Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


Leave a comment

Allowing for the Ups and Downs of a Creative Life

A woman in bed with flu. If only we all looked this photogenic when we have the flu...

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’ve had the flu for the past week. An icky, throat-scratching, sleep-inducing lurgy.

Last week I had a decision to make. What should I do about writing?

Should I write through my illness?

The answer came quickly. Definitely not!

There were several reasons why.

The most obvious was that I wouldn’t do my best work. But more importantly, I thought about the implications of pushing onwards.

If an employer gives their employee time off work for illness, should I not also do the same for my Creativity? Asking my Creativity to continue working while I’m ill is tantamount to slave labour within my head.

I’ve earned my Creativity’s trust over a long period of time, and I didn’t want to blow that now.

I’ve taught my Creativity that:

  • I’ll be patient when she’s having an off day.
  • I’ll give her time to play around with ideas, no matter how crazy they sound.
  • I’ll not laugh at her first ideas.
  • I’ll face the page every morning whether she’s there or not.

Now I promised my Creativity that if I wasn’t well enough to do paying work, then I would also class myself too sick to write.

Like many writers, I have a damaged relationship with rest. I keep pushing when I should stop and allow myself to recover. I decided my flu was the perfect time to practice a healthier approach to relaxation and recovery.

My decision was quickly followed another question: What should I do with my blog for the week?

I did have a blog post mostly written. With a bit of polishing I could put it up. I was also thinking about a question I really wanted to ask my e-mail subscribers. I had a number of things to do! Should I just push on and do them?

I decided to break my blogging schedule and my e-mail schedule and wait until I was feeling better.

Why?

Because I value you guys too much. I know that each time I post a blog or send an e-mail, I’m asking you to spend something worth just as much as money – your time. I’m requesting your attention for a couple of minutes while you read my words.

I take that request seriously, and therefore I want to make sure each post and e-mail is worth your time.

I took a week off and rested completely so I could return ready to give you my best again.

What do you think? Did I do the right thing?

How do you make decisions on how to spend your time when you’re ill?


3 Comments

4 Ways House Sitting Improved My Writing

A couch that's actually a swing. My kind of place! (Although this is just clip art so I didn't get one of my own to try out while house sitting.)

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Today I’m guest posting over at K.M. Weiland’s blog Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors. My post is called What House Sitting Teaches You About Writing and covers how to use a character’s belongings to reveal their personality. Head over there and take a look!

For the past four weeks my husband and I have been house sitting. A change is indeed as good as a holiday and we had a great time.

You may remember an earlier post mentioned some of the goals I had in mind for the month. The good news is I managed most of them.

Let me give you a brief recap of the things I learned or was reminded about during our ‘house sitting adventure.’

Change Sparks Creativity

I was overwhelmed by how creative I suddenly felt in new surroundings. Possibilities seemed endless and new discoveries were everywhere. As Creativity pointed out in her post there was plenty to distract, but the distractions were all part of the wonder of being exposed to new things.

The intial spark of excitement only lasts a week or two and then the house felt like home, but it reminded me to soak up everything that excites my Creativity and run with it while the joy is there.

‘Change sparks Creativity’ is a great thing to remember when you’re feeling blocked or stale in your writing. Change, even in small ways, does boost your Creativity and often you’re in control of when and how you bring that change about.

Sunshine is a Great Start to the Day

One of my goals for the month was to start the morning by having breakfast outside. Of course, the weather didn’t make that possible every day, but I definitely noticed a difference on the days I managed to drink in the rays (I stress I did this in the early morning before the UV index climbed too high).

I saw a great quote yesterday from Rasheed Ogunlaru which sums this up. He said:

Take a walk outside — it will serve you far more than pacing around in your mind.

As writers, we probably spend far too much time indoors and at our desks pacing around in our minds. When you’re feeling lethargic and uninspired, invest in some fresh air, movement and sunshine.

Remember, change sparks Creativity – even small changes. Stepping outside may be just the level of change your Creativity needs to start firing again.

Objects Can Tell You So Much About a Person

This is probably the biggest thing I learned during the month but you’ll have to go over to Wordplay to read my guest post about it.

Creativity Needs to be Integrated Into Your Life

The sparks of my Creativity didn’t just help my writing , they also entered other areas of my life – like cooking.

