Skip to content

Sometimes it's hard to get our creativity in gear. We get busy or stuck or overwhelmed, and we want to do creative things, but we just can't get to it. Right now, I think that's happening to most of us quite a lot. There's a lot for our creativity to stumble on right now.

At the same time, doing creative work is so good for our hearts! It can be soothing, energizing, revitalizing. It can give us structure when everything feels chaotic. So being creative right now is important work (see my post "Yes, Now Is Art Time" for more on that).

Knowing our creative work is important in so many ways isn't always enough to get us going, though. If you need a bit of a nudge to get some creative work, try one of these:

  • Pick something you like to do (or something new you'd like to try) and find a challenge for it (there are so many 30 day challenges out there!). The light pressure of a challenge and the support of a community can help things get moving.
  • Arrange an exchange with artist friends--mail art, an art journal you pass back and forth, a story exchange for feedback.
  • Take a class--choose something in an area you already love to work in or try out something you're interested in.
  • Teach a class--you can deepen your own practices and help others get their own creative vibes flowing
  • Do timed practices--set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and dive in (if you're really feeling stuck, see what you can do with 2 minutes--I bet you'll be surprised!)

If you're still not sure what you want to be working on, check out my post "Dipping Into Creative Work" for more ideas of ways to give your creativity some time and attention.

I hope things in your corner of the world are going as well as they can, and I hope your creativity and these ideas for how to keep engaging with it help make things just a little brighter. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The past few weeks, I've been all about cutting and tearing paper and gluing it down. Here's one piece in progress (above). And here's one I finished about two weeks ago:

Both of these came from mini classes with Jennifer Chamberlin of The Maker Beehive. She does really fun collage pieces, very vintage looking, and very relaxing. Her classes are great for beginners but still fun for people who've been doing collage and mixed media for a while.

I have one more piece from her classes I'm planning to make--pumpkins! Because it's September, and that means fall and Halloween and pumpkins! The cutting and tearing and gluing is what my Muse is all about right now.

What about you? What's appealing to your Muse?

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

In my last post, I talked about how giving attention to our creative work and making time for art is really important right now.

It's also really hard right now. These are stressful, anxious times, and those feelings can make being creative feel really hard. And yet if we aren't getting to our creative work, that also makes us feel anxious, restless, not quite right. So what do you do when you want to do creative work but you can't seem to make it happen?

Find a way to just dip your toes into creativity. Find things that are easy, don't take too much time, are soothing if possible, fun if possible, engaging without needing laser focus. What you do isn't the important part; the important part is touching base with your creative life to keep connected.

My favorite thing to do when I want to do my art but can't settle into it is creative busy work. It's stuff that needs to get done for your creative work, but it doesn't usually require quite as much time, energy, or brain power. Things like organizing, prepping, tidying, planning, things that let you get your hands on your creative work but in a lighter and easier way than fully immersing yourself.

Some creative busy work projects:

  • Wind skeins of yarn into balls for your next knitting or crocheting project (or skeins of floss for embroidery)
  • Gather paints and sorting or organizing them for easier use on your next project
  • Clip words and pictures out of magazines for your next collage, junk journal, or art journal project
  • Put down layers of paint in your art journal for backgrounds
  • Pull gel prints for future use as backgrounds or in collages, etc.
  • Practice brush lettering or other hand lettering
  • Doodle
  • Make a color swatch (so many fun ideas for color swatches at Daisy Yellow--check out the link!) with your favorite markers, paints, colored pencils, etc.
  • Add to or organize inspirational Pinterest boards
  • Page through magazines about your art or ones that inspire you in some way

One last suggestion--keep a list of creative busy work. Put it in the front of your journal or planner or somewhere you can look at it easily. Sometimes when you're restless and want to do something, trying to remember the ideas you had about what to do gets hard. Make it easier for yourself! Easy is good.

I hope this has helped a little if you've been feeling stuck or unfocused lately. And if you have other things you like to do to help ease yourself out of a creative slump, I'd love to hear about them! Drop a note in the comments, or find me on social media.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

3

For the past two weeks (I started two weeks ago today!), my kitchen sink is clean (I got this idea years ago from my therapist, and then later from the Fly Lady website). This sounds pretty small, maybe unimportant. But it's making a noticeable difference for me, for my state of mind and I think for my creativity.

See, I'm a slob. And I have too much stuff, but I really like having all of it, but I am not good at organizing or tidying, so...my house is a cluttered mess. And dirty, because the clutter makes it nearly impossible to clean floors or really anything else. And this natural state of mine leaves me anxious and depressed and creatively blocked. So I decided I need to find a way to change things.

