Creativity and Love

May 24, 2019

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”


Interesting Things May Develop

May 10, 2019

“Creativity is an awful lot like sex. If it always has to be great, that creates a certain amount of performance anxiety. If, instead, you experiment a little, even when you’re not in the mood and don’t have time for a long candlelight dinner with your muse, interesting things may start to develop. You are married to your creativity, not just out on a first date.”
—Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold


Do You Think You're Not Creative?

May 03, 2019

Photo by Amaury Salas on Unsplash

“Even if you never go near the arts, you are creating away like mad every single day, working in the medium of experience itself. Actions, objects, words, gestures—literally anything you influence by your choices becomes part of your creation. Every time you voice your thoughts to a loved one, or cook a meal, or choose a new bar of soap for the dish by your bathtub, you are creating a modification in space or time that would never have existed without you. Whether consciously or unconsciously, you have more power to create your own life than anyone or anything else.”
—Martha Beck, The Joy Diet


You Cannot Always Be Harvesting

June 03, 2016

At first, I was going to title this post “Happy Little Things: Harvest,” and write about the simple pleasure of gardening. But as I put words on paper, my thoughts took me in an entirely different direction.

This week’s “harvest” from my garden, if you can call it that, was three yellow pear tomatoes and two stunted carrots. So much effort for so little result, yet still, I keep at it. Kinda reminds me of my writing career (if you can call it that). I’m putting a lot of effort into it, but I’m not harvesting much in the way of finished pieces or paying clients, and I’m frustrated. But I also know that you cannot always be harvesting. Just as in gardening, in writing, in other creative endeavors—even in life itself, there must be times of planting, feeding, nurturing, even lying fallow.

While I desperately want and need to produce fruit, I can’t discount my need for the nourishment of instruction, time to allow ideas to sprout and grow in my head, and time to simply do nothing. I’ve seen the effects of neglect on my garden—nearly my entire crop of winter lettuce grew without thinning, watering and weeding, with predictably inedible results.

In my garden, I’m in the groove now, checking it every day, watering, weeding, and feeding as needed. I’ve got tons of lemons on my Meyer lemon tree, plenty of blossoms and green tomatoes still on my plants, and a few more carrots that might have a chance to grow into something edible. I have green onions and herbs ready when I need them. I’m also working on tending my creativity with the same attention and care. I believe if I keep putting in the time and effort, the harvest will come. And when it does, it will taste all the sweeter for the effort I’ve put in.

How do you nourish your creativity?

The sad little harvest


Yes, You

April 01, 2015

Seen on the streets of Blue Ridge, GA:

What will you make today?


Shut Up, Inner Critic

January 20, 2014

Lately I’ve been living with someone who has nothing good to say about me, who takes every opportunity to put me down and tell me I’m not good enough. In fact, she’s kind of a witch.

She’s my inner critic.

When I put pen to paper, she’s right there with “helpful” comments about how boring and bland my words are, and her most cutting criticism is that I have nothing to say. This criticism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and suddenly I don’t have anything to say. No words come. I sit staring at my blank page, bereft of ideas, frustrated that my writing time is slipping away with nothing to show for itself.

My inner critic has nothing constructive to say. She (my inner critic is a she) only tries to shut me down. Nothing I do is ever good enough, and I am not even close to being “good enough.” If she has good intentions, she’s going about it all wrong.

You don’t have to be a writer, artist or “creative” person to suffer from an inner critic. You may have one who trashes your appearance, athletic ability, intelligence, childrearing, housekeeping, or level of hospitality. When an area of life is important to you, you may find you have a small—or large—inner voice criticizing you. Your inner critic may try to keep you from doing what you want, or it may lash out when you’ve been human and made an error.

Frankly, I’m tired of my inner critic’s B.S. I don’t need any inner voices tearing me down. If she has nothing helpful to say, she can just shut up. I don’t let real people talk to me like that—why do I let her get away with it? Here are four things I’m doing to shut up my inner critic:

  1. Notice what she’s saying. Is there any truth at all or is it just generalized, unconstructive criticism? Occasionally, there may be a kernel of truth in what she says, but more often she makes big, sweeping statements that simply aren’t accurate. (I’m really not the most boring person in the world, for example.)
  2. Pretend I’ve overheard her criticizing someone else. Do I believe her, or would I argue with her, defending the other person?
  3. Talk back to her. Question her. Say, “Who cares what you think!” Tell her to shut up. Someone who speaks to me the way she does deserves little or no consideration for her feelings. One article I read suggested naming her, then telling her to shut up by name.
  4. Draw or paint a picture of her, then tape her mouth shut. I got this idea from Laure Ferlita—read her post “What Does Your Inner Critic Look Like?!” here
My inner critic doesn't like how I've drawn her...

