March 4 2016

My path towards creative freedom

For the past six weeks I’ve been using the Artist’s Way’s 12 week self-guided course to finding my way back towards creativity. As a creative person, I have often found myself in creative slumps–writer’s block, artistic blocks, and/or just feeling blocked creatively in general. Some people call it procrastination, other’s attribute it to self-doubt, fear…Whatever you call it, I believe it all stems from the same place. A rose by any other name is still rose kind of thing.

For the past month I’ve been sick. It started with the whole sinus thing, then it was more like the flu, then full blown flu, then back to the sinus thing, and in between I ended up with a stomach bug. Perhaps it was the flu, but I think part of it was allergies, and I think another part of it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take better care of myself. To stop staying up so late and not getting enough sleep. To stop spreading myself so thin. To stop and take a look around me, to take in my surroundings. To stop and appreciate things. To take a look at what I was doing and re-evaluate how I was doing them.

After the period of forced rest because I was sick, which made me slow down and actually evaluate things, I realized I needed to organize the whole of my life. Not just my writing (my novel), or my desk, or my writing room, or my kitchen, or my bullet journal, but what I was doing, how I was doing it, and why. Truth is, I’m a creative clutter kind of person so the only things that are actually organized in my house are the things I don’t use that much: the dining room, for example, only the clutter had quickly spread to the dining room because I was sick and couldn’t clean and straighten up the way I normally do. I looked around my home, especially the places where I tend to linger, and low and behold I saw the wake of clutter I’d left behind.

The discarded coats hung on the backs of chairs, the pile of “art stuff” near where I sit on the couch, the stack of books on the (click)clack couch in my writing room, the mountain of clean laundry in the chair and in the basket in my living room that I haven’t felt like folding but I DID do the laundry…See where I’m going with this?

It was no wonder I felt blocked creatively. No amount of bullet journalling, planning, or even cleaning was going to unblock my creativity if I didn’t 1. Clean up the mess, 2. Work on getting better–getting well, 3. Stop procrastinating, and 4. Be accountable for not only my life, my creativity, but the mess.

One of the tasks during week 4 or week 5 was to let go of things, to purge things from your life that you don’t use, don’t wear, don’t need, are broken or don’t fit or are stained… I have been doing that bit by bit for the past few weeks, yet I was still holding on to some things. Now it stops. Today, as I look around at the wake of having been sick for a month and can honestly evaluate the mess and clutter that have been left lying around because I am the person who does the majority of housework, I am appalled. I am getting rid of SHIT today. Today I am going to hang up every single coat, fold and put the laundry away, clean off my dining room table (so I can actually see it–and it’s a gorgeous antique so what the hell was I thinking?), clean off the (click)clack couch and put away the books…

Don’t get me wrong. I did the dishes (most of the time) when I was sick, even if it was a day later. And I cleaned the bathroom every other day to get rid of the germs (I’m picky about keeping the bathroom clean), and I tried to keep the kitchen clean. But with three people sick in the house, and me being the only one home to clean, my husband and son still went to work (though my son did stay out a few days), it was up to me to do all the cleaning.

This is pretty much today’s morning pages, brought to you by a homemade white chocolate mocha (which is my favorite from Starbucks) and finally getting some energy back after getting some much needed sleep because my body protested and I fell asleep in the recliner around 7:30 PM and didn’t wake up until right at 6 AM.

 

 

February 13 2016

Working Towards Living a Creative Life

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(this was the info I found for it, it's Not My image... It came from Google...
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(this was the info I found for it, it’s Not My image… It
came from Google…

I’ve been sick for the past three weeks. The worst kind of cold/sinus/flu thing. I’m not well yet, but I feel better. Over the past few weeks there was little in the way of working on my novel in Scrivener. However, I worked on the novel in my writer journal. I worked on characters, plot, setting–I journaled about it. When I finally got back to writing I missed and was so excited to be back to writing. I felt guilt for not actively working on my novel.

I started my fourth week of the 12 week self-guided course from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” So far the course is helping a great deal. Between the “morning pages,” the tasks, and the check-in’s, not to mention the artist date’s, I’m facing all kinds of things I had no idea were even issues, or that the issues were as bad as they are. I am filled with self-doubt. I self sabotage. I have writer impostor syndrome.

