Manufacturing Light

This goes hand-in-hand with yesterday’s post about seasonal changes. In fact, it was originally going to be part of it, but then I decided to separate the two.

When it gets dark early, sometimes the available sunlight (when it’s not overcast) and the overhead lights just aren’t enough. I have a floor lamp and a desk lamp that I use often during the winter months. Even then, that’s not always enough.

Enter the candles.

I have a lot of candles. There’s something about that little flame, flickering on the table by my chair or the file cabinet by my desk that just …. It makes me smile. It’s almost like my own little ray of sunshine. If it’s scented, so much the better.

Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to fight back against decreasing productivity in the coming months because of the limited light. This is one way I’m going to do it. I’m going to be manufacturing my own light when I need to.

It will help.

What about you? What are some ways you keep your motivation up and creativity going when you would rather hibernate?

Seasonal Changes

It happens in subtle ways, but it is becoming more obvious that summer is over. It gets dark earlier. The temperatures are (finally) cooling down. (Although if there’s anyone here from the Southern hemisphere, it’s the opposite.)

Sometimes those changes bring about changes in creative patterns. Writing about summer things typically turns to writing about winter things. Though, truthfully, it should be the opposite. Not because thinking warm when it’s cold will make you warm (I’m not sure I buy into that, to be honest), but because of the way magazine lead times work.

The changes in light are what affect me the most. Sometimes I suspect I have some degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In those times, I tend to be less productive. I have come to expect it.

This year, however, I expect to fight it. I want – and need – to stay productive if I want to finish the year strong. And I do! If I don’t, I won’t finish out the plans I have laid out. Those plans will give me a strong footing for next year to start. So, seasonal changes or not, I need to keep on keeping on. And I will.

What about you? How do seasonal changes affect you, if they do?

Nature

Stairs at Lake Carlton dam at Robber’s Cave State Park

I need to get out and walk more. I know it. My weight proves it to me on a daily basis. Lately, the way my jeans fit proves it to me even more.

If I don’t get out enough, my mood takes a direct hit. The best way to be sure I get out more is to incorporate nature walks into my exercise regimen. (I have to laugh. At this point, I don’t really have an exercise regimen, though I keep planning on it. Does that count?)

When you read about writers, artists, poets, composers, etc., you see almost all of them mention regular walks. Some of them are short, just for exercise, but others are long, intended for musing and working through problems posed by their work.

In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron mentions going for walks on a frequent basis. She has said there is a reason our compiled progress is called a body of work. It lives inside of us, takes up residence inside our body. It requires movement, so we must move.

For some reason, I tend to forget that part, though.

All of the creatives you see talking about walking never say they walk inside, on a track. It’s all outside, to get the benefit of nature. There we can witness creativity in its most natural form. I know the birds and wildlife and trees and flowers don’t communicate directly with us and would not call it creativity if they could. That’s what it is, though. They’re creating life.

I think we could all learn something from that. I know I could.

(On a side note, this is post #100 for this blog!)

Do Animals Influence Your Creativity?

Here’s another one from that brainstormed list I mentioned yesterday.

Do animals influence your creativity?

On a purely story-telling level, I say yes. They always provide something for you to tell – or write – a story about. With the way our two dogs play and interact, there is always something to tell that they’ve done.

On an inspirational level, I say … sometimes. If Gabby (she’s a shih tzu) comes in when I’m in the middle of something, it’s usually because she wants attention. That’s not necessarily a useful thing. I am always aware of when she comes in. Sometimes she will beg for attention. Other times, she will settle down and lie in the floor by my chair.

On a psychological level, I say yes. Both of our dogs are always mood-lifters. Gabby knows when I don’t feel well and she stays very close by at those times. Zack (he’s a schnauzer) knows, too, but he’s more apt to keep his distance. When I’m in the living room, for example, and not working on anything, he’ll sit on my foot and lean against my leg so I know he’s there. If it’s a particularly bad time, he’ll force his nose under my hand so I have no choice but to pet him. My life is definitely better because of these two critters.

So to answer this question, I have two definite yeses and a sometimes. Ultimately, I think that means, for me, that animals do influence my creativity. They definitely influence my feelings of well-being, which is the real influence on creativity.

What about the animals in your life, past or present?

Weather and Creativity

For me, I know my mood can be influenced by the weather. Sometimes I wonder if I let it, if my creativity could be too.

