In October 2015, I was introduced to using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey for writing by the wonderful and amazing Arwen Lynch. I watched her video Character Interview Spread. And it was synchronicity. I knew I had to take her course. I knew I needed to find out more. I’m a visual person so using a visual aid like tarot made sense to my brain (especially since I’m one of those folks who uses their right and left brain in various ways to learn, write, create art, etc.).
I purchased Arwen’s course: 33 Days to Finish Your Book. And it was worth every dime I spent–though to be honest it isn’t expensive at all. Using tarot and the hero’s journey meant I needed to know more about the actual hero’s journey. So when I signed up the for the course, I also purchased Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, as well as Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and the Tarot Kit for Beginners. If you’re going to use tarot for your writing then you need a basic deck, and the only tarot deck I had wasn’t a Rider-Waite deck, which is what most people would consider to be a core/basic deck. Since then I’ve accrued several various types of tarot and oracle decks and books.
Why? Well, using tarot cards (along with oracle cards) for my writing has proven to be a powerful brainstorming tool, a wonderful and exciting way to open and increase my imagination, as well as my intuition in regard to my writing. I soon realized I wanted to know as much as I could about using tarot for writing so I also purchased Corrine Kenner’s Tarot for Writers, and I’ve just purchased Kenner’s Astrology for Writers (I’ll let you know how that one is next Wednesday). Along that same line, I have Linda Perfect’s The Storyteller’s Tarot and Diana Castle’s Writer Faster With Tarot . So…
2016 taught me a lot about what worked and didn’t work for me in regard to planning, journaling, drawing, painting, goal setting, editing videos, etc… I learned so much last year. Part of what I learned is the living a creative life is my passion, but it’s also part of my purpose.
Because there were a few things that did and didn’t work I changed things up this year.
The most popular bit of advice given in regard to writing are:
Put your butt in the chair and write.
Write one word at a time.
Each year I participate in NaNoWriMo (and NaNo’s Camps) to keep myself motivated to write everyday. Developing the habit of writing everyday is one of those crucial aspects of a writing career that is essential to success. Recently I heard someone say “If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer.” I think it’s important, as a creative person, to remember that there might be days when you don’t feel like writing, or being creative in general. When depression, anxiety, or life’s curve balls happen and the last thing you want or feel like doing is writing (or being creative). But if you want to thrive and survive as a creative person you have to find a way to get past those, to not only survive them but to thrive.
I love reading and writing. I also love drawing, painting with watercolors, coloring, writing in my journal… the combination of words and art help soothe my soul, they provide me with a healthy way to reduce my anxiety, stress, and help to keep the depression at bay. I’ve also noticed that journaling about my writing process, as well as my day, help keep me focused (and believe me, that’s hard to do since I have ADHD). When a shiny new idea pops up and tempts me to quit what I’m currently working on to go work on that shiny new idea, I just jot down the shiny new idea into my notebook, then go back to my current project.
When I’m afraid that I don’t know what to write next, or the fear of the blank page sends my anxiety into overdrive, instead of freezing and letting that fear overtake me I take a walk, read a chapter in the current book I’m reading (right now I’m re-reading the Stand by Stephen King), take a bath, get a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, eat a snack like cashews or a banana–during that time I’ve cleared my mind. The ability to write isn’t as super power. It takes commitment, diligence, resilience, and determination.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given in regard to writing is two parts:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~Stephen King
“Just write, and keep writing until it’s finished.” Miss Franklin, my 9th grade English teacher.
King also said, “Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.” I firmly believe that. If you don’t understand the basics of storytelling, of a book, how can you write one, especially a good one.
And when it comes to the actual writing, if you don’t write… you won’t have a book, and you can’t edit a blank page, can’t publish the book you don’t write… And the first draft isn’t going to be perfect, or as Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” I remind myself of that daily. I also remind myself that the worst thing I’ve written that day is better than what I didn’t write. Letting go of the perfectionism is one of the best ways to survive and thrive during NaNoWriMo. Turn off your inner editor when you’re writing the first draft. It’s called the Fugly First Draft for a reason.
