Monday, August 17, 2015

Don't Give Up Your Creativity

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Here is the thing about creativity: It is the foundation from which all things spring forth. Amazing ideas are born from creativity, from your creative imagination. Creativity is paramount to keep the world spinning. 

As children, we are extremely creative. Our imaginations run wild with creating games, making up stories, problem solving, and on how life should be lived on a daily basis. 

Then, our creativity diminishes the older we get. Now we have to think 'realistically' and 'logically'. What happened to those days of being creative? Why can't being creative be a requirement in life? Why can't it be nurtured? Being creative means thinking outside the box, thinking beyond those things that have been indoctrinated into our lives. Usually, society wants to hold us back from thinking and creating; society knows that creativity changes things ...and we all know how people hate change. 

Several times, I have heard friends say they were going to give up their creative aspirations because it wasn't working for them; because others weren't see their talent. When do we ever have to wait for another's permission to be creative? Just be creative. If you have to take a job to pay the bills while doing your creative ventures, then do so. If being creative through writing, art, music, dance etc. makes your soul sing, then keep doing it! The only other alternative is a soul-sucking creative-less life. Is that what you want? 

Alan Alda said, “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll
discover is yourself.” 

Keep on creating, dear friends!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Honouring Your Time

I haven't been here for a few weeks. I got trapped inside this vortex of 'things: 'Things that kept my attention and, when I looked at them, weren't important.

We all get sidetracked by 'things'. Things that take our focus away from what's important, and, in my case, my writing.

It's time to bring this back around to what matters.

If your writing is important to you, then do it. Make sure that others know that the time you set aside for writing is sacred to you. This is so crucial. Just as important as it is for someone to set aside time for family and friends, set aside time to be creative. This is what feeds your soul. This is what you live for.

I can't impress upon you enough the importance of making time for your craft. If you don't make a concerted effort for even 5 minutes a day to focus on writing, you'll find yourself turning on your computer and realizing it's been 30 days since you last sat down to write. Yes. It happens. I know this from first hand experience.

Please do yourselves a huge favour: Schedule time in to write. If it's important to you, your loved ones will understand.

Keep on writing! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Finding the Sweet Spot

Finding that thing that makes us 'sing' can be a bit frustrating. We try our hand at different genres, different creative outlets, spinning the writing roulette wheel, not really knowing where it's going to land.  We know that finding that 'thing' is where the creative sweet spot is. It's the place where we can get our writing groove on. 

I love writing fiction stories because you can take them anywhere you want to. However, I recently discovered a new focus for myself, something that is near and dear to my heart. 

After experiencing a tragedy of heart-wrenching proportions, and after looking all around me at other people's relationships and their struggles, I decided to combine my psychology degree, my experience, and my writing into something that may open up to new and amazing experiences.

Last year, I started the Soul Love Awakening blog and Soul Love Awakening Facebook page with the purpose of helping others to find love in themselves and in loving relationships. At the time, I wasn't sure where it was going or what I wanted to do with it. But, as I continue writing my blog posts, observing others around me, and learning about love, I am gaining clarity on where this is going. 

That being said, my friend, Michelle Ponto, of Michelle Ponto Fitness, has asked me to facilitate a couple of Soul Love sessions at an upcoming women's wellness retreat she is hosting in Arizona in July. You can check out the details here at Michelle Ponto Fitness Arizona Wellness Weekend, and, if it speaks to you, we would love to see you there. More details regarding the retreat will be added in the next couple of weeks. 

Dear writing friends, find your 'thing'. Try different ways of expressing your creativity in your writing through different genres or different media outlets. If there is something calling you, then give it a try. If it doesn't seem to fall quite into place, but you know you have to pursue this, then adjust and try again. The biggest lesson here is not to give up. 

Keep on writing!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Allowing Creativity

No matter what you create, I'm sure you have experienced 'the creative block from hell' at one point or another. Whatever you name it, it's the moment where you can't catch a whiff of creativity to save your life. It's like waiting for the resounding applause but only hearing crickets chirping in the night. 

How does one find creativity when creativity is no where to be found?

When we are lacking in the creative department, it means we are too busy over-thinking things. We have stepped into our left brain logic and can't find a way next door to our beautiful right brain.

How do we get over there?

You may have noticed that children are super creative. They come up with stories, ideas, plans...whatever they want, because they don't over-think things. They have not been tainted by a world forcing left brainy-isms on them. (Brainy-isms...I made that one up.)

Act with child-like curiosity. Go play on the swings and laugh. While you're at it, yell out, 'I can see my house from here.' Just don't go to the playground when there are kids around--you will get glaring looks from other parents.

