As writers and artists, we are walking multitudes. There are countless places, faces, and situations within us. We carry all of that potential within us wherever we go.

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“I take pleasure in my transformations. I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”

Anais Nin

Tap into that potential regularly. Take ten minutes to notice what image or situation strikes your fancy. Write a scene or poem, or draw a doodle, or make a study. Drop into the object of focus and give it your full attention. It may lead you into a longer creative session or it may just give you a quick break. But tap in daily if you can. Spend time with those places, faces, and situations within you. Let them out into the world occasionally.

How many women are within you?

Posted by: Cathy | October 13, 2021

Assume that you can #NaNoWriMo

The first step in setting a goal is to assume you can accomplish it. You wouldn’t set a goal if you knew you were going to fail.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Nelson Mandela

If you are gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or any creative goal, or any fitness goal, or simply any goal, assume that you can and will meet your goal. Then determine what steps and changes you need to make in your life in order to meet the goal. The more you can make your goal a part of your real, every-day life, the higher your chances of meeting your goal.

Start making time for your goal now, not just on November 1 or January 1 or whatever your start date is. Carve out the time, and take regular action toward your goal. Assume that you can, and then do it.

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Posted by: Cathy | October 11, 2021

Self-care for Writers #NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming up, so I wanted to share an ebooklet to help people prepare and generally set themselves up for success. (Check out my NovPrepWo for my first offering.)

Creativity Self-care

As an artist or writer, you may prefer to work in a particular medium like watercolor paint or poetry, but really YOU are your raw medium: your dreams, fears, thoughts, and emotions go into every brushstroke, every word you put on a page. Therefore, good self-care will help your creativity thrive, too.

In my booklet, I outline three phases to help with your creativity self-care: Emptying, Listening, and Processing.

To learn more, download my free ebooklet here: Self-Care for Creatives.

The first step to creative self-care is Emptying: creating space for your creativity.
Once you’ve made some space by Emptying, it’s time to try Listening to your muse and your intuition.
Once you’ve tried Listening, the next step is Processing; becoming aware of your filters, fears, and frustrations.

Use these three techniques to focus on your creativity self-care. By Emptying, Listening, and Processing, you can clear space for your creativity, reduce distractions, and focus on what is important to you!

Posted by: Cathy | October 6, 2021

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, in the past I have written 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.

Posted by: Cathy | October 4, 2021

My NovPrepWo booklet can help you prep for #NaNoWriMo

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 free workbook, NovPrepWo, can help. In it, I outline 4 preparation steps: Envision, Outline, Schedule, and Prioritize.

I will be writing this November, but I will be loose with my word-count goals because I don’t expect to be able to give myself 2-3 writing sessions every day to stay on the 50k pace with my other creative and family commitments. I will experiment to find what works for me and aim to write for 30 minutes at least once per day.

Whatever your normal is, NaNoWriMo 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 if you want to participate in NaNoWriMo, and check out my NovPrepWo booklet!

Posted by: Cathy | September 29, 2021

Birthday: My annual review

Tomorrow is my birthday! I’ll be 44.

Rather than making a resolution for January, I do my personal annual planning for my birthday. I review the past year and set my goals for the new year.

43 was an odd year. I started it unemployed but got hired in December and it has turned into a good fit; I enjoy the business and my coworkers. I finished my 365 parrots watercolor challenge and started my 100 canvases painting challenge; I have painted 70 canvases in 9 months. I got vaccinated against the Covid virus. We took a family vacation to the Grand Canyon. But otherwise, we are still social-distancing and life still hasn’t really gotten back to normal yet.

I still feel like I can’t really set goals yet for 44, because I may need to commute again once social-distancing lifts, which will cut into my personal project time. I’m already going into the office once per week. For goals, I know I want to write a draft of my new novel and solve a problem in the plot of my last novel so I can finish revising it. I want to finish my canvases painting challenge, though I’m reducing my goal to 80 canvases to reduce stress during the holidays, and I want to focus on sketching and painting faces for 2022 to improve in that area. But mostly, I am looking at what I can do in the short term.