Uncovering a Sense of Support Critical to any creative journey is sense of creative support. You must practice discernment, weeding out that which does not serve and watering the shoots you want to foster. This week’s tasks invite you to consciously interact with those who are positive on your behalf. Reaching out to others for their belief, you will also reach within and steady your personal confidence. If you had the faith what might you try” This week’s explorations will lead you into knowing your own mind.
When I first saw this chapter (my first attempt at Finding Water), I wasn’t thrilled about it–this time, however, things have changed. Cameron talks about having a network of friends and family there to be supportive. She calls these supportive people in your life Believing Mirrors. Accordingly, they reflect back to you the beautiful being that you are when you aren’t able to see it yourself. And through their own beauty they inspire you and speak the words you were thinking, but hadn’t formed yet or the words that you’re afraid to say. In turn, you will reflect the amazing creative beings that they are and that you are yourself–without having to actually work hard at it, which is what we do when we’re doing it alone. In a group setting, this multiplies. Cameron states that “creativity occurs in clusters,” and I agree with her. Over the past month I’ve found this to be true myself.
This week has been chaotic, especially the weekend. I’ve been busy with family, as well as personal and creative projects. I missed doing Morning/Evening pages more than once this week. I had to split my Artist Date into two different things because of time and obligations, but I ended up having much more fun than I might have had I just done what I had originally planned for my Artist Date. For more about what I did for my walk and my Artist Date I’ve included the video for this week.
Truth is, with each passing week I’ve realized that 1. I need to prepare for my Artist Date better. 2. I need to make the time for my Morning/Evening pages. 3. I need to ask for help more. I know that things are getting better, I can feel it inside and out, but it’s slow going and I’m not the most patient of people–What? Me? Nope, I’m not. It’s one of my flaws.
I prefer to do things on my own, I don’t like asking for help, nor do I like feeling like I’m not able to do things myself… so asking for help is difficult, but not impossible. Over the past few years, I’ve had to ask for help from family and friends much more than I wanted but it helped me, and made me feel good–I have people I can ask for help. Over the past month, I’ve realized (thanks to our group, Destination Me) that I am not out here alone, and it’s alright to ask for help. 😀
Overall, this was a much better week, and a much better experience, than I thought it would be. Now, I’m off to address thank you cards.
Creativity, the act of “turning new and imaginative ideas into reality,” the “ability to perceive the world in new ways to find hidden patterns, to make connections,” “the use of imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” There are more definitions, but those are basics.
To me creativity is about passion, imagination, curiosity, and expression.
We’re talking about creativity all month our women’s group called Destination Me: Adventures at the Round Table. And I’m also staring 3 projects for the month of September this week.
Like I said before I’m going to re-read the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’m currently reading The Eyes of the Dragon, but on September 1st I’ll start reading the Gunslinger.
I’m also going to work on a projected called the Decorated Page, it’s based on the book with the same name by Gwen Diehn. And I’m re-starting Finding Water by Julia Cameron. Not to mention I’m still participating in the #hotandsticky summer novel writing challenge. WHEW! I’m going to be such a busy creative person this upcoming month. Oh, and did I mention I’m trying to finish organizing and cleaning my writing/craft room? No, well I am.
I am really excited about the projects. If you’re following along, participating, or would like to participate please leave me a comment and let me know. Especially if you’re going to be blogging and/or vlogging about it. 😀 For me details about the projects I’ve included the video I made for YT (and the group). I hope I’ll see your comments and likes. 😀 I’m so excited about these projects.
One of the best things about being a creative person is that I’m all into learning new things. From reading different genres, to trying new recipes, to DIY home projects or DIY beauty stuff, to reading books about self-improvement or creativity or spirituality or how to be more creative. BUT, what I haven’t been very good at, at least not in some areas, is follow-through.
Take this blog, this website for instance. I spent money to have my own website, to have it hosted, and yet I haven’t been blogging regularly. I used to blog every day. THEN, I started posting videos on YT and the blog sort of took the back seat. Why is that? I wondered.
