Posted by: Cathy | October 10, 2018

Mellow, Follow, Allow

Mellow marshmallows [unsplash]

This autumn, try a new formula: Mellow out, follow your impulses, and allow the unexpected.

Get rid of rigidity. Like leaves falling from a tree, reduce your expectations of yourself and others. Allow yourself to relax and mellow out.

Once you’re feeling mellow, see what wants to emerge. Stay loose. Don’t judge or analyse what comes up, just greet it with a cup of cocoa and see what it is and what it wants. You’ll know if it’s something you want to pursue or not if the idea lingers for a day or two.

Decide if/when you want to act on this new idea and allow the unexpected. Don’t try to make a rigid plan; stay loose. Keep it simple and interesting and quit whenever you want to take another cocoa break.

Try a new approach this fall. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always get. Open up to something new and unexpected to end your year with something to smile about.

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Posted by: Cathy | October 8, 2018

Reinforce your Systems for Q4

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 fourth quarter of the year (Q4), 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 Q4.

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

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Posted by: Cathy | October 3, 2018

NovPrepWo – A NaNoWriMo Preparation Workbook

Get ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! In the month of November, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (that’s ~1,667 words per day)!

It’s an ambitious goal, but it can be done – I managed to do it in 2008! I’ve attempted it a number of other years, but that was the year I prepared best. You can do it too, if you plan ahead.

My workbook, NovPrepWo, can help. (Find it on my downloads page under “Writing”; it’s free!) In it, I outline 4 preparation steps: Envision, Outline, Schedule, and Prioritize.

I actually won’t play in NaNoWriMo this November, as I’m in revision on my current novel and want to finish that before I start a new project. But I’ll be trying to revise daily in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be cheering along all the participants.

It is a crazy, fun challenge and it feels so good when you win, even if you write a crappy first draft. A crappy first draft is better than no draft.

So plan ahead to participate in NaNoWriMo, and check out my NovPrepWo booklet!

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Posted by: Cathy | October 1, 2018

Inktober Challenge

My Inktober sketchbook cover-page

I’ve been on a drawing kick lately, so I decided to participate in Inktober for the first time.

31 drawings, 31 days: “Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.”

I’m still working through a challenge in my novel, but I’ve noticed that drawing is a creative outlet that soothes as well as challenges me. I find it very centering to sit and focus on an object and recreate it with a pen, and yet I still need to work a lot on faces to get an accurate likeness. By focusing on non-face drawings, I can flex my creative muscles and feel more centered when I’m done, and in as little as 15 or 20 minutes.

As much as I feel good after a writing session, drawing has been easier for me to “step into” than writing lately, and I’m just going with it rather than try to analyze what that means or judge myself for getting more drawing than writing done.

If you’d like to follow my Inktober adventure, check out my Instagram page.
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Posted by: Cathy | September 26, 2018

Q4 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, Q3 had a lot of day-job movement for me (people leaving, department restructuring, interviewing for a vacancy, etc.) so I was too distracted to dig back into my fiction writing. Instead, I focused on sketching and watercolor painting. Those are easier for some reason to dip into on a busy day; in fact, sketching is one of the tools I use to pull out of busy-brain and slow down.

So now, I can recalibrate and set a new goal for the fourth quarter, October through December. 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. I will keep up my sketching practice by participating in Inktober and get back into a grove revising my novel. I will work on it rather than starting a new project for NaNoWriMo, and it may continue into December. I’ll just let it take as long as it takes.

Now it’s your turn: 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 Q4?
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Posted by: Cathy | September 24, 2018

What have you made yet this year? Q3

We’ve nearly finished the first nine 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 Q4 and what do you need to do to make that happen? What do you want to change or add in Q4?

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

Regardless of what you did or didn’t do in Q3, 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 | September 19, 2018

Equinox: Mindfully go into the dark part of the year

As we move into Autumn on Sept 23, I invite you to transition mindfully to the darker part of the year. Try to find your own equilibrium before the holiday rush begins. Take time to reflect on your summer and what you want to experience in autumn.

