Tag Archives: art

Share Your Work

Sharing the progress of whatever you’re working on can be both motivating and scary as hell.

The process of creating a piece of work fascinates most people. What a famous writer did every day before he wrote, where he wrote, what he wrote on, what the first manuscript looked like… Or the story behind the painting, what the artist had to go through to complete it, the obstacles he had to overcome, or what the original drawing looked like.

Knowing the process, knowing the story behind the story, makes us feel closer to the creator and the work itself. Having people able to connect to our work is what we strive for.

Sharing works in progress, either in person or on social media opens ourselves up to all kinds of criticism. It’s a fact. Not everyone will like what you’re doing. But you’d be surprised at how many people will. You’ll also make connections to others who are taking that same risk.

It’s motivating and empowering. And it also gives you credibility. “Yes I’m a writer. You can see some of my latest work on my Facebook page, or my blog…”

1. Be a writer

2. Write

3. Share your work

 

 

 

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My Top 10 Creativity Boosters

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you have to do writing exercises to get the creativity flowing. Sometimes it’s best to be creative outside of your passion to get a fresh outlook on your work, or just to work out some general creative muscles.

Here’s 10 of my favorites:

1. Rearrange your environment.  Moving furniture around, changing out the artwork on your walls, clearing everything off of your desk, replacing what you stare at while waiting for the Muse to visit, swapping out the photos you have framed… can all work to get the creativity flowing. Frame some pictures from magazines or books that you like, or a quote that you find inspiring.

2. Repurpose something. Whether it’s finding another use for the bread ties piling up in the drawer, refinishing a piece of furniture, or building a shelf from a piece of reclaimed lumber, finding creative uses for things that you have lying around can be a great booster as well as being productive.

3. Cook something wild. Go ahead and try that recipe that you’ve been afraid of all these years, or find one online that sounds like fun. If you are as “cooking challenged” as I am, how about trying a restaurant that you wouldn’t normally go to, and order the most interesting thing on the menu, or ask the chef or server what they recommend.

4. Compose a rhyming poem or a rap song about yourself. How would you describe yourself or what you do?

5. Amp up your car. Try a beach-themed air freshener, a Jimmy Buffett CD and a hula dancer on the dashboard. Or hang that scarf you love but never wear from your rearview mirror. Change out that cd that’s been in there for a year.

6. Do a Paint by Number. Only do it in your own color scheme. Forget the blue sky and white clouds. Make them red and purple. Don’t even bother looking at the instructions. It’s yours to make your own.

7. Learn a few phrases in a language that you always wanted to speak. A few usable sentences or questions in French or Italian can go a long way.  Even memorizing a favorite poem can transport you out of your element and give you’re a different view of your life.

8. Plant something and photograph it as it grows. Plant a seed, or a bunch of them in a container, and take a photograph everyday at the same time as it grows.

9. Buy a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store, break it up and spread it around the house in the most creative receptacles you can find. Cut the stems to an appropriate length for each display. Four or Five in a coffee can, two or three in a soda bottle or a coffee cup. Use your imagination-if it holds water, put a flower in it.

10. Take a walk and let your mind wander. After the first 10 or 15 minutes, all the chores and things you have to do will start to fade, and your mind can relax. Make up a story, pretend you’re someone else, or just daydream about your ideal life.

 

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Step Away From The Computer

If you want your readers to feel connected to you and your work, it’s important for you to have a physical connection to it as well. It’s not just about banging out words on a computer. Painters, photographers and sculptors have it. Writers need to have it also.

Writing fiction? Then step away from the computer, and maybe do your character studies by hand. Use paper, white board, post its, whatever you need to physically connect to your work. Write down everything you know about them, their relationships with other characters, their back stories…hold their lives physically in your hands.

If you’re writing non-fiction, try doing your outline by hand on paper, or at least jot down some notes and ideas. Think about what it is you want to say, how you feel about it, how it affects you…Readers will be much more intrigued and interested in your writing if they can sense a real connection.

Making a physical connection to your work is establishing true ownership. You created it, so make it truly yours. Your readers will be able to tell the difference.

 

Some great notebooks I love and always carry are Field Notes.

Great advice from famous writers.