By “if I let it,” I mean that since I have decided to prioritize my creativity, I work on it every day. I intentionally do something creative – usually writing. When I signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge (a challenge to blog daily throughout October, if you’re not participating and wondering what I’m talking about), I sat down and brainstormed a list of posts for the entire month. Some of those have changed, but I’ve mostly gone by the list. That’s why today is about weather and creativity.

The thing of it is, I would be almost as productive if I did rely on a connection between weather and creativity because there is something inspiring in just about all weather. If it’s bright and sunny, I want to make/write something. If it’s rainy or cloudy, I want to make/write something. If it’s storming? Well… That depends on the storm. If it’s severe, I want to hide. If it’s just a regular thunderstorm, I want to make/create something.

If it’s snowy/icy, I want to hibernate. That’s my only real exception.

What do you think? Is there a connection between writing and your creativity? I don’t mean in general. This is on a personal level.

Are You Consistent?

Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Whenever we are getting ready for the day, whether the night before or the morning of, we have routines. We know what we’re going to do and in what order. This is part of how we get ourselves motivated and going for the day.

Routines matter.

If routines matter so much in the day-to-day operations of our lives, would they not also matter when it comes to your creative time? For that matter, let’s talk about your creative time for a minute.

Are you consistent? Do you have a specific time set aside that you work on creative projects or do you do it as the mood strikes or whenever the muse speaks to you?

I used to do it when the mood struck. Or when “the muse” spoke to me. I created only sporadically.

I don’t do that anymore. I create on a much more consistent basis. Why? What changed?

My routine.

I started planning my creative time. I started developing a routine for getting started.

I am currently a full-time freelancer. I write books, articles, blog posts, and short stories. I make jewelry, knit, and crochet. These are all things I do to earn money, yes. But they are also all things I do to be creative. If I wanted to be consistent, if I needed to be consistent, I needed to have a routine for getting things done.

Even as a creative, I want to be taken seriously. I want people to think that I am a professional in what I choose to do. Because of that, consistency matters. And routines matter.

Routines helped me become more consistent. Routines help me stay consistent.

Look at what you do and why. Is it working for you? Do you create — in whatever form that may be — on a regular basis? Change your routine. Or, if need be, develop a routine. See how that works for you. I’m willing to bet you’ll be surprised.

I know what you’re thinking. You can’t schedule or plan creativity. Except that you can. By having a schedule/plan/routine, you trigger your mind into knowing this is your creative time. You sit down to work and “the muse” shows up.

What do you think? Let me know what tips you have to stay consistent in the comments below.

Let Me Back Up a Minute (Ultimate Blog Challenge)

I already had blogs written and scheduled to upload for Sunday and Monday before I read through everything about the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I mentioned at the bottom of Sunday’s post that I would be posting daily in October, but since it was at the bottom of the book launch post, I can understand how it might not have been seen. I’m here to fix that.

What is it?

The Ultimate Blog Challenge is intended to get you posting on your blog on a daily basis. It increases your community and raises your blog in the ranks of search pages. (A blog that is regularly updated ranks higher in search engines than a static website on the same topic.)

So, yes, I will be posting daily in October. After that, I will determine whether I will continue a daily schedule or go back to my previous three-times-a-week schedule.

Who am I?

I’m Jen. I have 8 books published, one out of print, and multiple projects in the pipeline in various stages of development. My main focus on this blog is the creative journey/path. I’ve even started a podcast about it. I talk about my struggles and triumphs and I try to give input/ideas about things that might affect you and your path too.

What are my credentials?

Well…. If you want official credentials, I don’t have any. I don’t have a degree in counseling or coaching or anything like that. What I do have is about 15 years of studying creativity in various ways (videos, books, conferences/lectures, etc.) I’ve written two books about creativity — Devoted to Creating: Igniting the Spark in Everyone (this is the book that is currently out of print, but I hope to have it available again by the end of the year) and 80 Creativity Tips. In case you missed it, I recently published the 2018 Project Planner for Creatives. I am now working on a new project designed to help people get in touch with their creativity. Look for Journal Your Way to Creativity by Christmas.

At some point, I hope to receive training as a creativity coach by the Creativity Coaching Association. I don’t know when that will happen. It’s not a necessity for me, but it’s just something I would like to do.

Anyway…

That’s it for the rewind to let you know about the Ultimate Blog Challenge and a bit about me and how I got started.

Happy creating!