Tag Archives: inspiration

Wednesday Inspiration: Bringing more joy into your life

This will be a shorter Wednesday inspiration post; unfortunately, when things get busy, I forget about things like being inspired. Which is not ideal, because I think it’s when I’m busy that I need that inspiration the most!

Today’s post is about bringing more joy into your life. Mainly because I have this feeling I should be focusing more on doing this. Joyfulness is another thing that can sometimes be lost in the chaos of busyness.

So I was quite happy the other day to read about these 10 unusual routines that will bring joy to your life. As with most lists of this type, not everything on it resonates on me, but there are definitely some things I think I’ll try out.

Like #3:

Give yourself permission to buy any book you want at any time – it’s an investment in you. Now read them.

Mind you, I already do this. But it’s nice to see it make it to a list about bringing joy into your life!

#7 also sounds interesting:

Write down your thoughts for 10 minutes a day – it helps you formulate cohesive thoughts.

But this probably interests me mainly because it sounds like journaling. Which I still have not been able to do consistently, no matter how often I try.

I also liked the ones about writing a note on a napkin with a large tip, and creating uninterruptible routines for the first hour of the day. Will I ever do these? Well, I might leave a large tip, but I’m not so sure about writing a note to go with it! As for my morning routine, I’m still working on mine.

What about you? Do you do anything on this list? Any suggestions for being more joyful?

Wednesday Inspiration: The First Post

I’ve promised myself, this is the year I get out of the rut of constantly doing non-creative things. I’ve been in this rut for way too long. I want to start living a more creative life. It turns out, though, it’s easy to make such big intentional statements (“I’m NOT going to do things like this anymore! Things are GOING TO CHANGE around here!”) but much harder to actually implement the changes I want.

One thing that I’ve been discovering over and over (because naturally I don’t learn the first time, and I tend to forget the second, third and fourth times) is the importance of finding inspiration. A creative life requires one to be inspired, but being inspired turns out to be a thing of habit.

Sure, occasionally I’ll wake up feeling inspired. But more often than not, if I don’t open myself up to inspiration, inspiration doesn’t find me.

This is the part I tend to forget. And when I forget this, I get morose. I take out that big intentional statement and think to myself, I’m going to fail. It’s simply not going to happen.

I was reminded of this again this morning when I opened an email and decided to click on a link, and then on another link which then lead me to this video:

The thing is, it was a rather lacklustre morning. Ever had one of those? Inspiration was nowhere in sight. Frankly, I didn’t really want to get out of bed. But for some reason I decided to watch this video—and I very rarely watch videos, because they take time, so I end up saving them to a watch later list and then never watching them.

And guess what? I got inspired. Sharon Ann Lee talks about designing your own success, and everything she said made so much sense. (Plus the part about growing up Asian, with Tiger Mom parents, was hilarious.) In the video there’s a wonderful graph of four quadrants that she’s made, and I saw so clearly the quadrant where I’ve resided for most of my life. The quadrant she calls “A More Devious Hell. Run Away”.

Um, yeah.

Anyway, watching this video really set the tone for a day that hadn’t looked like it was going to be such a great day. I was inspired and that changed everything.

And the long and short of it (well, okay, the long of it) is that I’ve decided I need to regularly remind myself to find my own inspiration. Finding inspiration can take so many forms, plus it’s fun to boot. And you know how labelling something as “fun” is almost like a death knell, right? So I need to motivate myself to keep remembering.

Which I’ll be doing in these Wednesday Inspiration posts from now on. (Finally! I get to the point of this post!) A way for me to remember to find inspiration, and a way for me to share the inspiration I find.

What inspires you? Books, movies, videos, articles, art, cooking, walking, exercising? Do you regularly open yourself up to inspiration?

Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process

art journal art journey nichole rae

I love art journaling, although I don’t have as much time (read: almost never) for it as I’d like. But while I may not bring out the acrylic paints and paintbrushes as often as I should, I do find myself devouring lots and lots of books about art journaling.

