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Posts tagged ‘success’

The Monday Post 11.27.17

Samuel Beckett 2

Happy Monday, friends! What in the creative realm would you like to accomplish this week? Comment below with the what, when, and how! And if you commented on last week’s Monday Post, let us know how things went: the hiccups as well as the successes.

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ March 10, 2014

Joseph Campbell quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

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. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

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!

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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.

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ March 3, 2014

Marianne Williamson quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

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. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

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.

London Evening Standard: Motherhood need not spell the end of literature

From the London Evening Standard‘s Sebastian Shakespeare:

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall, wrote Cyril Connolly. Britain’s latest Nobel Laureate for Literature, Doris Lessing [at left], would doubtless agree. Lessing abandoned her two infant children (both under five) after leaving her first husband. “I had these two children and just couldn’t afford to keep them,” she said. Her two prams were not only enemies of promise but became emblematic of female poverty.

Some of the best female writers of the 20th century found it difficult to combine motherhood and creativity. Dame Muriel Spark walked out on her son when he was six to write novels and seek fame and fortune. She eventually cut her estranged son out of her multi-million pound will, leaving every penny of her assets to the female friend she lived with for 40 years.

Colette, who never wanted children, hardly ever saw her daughter, whom she left in the hands of an English nanny. She chillingly, albeit rather brilliantly, described children as “those happy unconscious little vampires who drain the maternal heart”. And as for Virginia Woolf, well, we all know what happened to her. The author of A Room of One’s Own, who argued that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”, ended up without children and committed suicide.

My wife, who is writing a book, recites this litany of names above as proof positive that motherhood and creativity do not go hand in hand — and the reason why she is putting procreation on hold. And Lessing’s Laureateship is now the icing on her anti-natal cake. Doris has set my breeding programme back by five years. However, for every bad egg there are plenty of examples of model literary mothers. What about Toni Morrison (1993 Nobel Prize winner), who continues to collaborate with her musician son Slade on children’s books?

Motherhood, far from being a hindrance, can be a spur to creativity. Look at JK Rowling, one of the most successful writers of the modern (or any) era, worth £500 million, who was a single mother when she embarked on writing her Harry Potter books.

Connolly’s maxim is not only out of date — in my block of flats I can’t keep a pram in the communal hallway — but plain wrong. The whole point of the perambulator is that you should push it around. JK Rowling took her baby out for a walk in the pram because it was the only way to get her child to fall asleep while she scribbled away in various Edinburgh cafés. You could argue that there is no better friend of good art than the pram in the mall. And, if you are lucky, the little blighter might actually get round to reading your book as well. At least that is what I’ll be telling my wife. Will my argument change her mind? I’ll get back to you.

Sebastian seems to be trying to convince himself, doesn’t he? I don’t feel comforted. Is this little piece uplifting, or just depressing?

Why setting goals can backfire

From Sunday’s Boston Globe, “Ready, aim…fire” by Drake Bennett, an examination of the downsides of goal-setting. Within a historical framework, the author points out that while goals often work, sometimes “success” involves a few unpleasant side-effects.

While Bennett focuses primarily on the corporate landscape, we can transfer his points to a creatively relevant scenario. For example, let’s say your goal is to complete three canvases this week. You manage to complete those three canvases, but you weren’t able to enjoy the process because you were so focused on completing them — and in the end, you weren’t happy with the work you did, because you cut corners to just get finished. You met your goal, but you can’t sell the paintings for as much as you’d like because they aren’t that great. In this scenario, you met your stated goal — but what did you really accomplish?

Two excerpts from the article:

It is a given in American life that goals are inseparable from accomplishment. President Kennedy’s 1961 promise to put an American on the moon by the end of the decade is held up as an example of a world-changing goal, the kind of inspirational beacon needed to surmount immense societal challenges. Among psychologists, the link between setting goals and achievement is one of the clearest there is, with studies on everyone from woodworkers to CEOs showing that we concentrate better, work longer, and do more if we set specific, measurable goals for ourselves.

Today, as the economic situation upends millions of lives, it is also forcing the reexamination of millions of goals — not only the revenue targets of battered firms, but the career aims of workers and students, and even the ambitions of the newly installed administration. And while it never feels good to give up on a goal, it may be a good time to ask which of the goals we had set for ourselves were things we really needed to achieve, and which were things we only thought we should — and what the difference has been costing us.

You can read the full article here.

What do you think of this premise — perhaps in light of the February Finish-a-thon experience for those who participated?

Perhaps shorter-term goals are better; more achievable and more inherently flexible. What about having a group goal of the most basic currency and commitment: spend on hour this week being creative. Is that too little to be of value? Does it still become the trap that Bennett describes?

I do like the idea that goals (and priorities) need to be reassessed from time to time. There’s nothing worse than waking up one morning and realizing that you’ve been busting your a** for something you don’t really care about anymore.

Clearly, we need to make sure that our goals are really serving our larger intention, whatever that is.

Miranda: New leaves

new leafI gather that spring may actually be coming to New England. The vernal equinox was March 20, and even though it’s hard to believe, I trust that within the next month our season will actually shift. We’ll stop needing coats and scarves. The snow will finally melt. And then: the growing season. I dream every day of that pale green blush that suddenly appears on our bare branches, slowly erupting into dewy new foliage. It’s like magic, every year.

The prospect of warmer weather has framed my thoughts about many of our recent posts. There’s a struggle between the Little Engine that Could’s “I think I can…I think I can” and a mother’s reality of “You’ve got to be kidding me.” For some of us, myself included, quitting–even temporarily–has seemed like the option of choice, or perhaps inevitable.

I think I got caught up in my plans to finish my nonfiction book, and–as Bethany recently blogged–suffered from unrealistic expectations in terms of output and regularity of schedule. The bar was too high. That said, while it may be the path of least resistance, I don’t want to include quitting on my menu. I can’t. I think about it, but I know what will happen: I’ll go back to being miserable, cranky, self-absorbed, and resentful. Not only do I owe it to myself, but I owe it to my husband and children. I am a better person when I create. It doesn’t have to be monumental, but if does have to be regular enough that I can erase the question marks from my calendar.

So I’m stepping back, while stepping up. Each of us needs a strategy for NOT throwing in the towel. (Sure, we’ll all need to take a little break from time to time, but that should be a positive, proactive choice–not a painful, wistful resignation.)

Instead of a milestone goal for each week (such as “Finish Chapter 3”–a goal I’ve stated more times on the Monday Page than I care to admit) my goal is going to be to work on my book for 10 minutes every day. That’s it. You may know, as I do, that this is a great trick to play on yourself. You know you can commit to 10 minutes–ANY of us can do that–and so the prospect of sitting down to write is not so intimidating. On many days, I may really only have 10 minutes–but on many others (such as this afternoon) I might “accidentally” write for an hour. If I only write for 10 minutes, I am a big success. I’ll be keeping the creative flow going, and will be thinking about my work even when I’m not working, because it will be fresh. And if I stumble into a bonus, well then, brilliant.

Christa has on several occasions noted her success in shooting for a very low output, and being satisfied with that. It makes perfect sense. Why turn up your nose at a fleeting keyboard session, only to hold out for a “real” creative stint–that never happens? Much better to keep yourself going in minor, even microscopic–intervals. Brittany can also attest to the critical mass that suddenly appears after inching along for what feels like a very long time. I need to adjust myself to this paradigm, because in the near future I’m going to find myself back in Land of the Newborn–where long stretches of anything simply don’t exist.

In the vein of “we can do it,” I’d also like to celebrate a few successes on this blog, as detailed on the Monday Page: Brittany finished her novel and is deep in revisions (huge round of applause, Brittany); Jenn has written more than half of her contracted textbook; Lisa completed her contracted history book (awesome!); Lisa and myself both revised short stories and submitted them to contests; Bethany finished at least three chapters of her novel and is shopping material; and Christa finished at least three chapters of her new novel.

Pretty damn impressive. I never made the cheerleading squad, but if I could, I’d do something eye-catching to congratulate everyone. Hard to believe I’m quoting Dory for the second time in a week, but, “Just keep swimming…just keep swimming…”

Oh, and keep an eye out for spring, if you’re living in the glacial northeast.

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