Ideal Creativity

NaBloPoMo_November_smallI’m sitting at my dining room table writing this post, mug of hot tea beside me. The house is quiet – older child already off to school, younger engaged in an activity downstairs.  I have sleeping houseguests and a tiny house so the impetus is to stay quiet and unrushed. Don’t get the day started in full-court-press mode yet, that’s just inhospitable.

This is, truthfully, my favorite time of day and my favorite way to write. The dining room has two large windows that overlook my yard and some woods – it’s an expansive view I never tire of. When I remember to fill the bird feeders, I love to get distracted by the antics playing out on the porch.

We all have rhythms to our creativity, times that just feel more right than others to engage in our work. And while it’s not always possible to line up with the ideal schedule (most mornings my day has been at full-tilt for two hours by now), it’s really important to know when those most productive hours (or minutes or even moments) are so that you can tap into them whenever possible.

Sometimes we just have to push through our work. There are chapters to be completed for our editors, music that has to be recorded for the release date, or even cupcakes that have to be baked for a class party. In those moments we can be proud of our work, happy that we made it across the finish line.  But those times when we get to create under our most enjoyable circumstances, those are the times we savor and often times, the reason why we keep doing what we’re doing.  Think of it as the runner’s high of creativity. It’s that place where process passes productivity and it can be as intoxicating as anything.

As for me, the house is starting to wake up and my day will soon fill with activity and business and lots of fun and laughter – all great things.  AND, the fact that I got the opportunity to write during my best time frame is such a bonus. The creative high I got from this will last all day. May your day be as creatively inspired.


This is blog post #14 of the 30-day National Blog Posting Month challenge.


Not Over The Rainbow

Chances are if you have kids younger than 15 in your house, you know what this is:


And most likely, you have about 68,000 of these around your house:


Except, they aren’t neatly organized like this. This is the lie they sell you. The reality is they’re strewn all over the house as if a tiny tornado had picked them up and dropped them everywhere within a .2 mile radius.  Plus they show up in the weirdest places – I swear there was one in the bottom of a bowl of cereal today. But I digress…

For the three of you out there who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is the Rainbow Loom and if you Google it you’ll see all the types of bracelets and necklaces and key chains and all the other things you can weave together using the loom and all the tiny elastic bands.

My 8-year-old has one of these and it quite obsessed with it. It’s low tech, no-screen-time fun.  I’m a big fan.

The really interesting thing (to me) that has happened are the types of secondary creativity this phenomenon has created. If you go to YouTube and search Rainbow Loom, you’ll find hundreds of videos showcasing how-to’s for various pattens. Most of these videos are made by pre-teen girls who’ve never made videos before. In addition, kids are taking the loom and creating more than just bracelets – there are mini-bags and animals, pencil holders and even action figures – Thor! And it’s not just girls. Sitting at soccer games this fall I’ve seen boys and girls with their looms sitting in groups, talking and creating.  Love it!

So, this isn’t really a product placement advertisement, just a little musing on something my daughters have been obsessed with the last few months. I’m so glad it’s something that fosters and stretches their creativity. And unlike the newest over-produced boy band, this is a fad I hope sticks around a little while.


This is post #12 in the 30-day National Blog Posting Month challenge.


Inspiring Creativity

NaBloPoMo_November_small“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

― Maya Angelou

I love everything about this quote. I often find it to be true. When I am creative, when I am doing things like writing every day or singing or playing music, more creativity comes easy. Ideas cascade into my view sometimes faster than I can write them down. Everything around me shines with possibility.

And when I’m not creative- when I’ve gotten so busy or too stressed or distracted, my ideas tend to dry up. I stare at a blank page for days, or worse yet, I spend a couple of hours creating something only to realize it’s not working and have to delete the whole thing. It’s a common experience, lots and lots of creatives go through dry spells. But it can feel isolating and like everyone around me is still brimming with interesting ideas while I’m sitting in the desert waiting for an oasis to pop up and rescue me.

One of the ways I love to get my creativity up and running again is to watch other people’s creativity. People who are inspired and interesting, unusual in what they are offering get my creativity pumping.  So, I thought I’d share a couple with you- I hope you find them as inspiring as I do:

Brushy One String – For everyone who has ever felt that not having the perfect instrument or tools holds them back.

Shane Koyczan – His words, his presentation, the music -all of it, inspired.

Bobby McFerrin – OMG- I mean really, Bobby McFerrin.

Boyan Slat – This teen may have found the solution to one of  our greatest environmental challenges.

Do you have people who inspire your creativity? Add them in the comments.

This is blog post #11 in the National Blog Posting Month challenge.

One of Those Days

So a little while ago, I posted this status on my Facebook page:

“It’s one of those days where I felt like all I did was clean the kitchen.

Except for the break I took to put laundry away.”

It’s not exactly true.  I homeschooled one daughter and took the other to and from school. I also made dinner, cleaned up the living room and did a few other small tasks. In other words, I lived my life today. And, as it often happens, there were no grand expanses of time to pursue all the creative things I’d like to do every single day. The great thing is, I don’t really need to have tons of time, just consistent time. So for example, I worked in belting out a few songs while I loaded the dishwasher (and unloaded it and loaded it again). The singing doesn’t really meet any specific creative goals I have at the moment, but it sure does make me feel better and more likely to work on other things. I played through a couple of songs on my guitar while my youngest brushed her teeth and got ready for bed. And now, while she falls asleep, I’m sitting in her room typing this. After she’s asleep, between a few other household chores I have to complete tonight, I’ll finish up some edits for some freelance work I do.

It’s not a perfect life where I get to use up every ounce of creative spirit I have every day, but it is a life often infused with creativity and I’ll take it.

I work with a lot of writers – many of whom have avoided writing for a long time before they find me. The first thing I tell them is that I don’t expect them to write for hours at a time. They are often both relieved and horrified at the same time when I say that. I get it – I would love to have a life where all I was expected to do was sit and be creative and brilliant for hours at a time. But most of us don’t have that luxury and thankfully, most of us don’t need it. Seriously, if you have some kind of creative pursuit whether it’s writing, or learning a musical instrument or photography or anything really, commit to working at it for just 15 minutes a day for the next week. I bet you’ll be  shocked at how much you can get done in those few minutes of focused creativity.

So until the day I win the lottery, most of my time is spoken for with everyday sorts of responsibilities. In other words, I’m pretty normal. It can be challenging to make space for the creative when it’s so easy to let it slip away. But for me, it’s become a priority in small increments because it makes the other, more mundane things in life so much more enjoyable.

This is Day 4 of the 30-day National Blog Posting Month Challenge. I’m posting every day of the week throughout the month of November.

What’s the Big Whoop?

I was in a candle store the other day and I saw that one of their new scents was “Whoopie Pie.” Now for those of you who didn’t grow up in Maine, a real, authentic whoopie pie is a classic dessert of two round chocolate cakes held together by a white cream frosting. There are only three acceptable places to procure whoopie pies: A mini-mart counter at a gas station, in your childhood kitchen baked from scratch by your mom or an aunt or at Frank’s Bake Shop in Bangor, Maine. But I digress…

I was at the candle store and spotted the whoopie pie scented candle. I took the lid off, inhaled deeply, and…was disappointed. It seemed so promising at first. The candle almost smelled like a whoopie pie, but in the end, as the faux scent of chocolate dissipated, I realized, although it was close, it just wasn’t the same as the real thing.

No kidding, you may be thinking.  What would possess me to even think it would be the same thing? I mean, it’s a candle, not a freshly-baked dessert. But it got me thinking about how often we sometimes confuse real creative work with cleverly disguised impostors.  For example:

* Rewriting a script “just one more time” before submitting it to a festival only to find you are never able to let go because it’s never “perfect.”

* Researching information for weeks and weeks to make sure your great new invention hasn’t been developed before but never moving past the idea phase to get it to market.

* Spending hours pinning ideas on Pinterest “for the future” instead of actually creating something.

* Reading article after article on the internet for inspiration before writing your next blog entry.

* Learning how to play all the songs by your favorite artists, but never actually writing one of your own even though you desperately want to be known as a songwriter.

I could keep going but you get the idea. The complicating factor is that all of these actions are good up to a certain point- you do need information and practice and research but if it never leads to creative output, then everything you are doing is just posing as a useful step in your process. In the end, you’re left with nothing, creatively speaking. It’s really just a whoopie pie candle – which when burned, makes it seem like you’ve spent the day baking, but if you are expecting dessert, you’re just going to be disappointed.

Don’t buy the candle – bake instead. In the end, it’s only the real work, not some reasonable facsimile that will get you where you truly want to be.

Time Myths: Part 3

I once had a client who was working on a beautiful novel about a lighthouse keeper. She had painted the picture for me-the sweeping vistas, the dramatic plot lines, the attention to every detail for historic authenticity. She had the passion for the story, she knew the plot backwards and forwards.  There was just one teeny, little problem.

She wasn’t getting the book written.

Every session she’d say she was ready to start writing and at the next check in, she let me know she had a little more research she had to get done and then she could finally start writing. Except, as is so often the case, the research never ended.  One interesting article led to an interesting website, which led to an interesting book…To be fair she was doing some writing- character sketches and an outline- all of which she would write and rewrite depending on whatever she would find during her latest research session. The novel itself never took shape.

Myth #4: I’ll get to it eventually

Hear me very clearly: The laundry will never be done, your house will never be perfectly organized and uncluttered, the projects at work won’t slow down and you won’t get to it once you feel like you know enough to finally get started. Eventually is a very slippery concept and a concept we hide behind as an excuse. Eventually is always “out there” away from you and goals don’t reside there.  Goals reside in this moment.  How are you using this moment to make progress? If you are are holding out for “eventually” to start you goals, you will never begin.

Yes, research is important, and so is laundry and so is work. AND squeeze in time for new action between those things if you truly want to make your goals a reality. There won’t be a perfect time when everything else in your life is caught up, under control, moving along smoothly to dedicate your energy solely towards your vision for your life.  Your dreams are what you work on while all the other stuff is happening around you.

The trouble with the eventuality myth is that it  sometimes gives the appearance that we are taking action towards our goal. For example, “I’m cleaning out the basement so I can write there.”  Trouble is, after you spend a month emptying out the basement you realize the room needs to be painted. So you paint the room. Now the room needs furniture, which isn’t in the budget. Or maybe you get the room exactly the way you want it. You sit to write and suddenly you realize the room doesn’t have enough light- or you are too jumpy being so far removed from the rest of the house. Can you hear the phone from down there? And, conveniently, the laundry is in the next room over so you convince yourself you can multi-task by doing laundry AND writing down there.  And your book never gets written.  You did a lot of things- things that looked like they were moving you toward your goal.  But the number one thing to writing a novel- the writing part – never took place.

Here’s a big clue- if you find yourself qualifying your dreams by using the word “when,” (As in, when I have time; when the children are grown; when I make partner), odds are you’re hiding from those dreams. Stopping worrying about finding the perfect time.  The perfect time is now.

Let the laundry get done…eventually.