NaNoWriMo Day 9

I’m writing this nine days into the NaNoWriMo challenge and so far so good.

I started with intentions of keeping notes about how I was doing day by day but I haven’t had time. I did do that for the first couple of days and here is what I wrote then:

November 1: I was off work so I devoted a lot of time to getting my project started. But I haven’t written anything this length seriously for a long time. I won’t lie; the first hour I wrote pretty quickly but it was just crap. I took a break and gave it some thought. I needed to get in my main character’s mind and get out of my own way. Stop overthinking it and just write a scene.

And that’s what I did for the second hour. And it just flowed and it worked and I almost doubled the required daily word count that I need to finish this. I ended on a very upbeat note.

I jotted a few notes about the next scene/chapter for the next day.

November 2: I worked all day so I couldn’t do any writing until after dinner. But in a way that was good since I had time to think about the next scene and where I wanted it to go. I wrote for a little more than an hour and got down 1486 words.

This scene will now tie in with some writing I had done a long time ago. This is the first time I will see if I can tie this new idea with the old one and make it all work.

After that first day most have been pretty much the same once I got going.

Is it easy? No. I’ve figured out that I do well for about an hour and then I need to stop and regroup my thoughts. It’s a learning process.

Is it any good? Ha! I’ll see when I’m done if any of it is good but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m just trying to get the whole story down.

Are there sacrifices being made to do this? Absolutely. But most of those sacrifices are not that important. I really don’t miss watching TV in the evenings. I will admit that I’m missing my video game play time more than I should!

I did give up going to friends’ house today to catch up on my word count since I had fallen a little behind the last couple of days. It’s difficult to get much writing done after a full day at work. It was hard to not go and laugh with good friends. When I explained why, they were supportive. They are the best.

More than anything I’m mostly surprised at my determination to do this at all, let alone actually do it. For some reason, right now, this means a lot to me. 

Also, this week I had the second meeting of the Young Writers Group at work. There are four young ladies who are participating and we had a gentleman who came as well. I don’t think he realized it was for young people but he was more than welcome and I think he had a good time. Everyone is welcome to support each others’ writing. All together there were six of us sitting around the table comparing how we write, what we write and giving each other tips.

One of the reasons I enjoy the company of teens is because they have so much energy. And this group is no exception. Three of them were typing away at their stories while the rest of us talked but also adding their comments to the conversation. Amazing to be able to multitask like that!

After about a half hour, we decided to use the rest of the time to write. What is it that is so energizing about sitting in a room full of people being creative? It’s wonderful.

And my word count so far? 15,908

Not too shabby.

How are you doing?

And if you have done this before, do you have any advice?

Good luck to all! Keep writing!

What If Every Book You Read Offers You a Piece of Another Writer’s Soul?

What If Every Book You Read Offers You a Piece of Another Writer’s Soul?

What If Every Book You Read Offers You a Piece of Another Writer’s Soul?
— Read on megdowell.com/2019/04/08/what-if-every-book-you-read-offers-you-a-piece-of-another-writers-soul/

I find this fascinating. I hope you do too.

The Power of Creativity

Orange SparkDo we create in order to have some control of our lives in a world that dictates much of how we live? In a world of cubicles or ‘How may I help you?’ from the back side of a counter does our desire to create come from the desperate need to have some personal freedom? And does everyone feel this way? Or are some people totally content in accepting the 9-5 grind? Or the swing shifts or the ever-changing schedules of retail? Are there people for whom that is enough?

Much of our world does not reward creativity and often punishes or demeans any spark of individuality or independent thinking.

So for those of us who find this way of life draining we crave to be creative. On our own limited time we have the desperate need to write, draw, sew, design, paint or build. We wake up early or stay up late to work on our own creations. We spend hours dreaming, visualizing and ultimately bringing our ideas to life.

And doing all of this empowers us. We feel more in control. We get recharged. We are happy that we get to create.

If we had lives that we could create all the time without limits, what would that be like? Would we lose the desperate feeling of needing to create? Would we settle into a peaceful contentment of working on what we love all of the time? I can only imagine.

For those who can only do the dreaming and the visualizing but never get to manifest their ideas must be the saddest of all.

To live a life flat, sterile and devoid of passion would be the worst.

If you have the craving to make something; do it. Start small. Start tiny. Jot down a few words. Make a rough sketch. Take some measurements. Then see how you feel.