Good all around writing info and tools.

Some music from Jimmy Buffet to start your day.

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Show Up Every Day

Facing a blank page, or a blank screen, as everyone can attest to can be overwhelming and intimidating. But you have to show up in order to create. And you have to show up every single day. Waiting until you’re inspired to do it will get you nowhere.

Show up, figure out what it is you want to say, and just start writing. A mere 200 words a day turns into 1400 words a week, which turns into 72800 words in a year. There’s your book. Don’t worry about editing or rewriting. That will come later. Writing and editing simultaneously just slows you down and kills your rhythm.

Just do it. You know you can. Make your coffee or your power smoothie, grab your M&M’s, give yourself just one hour, and start writing. And do it everyday. Be the writer you’ve always wanted to be.

 

Some practical, no-nonsense writing advice On Writing Well, by William Zinsser.

Fascinating Daily Rituals of dozens of writers, poets, artists, scientists and creative people of all kinds by Mason Currey

Some mellow musical inspiration from Bob Marley

Great tips and advice for becoming a professional writer:  Funds For Writers by Hope Clark

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Just Doodle It

Feeling stuck or uninspired? Not sure where to start? Do some doodling to get those creative juices flowing.

There’s no pressure, and no commitment. Just grab a pencil or pen and something to make some marks on; a piece of scrap paper, an old envelope, a napkin…anything will do. Draw shapes, lines, stick figures…Don’t think about it, and don’t try to re-create the Mona Lisa. Just let go and see what comes out. Think about all the great projects you’d like to start, or who you’d like to be while you’re doodling.

If you like the result, put it up on the fridge, or tape it to the wall. Hate it? Then throw it away. It’s all about getting things going.

 

Like some more inspiration?

Here’s some doodles you can download and print to color for free.

Amazing doodles and sketches at Moleskine.

Brilliant art with Sharpies.

Great Picasso doodles.

 

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Living a More Creative Life

I’ve devoted the last five years to studying and researching the effects of creativity on our lives, observing others and experimenting with my own. It’s a hands down winner- adding even the tiniest amount of creativity to our life can reduce stress, increase self worth, and smooth out the rough edges of a life made up of work, school, family, responsibilities, chores, errands and on and on. Creativity comes in an endless assortment of forms, from doodling to oil painting, from dance to music, from cooking and gardening to finding new uses for old things. There are countless ways to create and re-create our lives. Try it for 30 days, just a few minutes each day, and see if it doesn’t make a difference in yours.

Some links worth checking out:

Today is the birthday of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of this country’s greatest visionaries.

Some creative fun @ Doodlers Anonymous

Austin Kleon’s inspiring  book Steal Like An Artist 

Some motivational music from Masterpiece Theater

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Process Over Product

Being part of a society that has created a generation of hyper-productive, multitasking, and over-scheduled individuals has led many artists to believe that their personal success is based on how many paintings they’ve completed. While people who earn a sole living from their art certainly need to have as large an inventory as possible, it still remains that the process of creating is equal to, or even greater than, the actual output. Being aware of the process, the physical and emotional adventure in creating an original piece of work, is what will fuel the next one, and the next…

The process of taking a painting, or sculpture, or story from concept to completion is such an important part. That feeling you get when you’ve just spent an afternoon completely absorbed in your project is unrivaled. Nothing else can duplicate that excitement, or fullfillment.

So, the next time you sit down to get those thoughts or images on paper, remember that the time you spend doing it is just as important as what comes out.

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As I Was Saying

As I was saying…before life interupted. I went on a short sojourn; to renew, refresh, and absorb some inspiration. This has always been a great way for me to refocus,  and clear away some of the clutter in my head.

Well, not this time. I returned from my trip scattered, distracted, and ready to start about 20 new projects. Time went by, many things got started, and others that I really enjoy got pushed to the side.

Here then, is my Top 10 list of ways to help refocus your attention and regain inspiration. All tried personally by me. Recently. No guarantees, but at least most are fun, and easy to do.

1. Get back to the basics. Reread some of the classic literary tales, write only in a journal, put the painting away and grab a pencil and a piece of paper.