My main complaint about many of the art journaling and mixed media books I’ve read over the years is that there’s often a feeling of sameness to them. The color palettes, the basic styles, the overall look – often one book will mesh into another and in my memory they become one long book, the pages virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Not so with Nichole Rae’s Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process. I opened this book and was engrossed from page one. Unlike most other books on art journaling or mixed media, Nichole begins by plunging us right into her journaling process, and it’s a great process on its own, whether or not you decide to take what you’ve written and create an art journal out of it.

Her method of art journaling begins with her journaling process, which she does on the computer. She works with a list-style format of journaling which in her case reads beautifully, like poetry. It’s a very original, organic process, and just reading about it gave me lots of ideas for journaling different themes, which is something else she talks about. I always have so many ideas about various projects I want to work on, and I love how Nichole’s journaling process gives you permission to work on many themes at any given time:

“I often start multiple journal documents on my computer to set the writing process in motion. I save them to my desktop and am able to work on them little by little. Over time I will have a collection to use for my projects. Once I begin these journaling documents, my heart feels content to know they are created and will evolve with time. The simple joy of having them started provides comfort, knowing they are there to visit at any time.”

Once you feel you’re ready to print out one of your journal projects, it’s time to get into the creative process of putting all the pieces into a book. Nichole uses old, hardbound books for this process, and one thing I love is how she also incorporates pages from old books into her journals, in a method that’s a little similar to Austin Kleon’s blackout poetry, but with colour and without having to black most things out.

If you’re not a fan of working with altered books her techniques can definitely be applied to any blank sketchbook. I’ve made a few altered books before but have never really enjoyed the process. I don’t like having to glue pages together, or gesso them either, and I often lost the inspiration while I had to wait for the pages to dry. What I like about Nichole’s method is she doesn’t gesso the pages to give herself a blank canvas. Instead, she covers the page with a page from her printed journal and, in some cases, uses part of the page as her background or as part of the focus of the page.

While the discussion about laying out and assembling the pages is interesting, probably my second favourite part of the book, after the section on the journaling process, is the section on the creative mini projects.

“Working on a mini project while you are in the process of collecting and gathering supplies for your main project is a great way to be creative during this process. … I use mini projects to inspire my creativity and to help jumpstart the creative process.”

The mini project that appeals to me the most is the Inspirational Card Deck. There are just SO many possibilities for this one project. Not just from an art perspective, either. From a writer’s point of view, I can see myself creating writing prompts, mini character sketches, setting cards .. the possibilities are so exciting.

In fact, much of the process Nichole describes will help me with several of my writing projects. I’ve always loved combining my words with art, and Art Journal Art Journey gives me a process I can use without having to worry about my quite amateurish drawing skills.

There is an originality and freshness to Art Journal Art Journey that I really enjoyed. I finished reading it feeling very inspired, and the fact that her journaling process is one I can use for my writing was a huge, unexpected and very wonderful bonus.


I have a lot of dreams, which I usually remember for a little while after I wake up – and then they start fading away. Many mornings I wake up pulled from a really good dream, and then spend some time trying to fall back asleep so I can get back into my dream.

Not that this usually works. But it’s worth a try, and on the odd occasion I do manage to find my way back to the dream, it’s so good.

But one thing I’ve never really done consistently is write down my dreams. I’ve had dreams that were just so epic (and I really mean “epic”, not as in “awesome” but an actual epic) I absolutely had to write them down. But those have been far and few in between.

All this changed early last week, when The Art of Neil Gaiman inspired me to start a dreambook.

I’m nearing the end of this book, a biography of Neil by Hayley Campbell. It’s really good, because it’s based not only on interviews with Neil but also on the trunkloads of papers and notebooks he keeps up in the attic of his house. A real treasure trove for fans (although I must admit to finding his handwriting difficult to decipher!).

And in one section of the book, there is a spread from a few of his dream diaries:

neil gaiman dream diariesFrom The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

A few pages later, Neil had this to say about his dream diaries:

When I was writing Sandman I would occasionally steal imagery from my dreams, almost never got plots, but occasionally images were incredibly useful. And to this day if there’s a dream that’s just sort of affecting emotionally, I’ll write it down. Which was something I learned to do while I was doing Sandman.

