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Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ March 18, 2013

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If you aren’t doing your creative work as often as you’d like, recommit to a regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if possible — is one of the best ways to stay in touch with how you make meaning. Can a regular creative practice be part of your intentions for 2013?

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!


If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Luckily, last week we were able to ease into my husband’s return to work — he went in on Wednesday and Friday, so I had a little breather on Thursday. And given how things have turned into Crazy Town on the domestic front (issues with several relatives) I was glad for the ramp up. This week is my first full week at home alone with my mother-in-law and back on kid duty without driving/domestic help from my husband.

    The good news: My morning writing session is now solidly back in the early hours — been hitting my 500-word minimum before 6:00. Then at 6:00, I sit (meditate) for 20 minutes with my husband. Great way to start the day.

    Daily writing practice streak: 97 days in a row of logging a minimum of 500 words daily in my WIP. Need some longer sessions where I can do some editing, but I don’t expect to make that happen this week.

    Last week’s creative/well-being intentions:
    * Daily morning centering practice w/Morning Pages and intention journaling [yes]
    * Daily writing practice [yes]
    * Complete installment of short story for “5PM Friday” weekly accountability group [yes]
    * Read peer pieces in preparation for Wednesday writers’ group [yes]
    * Write blog post [no]
    * Start working on newsletter [no]
    * Yoga/walk x3 [yes]
    * Daily reading [yes]
    * Project Life [no]

    This week’s creative/well-being intentions:
    * Maintain sanity
    * Daily morning centering practice w/Morning Pages and intention journaling
    * Daily writing practice
    * Complete installment of short story for “5PM Friday” weekly accountability group [daily]
    * Write blog post [T/W]
    * Start working on newsletter [W/Th]
    * Yoga/walk x3 [M/W/Th]
    * Daily reading
    * Project Life [afternoons w/kids]

    March 18, 2013
  2. Zoe #

    Thank you for this blog. I’ve been reading it regularly for the last month or two. I came across it after searching for something like “motherhood + artist”.

    have 3 children, ages 2.5, 5, and 7. When I gave birth to my oldest child I had graduated from university and was working at a dead-end job for a year with the intention of going to graduate school to pursue an MFA in writing the following September. I put together my portfolio and summoned the courage to send in the applications. Surprise! I found out that I was pregnant the day before I got the acceptance letter. The world turned upside-down. I wanted to be a mother even though I hadn’t planned to become one quite so soon; I’d wanted to write (ideally for a living) since I was a little girl. Because going to grad school would have necessitated moving across the country and away from my partner, it seemed that the MFA and motherhood were mutually exclusive. I turned down the offer.

    I had found the idea of spending a couple years of my life doing nothing but writing and reading while in the company of a group of like-minded people incredibly appealing. When else would I ever have the opportunity to focus on writing like that, I’d asked myself. To me, it seemed almost self-indulgent, a way to put off adult life and its responsibilities a while longer. Instead, I plunged headlong into motherhood and marriage. I kept a journal, but stopped writing fiction. Since early childhood I’d been writing stories in my head, sometimes narrating what I was actually doing, sometimes making up characters and sticking them into imagined scenarios to see what would happen. That narrative voice in my head was my companion for years and years until it was crowded out by the business of an adult life.

    I missed writing, but the few times I tried to get into an old project I found it impossible to work without having a stretch of uninterrupted time. While my son nursed and napped on my lap I could read, I could scribble in a journal, but I couldn’t get into the right headspace to write fiction. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to snap back into mommy mode when my son needed me, and I knew that trying to transition back and forth between writer and mother would leave me perpetually divided, never able to devote myself to either.

    I had a second child in short order. When she was a baby, our oldest was diagnosed with autism. I was busy; I was angry. I loved my children like nothing else in the world, but I was also unhappy with the day-to-day life of a stay-at-home mother. I was lucky, I reminded myself often — other women desperately wanted to be home with their children but couldn’t. I started publishing and editing book reviews because I could fit in the work around my children’s activities, their naps and meals, my son’s therapy, the household work, the errands. There is a certain creativity inherent in child rearing and in homemaking which I appreciated, but I always thought that it simply wasn’t possible to do it all. All those meals prepared and consumed. All those clean and mended clothes dirty and torn again. The dust swept away accumulates again. All those hours subsumed in the maintenance of life. Everyone must perform these tasks themselves though, unless they have a wife, a nanny, a house cleaner. And then they outsource this work because they can pay to have it done; they can pay to have it done because they spend the time working instead.

    How did other women writers manage (because of them certainly did manage)? I read two anthologies about mothering and art. The first was Double Lives, edited by Cowan, Lam, and Stonehouse. The second was Between Interruptions, edited by Cori Howard. I read The Divided Heart by Rachel Power. I read Lives of Mothers and Daughters by Alice Munro’s daughter, Sheila Munro. I read Tillie Olson’s Silences. I read Marni Jackson’s The Mother Zone. I read Carolyn Heilbrun’s Reinventing Womanhood where she writes that “Art cannot be achieved by those for whom anything else matters more. Art, like passion, is not a part-time occupation.” Did I agree? No, not exactly. It’s an awfully romantic notion, but it’s certainly not a universal truth.

    I had a third child, then I got sick. I spent the first two years of her life in doctors’ offices trying to get a proper diagnosis and treatment (for what turned out to be an autoimmune disease similar to lupus). My health is now stable and my youngest is in nursery school part-time. I rush home after dropping them at school so I can make the best possible use of that hour and a half all to myself. I wanted to commit to some sort of regular writing practice and I wanted to set some goals. I turned to the internet and searched for “motherhood + artist” and I found this blog. I read through the archives. I wrote some intentions.