My goal was to have four successful new recipes. I had several ‘interesting’ recipe attempts that, while still edible, shall not be repeated. I did end up with one very good recipe that I’m happy to pass on to friends and family. One out of four is not bad.

But the point is that to be creative in one area of your life means you have to be open to your Creativity having opinions and input on other areas of your life. In fact, you want your Creativity to be present in as many different parts of your day as possible. (I’m not the only writer who feels this way. Charlotte Rains Dixon wrote about the topic this week too.)

Creativity is not something you can switch on and off. It’s a part of yourself that you can nuture, encourage and listen to. You can build trust and understanding in your Creativity and grow together to become more and more creative.

There are plenty more things I learned during house sitting (like cats are evil, washing machines are destructive and deciduous trees are only beautiful when they’re not dropping leaves in your garden…although I already knew that last one) but I’ll spare you the details.

Have you experienced some kind of change during this past month? Have you noticed an impact on your Creativity?

____

If you’d like to find out more about how to be creative whenever and where ever you want, download my free e-book Creativity on Demand.


1 Comment

Boosting Creativity With a Change of Scene

A girl considering what she's going to try cooking next. Yum, the possibilities.

This is how I’m feeling right about now… (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity (that’s me in the blog header) and today I’m writing about our creative plans for the next four weeks.

To be honest, we’ve been feeling a bit creatively stale for the past few months. Dealing with illness and being cooped up indoors tends to stifle creative expression while also spoiling the beginnings of a promising tan. So, it is with great enthusiasm that I make this announcement:

For the next four weeks Jessica shall be taking in a change of scene. Not on holiday (that comes later in the year), but through the adventure of house sitting.

Four weeks in a completely different environment is a heady opportunity for a Creativity. The possibilities for creative shenanigans are endless.

I must stress that I do not mean we will be playing practical jokes on the owners of the house (we don’t know them that well yet) but there shall be plenty of playing with words, ideas and anything else I decide to turn my creative attention to (including a garden, what fun!).

This creative boost has been set off by the plethora of new stimuli. There are new books to browse, new rooms to write in, new kitchen appliances to experiment with, new decor to admire and a new pet to interact with (or should that read ‘a new pet to beat in a dastardly battle of wits’?). Everywhere I look there’s something I haven’t noticed before and house sitting gives one plenty of time to savour the experience.

But, although all this playful curiosity is bubbling along happily, Jessica has set some goals in order to get the most of out of our month of creative mayhem.

They are as follows.

Have breakfast in the sunshine every morning while journal writing.

Have you ever experienced the sensation of being drawn to a place or an object with a creative fascination? That’s what happens when your Creativity falls in love. Me? I’ve fallen in love with a beautiful little nook in the back garden.

There is a paved area surrounded by lattice work, creating a snug space which is still speckled with sunshine. The autumn weather is behaving itself at the moment so I’m looking forward to starting the morning in the great outdoors.

Well, I’m looking forward to it now that Jessica has sprayed the chair, table and general vicinity with bug spray to kill all the creepy crawlies. Poisonous spiders do tend to inhibit my creative flair.

The journal writing gets a lot of the writing bilge out of the way before we sit down to the serious work of playing around with blank pages, which leads to the next goal.

Write for a couple of hours each day.

Well, this isn’t a new goal, but new environments provide fresh incentive to recommit to previous plans. Going from a household of six to just two means there should be more time and room for writing.

Let me just add here that while Jessica believes there are far less distractions here (by that she obviously means people) she has not taken into consideration all the fascinating knick knacks and books which are catching my attention every time she looks away from the computer screen. There’s a book called Tilt on the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that I’m finding particularly interesting, if only for it’s clever title.

Jessica’s already realising that concentrating here may be harder than she thought. Still, I’m enjoying myself intensely!

Create at least four successful new recipes.

Remember those kitchen appliances I mentioned earlier? Well, they’re giving me so many ideas for meals that we’ve had to make a list!

Already we’ve invented ‘Green Cashew Paste’ which works well as a topping to both chicken and lamb with further variations to come. Who knows what we’ll end up with next!

Being loosed on a kitchen does wonders for my confidence and my creative spirit, which then translates onto the page later on. It’s like doing creative push ups with tasty treats to end your exercise.

