Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stay Creative Every Day Tip #5, Go Clutter-Free

Today’s tip from my free PDF over at Live at the Edge with Dr. Doris Jeanette is about one of my favorite topics: being clutter-free. 

Tip #5: Keep your work and living space clutter-free. Let go of anything that makes you feel weighed down, or that you think you’re “supposed to” like or keep. Give away, sell, or throw out whatever might be holding you back, or that takes too much time to maintain. Aim for simplicity.


This year I’m taking my own advice a little bit further and really seeing what I can do without. So far within the last few weeks I’ve given away exactly half of my entire wardrobe to a local thrift store; donated a huge amount of “things I might need for a rainy day” art supplies to a third-grade classroom; passed on some very nice but just-not-me jewelry; gave away my sewing machine; emptied and cleaned my refrigerator (right down to the ice cubes); and on a recent trip to California resisted buying a single thing. My closets have never looked better and I’ve never felt more determined to keep them that way.

Maintaining a clutter-free environment is, I believe, a great boost to creativity. Some of my reasons why include:

-  You can find stuff! No more searching for that No. 6 sable brush or the collage papers you just bought last week. A place for everything and everything in its place.

-  Which means you can stop wasting time. Rather than looking for misplaced items, you can actually use them.

-  You can take your workspace from dull and messy to inspiring and nurturing with just a small amount of effort. Colorful organizers, printed file folders, woven baskets, and painted crates can help put the fun back into your creative work. And you can make them all yourself—how creative is that?

-  You can work on several projects at the same time when you’ve got everything labeled and ready to go in binders and clear plastic storage tubs.

-  In case of an emergency, keeping things like back-up discs of documents, pictures, and manuscripts in a sturdy case with a handle—one that you can just grab and go—could be the ultimate sanity-saver.

-  Thousands of people need what you don’t. Whether it’s toys, clothes for work, school supplies, or furniture—someone needs it, badly.

So what are you waiting for? Do a good deed for both yourself and others: attack those closets, purge those files, and let in the light of your true creative, and clutter-free, self.

Tip of the Day: Every year for our holiday party my writers' group has a "White Elephant Gift Exchange." What we do is bring to the party at least six or more wrapped items we no longer want or need. We then set these gifts in the center of the room and after drawing a number, we take turns at choosing the items one by one. Amidst much hilarity and a certain amount of "stealing" from each other, we all end up with some great gifts. Anything that remains unwanted goes in a box we then take to the thrift store. Not only is this a great way to have a gift exchange without spending any money, it makes a good start to a clutter-free new year (or any time of the year, for that matter). You might want to try it this weekend!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stay Creative Every Day Tip #4: Dress Nice, Eat Well

Happy 2012, everyone! I hope you all had a brilliant holiday season and are now ready to greet a new year of creative joy.  Today's tip from my free PDF on how to "Stay Creative Every Day" at Live on the Edge is something that I tend to let slide too often and want to improve upon this year:

Tip #4:  Pay attention to how you dress and what you eat.  Make an effort to wear “good clothes” that you love, and give up things like fast food.  Make your own food whenever possible.  Cooking is a creative art. 

As with any creative endeavor, the way we dress and the way we eat is all about choices.  For instance, I'm a vegetarian for many reasons, but one of them is to counter all the hours I spend sitting in front of my computer screen or my drawing table.  I know as a fact that when I've eaten too much or too heavily, I'm just not comfortable writing or painting.  I'm too sleepy, too full, too blah feeling.  A diet that includes meat just increases that feeling.

Another law of nature for me revolves around what I call my "yard clothes."  You know, those things we wear to potter around in on weekends.   My problem is I then wear these clothes to the grocery store or library, telling myself "no one will see me."  However, without fail, the older and more hideous the outfit I've chosen to wear, the greater my chances are of running into important people who also just happen to look like they stepped from the pages of Vogue.  You'd think I'd learn by now, but it took a serious near-miss this past summer to drive the lesson home (I escaped without being seen by running out the door when I saw the "important person."  My heart was pounding, I can tell you.) 

So here are my top reasons to unleash your inner fashion diva:

1.  Writers can be shy and introverted.  Dressing smartly can help you be more confident--especially for those grocery-store run-ins. 

2.  Dressing well makes you feel more professional, almost like putting on a costume.  Even if it's just one extra item:  good shoes, or a new sweater, you'll feel more serious about yourself and your work. 

3.   Just like your "good art supplies or writing tools," we all have things in our closets we love, but think we're not supposed to wear except for special occasions.  Guess what?  Today is a special occasion.  Make every day a celebration--and before your favorite outfit is so hopelessly out of style you wouldn't be seen dead in it anyway. 

4.  It's fun to put together nice outfits, especially with jewelry and accessories.  Hats, scarves, gloves--they add color and creativity to your life. Dressing well--and differently--may be a way to break out of routine and habit.  Step out of the mold--express yourself! 

5.  You can inspire others to have more fun too--many people hold writers and artists as people to emulate.  If they see you enjoying your wardrobe and food choices, they might consider that as "permission" to do the same. 

Tip of the Day:  Fashion posts are fun to read and can give you ideas not just for yourself, but for your characters' wardrobes too--especially when you're writing about another generation or culture.  And in case my male blog readers are thinking, "Whoa--no way am I reading a fashion blog!" let me just say if you're writing about female characters, they'll need some fashionable wardrobes!  For instance, "fashion blog" is a good search term to try.