However, as I found my way through the “morning pages,” and went on my artist date’s, read the information…as well as working in my personal journal, my “art” journal (which is more of a sketch your life, illustrate your life, smash journal, etc), and my writer-ly journal I found myself being more and more creative, wanting to be more creative even if I couldn’t manage to do as much as I wanted to do because I was sick–I made a new list of things I’d like to accomplish over the next few months: DIY projects around the house and yard, urban sketching, poetry workshop, plotting workshop, making my journaling work for me in a better way, in a more productive, creative way.

embrace struggleJournaling helps me me in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. Things are more vibrant and positive. I’m more passionate about life, my pursuits, relationships, and I’m more open. My communication skills are improving. The more I work through the Artist’s Way course, the more in depth my creativity becomes, the more open I am to figuring out why I have so much self-doubt, why I sabotage myself,  and how I can fix it. Working on the self-doubt isn’t easy, it means facing things that are painful. Insecurities. Memories. Fears. And working through those takes courage, but it’s worth it. I find myself procrastinating. I get distracted. I make excuses. Reluctantly I find myself avoiding my writing, or my art, because I’m afraid that it won’t be good enough. Perfectionism. What if it sucks? What if my beta readers laugh? What if I’m really not that talented? Maybe I should just give up now before I embarrass myself. But as the words flow onto the page in my journal I find myself more and more open to the possibility that perhaps it’s just the fear and the insecurity that are causing me to have so much self-doubt, or to feel the self-doubt to begin with, or that I’m procrastinating and self-sabotaging because of fear. Plain and simple.

These insights into my creativity, or lack thereof,  are a start. A start to opening the door to living a more creative life, to being successful in my creative pursuits, and to opening myself up to being successful in my creative pursuits. I knew I had a few issues because of the self-doubt,  writer’s block, procrastination, and yet I didn’t think it was as bad as it was until I began reading the “Artist’sWay.”  As hard as it was to sit down every morning, in the beginning, and work on my morning pages it made me see how important it was to be open, to let the words flow. I also realized that the resistance was because of fear–insecurities are rooted in fears. I’m not really a fearful person. Even when I am I sort of “fake it till I make it kind of thing.” You can only do that with writing for so long before the insecurities/self-doubt eat you and end up with writer’s block–at least, that’s what I’ve experienced. Facing the resistance head on isn’t something I’ve done in my morning pages, the morning pages are just about being honest with myself, but I have been facing those fears, insecurities, and self-doubts in my personal journal.

The Writer's Life
The Writer’s Life

When you think about it, really think about it, the procrastination, self-doubts, insecurities, perfectionism, and avoidance are all about fear, based on fear. I’m not a fearful person at heart though, I’m more of a sassy, feisty, stubborn, determined, and resilient kind of person. So I buckled down and wrote it all out in my journal. I wrote and wrote and wrote, honestly and openly about my fears. Facing some of those fears gave me insight, but it didn’t fix the problem, but it did make me realize and understand that I’m the only one holding me back. I am the only one who can do something about it. I decided to take mini-artist dates, do little things to make me feel good and be more open to being creative. For example, I went outside with my cup of coffee and a book of poetry and read for 15 minutes, I went outside with my coffee and my sketchbook and had some fun, I went to my hair stylist and had my hair done (washed and styled), I ordered myself a few cute little diary stickers and 2 new watercolor inserts for my TN (Traveler’s Notebook), as well as a cute little magnetic bookmark with a coffee theme. (I also ordered one for my daughter with a unicorn on it, she’s an artist and a welder, as well as being a single mom who suffers from depression and like me, she suffers from self-doubt at times.) Twice a week, on the first day of the new week of the self-guided course and halfway through the week I go on an artist date and take myself to Starbucks. One of those dates I journal and the other day I draw and watercolor. I love watercolors. I love journaling. So I’ve decided to combine the two and try doing what people are calling “Urban Sketching,” or “Illustrate your life,” or “Sketch your life.” It makes me feel really good when I do that. I don’t make my artist dates about my novel, I make them about something else creative. The more creative I am, the more I want to write, the more I feel able to write and less self-doubty.