Excited? Scared? A spark of … something?

It’s a start.

Think of it as an adventure. How can you take the next step?

Grab on to your creative spark, add a tiny bit of kindling and blow gently. Nurture your idea; your vision. Feed it a few minutes at a time.

Little by little your dream will come to life and you will benefit from the boost it will give you. You will thrive in a tough world.

When you are in your cubicle or ringing up an order at the register, remind yourself that you have a creation in the works which will make you smile and give you something to look forward to. Something to love.

Use your power of creativity. Let your imagination shine!

That’s Okay.

Summer has flown by for me.

It has been full of growth, experiences, and a season of transitions. Good and bad. And not just for me but for the world it seems. It was just full to the brim. Overflowing, really.

I think I felt overwhelmed by so many things and in some ways shut down. Yet at the same time I was observing all that I could. Really feeling life. Really trying to understand all I was seeing and experiencing. Which was great!

I’ve also been exploring different outlets of creativity which is fun and exciting.

My writing stopped. I kept up with my journaling but not really any other writing. The strangest part of that was that I didn’t care. I go through dry spells but when I do I’m always wondering why or worried about not writing. Not this time. I didn’t worry and it was okay.

I think my energy was going to other things. There is always so much to deal with in life so I was doing that. Again, good and bad. I just went with that energy.

And that was okay.

Now the words are coming back. The first sign of that was not sleeping well. I have to be writing regularly otherwise my thoughts become too numerous and unruly. They are like petulant children who aren’t getting enough attention and begin demanding it. My priorities become unclear and I end up doing too much of everything except writing. Writing helps keep me and my life in order.

I don’t even realize that this is the problem until I try to write it out. And then its like the flood gates open and I get writer’s cramp from trying to get it all down as fast as I can. And it comes out in a disorganized jumble of thoughts.

This gets messy. And this is why I should know better than to let it go so long. But it’s exciting to get back into it again. I hope it lasts to become a habit again. Time will tell.

I decided to write a blog post. You know, start small and say hello again. Hello!

Well, that became five pages of handwritten notes that probably could be revised into at least a half dozen or more topics.

Like this post. I’m sitting with my scribbled notes and had planned on writing something totally different. These are the thoughts that made it first. Fascinating, isn’t it? The way our minds work?

And that’s okay.

Creative, Fun and Playful 2017!

The start of a new year is always refreshing. It fills us with hope, inspiration, and goals. It sounds like there is a lot of relief that 2016 is over too. I hope that the new year has started well for all of you. It can be a lot of pressure if we make difficult resolutions. I’m not doing that this year. Instead I’m going to do more enjoyable things.

56-icicles-begonias

Ornaments, lights and begonias

I love the holiday season. Between the gratefulness that Thanksgiving represents and the spirit of giving and serving others that Christmas represents, how can I go wrong? Well, things can go terribly wrong if I get caught up in the material craziness that the media says is the important part of these seasons. If I stick to the real meanings then I enjoy it. I love the lights, the music, the wonderful tackiness of holiday sweaters, decorations, flowers,

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

food and goofy gifts.

Most of all I love spending time and sharing all of those things with family and friends.

Unexpected gifts are very sweet; especially cards and small, thoughtful items that the patrons at work gave to me. I never expect those and their kindness fills my heart.

I also love that my kids, who are now adults, put so much thought into the things they get for my husband and I. (Okay, maybe one or two things I asked for specifically but they did really well!)

My biggest surprise was my husband giving me an antique typewriter! As soon as I put the paper in it and started typing I was immediately pulled back in time.  The unique sound of the keys hitting the paper brings back amazing memories!

Another gift I’m excited about is a new camera.  I have been making do with the camera in my phone and there are times when that just isn’t good enough. I’m amazed by what this camera can do and am slowly learning all the ways to use it. Between the user’s manual and the software manual I will be learning new things for a very long time. I hope to include more photographs in my blog posts. But don’t expect greatness! I’m just having fun!

What do I look forward to in 2017?

Creativity. Being more creative. In any way I come up with. Writing, of course. Photography. Coloring. I may even dust off my old sewing machine and see what I can make with that. How about drawing and painting? I plan on painting walls and old furniture. That’s all creative. No pressure. Just playing like children do. Having fun with it.

