Tag Archives: Creativity

Snapshot: January 27, 2015

Photos of the week:

Dylan and CreeperDylan and Creeper 2

I don’t know what it is about cats and boxes, but Creeper loves them. The smaller the better. We’re not sure how he manages to squeeze into some of them, but he does.

Wearing: Black pants, blue and beige short sleeved top, black cardigan. Yes, breaking the all black rule today. (I need to get some laundry done.)

Feeling: Hopeful. Work gets easier deadline-wise after the first week of February.

Eating: Homemade soup.

Drinking: Strawberry-flavoured water kefir. Very nice!

Reading: I started Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves last night. I had a little bit of trouble remembering what had gone on in book one, which makes me think maybe I should have reread The Raven Boys first. But then I got to the scene with Blue at home with her relatives, and a lot of it came flooding back to me.

I’m also in the middle of Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga. I’d forgotten how different manga can be, but luckily it was pretty easy getting used to the different facial expressions and ways of conveying emotions. It’s an interesting, foodie manga that makes me hungry every time I dip into it.

Listening: I’m not listening to an audiobook right now, although The 4-Hour Work Week is still waiting for me. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it soon or not, though. And I don’t have anything on my to-listen list that’s really calling to me at the moment. I guess I have to be in the mood for audio, and I haven’t been.

Writing: I began brainstorming the murder mystery series I was planning, but then I came across the first three chapters of a draft of a children’s fantasy I’d printed out a long time ago. I reread the chapters and now I’m all fired up to write more of the story. Except I never did plot it out, so I’m going to do that first. I also have a dark fantasy novel I need to get working on.

Working: I’ve been working on indexes, as usual. I just finished one on organizational behaviour. I’ve also been writing blog posts for my legal blogging client. I’m still undecided how much I like (hate?) writing personal injury blog posts …

Creating: Not much time for creating, so I’m counting my brainstorming/daydreaming time as creating.

Discoveries: I don’t have a clue what to blog about when I’m too busy with work. December was so easy. I’d wake up and I’d know what I wanted to write about here. January has been tough. So obviously too much work saps my creativity. Which is good to know. I never realized this before.

Looking forward to: Dylan and I are stopping by the library on our way to his dance class, where a couple more issues of both Saga and The Sandman are waiting for me!

The rest of today: Library, Dylan’s dance class (my Starbucks time!), dinner and then more work. In that order.

Creative Genius, and the WFMAD (Write Fifteen Minutes a Day) Challenge

I’m still taken by surprise at how simply making a decision to commit, that intention to be, can garner such quick results.

Yesterday I did some blog hopping, and found a lot of writer blogs, people working on their novels, finding the time to write every day – and I came away so inspired. Inspired, and with a renewed commitment to my own writing practice, which has been sadly out of tune for the past few months.

So this morning, I download my email, and the first thing I see is an email from a writing friend, with a link to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity and genius.

Now, I’d watched this video last year. I’d enjoyed it, but at the time, it had just been a fun and entertaining talk. This morning, I seem to be in a different space altogether, and everything Gilbert talked about just clicked with me.

I want to access that creative genius she talks about.

Then I logged onto Facebook, and found this post at Write Anything talking about Laurie Halse Anderson’s Write Fifteen Minutes a Day (WFMAD) challenge.

Perfect timing. Just when I decide to commit to my writing practice, along comes a writing challenge that is a good fit with what I already know. Last year I committed to a writing goal of 20 minutes a day, and the result was the first draft of my WIP, NANTUCKET.

As Laurie puts it:

The rules are simple. In fact, they aren’t even rules. They’re more like guidelines, the Pirate Code of Writing.

1. Commit to write for 15 minutes a day for the entire month of August.

2. Just do it.

Here’s what I discovered last year about committing to 20 minutes of writing a day (which works just as well with 15 minutes a day):

  1. None of my excuses for not writing have any power against the 20-minutes-a-day idea. 20 minutes is nothing. I know that. All my writing obstacles know that. I can surely, absolutely, carve 20 minutes out of any day, even the most hectic, deadline-driven day.
  2. It may not seem like a lot of time, but the key is this: you don’t have to stop after the 20 minutes are up. I can’t tell you how many times I’d end up writing for at least an hour, all because I sat down to write for just 20 minutes.
  3. I can accomplish a lot in 20 minutes. On the days I stuck to the 20 or so minutes, I usually ended up with between 700 to 1200 words. Not too shabby for only 20 minutes, right?

These same things apply to a 15 minute a day goal. In fact, number one is strengthened by making it only 15 minutes.

I already know this works. Twenty minutes a day lead me to the completion of the first draft of a WIP. First time ever. It was a huge milestone in my life. Fifteen minutes will lead to similar wonderful writing results. I know it.

I’m ready for a repeat.

What about you? Want to join me and commit to the WFMAD challenge?

The Bath vs. Shower Debate

image I love baths.

Back when my older two were much, much younger and I was in a far less egalitarian marriage than I’m in now, the bath was my sanctuary. It was the only time and place in an otherwise hectic day when I could lock out the outside world, and sink deep into scented bubbles, my latest read in hand.

These days, I don’t have the need to run away and hide from the world like that. And I actually don’t read in the bathtub anymore, either, although I do listen to the occasional audiobook (not often, though – I always have this nagging fear that my iPod might fall into the water, and as you might guess, nagging fears are not conducive to a good time, anywhere or anyplace.)