I’m amazed at how much it has actually helped me with the writing.

 

January 28 2016

Messy Desk or Creative Clutter

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” ~Einstein

Einstein wasn’t alone, Mark Twain and Steve Jobs also had a “cluttered” desk, and I’m sure that there are many others, those are just the one’s that I know off the top of my head.

IMG_4156
It looks semi clean, but it’s not…

I prefer to think of my desk as “creative clutter.” Though, if I’m honest, there are places all over my house that could be termed creative clutter. Don’t get me wrong, there are also places that are organized, but my desk (and the damn kitchen counter) are almost always in a state of mess/clutter/creative chaos. Well, the kitchen counter just ends up cluttered, there’s really nothing creative about it.

According to studies from the world’s foremost creatives show that just the right amount of mess on your desk can help you achieve greater creativity, defy convention, and even be more productive. ~5 Reasons Creative Geniuses Like Einstein, Twain and Zuckerberg Had Messy Desks-And Why You Should Too

I’m no Einstein, Twain, Jobs, or Zuckerberg, but I am a creative person, and I do tend to have a “messy desk.”

My Desk
My Desk in use…

I’ve tried the minimalistic approach to my desk, I’ve tried organized and clean, I’ve tried rearranging a number of times, but no matter how clean and organized my desk starts out, or how I arrange it, it ends up messy.

IMG_4155
This is a working desk. I art journal, write, plan, journal, read, etc at this desk.

There are other places in my “Creative/Writing Room” that are organized and clean, just not usually my desk.

My books are usually arranged by author, and sometimes by genre.
My books are usually arranged by author, and sometimes by genre.

If someone were to ask me where something was, nine out of ten times I could tell you exactly where that item was, especially if it’s a book, journal, or art supply (though I do not know where all my stickers and ephemera are exactly–I really do need to organize that stuff).

Mr King's bookcase, along with a few other authors, though eventually it will just house all of my SK books.
Mr King’s bookcase, along with a few other authors, though eventually it will just house all of my SK books.

For example,  my red bookcase holds Mr. King’s, Mr. Koontz’s, and a few others’ books.  But the smaller bookcase houses poetry, classics, literature, dictionaries, along with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles.

One shelf is my "Writerly" books, the other has my Harry Potter and Anne Rice collection.
One shelf is my “Writerly” books, the other has my Harry Potter and Anne Rice collection.

Then there are the vertical shelves (the room also passes as our guest room since there is a click-clack couch that pulls out so space is limited).

My art section... Sorry there's a mirror on the dresser so I'm in the picture...
My art section… Sorry there’s a mirror on the dresser so I’m in the picture…

And if you haven’t gathered, I like color. My art section is organized, at least the top of it is, if you look in the drawers, which I suggest you don’t, then that’s where you’ll find the creative clutter. (I really need to work on that, but the room is a work in progress.)  I’ve been organizing the room, tackling one or two things each week.

My storyboard is on the wall above the click-clack couch, which I often times sit on to read, write, etc....
My storyboard is on the wall above the click-clack couch, which I often times sit on to read, write, etc….

I surround myself with books, art, color, and other things that spark my creative side, that inspire and motivate me to be creative. There are books in pretty much every corner of my room, as well as some type of inspiration, either a quote, or picture.

Patricia Cornwell bookshelf.
Patricia Cornwell bookshelf.

For example, when I sit at my desk, like I am right now as I type this, I can see the rain falling outside my window, it’s a rather gray day but I love writing to the sound of rain. I look to my right and there is my corner bookshelf with Patricia Cornwell (and a few Nora Roberts books thrown in because I didn’t have anymore room on the other shelf), and to my left is my red bookcase filled with mostly Mr. King’s books (yes I’m a fan, one of his Constant Reader’s).

Stack of books against wall... it's time for a new bookshelf.
Stack of books against wall… it’s time for a new bookshelf.

Not to mention the books that I have stacked against the wall because I’m out of shelf room–I really need another bookcase, and in the process of figuring out exactly what I want so a friend of mine can build them for me for my birthday. There’s nothing like handmade bookshelves. 😀

So, yes… I’d say that a messy desk, or creative clutter, works for me, though there are definitely some things I have to have organized and clean.

 

 

 

 

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