I've been on this bandwagon before. A few times. So I'm trying not to get too excited. But this time I do feel like it's different. I'm not trying to immediately add in a new thing as soon as the sink is clean. I'm just sinking in to that habit (pun not intended, but now that I noticed it, I'm keeping it!). I'm going all Kaizen-Muse with this.

So far the hardest part is fighting off the thoughts that this is too small and is never going to help me get to the bigger goal of a tidy and welcoming and organized home. I just tell myself it doesn't matter if it doesn't go further. This habit is giving me lots of good things all on its own--a feeling of accomplishment; better meals because I don't order carry-out or get fast food because there are no clean pans for cooking and I'm too tired to clean them; space to work when I want to make something, even when it's just making my lunch.

I have an inkling that there might be deeper payoffs, too. This past week I found myself doing some writing and capturing some really fun new story ideas. I've been doing a little bit of art journaling even though I don't have clear space to work in. I started designing embroideries for this year's The 100 Day Project.

Are these related to my sink project? I don't know. I do feel like there are some feeling shifts stemming from the clean sink initiative (yes, I do watch a lot of superhero movies). My plan is to continue with this until it really sinks in and becomes a habit. This is going to take longer than the 21 days that gets tossed around in regards to habit building. I think that 21 days is only true if you are trying to build a brand new habit, not when you're also trying to overcome old habits. But that's another conversation.

I'm planning on writing about this house cleaning thing (tidying? I do like the word) more. Report in on how its going, report on any changes and additions. For now I just wanted to put it out there, say that I'm doing it, see if anyone else is feeling this pull to clear their space and make room for more of what they really want.

So drop me a note and let me know about your cleaning and tidying. We can share tips and cheer each other on.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I actually finished this about two weeks ago. I've been procrastinating about writing this blog post, which is really kind of funny given the subject of the book. Don't let my lack of finishing this post right away keep you from reading the book, though. There's a lot in here that's great food for thought, and I think quite a bit of this is going to be useful.

Part of why I couldn't get started on writing this is because I felt like I have too much to say about the book, and I wanted to be concise and write something good and so on. Then I remembered to actually take some advice from the book; I changed my goal, simplified, made it easier. What I'm going to do instead of the big, complicated post I thought I needed is give you some lists. So, here you go.

Things I Especially Liked:

  • Every chapter gives you steps to take, actual actions you can do to help you
  • There are lots of examples of people using these ideas (I do wish there weren't so many about weight loss and sports, but they're still helpful)
  • There's a whole chapter on ways to measure your progress
  • There's a focus on making goals smaller, giving yourself more time--all the Kaizen Muse small step goodness
  • The whole chapter about hiding places and noble obstacles (ways we can avoid trying to reach our goals and still feel like we're doing something good)

Favorite Advice:

  • Make it fun if you want it done (joyless goals fail)
  • Don't try to get everything in place before taking action
  • Choose what to bomb (aka strategic incompetence)
  • Attainable goals are motivating
  • Finishers make things easier and simpler
  • This is our life's work--it should be something we love that feels important to us and that we get enjoyment and satisfaction from

So that's it. Short-ish and to the point. Read the book. Definitely take the steps. Most importantly, let's all get out there and finish our stuff!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I've started this post at least a dozen times over the past six months. If you count all the times I've started it in my head, it's way more than that. I've let myself get trapped under the pressure of saying it right, doing it right. Perfectionism.

So here's what I've been thinking about. I miss the early days of this blog when I used to combine coaching and my own creative projects and general creativity topics. I thought I needed to be more structured and focused and professional (which I thought of as less personal somehow), so I switched to working with writers because that's my main creative outlet and stopped talking about my own creative life.

The trouble with that is I don't only do one creative thing, and trying to focus only on writing and working with writers kept me away from talking about things I love. And I really enjoy working with and encouraging painters and singers and other creatives as well as writers. I am a multi-creative, and I want to be that in this space.

With all of this (and so much more, so much!) in mind, I'm going to be talking about all things creative here. That will include writing, of course, but it will include any and every creative thing that fills my heart.

I'm also going to be adding a couple of coaching options back into my mix. Right now I'm not planning on any long-range packages, but I'm going to be offering a creative path tarot reading and some single sessions of coaching. I'll get pages up for those in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I'm going to work on a schedule for writing here (because the no-schedule thing I was trying really didn't work for me--you may have noticed). And I'm going to share about my creative projects, too. Look for me here more often, and let's talk about the things we love to make.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

6

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.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

6

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.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

2

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.

 Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail