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Sh*t’s Gettin Real

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Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ September 8, 2014

Paulo Coelho 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.

Universal Canvas: Your Creative Community

Creativity is about using your self—your hands, your body, your mind, your heart—to make something that wouldn’t otherwise exist. The thing you create is in some small way an expression of your deepest experience. At its best, this expression speaks to others on the universal plane of human understanding. And when your work resonates with someone else, that spark gives birth to community. Since you’re reading this post, I need hardly point out that building community is one of the internet’s most powerful capabilities: connecting us as we stumble toward enlightenment, becoming more intentional in our work and more compassionate with each other.

The Creative Flock
Relationships are part of how we define ourselves and understand what we’re doing. We know that infants and children who are deprived of social and physical contact fail to thrive and can even die. People really do need people. As artists, writers, and other creative practitioners, community is vital to inspiration and validation. Sharing ideas, talking shop, and simply rubbing elbows with other creative souls goes a very long way in keeping your artful self at the forefront. Increasing your creative social connectivity is one of the easiest ways to develop and maintain your creative identity—especially when you’re struggling with self-doubt and the logistics of making art happen. (And who among us doesn’t struggle with those things at least on occasion?)

The people you’re involved with, in person or online, inspire you. They’re doing things. You want to do things too. They’re enjoying successes, large and small. You want those things as well. Your creative social network reminds you of who you are when you’re so adrift in domestic/work life that your artist self is only a shadowy glimmer. When you can barely recall the feeling of clay under your fingernails, surround yourself with other creative people wherever possible. Immerse yourself in the world of your art. It’s not unlike the suggestion that when you want to lose weight, you should imagine yourself as a thin person and act like a thin person might act. Playing the part helps turn it into reality. Fake it till you make it.

Building Your Creative Community
Assess your resources. What and whom do you currently rely on for creative energy? Which online resources, in addition to this one, do you regularly enjoy? What else could you do to participate in your creative network more regularly—or what could you do to create one? Make a list. A few ideas for starters:

  • Reach out. Send e-mails or make phone calls to creative friends and associates from the past and find out what they’re up to. Facebook stalk them if necessary. (In the nice way, not the creeper way.) If anything resonates, develop the relationship.
  • Even if your home base isn’t an urban area, don’t prematurely decide that your networking options are limited. Many smaller towns have a local gallery or an artisans’ gift shop. Stop in and find out if there’s a consortium of artists you can join.
  • The Sun Magazine’s website offers connections to local readers’ and writers’ groups across the country: http://www.thesunmagazine.org/get_involved/discussion_and_writing_groups.
  • Pick up a few of those freebie arts publications that are often stacked by the door at stores and restaurants. Peruse to see if there’s anything going on nearby that you’d like to attend.
  • Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com) and Google Groups (http://groups.google.com) exist on nearly any topic imaginable. Some are highly populated and post dozens of messages every day; others are quieter. Visit and search for your area of creative interest.
  • One of my favorite Yahoo Groups is an homage to Danny Gregory’s book Everyday Matters: http:// groups.yahoo.com/group/everydaymatters. With a focus on art (drawing in particular) this Yahoo Group is extremely active—and inspiring to visual artists as well as those who are not.
  • Craig’s List offers discussion groups on writing and the arts. Visit www.craigslist.org to find the Craig’s List website closest to you. Many locals use their local discussion list to form groups that meet in person.
  • If you have a favorite artist, writer, movement—or even a phrase!—that you’d like to keep tabs on, create a Google alert for that name or sequence of words. Whenever a new web page or blog is created with that string, you’ll receive an e-mail alert. This is a great way to explore the blogosphere. Visit www.google.com/alerts for details.
  • Join the Monday Post right here at Studio Mothers for accountability and support!

What else works for you in connecting with creative community?

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A version of the piece above originally appeared as a guest post at the fabulous Bliss Habits.

Open Call to Creative Action: February Finish-a-thon!

Need a little kick in the pants in order to move your creative project a few notches higher on the to-do list?

Cathy Coley writes: “In my blog post of Tuesday, January 27, 2009, a challenge was proffered by Liz Hum, a Creative Construction contributor. So much for whining about deadlock, writer’s block, not being able to finish, or even getting a project off the ground. The writers here have challenged each other to a project duel of sorts for the month of February. We are two days from the beginning of the shortest month of the year, so let’s get busy! This is hopefully a variation of nanowhatchacallit for November.”

Fabulous idea, ladies. And everyone can participate, not just writers. If you would like to join us, please post a comment to this blog post. Tell us what you’re going to finish in February. Maybe it’s your novel, or maybe it’s a short story, 10 poems, 5 prints in the dark room, 8 canvases, 48 pinch pots, 15 pairs of earrings, or whatever you’d like to quantify. You might also identify what your primary work opportunities will be: daytime while kids are at school; during baby’s naptime; at night when everyone is in bed; early in the morning when everyone is in bed; your lunch hour at the office; three hours at the coffee shop on Sunday afternoons; etc.

Before submitting your comment, check off the box below the comment field, which reads “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.” That way you’ll stay in the loop on everyone’s progress and we can keep in touch as the month progresses.

Firing gun goes off on February 1, 2009! Get ready, get set…..

Christa: Support a fellow writer

I am in over my head with work this week, but wanted to take a few moments to copy an important entry from my personal blog. Read on:

Today, January 29th, is the release date for the trade paperback edition of Patry Francis‘ debut novel The Liar’s Diary. What makes this release different? Unlike most authors, Patry doesn’t have the time, energy, or probably the money to market it herself. That’s because she’s undergoing treatment for an aggressive form cancer.

If I were dealing with this, I’d want my friends and acquaintances in the crime fiction community to come together for me too. Book promotion is hard enough as it is. To work so hard on a novel, to be trying to make a career in a business that’s increasingly stacked against us, and then to have book sales jeopardized by something completely out of one’s control…. So, even though I don’t know Patry personally, I’d like to join 300+ other blogging writers to ask my readers to check out her book. It looks like a good one, going by the Publisher’s Weekly review –

A case study in the explosive effects of extreme denial, Francis’s debut relies completely on its very unreliable narrator, with mixed results.

– as well as the publisher’s promotion:

A chilling tour of troubled minds, THE LIAR’S DIARY questions just how far you’ll go for your family and what dark truths you’d be willing to admit—even to yourself.

Also, watch The Liar’s Diary book trailer here.

Good luck Patry!

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