Tag Archives: art

Top 10 Books For Writers and Everyone Trying to Live a More Creative Life

Here’s my list of the top 10 books for writers, for those needing some inspiration, and for everyone who is just trying to add a little creativity to their life. There are many others that are worthy of your time, but I’ve scaled back my list to just 10. I’ve included links to amazon.com for consistency, and to make it easier to see more information on each title. As always, please support your local bookseller and independent bookstores like powells.com or bookpeople.com whenever possible.

On Writing ~ Stephen King

Part memoir, part master class, this is by far one of the most definitive books on the art of writing. Full of inspiration and practical advice from one of the true masters. Every writer should have this on their bookshelf.

Daily Rituals ~ Mason Currey

One of my favorite books to pick up and browse through, Daily Rituals is Mason Currey’s massive collection of habits, quirks, routines and rituals of individual writers, artists, scientists, inventors, and a host of other creative minds. Fascinating insight into the creative process.

Bird By Bird ~ Anne Lamott

Already in its 25th Anniversary edition, this classic is also a must read. Filled with advice, humor and wit, and layered with honest and personal stories of her life and journey as an author. You’ll find this on most Writing Top 10 lists.

Steal Like An Artist ~ Austin Kleon

I’ve included Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work, and Keep Going all by Austin Kleon as a trilogy, but each book is worthy in its own right. Each contains honest, straight forward advice and solutions for everyone trying to make their way in the creative world. I refer back to all 3 frequently for motivation, inspiration, and help in resetting my goals and priorities.

The Elements of Style ~ Strunk and White

Included in many college writing curriculums, this classic guide covers everything from grammar and style to usage. A handy reference guide to have on hand.

On Writing Well ~ William Zinsser

Another fundamental classic that should be in every writer’s arsenal, this one focuses on writing clear, concise nonfiction. A must read for content writers, copywriters, grant writers and anyone who just wants to learn how to tighten up their writing.

No Plot? No Problem! ~ Chris Baty

Written as a guide to penning a novel in 30 days, this is an adrenaline fueled, kick in the pants push to get you motivated and just get the words out. A fun read, and great for anyone putting off writing that novel.

Things Are What You Make Of Them ~ Adam J. Kurtz

Life Advice for Creatives. A boost of support, motivation, compassion and inspiration on those days when you feel like no one is listening.

The Art of Noticing ~ Rob Walker

131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration and Discover Joy in the Everyday. Through a series of simple exercises, Rob Walker guides us through a reawakening of our senses, helping us to take note of the world around us. Perfect for both writers and artists, it points out all the things we tend to overlook, and teaches us to pay attention in new ways to the world around us.

Four Thousand Weeks ~Oliver Burkeman

This book will be released on August 10th, but I’ve included it in my Top 10 because I’m a huge fan of Oliver Burkeman’s past work. He addresses the entire “Productivity Crush” felt by creative people in all fields, and offers warm, heartfelt advice on time management, and the balance between productivity and creativity.

3 Comments

Filed under amwriting, Art, Creativity, freelancer, Writing, writinglife

It Doesn’t Get Any Easier, So Why Not Start Now?

You’ve got your notebook, you’ve got your passion, and now your final preparation is making that commitment to yourself. That’s right, to yourself. Everyone else gets your attention and time, and it’s perfectly acceptable to claim a bit of it for your own.

Whether you’ve carved out a quiet piece of real estate in your home (or more realistically a flat space) or bundled your laptop and supplies in a backpack so you can work anywhere, it’s time to honor and respect yourself enough to make that promise. I will make time to practice my art. A certain time on specific days, an hour a day, a specific word count for the day or week…whatever it takes for you to make it happen. And happen easily and consistently.

You can draw up a contract and sign it (which didn’t work for me…too easy to throw away and pretend it never happened, but it has worked for others) or you can buy something to commemorate the occasion. A special coffee mug, some business cards which are surprisingly affordable, a nice pen…anything that reminds you of your passion, your dream, your true self.