… I would write them down partly because you’d never know what was going to be useful in retrospect, or what might be important in retrospect. Which isn’t to say that I ever went back and reread them, but it is to say some of the time the action of writing stuff down moves it from this weird box in your head of stuff that will evaporate … it moves it from being written in melting snow, to being written onto paper. In terms of the boxes of your mind things are in, it’s changed. (emphasis added)

This really called out to me.  … some of the time the action of writing stuff down moves it from this weird box in your head of stuff that will evaporate it. I’ve experienced that fading of a really good dream so many times, and I really liked the idea of moving my dreams out of that weird box in my head where stuff evaporates.

So the next morning, I woke up from a good dream, and thought to myself, no time like now to start, right? So I popped into my office and grabbed a blank notebook, then sat up in bed and jotted down all the bits of the dream I wanted to remember. I don’t have the book in front of me right now, and despite my writing it down, I couldn’t tell you at all what it was about. But it’s there now, on paper, and if I ever get a moment when I get curious about the first dream I wrote down in my dreambook, I’ll be able to go back and read it.

Not to say the whole writing-down-your-dreams-in-the-morning thing has been going smoothly since I started. For the three or four mornings after I jotted down that first dream, I had such mundane dreams. One of them was about going to a BBQ at my sister’s place (and coincidentally, I was going to a BBQ at my sister’s place later that day). I did jot down a dream in which I was merely an observer, although it wasn’t particularly exciting. It was basically an Anne of Green Gables scene, plotted from beginning to end, set in modern times with a totally different but still sufficiently Anne-ish girl.

And then I had a night when insomnia hit me, and there were no dreams the morning after that!

Still, this feels like a good habit to me, so I’ll keep on doing it for the fun of it.

How about you? Do you remember your dreams? Do you write them down in a dream journal or a notebook?

Wednesday Fun: Character Cards

I’m stuck. I’m at a certain point in my WIP where I really need to know more about the world I’ve created. Half the novel takes place there, the other half in “the real world”, and the scenes taking place in the “real world” storyline have outstripped the other scenes.

And I’m stuck because I need to know more about this world I’ve been creating.

Not that it hasn’t been fun writing by the seat of my pants and having details emerge as I write. And I still plan to finish up my writing in that way (despite quaking a little in my boots because I really don’t know how all these bits and pieces will magically come together in the end – I’m just trusting that they will).

But there are certain things I feel I really need to know. Like, “what lies in the Interior?” and “how does this all work out politically?” and “who is this dream merchant guy/gal and is dream merchant really the term I’m going for here?”

So I’m doing what I always do when I find myself feeling stuck. I’m diving around online, checking out this link and that link, and finding great stuff through some really convoluted routes (half the time, I don’t even remember how I got “here”, especially when I’m thinking, wow, “here” is a pretty great place to be and just how did I get here?).

(Okay, some of you might call this little game of mine “procrastination”, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt because I’m only perusing writerly links. So, you know, it feels like I’m sort of being writerly. Right?)

And I discovered this: Cheaters Guide to Writing 3-Dimensional Characters, by Leonard Hazell.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I definitely like the sound of this. So beautifully random! And so much more appealing than filling in character worksheets – those worksheets have never really been my thing.

If I end up doing this (I’m still working on my Inspiration Deck, so this one’s going to have to wait on my “list of creative stuff I really want to try”), I will probably personalize several elements of it. But oh, I love the idea of Character Cards!

And if you’ve played around with this method, do spill all in the comments, please!

Writing Inspirations

It doesn’t often happen to me, but yesterday I woke up feeling rather glum. Whenever that happens, I find that the best antidote is to focus on being open to inspiration.

Often, too, the inspiration that comes tells me a lot about something important I’ve been forgetting, which is often at the root of why I’m feeling glum to begin with.

It turns out that yesterday’s spot of down in the dumps was due to my writing – or rather, my not-writing. Because, as it turned out, all the inspiration that flowed to me was related to writing.

First up: a new perspective on my writing. Joe Finder tweeted about James Patterson Inc., an article in the New York Times, which was the first step for me in coming out of the doldrums.