Play. I want to play more. We don’t do that nearly enough as adults. My brother sent me a new game called Codenames,6-codenames which we played on Christmas day and it was a lot of fun. I loved it because you need to use words to win. My daughter got the picture version of it and we switched back and forth. Talk about being creative and playful!

All of the responsibilities of life take up so much of our time so we need make more time for more fun in life.

Creativity and play. That’s it. Nothing fancy.

How about you? Do you have creative plans for the new year? What playful things would you like to do? Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it.

Happy New Year!

Another Kind of Blank Canvas

I haven’t had the urgent need to write for a while and that’s concerning to me. After giving this a lot of thought, I think I’ve figured out why.

It’s this new house. The fact that it is new and we are the first people to live in it means it’s a blank canvas; ready to be filled with whatever we decide.  

Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas

In February I made a note to myself with these words:

New house. This is a blank slate, an empty canvas waiting for us to paint our lives onto. It holds no secrets.

Today I will add: It has no expectations. It exists. Now it is up to us, to me, to fill it with wonderful things.

And that’s where my creative energy is going.

I find myself visualizing what colors to paint the rooms. What kind of furniture and art to decorate it with. (Mainly how to refresh what I have since I haven’t won the lottery!)

Most important of all is to fill this house with love, positive energy, laughter and happiness. Because I truly believe that wherever we live absorbs our energy and I want to make sure that is good energy.

I feel like homes, whether they are individual houses or apartments, take on the life of their inhabitants. You can feel that when you enter any home. Some places make you feel like you need to be very careful not to disturb anything and a need to leave as soon as possible. Other places invite in, encourage you to take off your shoes and curl up on a soft seat.

Have you ever noticed how quickly a house will fall into disrepair when it has been left empty? It seems to happen much quicker than seems natural. When a house is truly abandoned it quickly falls apart.

Which brings me back to my point. This house is taking a lot of my energy to turn it into my home. To turn it into a space that is as nurturing as a person. My refuge. My cozy safe space. A place where I can recharge my energy, be creative, be happy.

So I will try not to worry about not writing as much as I have in the past. I know I will do more writing in the future. I have too many characters, stories and ideas not to.

I see many ways to express myself creatively which I look forward to. I’m being creative and that’s what’s important.

Stay tuned! I’m sure I’ll have more to say and maybe more to show!

 

Will a Story Wait?

I haven’t been working on my fiction writing much at all for the last couple of years. At least, I haven’t put a word on paper. During the brief times when I thought about my writing I also got a niggling tiny fear about whether I would want to keep writing and if I did would the stories still be there?

There are at least three of my unfinished stories that have been waiting patiently while I dealt with life. And they gently prodded my attention throughout this time. They whispered to me that they were still there and wanted to see what happened next. Or they would give me a scene to show what was coming. Sometimes I got an entire concept of how the story should go.

I paid attention to these moments and found comfort in knowing that these characters and stories still mattered to me. More importantly, I still matter to them.

The other day I picked one of these stories and searched my files for it. I found files that I don’t remember creating and will revisit them eventually. Since they haven’t stayed in my consciousness, I will be curious to see if they still have life. For now, I will focus on the stories who have remained alive and full of energy.

I’ve let stories go before and when I go back to them I can’t recapture the voice or the point of a story. Sometimes I find that sad but mostly find it puzzling. But one story in particular has been on my mind a lot so I started to reread it.

I reread it twice. And I was immediately back! It was thrilling! I started where I left off and wrote almost 800 words without hesitation. And I’m ready to continue.

I am beyond happy to know that some stories will wait. I had to trust that would be so because I knew I didn’t have the energy to write for a while. This is Big Magic. Just like Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book by that name. Which is a very inspiring book, by the way.  

I wonder why some stories don’t wait. But those are thoughts for another day. For now, I need to write the next scene.

Isn’t creativity fascinating? Have you had stories wait for you?

Coloring

As I’m sure most of you have noticed there is a lot in the media about adult coloring and the benefits of this activity. Just type in ‘benefits of coloring for adults’ in your browser and see all the results that show up. Coloring helps you relax, focus and be more mindful. We could all use more of that! 

Fish

Fish

First I have to say that I’ve always colored and have adult coloring books from years ago before it was the ‘in’ thing to do, so this is nothing new for me.

What I do like is the wonderful variety of good quality coloring books that are being published now. Have you looked at any? And the variety of topics is almost overwhelming. But fun!