This isn’t a lifetime commitment to one project…it’s merely symbolic. You may have set your word count to 5000 words a week and you’re only reaching 3000, or only finding time 3 days a week instead of 5, that’s fantastic! Every single step is progress. Adjust your schedule as needed. Set yourself up to succeed.

Start a blog, write letters, write poetry, write in a journal, or tell stories. It truly doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you are writing. You might discover that those little doodles you make in your notebook are a lot of fun, and decide to learn how to draw as well.

I’ll be sharing some books, newsletters and websites in the following weeks that will hopefully give you lots of inspiration and ideas to keep that passion burning and keep you excited about being creative.

Until then, be kind to yourself, and enjoy your time, your passion and your life.

2 Comments

Filed under amwriting, Art, Creativity, Writing, writinglife

Scavenging For Ideas

While you’re spending time keeping your hands busy making small things, and your thoughts calm, it’s also the perfect time to be collecting ideas. Creating a “swipe file”, an “idea file”, or a “future projects file” can help offer some promise or hope that the muse will return, and you will once again be able to continue your creative pursuits.

Whether you keep these ideas and images on your computer, or on paper is solely up to you. I, myself, prefer to collect these things manually. There’s something comforting about taking pen to paper or cutting out images and words by hand, and it triggers a different part of my brain than typing or cutting and pasting on a keyboard does. Many find that the opposite is true. Experiment with each way and see which works better for you. Or do both. I keep all my ideas in a box, which allows me to dig through it when I’m ready, and often several will piece together and morph into something totally unexpected.  The important thing is that you’re cultivating ideas, and still always moving forward. They don’t have to be great ideas, but they only exist if you acknowledge them. You have a lifetime to decide if they are good enough to work with.

Lists are also a great way to gently nudge your muse. List all the things you like to photograph or draw or paint, everything you enjoy writing about, all the instruments you’d like to learn how to play, your favorite bands, your favorite authors or books, movies or books you’d like to see or read, places you’d like to go, things you’d like to make, everything you have enjoyed doing, and especially everything that you would like to enjoy in the future. You can add house project lists, art supply inventory lists, things you’d like to buy…the well of possibilities has no bottom.

Everything that you are doing; emptying your brain of all the chattering and worries onto paper, distracting and distancing yourself from the things you cannot change, and nurturing, protecting, and making time for your creative energy will be the fuel that gets you to the next step in your journey. Just one small step at a time.

bourdain-art-left-to-be-made

Comments Off on Scavenging For Ideas

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

Creating In the Middle of Chaos

We all see it… the world around us is in chaos. We wake each morning wondering what’s going to happen today, what new challenges are going to be thrown upon us, what’s next in this seemingly unending uncertainty and upheaval.

We want to continue with our creative endeavors, practice our craft, disengage from the world and continue making art, writing stories, living our lives as best we can while fulfilling that desire and need to be who we are.

But focusing…focusing on our art while constantly being bombarded with information from tv, from social media, from neighbors and family and friends, is just about impossible. What was once a simple trip to the store is now unsettling and uncomfortable. You can feel the tension and fear in the air. Our leaders, whose job it is to unite us, are instead dividing us.

But now is the most important time for us to use our creativity to both protect ourselves and do what we can to help our society. To pull out the positive, to shine a light on both the good and the bad, to document the history and tell the stories.

So how do we regain our focus long enough to do this? By taking a step back, realizing what we can and cannot control, and taking a different route than we have become accustomed to.

  1. Document everything that is happening. Take 15 minutes, or more if you wish, and write just a blurb about what transpired that day. You can use a page-a-day diary, a notebook, a sketchbook…whatever you’re comfortable with. Pocket size or large. Something that you can hold onto that is tangible and comforting. You can make it personal by dumping your brain onto the pages every day, giving those emotions and worries a place to land. You can approach it like a historian and write about the events of the day. Or you can combine the two. How has one affected the other? Just put words down on paper. It’s for your eyes only.
  2. Make collages. Cut up scraps from the junkmail clogging up your mailbox. Cut words out and glue them to paper. Add pictures from magazines or drawings you’ve made, or stickers you might have around. Don’t over think it. Do it in your logbook, your journal, whatever you’d like to call it. Add some doodles or random words. Your hands are engaged and you’re making something.
  3. Try your hand at a haiku. (3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables) Try to use words you like or enjoy the sound of. Or just open a dictionary and pick one to start.
  4. Watch a funny, silly, outdated movie. Or go the other way and watch an old foreign film with subtitles. The idea is to just let your brain detach itself from current events.
  5. Take a walk. Negativity, fear and creative blocks hate fresh air. It’s a great way to remind yourself that life is still out there. The sun is still rising and setting, the tides are still coming in and out, the plants and trees are still growing and the birds are still singing.

