?   Do you get the same kind of vibe I do when it's back-to-school time?  Any plans to start something new this August? Tell me all about your plans--I'd love to hear them!

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10

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?!

Copy.

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.

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2

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?

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10

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
projects.

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.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

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18

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/

 

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