I got one of these new books last fall when we were in the middle of moving. The only change I made is that I treated myself to a big box of colored pencils and a cheap sharpener. I know some people use magic markers, some use watercolor pencils and some still use crayons. Why not combine a few of these tools and see what happens?

Since last fall, I have been given four more of these books. I now have enough coloring books to last me for years!

I agree with the experts that this is a great way to relax. I don’t watch a lot of TV and when I do I feel like I’m wasting time but coloring while watching TV is a great combination. Or while listening to a radio show or podcast.

Forest Stump

Forest Stump

One thing I have learned is that you can’t rush these things. You need to slow down and take your time. Take your time in picking out an illustration that attracts your attention. Then look at it for a while and see if you can imagine what color would look the best in each area. When you do start coloring, have fun experimenting with the pressure you put on the pencil. Start out light and increase the pressure which makes the color more brilliant. Try combining colors. Do some shading to give a more three-dimensional look to your picture. Experiment!

Some of these pictures are very intricate so don’t rush it. I’ve only finished a few so far but there is no time limit on these. Take your time.

I’ve found that having a piece of scrap paper nearby helps to sample the colors before you use them. Or do what I do and scribble little samples on the edges of the last pages in the books if you have one that has blank spots for this use.

Whale

Whale

Don’t restrict yourself to making the subject look real. Who says an elephant has to be gray or the sky has to be blue? Go crazy and make it your own!

Remember when you used to lie on your stomach on the floor as a kid and color for hours? Find a comfortable position or chair and start coloring.

Most of all, have fun.

The Luxury of Doing One Thing at a Time

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am always multitasking. Always. Even when I’m not doing anything I have multiple thoughts going all of the time.

When I finally make the time to do and focus on one thing, it feels like sheer luxury. I think that is why I enjoy writing so much. Focusing on one train of thought and finding just the right words is fun.

There is a joy in being able to do anything creative at my own pace for a length of time. Of losing myself in getting something done and then being able to step back and enjoy what I have accomplished. Whether it is writing or gardening or just getting a closet organized in a creative way, there is a wonderful sense of calm and accomplishment that is incredibly satisfying.

I think we are always doing so many things all of the time that we forget how to relax and enjoy life.

I think this is why so many jobs are unsatisfying. There isn’t enough personal creativity and satisfaction. Jobs that make us rush through our day often without feeling we created anything. What is the product at the end of the day that we can take pride in? Did we make someone’s day better? Did we create something of beauty? Many jobs are about the bottom line; mass producing meaningless products in a world that seems too materialistic.

Why am I rambling about all of this? Because I recently had one of those rare days when I could do as I wanted to do for as long as I wanted to do it. I took a lot of deep breaths and found myself smiling. I was lost in my own sense of time and doing my own thing.

It made me think of why we enjoy watching children play. They lose themselves in the pure pleasure of the moment. They only get upset when we adults push our sense of time on them and tell them it’s time to go.

I think we need to get back to that feeling of play from time to time. Let your inner child have fun. Do just one thing that you enjoy today. What will you do?

Daily Rituals How Artists Work

I’m reading a book called Daily Rituals by Mason Currey who also has a blog called Daily Routines. I’m about half way through the book and am enjoying it. I’m sure you could read it all at once, but I’m enjoying it a bit at a time; kind of savoring it. Currey_jkt-front-500px

I know creative people tend to be quirky and I accept that. I accept that I have a few quirks here and there. (Those who know me are saying ‘A few!’) But some of the people Currey has written about are very eccentric! I think my favorite so far is Patricia Highsmith and her love of snails. Not to eat. To breed!

One of the things I keep seeing repeated is how focused many of these creative people are. Many of them focus on their art to the exclusion of everything else in their lives. And I’m amazed at how the people around them catered to their wishes.

One of the things I find reassuring is how varied the rituals, routines and lives are of the people featured in this book. It just proves that there is no one right way to achieve your creative goals. You just have to do what works for you and your life.

Not everyone has servants or partners who take care of all of their needs day in and day out. Many of us are trying to create while taking care of everyone else’s needs! Most of us are just trying to make ends meet.

What I’m taking away from this book is that no matter how busy we get, we will always make time for the things we are passionate about. Somehow it gets done. Maybe we don’t get to do as much as we had hoped, but better than not doing it at all and living a very empty life.

So hang in there and keep creating! If for no other reason than to live a more fulfilling life!

Do you have any rituals or routines that you do for your art?