My sister and me on the swings. No other kids around, except our own.
Photo credit: Tamara Hanson 
Another thing you can do is step away from your project and pick up a new project. Colour, paint, draw--tap into another creative source that will get your creativity flowing. If you feel like writing but can't get into your current project, then write something else. Write a love letter, a grocery list, or just random things on your mind. I find that when I'm stuck, I'll write whatever is on my brain at the time. It spills out onto the page and I let it loose. These thoughts want to be heard, so let them have their 15 minutes of fame. Once they have been satisfied, you will be able to move on to your project.

Go for a walk, do yoga, read a book, cook a meal, play with the dog--any of these things will help you get clear minded.

Meditation is also helpful. Meditation helps calm the chatty mind and put you into a state of clear thinking.

Also, while you are at it, go to YouTube and find music that is for focusing and clarity. Or, just find music that you love. Put on your headphones or dance around. Focusing on the music will help kick start the right brain into doing what it's supposed to do--Create! 

Finally, do not get upset. That's the worst thing you can do. Getting upset will push you further and further away from your creativity. I don't have the statistics on this, but I'm willing to guess that every creative person has felt the strain of creating; it's almost like banging your head against a brick wall.

You aren't alone in this. Grasp whatever inspiration you can and run with it.

For other ways to find more inspiration, click on this link: The Amazing Creative Inspiration Blog Carnival . You will find some fabulous tips from amazingly creative people.

Keep on creating, friends!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Love Your Writing

Several years ago (too many to count) I went on my first writer's retreat (unless you count the one time I had 1.5 hours of alone time in my office!).

Strawberry Creek -Photo Credit by Tamara Hanson

I loved it and it was a great way to sit and write without being disturbed. There were only 11 of us at a beautiful log cabin out on an acreage with no distractions: No TV, no Starbucks, no nearby mall, no internet, and no one vying for your attention.

Everyone had a purpose and were taking advantage of this time to do what they love...write. Some were writing poetry, a couple were writing screenplays, and others were writing short stories, articles and memoirs. I was working on my novel plus, tidying up other writings that I never got around to fixing.

It was quiet and beautiful. I walked and talked (briefly) to the other writers. I read, I wrote and I wrote some more. Not only did I eat amazing food that was lovingly prepared by three awesome women, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the cabin, award winning Canadian author, Rudy Wiebe.

The last night that we were there, we all read from our own work. It didn't have to be the stuff we had been working on at the retreat; we could read anything we had written. I chose to read something from a book I wrote a few years ago.

I'm not one for reading to an audience--it's a bit unsettling, and this was my first time reading my work to anyone. But, after it was all over, I was so glad that I did. It was a moment of getting out of my comfort zone and opening up to something that I had never done before. (Read my blog about comfort zones here.)

The point of this is: Even if you think that you can't read your work to someone else, give it a try anyway. Even if fear has gripped you tightly, think about how you will feel many years down the road or on your death bed: will you be sorry you didn't take the opportunity?

Taking that seemingly daunting step to share your work will be one of the greatest accomplishments of your life. You will not regret it! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

To Boldly Go....

If you popped in here because of the Star Trek reference, I apologize--this blog piece is not about Star Trek, nor is it about Leonard Nimoy (rest in peace, buddy).

However, this post is about trying something new. About getting out there with your writing; getting out of your comfort zone and to boldly go to a place you haven't been before.

I took a chance last week by uploading one of my books to Wattpad. If you haven't heard of Wattpad yet, it's a place where people can read other people's work for free.

What will you find there? Lots of poorly written fanfiction about One Direction. Okay, I'm only partially kidding...sorta. The good news is you can find many lovely treasures on Wattpad from hard working and focused authors. In addition this, Margaret Atwood and Paulo Coelho are two well-known authors who like to upload their short stories to Wattpad. Why? They can provide links to where readers can buy their books. So, really, it can be a handy promotional tool, as well.

Here's the back story of my book, Just Between You and Me: I came up with the idea late one night while I was feeding my 3 month old son. My son is now 12 years old. Yep, this book has been languishing on my computer for 12 years. Oh, and I have other books written, too, but never have shown them to anyone. Some are older than Just Between You and Me.

Anyway, I had been writing for so long and not really doing anything with my stuff, that I started to wonder what the hell I was doing with my life. I needed to get one story out the very least. I had to let other people read it, and get a feel for what it was like for others to read and comment on my work.

I'm not sure why I chose Wattpad. Maybe it was just an easy platform to bounce off of. I had been hiding behind a computer for a very long time.

So, have you been hiding behind your computer for too long? Is it time to test the waters and see what happens? Once you step outside of your comfort zone, it begins to feel a little bit more comfortable. Trying something new is all part of the expansion and growth of creating something we love.

Keep writing! Keep being bold! 