It’s freeing and enjoyable and yummy!

So, that’s the plan for the next four weeks. Let’s see what we can get done!

What about you? What are your creative plans for the next four weeks? Do you have any goals you’re working towards?  


1 Comment

A Thank You Video for My Lovely Readers

Here’s something special for you all this week. I’ve recorded a video with a short message for my readers.

If you’ve ever wondered what I look and sound like, here’s your chance to find out.

If you’d like to see my other video, head over to the home page and take a look.


1 Comment

New E-book: Creativity on Demand

Creativity on Demand cover

Here it is! Full of creative goodness and polished till it shines, our new e-book is ready to go!

It introduces the concept of your own personal Creativity and is filled with practical tips on how you can become creative on demand.

My favourite section is on how to create your own solutions to writer’s block.

I’ve crammed this little book full of useful content to help you get the best out of your creative writing life.

To find out more about the book, visit our new home page or receive your copy via e-mail.

P.S. If you’re signed up to the Creativity’s Workshop Newsletter, your copy of Creativity on Demand is already waiting in your inbox.


4 Comments

Creativity’s Workshop Has a New Look!

Creativity looking extremely cute in her purple outfit.

Hello world! Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

You haven’t been waiting for it?

Well I have, so don’t burst my bubble.

I’ve had my portrait painted! Just like queens, spaniels and other famous personalities from history.

I tell you, posing for it was agony. I don’t like standing still, but the artist said if I moved I’d smudge the image. So I was very patient.

Well, mostly patient. Except for that one time when I snuck out while he wasn’t looking and nipped off to a beer garden in Germany. The blighter followed me and sketched me there! I refuse to post the picture, although Jessica says she’s more than happy to release it if there’s enough interest.

It’s always the people closest who turn on you.

As you may also have noticed, our website has been redesigned with yours truly centre stage. This is all part of the exciting changes we’re making this year. There’s plenty more interesting stuff in the pipeline.

So, what do you think? Does it make me look fat? Tell me the truth.


2 Comments

Plans for 2013

A red-haired girl doing a handstand

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

A new year is beginning. Are you ready to get going? If you haven’t thought about your plans for this brand new year, spend a moment or two with a piece of paper and have a little scribble about it.

Over the next few months Creativity’s Workshop will be changing. Exciting things are afoot!

Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect for 2013.

  • Creativity’s Workshop is having a makeover. Soon we’ll be updating to a brand new look and feel, complete with custom artwork. Watch this space!
  • We’ll be adding online courses to kickstart and boost your Creativity. I hope to have the first one ready in February. More info on that soon!
  • I’ll be finishing up a couple of my e-books and getting them out there for you to use in your creative life. Stay tuned, as I’ll be asking for some beta readers to take a sneak peek!
  • I’m also working on self-publishing a collection of short stories towards the middle of the year, all going to plan. I’ll need some beta readers for that too, so make sure you’re signed up to the newsletter and this blog for more information.

What are your plans for 2013? Let us know in the comments. If you’ve blogged about your plans, give us a link through to it. Let’s all get together and cheer each other on!


4 Comments

A Quick Message for the End of November

Three cheerleaders holding a fourth girl on their shoulders

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’m working on my last 3,000 words for NaNo WriMo today so I’m going to keep this short.

To all those who have already finished their word count: Congratulations! Pat yourselves on the back. You’ve worked hard and it’s paid off. We’re proud of you.

To all those still working to finish their word count by tomorrow: Go, go, go! We’re cheering you on. You can do it. Just keep putting one word in front of the other. You’ll get there. We’re proud of you.

To all those who won’t finish their 50,000 words this month: Well done for putting in the effort. You have participated and produced words which would not otherwise have seen the light of day. We’re proud of you.

To all the hardworking writers out there (whether you’re participating in NaNo WriMo or not), we thank you for your effort and cheer you onwards.


10 Comments

Making Orange Juice From Life’s Lemons

A refreshing image of citrus fruit and a jug of juice from aforementioned.

Hello all. It’s been a little while since my last post, but I’m finally getting back into routine!

Yes, life has thrown us some lemons of late. For those who would like an update on my life, there is some good news and some not-so-good news.