This is another reason that I set quarterly goals … a lot can happen in three months! So for Q1 of 44, my goals are to brainstorm and start writing my new novel, finish my canvas painting project, and enjoy the holiday season. Then we’ll see where I am with my writing for Q2 and I’ll start my new sketching/painting portraits project for 2022. And hopefully, we will have fewer repercussions of Covid to deal with by then.

Highlights of last year:

  • Oct I did the Bearly 5K walk, supporting Appalachian Bear Rescue
  • Nov I voted in the presidential election and had a job interview
  • Dec I was hired at my current day-job and finished my 365 parrots watercolor challenge
  • Jan I started my 100 canvases painting project and did the “Breath” 30-day challenge by Yoga with Adriene
  • Feb I showed my first two paintings at a local exhibit with the Broomfield Art Guild
  • Mar I had my first wedding anniversary, and my employer had a successful IPO
  • Apr I got my first vaccine dose and worked on revising my novel
  • May I got my second vaccine dose
  • Jun We got new gutters on our house
  • Jul We took a family vacation to Moab, UT and the Grand Canyon
  • Aug I showed two paintings at the Adams County Fair
  • Sep I returned to my fiction writing and started outlining a new novel
Posted by: Cathy | September 27, 2021

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, my Q3 mini-goal was to focus mostly on my #100canvases painting challenge and not overcommit myself. I had an extremely busy July, and I could barely keep up with my painting goals that month, so I’m really glad I didn’t bite off more than I could chew.

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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For Q4, I decided to scale back my 100-canvases challenge to 80 by Dec 31. I was pretty stressed out in Jul-Aug last quarter, I may need to start commuting to work yet this autumn (to be determined), and there are birthdays and holidays coming up so I will have some family obligations. These factors made me decide to scale back rather than get overwhelmed. If I have time to do more than 80, great; but this way I can still complete a ton of paintings this year but not get stressed about my creative goals. I paint because I love to paint; I don’t want to put myself unintentionally into a position where painting gives me stress! Scaling back on my painting goals, I can also gauge my creative time available to see if I might be able to do a novella for NaNoWriMo or otherwise get back to my fiction writing before the end of the year. I haven’t worked on my novel since Apr 30, and I miss it, but I want to reconnect with writing for a few weeks before I try to resume revising my novel. So I have softer goals for Q4 to help me accomplish what my soul is calling to do and yet still make time for work and family obligations.

What will you focus on in Q4?

Posted by: Cathy | September 22, 2021

Releasing for the Autumn Equinox

Today is the autumn equinox! The day and night are of equal length. Autumn is my favorite season; I love the colors and the crispness of fall. As the leaves change and drop, it reminds me to release what isn’t serving me.

A lot of things about this year haven’t served me! I bet you can relate. It has been another weird year full of things we didn’t choose, and we have a lot of feels about it. Take some time this week to think about the good, the bad, and the ugly of this year. Keep the good, and try to release some of the rest.

Remember that releasing is like peeling an onion; some layers are thin, others are thick, and some make you cry when you dig into them. It’s a process that needs mindful attention and mindful action. Set aside some time to allow yourself whatever comes up and then do a favorite self-care practice before you resume your day.

What could you release this autumn? What isn’t serving you?

Posted by: Cathy | September 20, 2021

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? Acknowledge what is in your power to change and what isn’t, especially this year.
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!

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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.

Posted by: Cathy | September 15, 2021

365 Creative Prompts

Did you know I have a booklet called “365 objects to draw, paint, or describe in your writing! (With a bonus leap-day prompt!)”

Are you following along and doing some of the prompts? You don’t need to do all 365! You can do them for a month, for a week, or just open it and randomly turn to a page if you need an idea of something to shake up your creativity.

Whether you draw, paint, or write fiction or poetry, I put together 365 prompts (with a bonus leap-day prompt) that can help you start or maintain a daily creative practice. The prompts are broken down month-by-month. They include a category of “travel”, and those 15 prompts are also listed as a batch at the end so you can do them all when you go on vacation.

How to use these prompts:
* For drawing, painting, or photography, you can simply make a representation of the object.
* For collage, you could find a bunch of images of the item on Pinterest and make your own digital or print collage.
* For poetry or fiction writing, you can write a poem about the item, or write a paragraph or page of details/description about the item.

If you post any of these prompts on social media, please use the hashtag #365eyd

Download the booklet here. [$0]

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