You’ve Finished Your Novel, What Now?

AjahnChahYour project, artwork, memoir, essay, is done. The beginning, middle, and end of your creative process complete. What’s next?

How often have you jumped into the next project immediately? Or started developing your writing platform for publicity before your computer has even cooled down? I admit, I’m guilty.

What helps me focus on the transition time is something I’ve learned as a long-time practitioner of the art of meditation. I’ve learned to exhale, stop, and be present in the moment. Completing a project, especially one that has taken me a long time to finish, has its own sense of fulfillment and timing. Many inventive projects are fraught with unsettling feelings accompanied by ups and downs of exhilaration, despair, and ecstasy.

This morning I’m reminded of the following quote by a Thai meditation teacher.

Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.
– Ajahn Chah

Creativity and wellness message for today: Embrace who, what, and where you are, right now.

Advertisements

2013 in review: Thank You

Three cheers and Happy New Year to my readers, followers, friends, and fellow artists and writers, creative types all! The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Check it out! I just had fun on the “Crunchy Numbers” page by clicking on the pictures and scrolling through them to find blog posts that way. Here’s to a great 2014!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Navigating Times of Change

autumn_leavesHearing dry autumn leaves crunch beneath my sneakers, I’m reminded of the seamless process of evolution. As artists, writers, parents, friends, lovers, and grownups we are expected to weather change fearlessly. However, if we watch nature closely, conversions happen slowly over a long period of time.

In this season of gratitude, of closing windows and hunkering down for the winter, I appreciate the following quote. It inspires me to allow for shifts to happen at their own pace.

“Transition is the natural process of disorientation and reorientation that marks the points of the path of growth. Throughout nature, growth involves periodic accelerations and transformations: Things go slowly for a time and nothing seems to change — until suddenly the eggshell cracks, the branch blossoms, the tadpole’s tail shrinks away, the leaf falls, the bird molts, the hibernation begins. With us it is the same although the signs are less clear than in the world of feather and leaf, the functions of transition times are the same. They are the key times in the natural process of self-renewal.”
– William Bridges

Creativity and wellness message: For this season, allow transition to be the way in which your life unfolds.

Making Art Fun: Step 9 – Stop When Done

stop-signHello to all my amazing followers! Thank you for joining me on this creativity and wellness journey. Participating in the 2013 Sketchbook Project inspired me to write down my 9 steps in making art fun and in keeping your creative spirits going. As a seasoned artist, I’ve had my ups and downs in the art world.

Like fine wine, as I age, perspective seeps in. I notice the challenges of working, raising a family, and sustaining a multi-decade, long-term and committed relationship. Keeping up with family, friends, volunteering, and still claiming time for my professional art and writing is a steep order. Yet, I find happiness in inspiring endeavors. Seizing the day keeps my inventive juices ripe and flowing.

Like in baking a cake, you have to know when it is done. Some people use their sense of smell, others, set a timer, or stick a toothpick in the center. We all have our techniques. It’s the same in any innovative project.

Today, I’ll finish this series of posts about making art fun. I’m done! I know it because I’ve said everything I want to, about this specific topic. Being able to share what I’ve learned with you, has been a pleasure. Now I’m satisfied about wrapping this series up, and I am anticipating what I’ll write about next time, here, on my blog.

You can click on each link below to read the last 8 posts in sequence. To recap my barometer on making art fun, and to reiterate, “if it ain’t fun, don’t do it:”
1. Keep it simple
2. Use what you have on hand
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel
4. Lighten up
5. Delete your inner critique
6. Be playful
7. Listen to your inner voice
8. Allow for happy accidents
9. Stop when done

Ding! Ding! My cake’s done!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Trust your own sense of timing. Then share a slice of what you’ve made with others.

Making Art Fun: Step 5 – Delete Your Inner Critic

inner_criticFor the last few months I’ve been sharing hints on how to enjoy your creative endeavors, be they art, writing, photography, or blogs. Today’s thoughts are about deleting your inner critic. We all know what that is and how following its advice can trip you up. I’m thinking a little differently today about my dear old inner critic. I’m aware that most times it shoots me in the foot. Yet there are those occasions when it may have a point. Below are some options on how to handle your own inner critic. Let me know what technique you use and how it works out.

 
a. Challenge your inner critic – Fight it, debate with it, let it know you are in charge.
b. You don’t have to silence your inner critic – find a way to work side-by-side, co-exist.
c. Consider – Is your inner critic working with you or against you?
d. Personify it – what does it look like, sound like, where does it reside in your body?
e. Choose humor – Say to your inner critic, “So what? Who cares? Big deal!”
f. Give it a new job – re-assign it responsibilities.
g. Delete it – Yep, just press the delete key.  Or I do what I do, say to yourself, “Delete, delete, delete.” It works.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Get to know that voice inside you that doesn’t think you’re good enough. Then choose to not let it run (ruin) your life.

Making Art Fun: Step 3 – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

wheelIt’s a perfect shape, with a basic use — to keeping things rolling, that’s the wheel.

In art as well as in life, I strive to follow rule #3. As you recall on New Year’s Day I wrote about how to make art fun. A few weeks later I shared the secret of keeping things simple and, then, how to artistically use what you have on hand.

Today I’m talking about the wheel, and not reinventing it. A few months ago I was asked to create a writing workshop that would be included in a “Beyond the Book Club” program series. The theme for February was Literature: Louisa May Alcott. After a brief brainstorming session with the program director, the flash of inspiration sparked. Influential Women Who Shape and Inspire Our Lives and Our Writing was born.

Over the course of several weeks each time I got a snippet of an idea for the workshop, either while I was doing dishes late at night, or sipping my morning coffee, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. I’ve written and presented hundreds of classes and programs. I know the format and formula that fits with my style of teaching and what benefits my participants. Eventually I knew those separate pieces would grow into the entire workshop. All I would have to do was open my manilla folder, organize them, type up the workshop outline and I’d be good to go. I didn’t reinvent the wheel, I allowed my spontaneous ideas to bubble up over a period of time.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Enjoy the freedom you feel when you use the back burner approach.

My Blog 2012 in Review

Thank you to all my 2,300 readers and 494 followers!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.