It’s quite a long article, and what fascinated me the most was the reminder that there are two sides to writing: there’s the creative side, and then there’s the business side. And from a business angle, my writing is all about a product. I know it’s not a romantic, creative or artistic way of saying it, but from a business perspective, it’s true. Each novel I write is also a product, and the thing is, if I’m not-writing, well, my writing isn’t exactly going to go anywhere, is it? Because I won’t have any products to put out there into the big wide world.

After reading this article, I suddenly remembered reading about J. Kaye’s new writing blog, 365 Days of Novel Writing at Molly’s blog, My Cozy Book Nook earlier this week. I had scooted over to 365 Days of Novel Writing that day, and enjoyed reading about J. Kaye’s commitment to her writing this year.

And I’m really tickled to see that Molly just posted more extensively about J. Kaye’s writing endeavors, as well as her own, in this Sunday Salon post yesterday.

Putting the James Patterson article together with J. Kaye’s new writing blog, I remembered something else: writing is something that I need to do every day.

It’s not that the month off from writing has been a bust, creativity-wise. I have spent time nearly every day “working on” WAVERLEY, my current WIP, in my mind; I “see” my novels in my mind, like I’m watching a movie. I’ve always done this, and I have to say, it really makes daydreaming fun and productive.

But still, eventually the scenes that I see need to be put into words. And that’s what I’ve been needing to do: the actual act of writing down those words.

And that’s what prompted me to start listening to the audio version of On Writing, by Stephen King; I have read the print version many times, but a good friend of mine sent me the audio version as a gift a while ago.

Last night was the first time I listened to it. It’s read by Stephen King himself, and it turns out he is quite a good narrator. I skipped right to the “writer’s toolbox” section, because I’ve always found myself most inspired by King’s discussion of the tools every writer needs to hone.

So I ended up going to bed inspired, and this morning, the inspiration continued when I discovered this delightful post (again, via Twitter, this time through Debbie Ridpath Ohi) on Johanna Harness’s blog on Magic Note Cards.

I happen to be an office supply store nut – I can never go inside one without coming out relieved of a lot more money than I had intended – and I love index cards. I don’t do any outlining, preferring to write by the seat of my pants, but I’m thinking now that maybe using index cards would be fun for revisions.

You’re asking now – so, did you sit down to write some more of WAVERLEY today, Belle?

Um. Well, if you’re going to put it so bluntly … not as of the writing of this post. BUT the night is still youngish … !

On Writing: Uphill Again

Today’s word count: 2,224

NANTUCKET total word count: 57,957 words

HARPER total word count: 5,435 words

Today I started with another scene from earlier in the book, and then ended my session with a current scene, but again things were slower than normal. I’ve moved now solidly into the middle of the book, and unlike most days, I didn’t have any idea of the scenes I would be writing. I had to grasp at the last scene I wrote, rather than just having the idea for it come to me.

So I finished the scene rather slowly, feeling a little direction-less. I’m hoping a night of sleep will help. I usually wake up in the mornings knowing the scenes that I will write that night. This morning, though, I didn’t think about NANTUCKET at all.

Instead, as I sat in bed drinking my morning coffee, I heard the bells of the knife sharpening truck going by. Do you get those in your neighborhood? These trucks come by only in the summer, it seems – before it gets so hot that people shut their windows to let their air conditioners keep things cool. The bells sound a little like the bells of an ice cream truck. This year, though, the knife sharpening truck was also belting out what sounded like taped messages. Something about their various services. We can sharpen lawn mower blades, too, don’t forget.

Anyway, instead of scenes for NANTUCKET popping into my head, I suddenly saw the first line of a new story, very much inspired by this knife sharpening truck. Since I’ve sworn to never turn my back on any sort of inspiration again, I spent the next little while scribbling down a page full of notes. And after that, it was time to get on with the day. No new scenes, and tonight’s writing felt uphill again.

Right now, I’m feeling like I’d just like to get NANTUCKET done and over with. Writing wasn’t very fun tonight, so that’s two days in a row where I’ve felt less than inspired. I’m only halfway there, though. My plan is to write 120,000 words, with the goal of paring that down to about 90,000 during revisions. So I am rather solidly in the middle.

I’ll have to write my way into more exciting happenings, I think.