P.S. You can read Just Between You and Me (for free!) here

Monday, February 9, 2015

Quieting Your Inner Critic

We are our own worst critic.

Our inner critic loves to keep us in a place of not moving forward. It says things like, "Really, who do you think you are to write a book? What kind of qualifications do you have? Do I need to remind you how much you sucked in English class? You really sucked. And, your creativity! That sucks, too!"

You know exactly what I’m talking about. That voice that tells you that you can’t do it; that gives you every reason of why you shouldn’t be doing it. 

The inner critic is all ego. It runs hot and cold. In one moment, it tells you how fabulous you are. In the next moment, it tells you how sucky you are. It likes to keep you in the suck zone. Oh, sure, it’ll give you that boost you are looking for when it feels like it, but, once you have your back turned, it sucker punches you.  

How do you shut up the inner critic? 

  • Be the observer. When the ego starts getting on your back, do not get wrapped up in its issues. The ego is only talking to itself and it wants you to join along. Take a step back. Without judgement, look at what is really going on. Look at the bigger picture. You will find that nothing much is going on and you will continue to write.
  • Let the ego have its little meltdown. It only wants to be, let it spew whatever it needs to. Once it’s done, give it a glass of water and send it to bed.
  • Take the inner critic with a grain of salt. Take a look at your work, but do so from a different perspective. Then, give it to someone else to read who can provide you with an unbiased opinion. 
  • Continue to hone your craft. Reading, writing, learning, and discussions with other writers will help you keep your focus and enhance your skills. It will also keep the inner critic in its place.
  • Remind yourself of all the reasons why you love to write. You started this whole writing thing for a reason--what are those reasons? Remind yourself why you started this adventure. 
  • When all else fails, have a nap...then, start fresh when you wake up! 

Keep on writing, dear friends!

Monday, January 26, 2015

When Creativity Sucks

Over the last few weeks, I have been sucking in the creativity area of my life. Where there should have been a blast of colours pulsing through the creativity centres of my brain, there was only a dull, boring grey.

What the hell? I really thought that was it... this was the end of my creative life. I wanted to give up because I could not see the proverbial light at the end of a very dark and foreboding tunnel. Oh, the drama!

It took a lot of digging, a lot of soul searching and a lot of talking to myself to sort out what the issue was.

Last week, I attended a yoga workshop to help detox my body, mind and soul. It was intense, not only physically, but emotionally. Fortunately, I walked out of there energized. This yoga detox was one of the ways I was able to squeeze through the crack in the wall that was closing in on my creativity.

The next morning, I felt like I had some mojo back. I didn't hop out of bed, instead I basked. I enjoyed the comfort of the pillows, of reading, and learning something new. I was free of distraction that day. I didn't even let the dishes in the sink bother me.

The point is, your ego will try to talk you out of doing something that you know is good for your soul. What you need to do is move beyond that and somehow get to where you want to go. If it means doing some journaling about your frustrations, then do that. If yoga, running, walking, or whatever, will get your creativity flowing, then do that. If it means meditating or listening to some beautiful music, then do that.

I guess what I'm saying is, just keep moving forward.

Happy writing!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Own Your Writer Status

Neil Gaiman said: "The problems of failure are hard. The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them. The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It's Impostor Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.
In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don't know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn't consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don't have to make things up any more."

You ever get that feeling that maybe you are fraud? You feel like you are spouting garbage, and, really, what right do you have to write this stuff...whatever it is you are writing?

Have you ever had people say to you, "But you're not Stephen King" or "Ya, but you won't be able to write for a living." Or some other stupid crap like that? I have. Lots of times. Fortunately, I have more support than garbage, but I still hear it.

My rebuttal is: "Stephen King wasn't always 'the' Stephen King we know today." Nor was J.K. Rowling....or, any other well-known author.

So, what makes these authors different?
1) They own their writer status. They know this is what they want to do. They know that there is nothing else that they are more passionate about. They just know.
2) They believe in their work. They believe in what they are doing and they do it for themselves. They do it to express the story that is deep within wanting to burst out.
3) They never stop learning, growing and perfecting. They work it every single day, whether it is editing, plotting, researching, promoting, reading, or writing.
4) They don't care what others say because they know this feels right for them.
5) They aren't writing for fame and fortune. They are writing because it's who they are.

When you are faced with negativity, or other garbage, look deep inside and ask yourself this:
If I gave up writing right now, would I be happy with myself?

If the answer is yes, then you can easily move on to other things.

If the answer is no, then own your writer status. Keep working it. Take feedback from others with a grain of salt, and then work it some more. There is no end point on this writer's journey. You just keep evolving. Oh, ya, and have fun while you are working it. What's the point of doing it if it isn't fun?

Happy writing!