The good news is that my health is picking up. After a couple of months being unable to write, I’m working my way back to something resembling normality. The not-so-good news is that my husband’s health has deteriorated further. We are none the wiser as to why he is so ill, though thankfully cancer and a couple of other nasties have been ruled out. It seems this one’s going to be a long haul.

At times like these, writing and creative projects tend to go out the window as you rush from doctor to doctor. Over the past couple of months I’ve learned how to be creative under the deluge of life’s flying citrus.

Here are some of my suggestions. I’d love to hear yours too!

1. Get Back to Basics

Sometimes all you can do is sleep, eat and manage essential household chores. When that happens, don’t be shy about cutting out everything that adds unnecessary stress or takes essential time/energy.

If this includes writing or other creative pursuits, don’t panic. It’s not forever, just during your current showering of lemons.

2. Find Little Outlets for Your Creativity

Doodle, write humours notes, fold paper hats from junk mail or any other little things which give your Creativity an opportunity to show a little flair. Try doing a small creative project that no one is relying on – something just for you.

Creative moments like these help to keep you sane under the pressure. Just remember, stressful situations are not ideal times to be creative. Use creative moments to release tension, not criticise yourself for what you’re unable to accomplish.

3. Return to Your Routine Slowly

Once you’re in a position to return to your creative pursuits, do things gradually. Don’t expect to jump straight back into the same quality and quantity as you managed before.

Be reasonable with your expectations and goals.

4. Be Patient as You Return to Form

After a hiatus, your first attempts at ideas, writing or any creative endeavour will be below par. You’re rusty and out of practice. Ignore your output for the first few days or weeks.

In the same way as an athlete will need to slowly work his muscles back into form, you too are working yourself back into condition. Be patient.

5. Ignore Advice

Waiting in your inbox will probably be plenty of blog posts and articles telling you all the things you should be doing – post to your blog three times a week, write 1,000 words a day, make sure there’s conflict in every scene.

This advice applies to people who are already in routine. You are building yourself back into routine, therefore this advice does not apply to you.

If anything in the article overwhelms you or discourages you, then ignore it. Only expose yourself to positive, gentle, motivating advice.

At this point, getting yourself back into writing is most important. You can polish and refine your work later once you’re able to face that stuff again.

So, that’s what I’ve learned from my recent experiences.

Have you been through anything similar? Do you have suggestions to add? I’d love to hear them.

P.S. If you’re interested in further tips on how to manage stress with your Creativity intact, try reading my e-book Tips for Those Contemplating Insanity.


Leave a comment

I Need Your Help on a New Project

A woman sitting on a table, painting a canvas with creative abandon.

Yes, even though my blog has been silent, Creativity and I are still chipping away at our projects – albeit much slower than usual.

My husband and I are both still sick, and we’re still in the dark about how serious my husband’s condition is. Hopefully we will have some new information in the next couple of weeks. It’s horrible to watch someone you love suffer. When two people are suffering, each day is its own individual struggle. Yesterday my husband described us as ’embattled’ and it perfectly summed up how we feel. The fact that we will be spending our first wedding anniversary in a hospital with me hooked up to an EEG seems oddly poetic.

But, enough of the depressing news. I wish to let you in on a project and ask for your help!

I would like to eventually update the look and feel of Creativity’s Workshop, making it more unique and providing the blog with some branding artwork. I’d specifically like to give Creativity her own ‘face’ and avatar. I’d also like to use some of the artwork on the covers of my upcoming e-books.

I’ve done up some rough sketches, but I don’t have the skills to create professional artwork. So I’m thinking about working with an artist to bring this project to life.

I’m starting to collect together some names of artists whose work I admire and whose style suits what I have in mind.

Here’s where you come in.

If you know of an artist who does commissioned, electronic artwork, please mention them in the comments below, or send me an e-mail at jessica@creativitysworkshop.com. I’m always excited to hear suggestions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Also, if you have any experience working with artists on this kind of a project, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are there any hidden problems/pitfalls I should know about? Do you have any suggestions on how I can make the artist’s work a bit easier? I’m always ready to learn and I’d love to learn from you.

Thank you all for your support and patience. I’m slowly working on my goal of getting back to regular blogging and writing. I have some great stuff in the pipeline and I can’t wait to actually get it out to you.