Posted by: Cathy | April 18, 2018

Do Your First Thing First Thing in the Morning

I’ve learned from experience that your day will feel more worthwhile after you do your creative work, so do it as early in the day as possible.

Time is flexible and unreliable. If you wait for the “right” time to do something, you’ll always find excuses not to do it, so it’s important to make space in your schedule so you can do your important creative work before the day gets hectic and out of control. Also, if you can make it a habit at the same time every day, it will become easier to follow through.

I have found personally that I am much more successful getting my daily fiction writing done if I do it before or during my lunch break. If I miss a session, I try to do it as soon as I get home from work before I do anything else. I prioritize it and I made a commitment to honor this priority. This is a priority for me because I’ve noticed how I am when I do my writing versus when I don’t.

When I do my daily writing, I’m more balanced, I’m less angry, I can let irritations roll of my back more easily, I frown less and smile more. In the grand scheme of things, who knows if I’ll ever become a published author, but the daily work of writing for me is more important than the product of the books I’m writing. It affects my attitude and my daily life, because what we do every day is how we live our lives.

I’m living my life as a writer, by writing every day, and that makes me feel really good. Just typing that made my eyes light up and my heart open.

So it is really important, for you day to day and in the grand scheme of things, that you do your creativity as often as possible, and doing it earlier in the day can help make it more probable that you’ll do it.

Do your First Thing first thing in the morning and see how it can change your life.
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Posted by: Cathy | April 16, 2018

Plant Yourself

To make your dreams come true, it helps to plant yourself. Commit to one thing at a time, then focus on that one thing, taking action toward it, until it’s completed.

A cherry pit has all the instructions to eventually become a cherry tree. It can’t one day become a lemon tree. Similarly, you probably know inside you what you authentically are, and trying to become an accountant instead could be agony if it’s not who you authentically are. (Nothing against accountants! But I hope they all know in their bones that they should be accountants and not doing something else.)

And a cherry pit doesn’t need to know how to become a cherry tree. By staying true to itself, it happens naturally. It receives sun and rain and grows bit by bit.

I believe your job is to grow into your authentic, creative self bit by bit like the cherry tree. Each little creative project you do helps you grow. It doesn’t matter if the project is “successful” or not. It’s about the process, and your commitment to plant yourself and see what kind of tree you are.

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Posted by: Cathy | April 11, 2018

Reinforce your Systems for Q2

How are your healthy habits going?

Healthy habits help us create containers for what we want to cultivate in our lives. For example, I told you about my morning and evening routines, which help give me more time and energy for my creative pursuits. These systems make it easier to choose my creativity by streamlining common things I want to do each day.

As you begin tackling your goals for the second quarter of the year (Q2), check in with your healthy habits, routines, and systems. Have you stopped doing something you know is beneficial? Recommit to it. Is there something you want to tweak to make it more effective? Implement it. Do you want to try a new habit to strengthen another facet of your life? Go for it, but try to only initiate one habit at a time to improve your chances of success.

Continue making progress on your year’s intention by reinforcing your systems for Q2.

What systems do you find especially effective for you? Let me know in the comments.

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Posted by: Cathy | April 9, 2018

Addicted to the Unimportant

Something attracts you to the less-important, non-creative stuff if you are choosing that instead of your creative work. You get some kind of payoff or you wouldn’t choose it.

Personally, there was a time recently where I was kind of addicted to online Mahjongg solitaire. I would feel stress at my day-job and play a “quick” game of Mahjongg to clear my head and disconnect from whatever was stressing me out, but then the game became a crutch. I could have chosen instead to do a short meditation or take a tea break, which would have been a more healthy way to disconnect from the stress, but I work on a computer so it was easier to take a “break” with an online game. After a few weeks of turning to Mahjongg, I felt reliant on the game to clear my head and one day I realized how much time I was wasting on it and I said this has got to stop. I quit it cold turkey. At first it was helping me change mental gears, but it was giving me a false sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. My goal this year is not to become a Mahjongg champion! And yet I was investing a lot of my precious time into it and getting little in return, nothing of importance.

This is why a time audit can be so helpful (I have a free Time Audit ebook here), to notice where your time is going and make more mindful choices aligned with your priorities.

Are you addicted to something unimportant? Break free, take back your time, and do something nourishing instead. When your well is full, you will have more time and energy to give your creative projects.

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Posted by: Cathy | April 4, 2018

Q2 mini-goal: What do you want to create?

I like to do my annual planning quarter by quarter. This way, I can make course-corrections as the year progresses and not feel behind on my overall goals.

For example, I wanted to finish a first draft of my novel by March 31, but then I got sick with a cold for two weeks starting March 3 and didn’t have the energy or mental space to do much writing all month. Rather than feeling discouraged for not meeting that goal, I can recalibrate and set a new goal for the second quarter, April through June. I still feel disappointment at not meeting the original goal, but this gives me a fresh start and I can focus on what I can do today and tomorrow and not what I didn’t do yesterday. It also reminds me to factor in some contingency for my goal planning; sometimes you just get sick for two weeks and can’t do anything!

Then for the new quarter mini-goal, I’ve got about 26k words to go to finish the first draft; another third or so of the book to write. So, I’m making up FiNoWriMo (Finish my Novel Writing Month) for April. My goal is to write about 1,600 words every weekday. Then in May, I can begin revising it.

So, looking forward for the next three months, what is a mini-goal you want to set for yourself? It can be a subset of a larger goal, or it can be a stand-alone goal. Try to focus on only 3-5 mini-goals at a time, one for each priority area of your life for the year. For example, you might have a fitness mini-goal, a creativity mini-goal, and an education mini-goal.