 

Comments Off on Creating In the Middle of Chaos

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

Writer To Writer II

Some more quotes on writing to encourage, inspire and motivate….

 

writing17

writing18 writing19 writing2

writing6writing1 writing7 writing8   writing9       writing10 writing11 writing12 writing13

writing14 writing15

Comments Off on Writer To Writer II

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

I’ve spent the last several weeks examining and dissecting my life to see when and how it got so complicated. I had once again fallen into that trap of constantly pushing, rushing, trying to accomplish as much as possible every day, and the things I love to do, writing and drawing, had gotten relegated to the bottom of the list.

It’s so easy to get sucked into that whirlwind of productivity, the endless chores and commitments, the spinning on the wheel that gets us nowhere. The faster we try to finish everything, the faster more gets added to the list.

I have now prioritized and refocused, and with that came a huge sense of relief. The outside world can be crushing to a desired life of individuality and creativity.

When you feel like you’re losing yourself, when your joys and creativity are being stifled and suffocated, when you start putting yourself at the very bottom of your to-do list, it’s time to stand up for yourself and just say “hell no!!”

It’s not easy, but you’ll never regret it. The more we allow ourselves to thrive, to create, to be individuals, the happier, healthier and more successful we become. And the better we can be to and for the people around us.

Make yourself a list of 10 things you can do to simplify your life. Mine included going from 2 part-time jobs to 1 full-time, running errands only once or twice a week, and reducing the number of “things” I needed in my life. I purged my possessions and eliminated the clutter around me. It also included spending less time on social media.

Now make a list of 10 creative things you’d love to do. That’s your new to-do list. I’ve been dying to build something; a table, a shelf, anything.. I have a list of topics to write about, subjects to study, and drawings I’d like to do. I feel focused and excited again.

So what is it that you would like to do? You’re the only one who knows, and the only one who can make the decision to do it. No one is going to tell you that you should spend more time creating. That has to come from you.

You have to believe in yourself before others can believe in you.

Comments Off on Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

Writer to Writer

Here are some of my favorite quotes from writers on writing and creativity. They make great desktop backgrounds or print out and hang over your workspace.

15c7a289e1b6baeb1369704b70107b28                                                         buk_quote1

c949f516b51d08255e30bc134c7769c7                                                     069e47cc1ed73ef7d7914605c6853b6a

quotes-about-writing-writers-block-doubt                                                       quote-writing-at-its-best-is-a-lonely-life-organizations-for-writers-palliate-the-writer-s-loneliness-ernest-hemingway-344093images

 

holsteemanifesto

f-scott-fitzgerald-quoteernest-hemmingway-quote-on-writing

c65cd4b4b23a20fc77212d46eed57b9f                                                       RCW-feature-image

l64-sk-wp3

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

writing-quote-3                                                  writers-quotes-story-writing-34823004-320-320

Comments Off on Writer to Writer

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

Write What You Love and Love What You Write

Write What You Love, and Love What You Write

You’re passion and excitement for the subjects you write about shows in every sentence you create and every word you choose. If you’re not interested and excited about your subject, then your readers won’t be either.

There are hundreds of genres and sub-genres in the world of writing. Make a list of all the subjects that you’re passionate about, and all the things that interest you. Find your niche. Connect with people online-google searches, writing groups, twitter…Look for publications, e-zines, newsletters or any other outlet that may be interested in buying or publishing your work. If it interests you, then there are others that are also interested in it too.