Nowadays, my time in the bath is my me time. Often, it’s a very creative time for me – I’ve dreamed up solutions to plot tangles while in the bath and I’ve stumbled magically onto solutions to what I had thought were pressing problems. Mostly, though, it’s a time and place of serenity and contemplation. At its best, it’s meditative rather than reflective.

I only require three things for a great soak:

1. A candle. Only one is needed. Lots of candles are always lovely, of course, but I only need one.

2. Something scented to put into the water. I don’t require it to produce bubbles, either.

3. Something scented to wash with. If it’s the same scent as the fragrance in the water, that’s a bonus, but again, it’s not absolutely necessary.

I’ve been thinking about baths quite a lot, because over the past three weeks, when it seemed like my life was all about work and nothing else, I made a deal with myself: I would find the time to pamper myself with a bath every day.

As it turned out, it was a splendid deal, and made the work go by more quickly both before and after each day’s bath. I felt refreshed, pampered, and comfortable after my bath, and looking forward to it made me work more quickly. It really did.

One thing I’ve learned over the years – and this is my point for writing this post (as Ellen Degeneres would say, I do have a point). There are very definitely two camps when it comes to baths vs. showers.

There are people who adore a good long soak in a lovely, hot, scented bath.

And then there are others who haven’t taken a bath in ages, for whom a shower is the only way to go.

My own daughter, for example, falls within the “showers only” camp. As she said to me recently, “Ugh. You know, if you look close enough, you can see flecks of your skin on the top of the water. Why would you want to sit in that?”

Or my sister, who I seem to remember telling me once that a bath feels like trying to clean yourself with dirty water.

Personally, I think if that’s one’s problem with a bath, then the simple solution is to do it the Japanese way: take a shower to get clean and then soak to your heart’s content in a nice hot bath.

(Now that I think about it, my sister said that to me long before she went to Japan on holiday a few years back. So her perspective might indeed have changed. I should ask her.)

Despite loving baths, I’m not adverse to showers myself. They are the only way to go on a hot sticky summer day, for example. And when I finish a rare bout of time on the treadmill, it’s not the tub I head to, but the shower.

Still, though, the moment the temperature starts dropping, the bath comes quickly to mind.

So here’s what I’ve been wondering (don’t ask me why I’ve been wondering this, but I have been, and the inquisitive part of me wouldn’t rest until I agreed with myself that I’d write this post) – where do you stand in the whole bath vs. shower debate? Are you a showers-only kind of person? Or is a bath the only thing that calls to you? Maybe you partake of both methods, but lean more towards one than the other?

And if you love baths, do you read in the bath? Listen to audiobooks? Or just reflect?

Image credit

Bathtub Inspiration

bathbubblesWriting by the seat of my pants can get a bit harrowing after a little while. My experience so far with NaNoWriMo so far is that while I love writing “without a map”, so to speak, I do like to have my headlights on so that I can see ten feet in front of me.

So last week, I ended up in a very chaotic place in my manuscript. There was lots of stuff going on, and nothing particularly coherent about any of it.

I did what I normally do whenever I’ve reached a creative muddle. I ran a bath, added a favorite bubble mixture, then slipped into the lovely hot water with a soft sigh.

I’m not sure why, but I get incredibly good ideas when I’m near water – especially when I’m in water. The bath works best, but the shower’s pretty awesome for my creativity, too.

(The reason why the bath works better might be because I normally have a glass of wine near at hand, too …)

That night, when I closed my eyes, one phrase from the writing I’d done that day popped into my mind. One small phrase. And suddenly, all the pieces fell into place. I knew where I was going with all of this. I knew what scenes I had to go back and add. What scenes will need to be deleted or heavily revised. And even better, I suddenly saw arcs where no arcs had existed! (For me, that is really the ultimate moment, the moment when I know I don’t have just an idea, I truly have a story.)

It was extremely exciting. Mind you, immediately after that, I got immersed in deadlines and so now I’m behind in my word count …

What about you? Where do you go to get creative fixes for problems, whether they’re about your writing or anything else in your life? And do you get great ideas while you’re in the bath or shower too?

Photo credit

Some Fun in My Mailbox: The Awe-Manac, by Jill Badonsky

The Awe-ManacEvery now and then when I’m shopping online, I get so tempted by books on creativity, and then I go nuts. The other day was one such day, and the end result was a mailbox filled with some really fun books, including this one: The Awe-Manac, by Jill Badonsky.

From the back cover:

Welcome to The Awe-Manac – a playfully practical guide that’s a refreshing twist on the revered Old Farmer’s Almanac. Here you’ll find daily forecasts and directives to help make life more creative, amusing, gratifying, and extraordinary – every day of the year! Through 365 days, you’ll be inspired to think more brilliantly, laugh more often, ignite your creative passion, and simply create a lot more “awe” into daily life.

Brimming with colorful, whimsical art and filled with delightful features like “Soul Vitamins”, “Toast of the Day”, and “Doses of Mirth”, The Awe-Manac treats every day as a source of celebration and inspiration. With the “Aha-phrodisiacs” you’ll be invited to write, doodle, daydream, and discover that spark of creativity and wonder that may be lying dormant. It’s an enchanting, sometimes irreverent, daily “companion” – a perennial guide for finding joy and amusement all-year round.

The Awe-Manac is basically a daybook of creativity, so of course I couldn’t resist opening up to today, August 28. And guess what? It’s a celebration of solitude today! And here’s today’s quote for journaling:

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” – Goethe

I just love that. And of course, today’s quote just happens to be from Goethe (he of the "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." fame), because Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on August 28, 1749.

Where to buy The Awe-Manac:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters Indigo) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)