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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

• Check out this site for some inspiration and company on this often solitary writing path.

Five questions to keep in mind as you write a story from a master storyteller.

• A new challenge awaits you here if you are up for it.

This looks like fun.

• An intriguing article on the push and release of the creative process.

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Share and Tell

1. Check out The Urban Muse for adventures in reading, writing and the creative life.

2. Make your own book here.

3. For a visual feast go here.

4. This makes me yearn for my art school days of sitting behind the Philadelphia Art Museum or in Rittenhouse Square with my own sketchbook.

5. Watch this video on the economy made by high school students that got President Obama’s attention.

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Creative Tidbit

“What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in awhile.”

– Gretchen Rubin

I love this quote. In fact, I printed it out in bold type and pinned it to the bulletin board in my office.

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This month so many magazine covers boast variations on the headline “A new year, A new you” and I am left asking myself what is wrong with the old me? For the first time in many, many years I did not approach this New Year’s eve with my usual frantic scrambling of resolutions designed to “fix” me but all they really do are make me feel less than. I realized that I finally feel good enough in most of the important areas of my life. I found this website called “Joe’s Goals” where you can track your goals with smiley faces or sad faces. When I looked at what other people are trying to achieve I found that I am way ahead of the game. I already do these things on a regular basis: floss, exercise, meditate, yoga, eat healthy foods, no credit card debt, read.

Last year I had this book about resolutions and I had so many that I couldn’t choose just one to focus on. This year it is just the opposite. There is only one thing I want to focus on and that is my writing. I stopped sending stories out over the last year or so. I still have several big projects that I need to finish. So I have written everyday since December 1. Many of those days were only morning pages especially throughout the holiday but it was still writing. I didn’t want to wake up on January 1 and feel behind. I wanted to gather some momentum to propel me writing into the new year and that’s just what I have done.

Resolution is such a harsh word and has so much baggage attached to it so I am not even calling it that. No. This year is all about my focus, my intention. Where do I intend to focus my energy this year? On my writing career. That little word “career” is new to me. I’ve always downplayed writing as just something I do but now I want it to be what I Do with a capital “D”. Each day I am asking myself “What did I do to nurture my writing career today?” So far it’s been things like revising a story, organizing my office so it is an inviting space to work in, looking through “Poets & Writers” for upcoming contests or submissions, buying index cards and a box to track my submissions. I am borrowing the concept of “micro-movements” from Sark so that some days the thing I do is print address labels to journals or draft a cover letter or find one new journal to submit to and write down the contact info on an index card. My intention is that all of these big and tiny creative movements will add up to a major leap in my writing life by the end of the year.

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Some Link Love

Here are some interesting links (that I found thanks to Leah) to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

• Break through writer’s block here

This looks like so much fun. I think I’ll play with it after I write today. Would make great homemade gifts for the holidays.

• A pep talk to just do it.

• An interview with the designer of the Obama logo.

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Becca asks: So, how about you? Do you find that physical activity inspires your creativity? What’s works best for you – walking, running, dancing, kickboxing? How do you get in touch with your body, and use that awareness to inform your writing? How do you keep your body and mind in balance?

The mind body connection has always fascinated me. For those who don’t believe that such a thing exists, I ask if you have ever been afraid? That rush of adrenaline that floods your body comes from a thought that you are in danger. Or perhaps you’ve been turned on by an erotic story or movie. Mind, body- it’s all connected. So as a writer who uses her mind, I’m always looking for ways to tune into my body and use it to help my creative process.

First, I need to exercise. Moving my hand across a piece of paper or the keyboard does not qualify as aerobic activity. I work out about five days a week. Sometimes four, maybe six. It’s part of what I consider my triad of health. Exercise connects me with my body, writing with my mind, yoga and mediation with my spirit. If I let go of one, I lose focus. Lose my emotional balance. If I don’t move my body it starts to feel sluggish which leads to my mind feeling sluggish which leads to very few words getting onto paper. In the winter, exercise is especially important. It keeps the winter blues at bay.

Most mornings I do a twenty minute yoga routine that ends with a five minute meditation. I don’t belong to a gym. I have lots of tapes that I rotate that incorporate aerobics and weight training for about fifty minutes each. I always end up feeling clear headed and energized, two valuable assets to the creative process. I also walk, jog, ride my bike in the summer, shovel snow in the winter. It’s no longer a chore to make myself do it. I’ve been doing this for two years now. Even when I go on vacation I find a way to workout.

I also get a massage every other week. It’s a luxury that I made room for in the new budget that I set up once the economy tanked. It’s relaxing, balancing and often ideas for characters and stories drift to me as I lay there.

Walking is another activity that untangles the knots in my mind. If I feel stuck in a story I often go for a walk, not to exercise my body but to stimulate my brain. The even rhythm allows things to settle and ideas rise to the surface. At the very least I come back energized and re-focused.

Dance is something that I am feeling drawn to lately. I once had a childhood friend who told me I sounded like an elephant as we all did the locomotion in her basement. And one charming boyfriend in college took it upon himself to “teach” me how to dance. Up until that point I had pretty much enjoyed myself out there but in his eyes I apparently lacked a certain rhythm, not that I was Elaine or anything from Seinfeld but he sure made me feel like it. Anyway, I have this urge now to take ballet in order to feel graceful in my body. Or perhaps ballroom dancing with my husband.

Exploring other art forms is nourishment for the art form you practice. I took singing lessons once. I always told myself I couldn’t sing and I thought that getting in touch with my physical voice might help with my writing voice. It did. To me dance is all about being totally in the moment and unselfconscious. How could that not help my writing? This dancing seed was planted back when I read Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. She is a dancer and choreographer but the book can be applied to any art form or creative process.

Sleep is critical to my overall well-being. I naturally sleep eight to nine hours a night. Seven is pushing it. Six and it’s nap time.

The last way I stay in touch with my body and use it in my writing is by becoming aware of bodily sensations that come up with strong emotions. Writing about being afraid or nervous keeps it pretty abstract. It grounds a scene for me to focus on what the character feels in her body and to do that I need to be aware of what I feel in my own body. Do I twist my ring when I am nervous? Rub the back of my neck when uncomfortable? Being on the lookout for these sensations also helps me ride out the wave of emotion. It takes me out of my head and all the stories I tell myself and into the moment, into my body.

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Creative Tidbit

“I cannot expect even my own art to provide all of the answers– only to hope it keeps asking the right questions.”

– Grace Hartigan

(Interesting synchronicity… I hadn’t heard of this artist until today. I saw one of her paintings at the Gand Rapids Art Museum and made myself a note to learn more about her. I came home and as I looked for a quote to post I came across this one by her.)

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