2. Write down everything that’s on your mind in one long, stream-of-consciousness ramble.

3. Promise yourself something you’ve been wanting as a reward if you spend a certain amount of hours this week on something creative. Maybe not that new BMW, but I’m sure you can come up with something.

4. Pick some projects that you abandoned awhile ago, and work on them. It’s a good way to get past the blank page or blank canvas stage and just dive right in.

5. Get organized. Use one calendar, and write down everything in that one place. Use that rambling in #2 to see what’s distracting you, write down how to solve or handle the fixable things, and schedule all those things you have to do. Clear your desk, clear your space, and clear your mind.

6. Allow yourself to not do anything. Some guilt-free time when you don’t have to feel like you should be doing something. Just for today…

7. Try a vow of silence. This can be especially helpful to writers, but I also know of some artists who swear by it. It can be for just a day, or as long as you like. Complete silence is impossible unless you live alone, but just limiting any unecessary conversation can help regenerate your well of inspiration. Return those phone calls tomorrow, skip happy hour, or that dinner party. Reflect and observe.

8. Take a short artist’s sojourn. It really does wrok most of the time, I swear. Anything from an afternoon at an art gallery, a weekend in the country, or one spent exploring your area’s architecture. Remember what excites you, and surround yourself with it.

9. Hold your breath and jump in. Just write that first sentence, make that first brushstroke. Then the next, and the next. Before you know it…

10. Be kind to yourself. Always.

Sometimes it takes a combination of things, sometimes it’s just one thing that can trigger a surge of creativity. The most important thing is to not give up. Pull out a project or painting that you’re especially proud of, and remember the feeling you had when you were working on it. Now, hold that thought…

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What Are You Doing Next Month?

Are you looking for something fun to do next month? Need a challenge? November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for short. What began with just a few people in 1999 has now become an international event, involving over 100,000 people around the globe.

The premise is this-we all have that budding novel inside of us, if only we had the time, if only we had the resources, if only we had the energy, if only…

So here’s the goal: Starting at midnight on November 1st, and running until midnight on November 30th, you start pounding that keyboard, every spare minute you can get, and get it all down on paper. In 30 days. No editing, no crossing out, no starting over. Just write it.

The average novel runs about 50,000 words, so that translates into about 1667 words a day. It’s a blast. There’s online support with dozens of forums, and local get togethers all over the country.

I tried it 2 years ago, and although I didn’t finish, I did have a good time. There’s also “Script Frenzy” in April, where the challenge is to write a movie script or play in 30 days. That one I did finish, and it fueled me for quite some time.

At the end of the month, you’ll have a novel ready for editing, a huge feeling of accomplishment, and bragging rights that you are now a novelist. The book is called “No Plot? No Problem” by Chris Baty, one of the founders, and it’s a fun read, if nothing else. Really gets you thinking that you can do it. The website is nanowrimo.org, and has all the information you need.

Check it out. Let me know if you’d like to join me. I’m going to try it again this year.

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Using Art as a Catalyst

Sometimes the struggle to stay, or get, inspired to write can get overwhelming. Unlike some people I know, I’m not bursting at the seams with potential material, new ideas or topics to write about, or profound thoughts to share with the world. I love to write, I want to write, but…sometimes it stops there.

Finding other creative outlets that are completely outside the realm of writing has often helped me to get excited about writing again, and generate new ideas and subjects to explore.

Art has always been one of my favorites. Drawing, painting, sculpting, ceramics and photography have all served to to help reawaken my sleeping creative energy. Sometimes even stirring the borderline comatose.

There are art projects for everyone. From a simple paint by number, which is a great stress reliever, by the way, to building model cars, to painting huge landscapes in oil, and everything in between. The book “Art Escapes”, by Dory Kanter, has some fun and easy ideas for creative doodling and artistic journaling to more complicated projects like panorama paintings and collaging. Art galleries and museums are also great for getting ideas and inspiration.

Art classes for beginners are always a worthwhile investment as well. You can’t go wrong learning something new, building on skills you already have, or just meeting other creative people.

No matter what your skill level, any kind of creative endeavor will just add to your writing abilities and productivity. Don’t be afraid to spend the time. And with that in mind, I’m heading off to the easel. I feel an abstract watercolor coming on.

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