It felt a bit repetitive, redundant to say the same thing on the blog post that I was saying in the video. It is a lot of work to maintain both. All of the above are truths but they are also excuses.
I don’t owe anyone an explanation, not really. The blog is more for me than anyone else, especially since I don’t have that many followers, not like I did on my old blog, but at the same time I feel like I should say something, which says a lot about my character. About who I am, how I am as a person. I often feel the need to defend myself. Like I’m not good enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough. Not…you get the drift.
Back in April I decided to make some real changes. I called it “Taking back my life.” I did well with some things. I have lost 10 pounds since April 15th. I’ve been exercising more, trying to make better food choices, better life choices, like eating healthier, meditation, walking, and eating less (portion control).
I’ve also signed up for #projectme with Jenny Penton’s #plannerperfect, and I love it. Such a great group of supportive and inspiring ladies. I feel really good about it. But most of the work to “take back my life,” is about making real changes. It’s about letting go of negativity, letting go of false truths (as Jenny said), and being my authentic self, opening myself up to and using my talents, my gifts.
I’ve been thinking about what those talents are. I am a natural giver. A natural helper. I am also a creative person. My passions are reading (books) , writing, art (watercolor especially), journaling, life, love, family–my grandson is so amazing. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you’re talented at it though. I’m a decent enough writer, but I’m no Shakespeare, Vonnegut, Poe, Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Nora Roberts, or Bradbury (and yes, I’m a fan of all of those–I told you read a variety of genres). I’m a halfway decent enough (amateur) artist, but I’m no Danny Gregory or Jane Davenport.
However, just because I’m not as talented as (say my idol) Stephen King, or Danny Gregory, doesn’t mean I don’t have any talent. I can hone my talents. Get better. I can find my “niche,” my gift and use it, utilize it, and perhaps one day get paid for it. I’ve seen people find their forte their niche, and before you know it they’ve got an Etsy shop, then a website instead, and they’re using their passion and their gift (talent) and instead of just “working” they’re getting paid to do something they love.
One of my truth’s, I’m writing my novel series for me. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of a (my) family’s curse. I grew up hearing about the “Burgess” curse and the idea has always been in the back of my head. So I’m writing a book about it. While the book is based on a truth, it’s a fictional book. It’s not like I could/should/would give my novel’s family the surname Burgess (which is my real name, well it was my surname is now my middle name), though I have seriously thought about it. Instead I’ve went with my father’s (my daddy) first name, which also happens to be a surname–Milton. It works and I like it.
I’ve also been thinking about drawing/painting the cover myself. Hey, I can watercolor halfway decent, and I love drawing and painting with watercolor. But more than that, I wouldn’t have seriously thought about creating the cover for my book myself until I started working on “taking my life back,” and on #projectme. I might have entertained the idea briefly, but I would have second guessed my capability to do it, my talent…and I’d have talked myself right on out of doing it.
I’ve been slowly but surely working on becoming a morning person. I’ve also been working on being more confident, and less negative about myself. I won’t lie and say I don’t have self-doubts, I do. But each day, those self-doubts are less and less.
Over the course of several years, I’ve been refining my writing process, which includes ways to get inspired, stay motivated, and get shit done (productivity). Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me.
Clean up your work area, as well as other areas that bother you and/or need cleaning. A 15 minute clean in your work area, a quick clean of your living areas. A 30 minute clean for important areas. Sometimes it’s hard to work when there is clutter, especially if the clutter distracts you. So taking fifteen minutes to clean really helps.
Books that help inspire and motivate you to be creative have really helped me lately. Books like “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, or the one I’m working on right now, “Finding Water,” also by Julia Cameron. Another book that’s extremely helpful with productivity is “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.
Morning Pages are a great way to start your day. They help with clarity, are a great tool to get you in the mood to write, and are overall a great way to put those negative things that are rolling around in your brain down and then let them go–after a while you’ll see that what you write is less negative and more positive.