I hope you don’t have such a vicious voice living inside your head, but if you do, try one or more of the above techniques to silence her. You don’t have to put up with that!

Do you have an inner critic? How do you silence him or her?

30 days

30 Days

April 26, 2013

If you’re at all familiar with home organizing websites (or Pinterest) then you’ve probably come across the concept of “30 Days of Organizing.” With my affection for lists and for clearing out and decluttering, I’m always drawn to these lists and often start off making my own with a burst of enthusiasm—enthusiasm that fades approximately five days into the whole deal. You see, I’m always attracted to the fantasy idea of “getting things under control” in a set time, like 30 days. Never mind that life itself resists efforts to control it, and likely will never be under control. Never mind that my list often sounds about as fun as 30 days of dental appointments. (How much interest can I really drum up in cleaning the bedroom ceiling fan?)

So as I was making my latest dreary home organizing list, I pondered taking the 30 days concept in a much more enjoyable direction. What about scheduling 30 days of creativity? Or 30 days of sketching, writing, gratitude, or even pampering? Oh, oh, oh—or 30 days of chocolate! Gee, those sound a lot more fun! Frankly, I have more need of scheduling creativity and fun that I do chores. Despite my sensitive conscience and obsession with contributing to family life, I do enough. Instead of adding more to my workload, I’m going to schedule in some fun.

As I was thinking about this idea, I also remembered something I’d read on Matt Cutts’ blog—a slightly different take on the 30 days concept.  Matt is a software engineer and head of Google’s Webspam team and he chooses a new 30-day challenge every month. Some of his challenges have been 30 days of: exercise; acts of kindness; avoiding reading, watching or hearing the news; drawing something; and ukulele! Here’s a link to a video of Matt giving a short TED talk about 30-day challenges: 

I decided to go for 30 Days of Creativity, and here are a few things I’ve jotted down on my list (any suggestions?): go on an artist’s date; finish filling my sketchbook that only has two or three blank pages left in it; write a haiku; take some photos. At this point, I’m not going to limit myself to any one area of creativity, but I am going to try hard to make it 30 consecutive days. That will be a big challenge for me, because I often find it hard to do anything for 30 consecutive days, even fun things. I usually miss a day here and there, but I won’t beat myself up about that. Any step in a more creative direction will be progress. To keep me honest, I’ll let you know when I officially start my experiment, and post updates about it here on the blog.

In my opinion, we don’t need to add more work to our lives. We need to add more joy, more play, more fun and creativity. There will always be more than enough work to fill our time—but is that really how we want to fill it?

What would you like to try for 30 days?


Running Dry

October 29, 2010

If you work or play in a creative field such as writing, painting, quilting, making jewelry, etc., there will likely come a time when you find yourself running dry of ideas and inspiration—and sometimes even the will and desire to create. When this happens to me, it usually indicates a lack of “filling the well.” I’ve denied my inner artist raw materials with which to create new things, and it’s time for replenishment of emotional and physical resources.

Here are some things I've found help fill the well when I'm running dry:

Immerse yourself in something related to your own creative field. For me, that would be reading instructional material related to writing and/or reading good writing by authors I admire. Sometimes a good drenching with the words, images, music, and so on, by masters in your field will inspire and encourage you.

Try doing something unrelated to your field. If you write, try drawing or photography or needlework. If you paint, maybe try journaling or working with clay. You get the idea. You don’t have to master this new creative endeavor—just let your inner artist dip her toes into something new.

Get physical. Take a walk, dig in the garden, ride a bike, paint the living room. Often a mindless physical activity allows buried thoughts and ideas to bubble to the surface.

Go on a formal artist’s date, a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you set aside a chunk of time that is yours alone in which to explore, and you do your artist’s date alone. If someone is with you, he or she will subtly influence you, even if you don’t realize it. The artist’s date is for your inner child as well as your inner artist, and you might not feel as free to be yourself if you have a companion.

Artist’s dates can be of varying lengths, from 15 minutes to a whole day. I’ve taken my camera to a local botanical garden, gone solo to a matinee, and wandered through art supply and book stores. Other possibilities include going to a flea market or secondhand store, watching the sun rise or set, playing with Play-Doh or coloring in a coloring book—really anything you think will be fun for your inner artist/child to do.

Creativity must be nurtured. If you want to continue to live a creative life, you have to fill the well, not just continually draw from it. As Cameron notes, your inner artist needs pampering and she needs to be listened to. Stimulate your brain with new sights, sounds and activities, different from your normal routine. Take time to reflect on how you felt and what you learned.

I’ve been feeling a little dry lately and could use some new ideas for creative refreshment myself. What do you do to refill the well?