We are nature’s children and we change every season too. We wear different clothing, eat different foods, and prefer different activities. Celebrate how you change with the season and make your choices mindfully.

As the nights grow longer, what could you add or change to your evening routine/practices to make more of the dark time?

* You could stock up on your favorite tea and scented candles, or bottles of wine, or paperback books to read in a cozy chair.

* You could try setting a new bedtime or putting a lavender sachet under your pillow.

* You could start a gratitude journal, or a new sketchbook practice where you draw the tree outside your window every sunset as it drops leaves.

What changes will you make as we move into autumn?
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Posted by: Cathy | September 17, 2018

“You could choose to believe that life is easy”

“Let life be easy” journal page by CV Carpenter

We make hundreds of choices every day; what to wear, what to eat, what to say. Some choices influence other choices; for example, if you want to go for a run in the afternoon, you might choose to have a light lunch. Other choices are foundational to our day-to-day experience; for example, if you start your day with intention, you will have an easier time doing what is important to you and attaining your goals.

One of these foundational choices I am trying to borrow from author and coach Cheryl Richardson. She says, “You could choose to believe that life is easy” rather than a struggle.

How would your day be different if you chose to believe that life is easy?

For me, it looks like trusting more in the universe; giving myself permission to relax and not know all the answers. When I’m not trying to think my way through everything, I am more aware of the present moment and can make more conscious choices.

Of course, this isn’t easy, to choose that life is easy! Right now, I still have a lingering cough from a cold I had last week. It hasn’t been easy to get over this cold, but I can take some echinacea and choose ease, trusting that my cough will go away soon.

Notice the choices you make each day and examine whether they are serving you or not. Wouldn’t it serve you to believe that life is easy? Give it a try.
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Posted by: Cathy | September 12, 2018

You work through a writing problem by writing

Newsflash: You work through a writing problem by writing. I discovered this by myself, and then rediscovered it, and I have a feeling I’ll keep rediscovering it.

Typical blocked behaviors include avoiding, complaining, over-thinking, over-eating, etc. These behaviors do not help you work through a creative problem. A creative problem isn’t a problem with your creativity; it is a problem with what you think or feel about your creativity. The problem is in your mind. The way to solve the problem is to push your thoughts or feelings aside and get back into the creative project.

For example, I’ve been stuck on my novel for about two months now. Part of it was unavoidable, day-to-day distractions; we all go through periods like that occasionally. But I used those as an excuse to continue avoiding my project. I need to add a subplot to some middle chapters in my novel and my brain wants to figure it out before I begin writing; however, if I just sit down and start doing a free-write, I think a great idea will eventually come to me. For some reason, I’m resisting the free-write because my mind wants to hold the illusion of control over the project. And yet I’m not making any progress while my mind is in “control” because the block is in my mind.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein

So you work through a writing problem by writing. You work through a creative problem by being more creative. Finding a solution to your block requires creativity.

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Posted by: Cathy | September 10, 2018

Trick Yourself into Creative Time

Sometimes, we just need a little nudge to get started. You can trick yourself into doing your creative projects.

When you have trouble getting to a blank page for art or writing, have some tiny exercises in your “back pocket” to open the door and show up. You can commit to only 5 minutes and then see if you’ve tricked yourself into doing more.

For example, on my fiction writing, I like to begin a writing session by writing in my fiction journal. I got this idea from author KM Weiland. The journal lets you capture thoughts about your story or your process, vent your frustrations, and most importantly transition into fiction writing time. Sometimes when I wasn’t feeling inspired, I would make myself write in my fiction journal about why I wasn’t going to do my writing session that day, and then I ended up doing my session anyway because writing in my journal opened the door to my session.

Similarly for visual art, you could commit to just doing one aspect of a project, say outlining your subject for a drawing or painting. Once you open the door for 5-10 minutes, you might feel content with what you got done for the day or you might get into a rhythm and move on to the next aspect of your project.

Whatever your artform, think about a practice like my writing journal that would help you open the door on a creativity session. Make that practice required every day and notice if it helps you get more done in a week than you did before. Then let me know how it’s going! I’d love to know your creative practices and how they help open the door.

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