Begin at the Bell

The following is an excerpt from 80 Creativity Tips.

A friend of mine said this before writing exercise we did at the kick-off party flash meeting with a lot for the local National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) group.

“Begin at the bell” is actually pretty good advice. When it comes to working on our creative projects, we almost always say we don’t have time.

Make time! Otherwise, it will never get done.

Get a timer. Set it for no less than 15 minutes, preferably 30. If you can, have a bell ring to signal the beginning. If not, start the very second your hand comes off the timer.

Whatever it is you do, then do it. Right. Draw. Paint. Cook. Dance.

Create!

When the timer goes off, you can stop, but not before. Give yourself at least that 15 minutes. If you are going good when the time is up, turn the timer off–or reset it–and keep going.

At the end of your time, step back. Look at what you have done and pat yourself on the back.

This is important: Do not evaluate or critique what you have done. Now is the time for creating, not for editing or judging. There will be time for that later.

Here are some tips for you on your work with a timer:

  • Don’t look at the timer. Turn it away from you. If it’s on your phone, turn the display off or turn your phone over.
  • Don’t stop and wonder how much time you have left, no matter how much you want to know.
  • Time isn’t important except as a way to get started. Unless there is a hurricane or a fire, the amount of time that’s passed isn’t important.
  • If you’re writing or drawing, keep your hand moving. Pause as seldom as possible to work out a hand cramp if you need to. (As a side note, if you’re getting cramps like that, it means you’re holding your pen/pencil/paintbrush/knitting needles/crochet hook too tight and need to loosen your grip.)
  • Focus on what you’re doing. This music or TV on in the background? Tune it out. There are people who said they have to work in complete silence. Those people really get any work done. Distractions are a fact of life, even if it’s just your cat jumping up on the desk. Learn to deal with it.

Remember you’re creative in your life, not separate from it.

Meditation for Creativity?

I confess, I’m on the fence on this one. Then again, I’m on the fence about meditation in general.

So why am I talking about meditation, especially as it relates to creativity?

I know some people do benefit from it. I’m not opposed to it. In fact, I have no doubt that if I made it a regular practice, I would benefit from it.

For the times I do meditate, I use Insight Timer. It’s available for both Android and iPhone. It has some meditations directly related to creativity.

What do you think about meditation? Does it help you with your creativity?

What Do I Pay to Get Published?

It’s often an unasked question, implied instead of direct. Many people don’t want to appear crass or rude by talking about something as obscene as money. (Please read that as tongue-in-cheek as it was intended.)

The question is still there, though. “How much do you pay to get published?”

In the early days of the Internet and before, the answer was usually nothing. “Usually” because although vanity presses and self-publishing did exist, it wasn’t as commonplace.

Now, that answer can be very different. There are a lot of things to consider before putting a book out, whether fiction or nonfiction.

An indie author has to consider whether or not they pay for:

  • Editing.
  • Formatting.
  • Cover art.
  • PR/Marketing/Advertising.

Depending on how you do things, it can get quite pricey.

Right now, I publish through KDP, part of Amazon. There is no cost to me unless or until I purchase actual print copies of my books. That’s how I prefer it.

That said, I am exploring other self-publishing options. There’s nothing wrong with Amazon, but you know the saying about don’t keep all your eggs in one basket? I’m too much in one basket. A little diversity in publishing options would be a good thing.

What about you? In what way(s) do you need to diversify?

A New Challenge

Late last year, I hosted a challenge to help people get out of a creative rut. It seemed to go okay.

Late December, I asked which kind of challenge you would prefer: one to increase your creativity or one to have a better planner. The results were evenly split.

So we’ll do both.

First up is “5 Days to More Creativity.” It starts on January 10, so this is pretty short notice. It will run through the 14th. I will post an image with prompts soon.

Second, “5 Days to a Better Planner” will run from January 21-25. It will be the kick-off event for the launch of a new JEN Enterprises Presents title on how to develop a hybrid planner tailored to your needs.

It’s a busy month. Are you ready to get to work?

What Is a Creativity Coach?

I’ve talked before about creativity coaching, but what is a creativity coach?

Creativity coaching is a subset of life coaching that focuses on your creative life. Many times, a creativity coach is certified through the Creativity Coaching Association.

A creativity coach can work with pretty much any creative professional, whether artist, writer, actor, etc. The focus is on the creative process in general rather than on the specific discipline.

I do not yet call myself a creativity coach. Why? I’m not certified through the CCA mentioned above. It is a goal to do that at some point, though.

However, some people have called me a creativity expert, considering how much I have studied about creativity and the books I have written about it. I’ve used that term in some of my social media bios.

I think thie covers the definition well enough.

What about you? In what area(s) might you be an expert?

What I Write About

I get this question quite a bit when people find out that I write.

“What do you write about?”

The short answer: A little bit of everything.

Or: Whatever needs to be written.

The long answer is more involved. The topic areas I cover (for nonfiction) are creativity, social media, and disability/diabetes. Writing about planning falls under creativity because it can help make room for more creativity in our lives.

When it comes to fiction, I write romance, fantasy, and young adult. Topics vary from project to project.

I also write articles, short stories, and poems. One of my personal projects this year is a daily haiku. You can follow that on my Instagram.

That’s not exactly the full answer, but it’s a good start when it comes to what I write.

My question for you is: What do you prefer to write? If you’re not a writer, what do you prefer to read?

3 Apps for Productivity

I see so many people talk about what apps they use for productivity. So much so that I almost dismissed this idea as a post. But… Here we are.

These are the three apps I use to help keep me on track and productive. Of course, the disclaimer is “when I use them.”

Trello Trello has apps for your desktop and smart phone. You can create lists and have cards for tasks under each list. You can add notes and deadlines to each card. I’ve tried to use Trello before, but now that I’ve figured out how to make it work for me, I love it.

Pomodoro Timer I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique or not. The idea is you work in 25-minute increments with a 5-minute break. After four of these increments, you can take a longer break. I use this to get started on tasks I really don’t want to do. Once I get in the flow of the work, I ignore the timer and just keep going.

Canva I wish Canva had a desktop option, but it is either web-based or an app for your smart phone. If you need to create infographics, flyers, or social media images (just to name a few) and can’t afford a pricey software, Canva can help you. There are some premium options that you have to pay to use, but it’s very functional even for free

There are several more apps I use for productivity purposes, but these are the three I use most often.

What are your favorite productivity apps?