What do you want to create for yourself in Q2?
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Posted by: Cathy | April 2, 2018

Spring Forward your Creativity

Spring is a physical embodiment of abundance: fresh air, clean rain, green grass, budding trees and flowers, baby animals.

Consider how you can harness the energy of Spring for your creative pursuits. Here are some ideas:

  • Look for signs of spring in your neighborhood and use them as inspiration for a short creative project.
  • Spring-clean your art and craft supplies. Throw out old dry paints. Inventory what you have and what you’d like to use in the coming months. Look for things you could repurpose and give new life, or donate to someone who would love to play with things that no longer call to you.
  • Freshen your creative skills and go back to basics with a free challenge online (sketching, photography, poetry, using a word-of-the-day in a scene, etc.).
  • Learn something new. Try a free technique video on YouTube or sign up for a class.
  • Flashback to your childhood and play with a medium you enjoyed as a kid. Maybe invite a kid you know for an art date.

Nature is a primal creative force and can be a great source of creative inspiration. Let spring inspire you and move your creativity forward!

If you have other spring-themed creative ideas, share them in the comments.
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Posted by: Cathy | March 28, 2018

What have you made yet this year? Q1

We’ve finished the first three months of the year! It’s time for review.

  • What have you made so far creatively?
  • What were your “highs”, personally, professionally, creatively, etc.?
  • What were your goals for the year? How did you progress on them?
  • What worked well for you so far? What do you want to keep doing?
  • What tripped you up? What could you change about those things/situations so they go more smoothly in the future?
  • Who do you want to be in Q2 and what do you need to do to make that happen? What do you want to change or add in Q2?

If you have other favorite review questions/prompts, let me know in the comments!

Regardless of what you did or didn’t do in Q1, tomorrow is a new day and you can start fresh. Take what serves you forward and leave what doesn’t serve you behind, and recommit to yourself and your goals each day.

You can do it! You’re creative; you can do anything when you combine vision and action.

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Posted by: Cathy | March 26, 2018

Face Everything And Rise (FEAR)

Recently an acquaintance told me this acronym for “FEAR”: Face Everything And Rise.

In January, I told you my theory that fears are tied to weaknesses, “Anytime you feel fear, it is showing you a place of weakness or limitation. In order to overcome your fear, look at the weakness tied to it. Anything that is limiting you is tied to a fear somewhere.”

Fears keep you small and unempowered, and I really like the imagery in this phrase, Face Everything And Rise. To rise above your fear, you need to face it. Fears are opportunities for growth, but you need to take action.

Think of one fear or one area where you feel unempowered. What would you need to do to face it? How would it feel to rise above it? Give it some thought and prepare yourself to take action, so you can Face Everything (one at a time) And Rise.

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Posted by: Cathy | March 21, 2018

Creative Astrology: Creative advice by the signs

The spring equinox bring us into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. This gave me the idea to give you some creativity horoscopes!

Aries: Get impulsive with a kid’s paint set or even just some crayons. Pick a color, think of a shape, and put it on your paper. Play with different colors, shapes, and sizes. Don’t think, just create.

Taurus: Try something with yarn or fabric; knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, or quilting. The textures will satisfy your sensual nature, and the finished project will give you something cozy and functional.

Gemini: Play with words. Make a list of words you just like the sounds of, then read them outloud in different combinations. When you find one you like, write it as a poem and consider taking it to open-mic night at your favorite pub or coffee house!

Cancer: Fiddle with your favorite recipe, or make up a new recipe. Play with your food and maybe share the dish with a loved one for dinner and conversation.

Leo: Go big. Get a large roll of paper or tape some smaller sheets together and put them up on the wall. Draw, paint, collage, write, or try any combination of mediums on your paper.

Virgo: Try something meticulous, like mandala coloring. You could get a mandala-themed coloring book or find a mandala image online to trace and recreate.

Libra: In any medium, try representing a subject in two halves; a tree in day on one side and night on the other; an apple fresh on one side and eaten on the other; a child laughing on one side and crying on the other, etc.

Scorpio: Go deep. Make a poem or sketch representing something deep inside you. You can burn it in a fire-safe pot afterward to release any heavy emotions from the project if you find that helpful.

Sagittarius: Do something fun and athletic, like interpretive dance. Put on your favorite music and let it move you around the room in different shapes and postures.

Capricorn: Try something structured, like embroidery or cross-stitch. It’s neat and elegant, and you can make decorative slogans or quotes you can hang on the wall.

Aquarius: Play with modeling clay. Make one shape or figure, sit with it for a moment, then smash it and make something new.

Pisces: Make something abstract. Collage images relating to your favorite song or poem. Copy an impressionist or cubist design. Write a poem using only verbs.

Let me know if you try any of these activities, and how it went!

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Posted by: Cathy | March 19, 2018

Spring Fever? Take your art outside

Are you sick of the winter weather and toying with spring fever? Me too!

Tomorrow is the spring equinox, and we can celebrate by taking our art outside for some fresh air and inspiration.

Here are some ideas for a Creative Spring Fever project. Add your own ideas in the comments!

  • Take a mindful walk with your camera, or bring a sketchpad, to pause and capture things that catch your eye.
  • Take a mindful nature hike, focusing on the different sensory experiences (sight, sound, smell, touch), and then write a poem or song about it.
  • Make an art picnic. Put together a basket with lunch and some creative supplies, then find a nice spot to sit outside.
  • Search online for galleries or artistic events in a town nearby. Take a drive with the windows open and enjoy some local art.

Any time you feel blocked this spring on your creative projects, try shaking things up with a spring fever outing.

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