Music. Music is a great way to help you get in the mood to be creative, to write, clean, create (art, etc) and to keep you motivated. I often listen to classic rock while I clean, instrumental music or Rainymoods.com when I’m writing, and various kinds of music when I’m creating art.
An artist date. An artist date, as defined by Julia Cameron, is a solo adventure, that includes something fun, playful and are aimed at romancing or wooing our artist within. I like going for a walk in a park, swinging on a swing at a playground, going to for a cup of coffee and reading or writing or drawing, as well as going to lunch by myself and taking a book along with me. Most of my artist dates include coffee and a book or notebook and/or my camera.
Candles, Incense…I use these things to help get me in the mood to write, to help cleanse my work area of any negativity, and because they smell good.
Journal. I often write a few lines down here and there about what I want to do, as well as use my bullet journal to make a list of tasks for the day, week, month. I jot down projects, and then break them down so that I know what I should start with, as well as making sure that I have smaller goals to start with (which helps me feel better, more positive and less fearful–less self-doubt).
Vision board. This can be a physical vision board, one on Pinterest, in your journal using collage, or whatever works for you.
Read a book for fun. I often take a break when I feel a bit burned out with writing and read for fun. I now have a goal to read for at least 30 minutes each day just for fun, not for homework or for “working on my self,” but for FUN!
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Space for Writing/creating Art/etc. Whether it’s a corner somewhere, or an actual room, having your own space, a space that is for your creativity helps.
Limit Distractions. Block out a certain amount of time that is just for writing. That means no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google searching, etc. You and the page (and my cup of coffee or glass of wine.)
Get dressed. Get out of those pajamas, those sweatpants, and get dressed. It doesn’t have to be “dress” clothes, but it does need to at least something that you’d wear to the grocery store, to the craft store, the bookstore… It’s a mindset thing. I’m dressed and now I’m ready to go to work.
Writing buddies, or “Co-conspirators” as Ms. Cameron calls them. Find others with like interests so you can talk about those interests. For me it’s the #writestuff community, #writetube, FB…I have quite a few writer buddies and it really does help knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles (whether it’s with procrastination, self-doubt, editing woe’s, or trying to figure out whether your book should be in 1st or 3rd POV).
(and last but not least) Schedule. This has been the hardest for me, yet it really is one of the top things I should be doing, should stick to so that I’d be more productive. I know this. I do, but the struggle has been real y’all. I know that I should block out specific chunks of time for writing, for art, for… and cut the distractions, and Just Write, but honestly, outside forces like Mr. Rockstar’s crazy schedule, which changes at the end of this week finally (he goes back to having a regular schedule instead of rotating shifts), or family, or things that happen, or staying up too late because I had insomnia or was in pain and then I don’t wake up until mid-day (or later)… But today is the start of brand new week, and last week I did better than the week before, and this week I’ll do even better than last week, and before long I should be back into my routine.
One last thing, if you’re striving for perfection then you’re bound to be disappointed, so instead of striving for perfection, especially with that first draft, remember this:
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~Marilyn Monroe
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” ~Einstein
Einstein wasn’t alone, Mark Twain and Steve Jobs also had a “cluttered” desk, and I’m sure that there are many others, those are just the one’s that I know off the top of my head.
I prefer to think of my desk as “creative clutter.” Though, if I’m honest, there are places all over my house that could be termed creative clutter. Don’t get me wrong, there are also places that are organized, but my desk (and the damn kitchen counter) are almost always in a state of mess/clutter/creative chaos. Well, the kitchen counter just ends up cluttered, there’s really nothing creative about it.
I’m no Einstein, Twain, Jobs, or Zuckerberg, but I am a creative person, and I do tend to have a “messy desk.”
I’ve tried the minimalistic approach to my desk, I’ve tried organized and clean, I’ve tried rearranging a number of times, but no matter how clean and organized my desk starts out, or how I arrange it, it ends up messy.
There are other places in my “Creative/Writing Room” that are organized and clean, just not usually my desk.
If someone were to ask me where something was, nine out of ten times I could tell you exactly where that item was, especially if it’s a book, journal, or art supply (though I do not know where all my stickers and ephemera are exactly–I really do need to organize that stuff).
