Create a Creative Routine

As you can tell, my 21 Days to Creative Abundance is taking me longer than 21 days. The lesson about cleaning out clutter and getting rid of distractions stumped me. Who would ever have guessed I had collected that much clutter? Not only physical clutter but digital clutter (really? 32,669 unread emails? YIKES!) and “attitudinal” clutter. That was the hardest to clean up but I think I’m on the path to a clutter-free, distraction-free journey to Creative Abundance.

With the beginning of NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) and my new job writing for Texashillcountry.com and Heart of Texas Magazine, a routine is going to be more important to me than ever. The past week or so I have been feeling overwhelmed – excited but overwhelmed – and as a result, fatigued. My creative routine is designed to energize me.

Most people start their routines in the morning. Now, anyone that knows me will tell you I am NOT a morning person. Most mornings, it’s wisest not to even speak to me until closer to noon. Darlin’ will cook breakfast from time to time, place a piece of bacon on a super long fork and shove it cautiously in my direction. If I don’t take his arm off along with the piece of bacon, he knows it safe to say “Good Morning”. I say that teasingly but there is a bit of truth in it. So, why do you care? The moral of the story was to show it’s okay to start your routine whenever works best for you – bright and early in the morning, midday, evening, or my favorite after midnight.

Following are the steps of my Creative Routine:

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Get a move on! Newton’s Laws of Motion states an object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion. Get up and get your body in motion. Walk, dance, skip, hop, whatever makes you feel good. Twenty minutes of moving around will get your blood pumping, clean the cobwebs and fog from your brain and get those creative juices flowing. Moving around will jump start those energy levels you will need to create something.

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Ask yourself these Three Questions – What are you grateful for today? What are you excited about today? and of course, What are you going to create today?

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Set a certain time each day a minimum of four to five times a day for your sacred “Create” time. Stephen King would say seven days a week but hey, I’m not Stephen King. The best thing about having a set, scheduled time to create is your subconscious starts looking forward to it. The creative juices will begin to flow as soon as you start step one of your routine and many times, they will start flowing early in anticipation of “Create” time. I printed out a physical calendar with time marked out for creation time.

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Focus! Remember those distractions we spent the last few days getting rid of? Make sure they stay gone. Make a list of any new distractions that pop up during your “Create” time. Study that list and find a way to prevent those distractions from happening.

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I want to hear from you. Share your Creative Routine in the comments below.

 

Lessons and more lessons …

21 Days to Creative Abundance makes me stop and think … a lot.

The past two days have been dedicated to cleaning up clutter and getting  rid of distractions.

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Until I cleaned up my desk, the desktop on my computer, and my emails, I never realized how much clutter surrounded me. Nor did I realize how much it slowed me down and put a damper on my creativity.

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self. “       –Eleanor Brownn

How much clutter do you have in your life? Do you let the clutter of other people’s demands pull you down and keep you from your drive to create?

And distractions … let’s take a minute and think about distractions. How many times a day do you check your phone to make sure you haven’t missed a message? Or jump onto Facebook just to see what’s up?

Sure, it only takes a minute to check your emails and respond – if you only have one email. I average 65-70 emails a day in one account and well over a thousand a day in what I call my spam account. A minute per email times 65 or 70? That’s more than an hour a day spent on emails. Not to mention the interruption to the thought process you may have been in before that itch to check your emails became overpowering.

So many times we let the noise of the world distract us from our inner world, from the strength of our creativity. How can we cut out the distractions? We need a period of time each day to focus – really focus – on our creativity.

How can we make that time each day sacred? How can we become all about action and less about distraction?

One thing we can do is take our cell phone and lock it in a desk drawer. Leave it at home. I’m old enough I remember surviving in the world before the development of these electronic leashes that keep us tied to a world of distractions. We survived just fine without them.

Put a sign on the door of our workspace saying unless it involves massive quantities of blood, fire, flooding or impending death – do not disturb. Lock the door if possible. Shut out the world beyond the door and focus on the world you are creating inside. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes a day.

We can also turn off our internet periodically or use an app like Freedom that blocks the internet.

Want to get some writing done? Use WriteRoom (for Mac) or Darkroom (for PC), an app that turns your computer into strictly a word processor – great for writers who often fall down the rabbit hole of the internet.