    Over the last few months I’ve been writing every day, reading voraciously, and feeling more and more alive and awake. And what’s funny, of course, is that this makes me a better mother. I’m happier and more present when I’m with them (which is the vast majority of my time and theirs). Even more importantly, I want to show my kids a model of adult life that is appealing, that incorporates the creative into the practical and necessary. I want to show them that work can be interesting and engaging. I’m getting there.

    This is long! I intended to write a couple sentences on what I was working on this week… it turned into this! Anyway, thank you for your blog and the inspiration and encouragement it provides to parents who are trying to make room for creative practice of all sorts in their lives.

    March 18, 2013
    • What a beautiful introduction, Zoe! You write so well about the experience of creativity and motherhood — which seems to defy articulation. I would love to post this intro as a guest post — with photos, if you’re OK with that — as these words will resonate with many of our readers (most of whom won’t see your comment). How would you feel about that? You’re welcome to edit first, if there are things you’d like to change — let me know!

      March 19, 2013
      • Zoe #

        Thank you for your kind words! Sure, I would love to turn my comment into a guest post. I’ll clean it up a little first — when would you like it? And what sort of photos would you like?

        March 19, 2013
      • Thanks, Zoe! I just e-mailed you the deets 🙂

        March 20, 2013
  3. Zoe #

    Haha, I read over my comment and noticed a multitude of typos… can you tell that I was running back and forth between my computer and the kitchen where I was making dinner for my family?! 🙂

    March 18, 2013
  4. Deborah
    Monday, March 11, 2013
    1. Monday- printmaking class with Pam Lawson- check
    2. Morning writing: daily- check (but it’s all journal and no memoir)
    3. Daily yoga practice – call it 5 out of 7,
    4. Tax preparation done and mailed- done yes, mailed no, but it’s in the car and if it wasn’t SNOWING I would mail it today (tuesday)
    5. Begin painting the kitchen and downstairs hall- no, but I have a book on painting, a book on selling your house, and a book on staging your house to sell. After reading the first chapter of House Selling for Dummies, I’m not so sure that we can even afford to sell our house and buy a larger one in a better school system, we may need to reevaluate this plan.
    6. Daily drawing, even a 5 minute sketch.- oh dear, another week and only few drawings. Okay, I think it’s none.
    7. Wednesday writing group meets this week, not sure I can make it yet given everything else I have to do but I’m going to try.- didn’t make it, still reading the submissions
    8. Gallery: begin writing about Tarbell, finish the summer portrait prospectus, email director re budget: Wrote a few paragraphs about Tarbell. Didn’t manage the other two.

    This Week, March 18, 2013

    1. New project, my daughter said she’d rather have me teach her an art class than take a class somewhere else. And so, I’ve committed to teaching an in-home art class on Monday afternoons to my kids. This doesn’t cut in time wise to other projects because otherwise we’d be doing, you know, homework and dinner prep. But it does get me to focus. It helps a lot that we have Art Lab for Kids by Susan Schwake. Yesterday we did contour drawings and for the snow day (today) we’ll try lesson two: large scale ink drawings. I’m a little nervous about letting them use India ink. Can I just say that all three of my kids seem to have a knack for this?
    2. Writing: daily journal writing and turning from my memoir to researching and writing about EC Tarbell for a booklet to be printed for fall exhibit.
    3. Daily yoga practice- I’m on fire with this new teacher we (yoga buddy & I) found in Belmont. Very traditional ashtanga practice. Not sure my shoulder agrees though. Trying to figure out how to adjust my schedule to get there more than once a week.
    4. Mail the taxes- it feels so good to have this done! Not to mention the months of filing I had to catch up on just to do it. Paperwork is not my strong suit.
    5. Begin painting kitchen and downstairs hall. Whether we sell or not (see 5 above from last week), a minor kitchen renovation is in order. Motivate husband to fix the laminated counter/island. We need a new stove too. A coat of fresh paint will do wonders and I would love love love some new linoleum for the floor.
    6. Daily drawing: contour drawings.
    7. Gallery: set aside several large chunks of time to get caught up, especially getting the calendar in order. Schedule in time to visit the Worcester Museum of Art and the MFA to research Tarbell.
    9. Teaching Yoga- I’ve been working on a couple of sequences of my own. The 1st half of each is strong but the 2nd needs some structure and differentiation. Work towards evolving a flexible script, built in cues, etc…

    Here’s what I’m learning about goal setting. I’m probably always going to have more goals than I have time for. It’s just how I’m wired. I could continue to beat myself up for never meeting my own expectations, or I could learn to relax a little and go with it. Who sets these goals anyway?

    March 19, 2013
  5. Artem — about having more goals than your schedule can accommodate: This is one reason why assigning a time estimate to each thing you want to do is so useful. First, you can see if you’re trying to fit 20 hours of tasks into the 10 hours of “discretionary” time you have each week (for example). Second, thinking through how long something is likely to take helps to “containerize” the project. Let’s say I have “write blog post” on my list. I could easily spend three hours writing that post. But if I think it through and decide that I really only want to devote an hour to that task, then that’s what I allocate. Then I do whatever I can to complete the task within that timeframe. Your estimates won’t always be accurate, but fosters an awareness of your time budget and helps you prioritize from within an overabundant list.

    March 19, 2013

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