For example, my red bookcase holds Mr. King’s, Mr. Koontz’s, and a few others’ books. But the smaller bookcase houses poetry, classics, literature, dictionaries, along with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles.
Then there are the vertical shelves (the room also passes as our guest room since there is a click-clack couch that pulls out so space is limited).
And if you haven’t gathered, I like color. My art section is organized, at least the top of it is, if you look in the drawers, which I suggest you don’t, then that’s where you’ll find the creative clutter. (I really need to work on that, but the room is a work in progress.) I’ve been organizing the room, tackling one or two things each week.
I surround myself with books, art, color, and other things that spark my creative side, that inspire and motivate me to be creative. There are books in pretty much every corner of my room, as well as some type of inspiration, either a quote, or picture.
For example, when I sit at my desk, like I am right now as I type this, I can see the rain falling outside my window, it’s a rather gray day but I love writing to the sound of rain. I look to my right and there is my corner bookshelf with Patricia Cornwell (and a few Nora Roberts books thrown in because I didn’t have anymore room on the other shelf), and to my left is my red bookcase filled with mostly Mr. King’s books (yes I’m a fan, one of his Constant Reader’s).
Not to mention the books that I have stacked against the wall because I’m out of shelf room–I really need another bookcase, and in the process of figuring out exactly what I want so a friend of mine can build them for me for my birthday. There’s nothing like handmade bookshelves. 😀
So, yes… I’d say that a messy desk, or creative clutter, works for me, though there are definitely some things I have to have organized and clean.
In 2014, I purchased an ebook called “WRITE FASTER With Tarot: Structuring Plots” by Diana Castle. I read it, tried it with the Enchanted Deck of Tarot cards I have by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber (I’ve had that deck since 1990, y’all). The ebook wasn’t expensive, and it was worth the read, but it really didn’t have enough information for me, and as a pantser I really didn’t want to structure my novel, what I really wanted was to use the tarot to inspire me, help feed my creative muse, and for the characters.
Then, in September of 2015 I saw a video by Arwen Lynch on YT about her ecourse for using Tarot and the Hero’s Journey to write your novel in 30 days. I debated over it for a bit, and then decided I’d try it. The ecourse is $33, or at least it was when I took it, and well worth that price and more….My only wish was that she’d done a few more videos about it. (HINT< HINT if you happen to be reading this Arwen, lol!).
I began my journey in October, planning my novel for NaNoWriMo, and had a blast. I made videos on YT, I had a journal specifically for my ideas and my journey through the course, and I made a binder to put copies of the emails I printed out. I even kept up with all of it. (Insert pat on the back here because sometimes I lose focus, get distracted, and don’t always follow through with some projects.) Continue reading
It’s been a rough week. I’ve been sick for the past few days, finally starting to feel better though. Writing while you’re sick is like going to work with a hangover the size of Mt. Rushmore. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but I did. I didn’t get the word count I wanted, but I did manage to write at least 1000 words each day that I was sick, which is saying something. **Patting myself on the back.**
I’ve still got my buffer for Thanksgiving, but it set me back by a day–I needed a two day buffer for the Saturday after Thanksgiving as well. Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to get on the ball then and write.
I’ve created videos the past few days and it’s been especially rough–you know you’re sick when you don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning and drink orange juice instead, or when you make a video and don’t bother to put makeup on–in my defense, I’ve been sick and it’s NaNoWriMo. 😀
I’m not vain, I just figure if I’m going to bother with filming a video I could at least make myself presentable… being sick changes what you consider presentable–I was clean, had on clean pajamas, and had brushed my teeth–presentable. LOL!
The first day I was sick I tried the opposite method: Dressed up in hopes that if I didn’t wallow in being sick I might feel better–that only worked when the medication kicked in, once the medication started wearing off I was right back in pajamas.
I’m going to get back to writing now, I’ve got two scenes to write so I can get to the next chapter, which is a major conflict chapter and one I’m really looking forward to. 😀