Writing is hard work, as we’ve all discovered by this point. You have to put in the time and do the work if you want to create good copy. Think about what you want to say, research it, plan it out, write it down, then rewrite it as many times as necessary to make it exactly the way you want. Choose your words, your sentence length and structure carefully. Read it out loud.

I compare writing to art frequently. We as writers are artists. We create works of art with words. If a painter paints something they have no passion for, it will be flat and uninspired. The same is true for a writer. Write about what you care about, and you will create interesting and insightful works that you will be proud of.

Comments Off on Write What You Love and Love What You Write

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

Waiting for Inspiration

In case you haven’t already noticed, waiting for inspiration to strike before you create something does not always lead to a productive or lucrative body of work.

Inspiration is out there-it’s all around us and inside us, but it doesn’t always just show up and tap us on the shoulder at the most opportune time. Sometimes we have to search high and low for it, then drag it back to our cave and restrain it long enough to fuel ourselves.

This is where so many people falter. How many times have you just not felt like working on that novel or painting? Or anything, for that matter. When you push yourself to do it, when you climb over that wall made of self doubt and lack of inspiration, is when you realize that it’s as much about the process as the product.

Something I’ve found that helps me get started when I really don’t feel like it is the 15 minute rule. I write down a few 15 minute projects, like write just one paragraph, a quick outline, or anything else that I can do in a short burst. Then I start with whatever sounds the easiest, and go from there.

Even if you only do these short bursts, you are still creating, still fueling your creative habit, and you’ve overcome the obstacle of feeling uninspired.

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing

10 More Creativity Boosters

1. Create a wall of inspiration. Every time you see a picture, photograph or saying that inspires you, or speaks to you, cut it out and attach it to a cork board, magnetic board or even a piece of cardboard or wood. You can paint it, cover it in fabric, or leave it as it is. Keep it close to your work space and refer to it as often as necessary. Add your own reminders or ideas. Anything that gets the blood flowing and the synapses firing. Keep adding to your collection as you find new things.

2. Read everything you can about a creative person you admire. Read their biographies, and learn about all the hurdles and obstacles they had to face to get to where they are. See their vision and mimic their determination.

3. Take a different route to work. Very simple, but good proof that we don’t really see what’s around us when we look at it every day. Very much like the artwork on our walls , or even the people in our lives. Drive down a different street and notice your surroundings; the architecture, the foliage, and the people.

4. Look at the city or neighborhood you live in through the lens of a camera. Photograph everything from every angle. Take your best shot and frame it.

5. Memorize a line or passage from a poem you like and recite it on your way to work. Instead of thinking about everything that happened yesterday, or all the things that might happen today, reciting poetry relaxes the mind and enables you to face the day with a little more creative edge.

6. Watch a foreign film. Stepping outside our culture or our routines gives a new perspective to how we view ourselves and our work.

7. Go to a jazz club, art show or museum, or poetry slam. Surrounding yourself with other creative people and creative energy is always a good idea. Taking a class is another great way to add new ideas to your arsenal.

8. Recover or repaint a garage sale table or chair. Sometimes it’s easier to build on something that’s already there than starting something new. When you’re staring at a blank page or canvas, and don’t know where to start, take the pressure off and work on something that’s already begun, whether it’s your own work or someone else’s. Keeping projects in various stages also helps to keep the energy and productivity flowing.

9. Push yourself and your limitations. Give yourself a time limit, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour or two. Very often the more time we have, the less we get done. Dedicating an entire day to being creative can be overwhelming, so break it up. For the next hour, do something you enjoy, even if it’s just looking at your art supplies, or rereading something you wrote. Immerse yourself in your art for a set time. If it lasts longer, that’s just icing on the cake.

10. Leave reminders for yourself where you do chores to exercise those creative muscles, and come up with new ideas. Inside the medicine cabinet, over the kitchen sink or washing machine, even inside the garbage can lid. Get used to thinking about the things you enjoy doing, and how to continue doing those things as often as possible.

4 Comments

Filed under Art, Creativity, Writing