Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Happy Holidays: Stay Creative Every Day!

Image © creativeommonsstockphotos
Happy Holidays! How's your creative life going? If you're anything like me, you may be finding it a struggle to fit writing and/or drawing into a season that makes the day job extra-busy, fills up the social calendar with parties galore, and keeps you standing in line at the mall for what seems like eternity

Unfortunately, unless you decide to make your own holiday cards or gifts (a mistake I'll never try again, , ,) you might feel as if your muse has flown to Bermuda for the month, leaving you far behind. But don't give up: there's still plenty you can do to revive and restore flagging holiday creativity--cocoa and warm blankets included!
  1.  Too tired to pick up a pencil? Read! Escapist; comfort; genre; literary; poetry; nonfiction--whatever attracts your attention, go for it. On the surface, reading might seem like a creative cop-out, but it's one of the most important activities anyone can do to top up the "idea bank" while taking a much-needed rest. It also can lay the foundation for future creative work once the holidays are over.
  2. Play with Color. A sketchbook doesn't have to be used solely for sketches of actual objects or landscapes. Sometimes just arranging swatches of color into interesting designs and patterns can be enough to stimulate your imagination for more structured work. Something I love to do is paint page after page of watercolor washes using every color in my paint box. It's amazing how once the paint is dry you can see dozens of potential images within the wash to outline for later painting (or writing.) I also like to do this with cut-outs from magazines, concentrating on the colors rather than the subjects of the photos.
  3. Go to the craft or discount store with a $20 bill just for you. Buy yourself some stocking stuffers that will please nobody but yourself: stickers, washi tape, crazy pencils: items you won't be able to resist playing with once you get home.
  4. Go for a walk in a place you've never been before. This has been a little easier for me now that I've moved downtown, but seeing new settings, people, and tiny nooks and corners I've previously missed has given me fresh ideas for future work. I'm also making a list of places to revisit once the weather improves and I can sit outside to sketch or journal.
  5. Journal your feelings and ideas solely with inspirational, or unusual, photos and illustrations. No writing, just visuals. The finished journal can provide you with a wealth of ideas, prompts, and story lines well into the New Year. It's also a lovely item to just sit with, turning the pages and meditating on the individual elements.
  6. Watch old movies, particularly the ones you loved as a child. Write about why they're so special to you, and about the first time you watched them. How have your feelings and impressions changed with the passage of time in-between viewings?
  7. Plan a "vision quest" nap. Not only is this a great way to catch up on sleep, but it gives you a positive intention and a plan for creativity once you wake up. My personal method is to take a page from my visual journal, study it for a few minutes, and then tell myself to dream about it. This really works! Make sure you have a pen and paper next to your bed or couch so you can start writing the minute you open your eyes. 
One of the reasons we love the holidays is that they're supposed to be a chance to re-charge our lives with good will, good food, good company, and an atmosphere of magical wonder. Creative breaks, even if they're only spent in 20-minute segments throughout the day can be the perfect opportunity to engage and fully enjoy the spirit of this miraculous season. 
    Tip of the Day: During the holidays (or any time of the year, for that matter) indulge in a timed social media vacation. Social media is a wonderful tool for sharing and friendship, but it can also steal away time and energy that could be spent adding pages to your novel or improving your drawing skills. Whether it's for a few days or a few hours, give yourself the gift of creative time. Be brave--cut the cord!

    Tuesday, December 4, 2018

    I Didn't Win NaNoWriMo and That's OK--Really!

    Image © Commonsstockphotos
    Nope, didn't win. And I'm just fine with that, especially as my true goal this year was to write. Now if I had reached my goal of 50K, that would have been wonderful too, but more than anything I just wanted to get back into a daily writing schedule. 

    I may not have been a winner this year (and huge congratulations to all of you who did win), but neither do I feel that I came home empty-handed. Not only did I have the fun of once again being part of an international month-long community of writers, but I also feel as if I won an entire basketful of door prizes, starting with:
    • A cast of interesting characters and a strong story outline for a YA mystery set in a remote mountain boarding school. Prior to sitting down and writing the words "Chapter One" I had no idea these people were even in my head!
    • I learned I still could do it. After what has been nearly a year of condo renovations, and then all of the discombobulation of selling my home and moving into said condo, I wondered if I would ever be able to write again. Fortunately the answer is "Yes, of course I can!" making me feel a lot more confident about heading into 2019.
    • I discovered some new places to write, my favorites being the downtown Albuquerque library and the Albuquerque museum. Very inspiring.
    • I returned to writing by hand and absolutely loved going "old school."
    • I discovered a fun set of exercises I used as writing prompts that I can use with my writer's group.
    • After each writing session, I went back to my also-neglected drawing and painting. Sketching out my NaNoWriMo settings helped re-orient me back into my creativity on many levels.
    • I bought some lovely new writing tools: a new notebook from Spain decorated with flower-laden llamas, and several varieties of smooth-writing pens such as Marvy's  Le Pen, and Pentel Energel (both in violet ink, of course!).
    •  I found I could most easily write in 300-word sprints, something I can continue to fit in anywhere, anytime, any place e.g., at my desk eating lunch, before work, waiting for my laundry to dry.
    Best of all, I'm now recharged to return to my revisions on my novel, Ghazal, which was the whole point of joining the challenge in the first place. My NaNoWriMo story will have to go onto a back-burner for a while, and that's another thing that's okay with me. Before you know it, July's Camp NaNoWriMo will be here and I'll have a head-start on characters, plot, and setting. See you there! 

    Tip of the Day: National Novel Writing Month doesn't end in November. No matter what time of year it is, you can always visit to explore a wealth of tips, advice, inspiration, and motivational prompts.