How many times have you sat down to write and *bam* you remember you need to research something? Does your research trail resemble mine?

I need to find out how painkillers functioned in the 19th century so I log on to the internet. Wow, look at that. Did they really dress like that? Where did they find those shoes? Did you see the story about the farmer who made shoes out of loaves of bread? Honey-butter pumpkin muffins? That recipe looks better than the one I have for homemade rolls. I wonder if I should make that for Thanksgiving. By the way, how long am I supposed to cook that turkey?

See what happened? I still don’t have a clue what kind of pain killers were used in 1864.

How do you deal with clutter and distractions? I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. I want one other thing from you. I want you to promise to take fifteen minutes a day, every day, and create – something, anything – just focus and create something for yourself.

I want one other thing from you. I want a promise. I want you to promise to take fifteen minutes a day, every day, and create – something, anything. Just focus and create something for yourself.

Art and Psychology, who knew?

Who knew when I started reaching deeper inside myself journaling for 21 Days to Creative Abundance that I would find myself studying psychology? I sure didn’t.

One of the first assignments to enable you to live the life you have imagined for yourself is to discover what that life is. What is your vision for your life?

Last night I pulled out my favorite pen and my brand new leather bound journal and began to ponder that question. I scribbled down my standard go-to answer. “I want to be an artist and a published author.”

I put my pen down, patted myself on the back, proud of myself. That wasn’t so hard. I’ve already finished my first assignment, I thought.

Then I heard Sebastian’s voice echo in my mind. “Don’t just  jot down ideas in your journal. Attack your journal with absolute creative abandon.”

I looked at the words I had written on my page. I could see Sebastian shaking his head in disappointment. I heard him whisper, “It’s in the process of writing about life and art that we discover life and art.”

I sighed. I picked up my favorite pen and tapped it against my thigh. I knew I could do better than this. So I asked myself my favorite question – WHY? Why do I want to be an artist? Why do I want to be a published author? Aren’t I all of those things already?

Well yes, technically, I am. I have art in a gallery in San Antonio. (Pop into BesArte, Bldg 17 in La Villita if you want to see it.) I have published works … a novella, several short stories, articles, and flash fiction. So what do I really want? What am I really looking for?

Next thing I know I’m thinking about Maslow and his hierarchy of needs.

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My basic needs have been met. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, shelter from the elements. I feel safe most of the time. Darlin’, after all, is a Law Enforcement Officer and I know how to handle the many guns scattered around our dwelling. So what’s next? What do I really need? Why do I want to be an artist and an author? Why am I taking this class, this 21 days to Creative Abundance?

I’m doing it to fulfill my psychological needs. I have friends and family. I know I belong. I know I am loved and that I love. I want more.

I want to unleash my creativity to satisfy my need for self-esteem. I want to belong to a unique group of individuals who think similar to me (because no one thinks exactly like I do), a group who shares goals and ideals, a group I can belong to without feeling like I am a step below them. To belong, I need to challenge myself. I need to expand my talents. I need to grow in creative abundance.

Thanks, Sebastian, for making me dig deeper. Thank you, my friends, for being part of that group of unique, talented individuals in which I strive to belong.

Tell me in the comments, please, what is your vision for your life? What do you need to do to begin living the life you’ve always imagined for yourself? Where do you fall on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Are you ready to stretch and grow? I would love to know.

21 Days to Creative Abundance

Some of you know me as a writer. I love to write. I love seeing my words published online, or even more exciting to me, on the page. I love painting pictures with words, creating worlds and giving life to new people.

Some of you know me as a photographer. I think I was born with a camera in my hands. I see the world differently. Looking through a lens frames the world in a new perspective. Making a new focal point in an everyday scene completely changes the way it looks.

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I want to share a course I stumbled across in my daily search for knowledge. After all, many of you have heard me quote my Mama: “If you haven’t learned something new today, you’ve wasted the day.”

The course I found was Sebastian Michael’s 21 Days to Creative Abundance. Now, I am just starting this course. I listened to and watched the first video yesterday while Darlin’ was driving me home from dinner. You have no idea how hard it is to take notes in a Jeep being driven by my Darlin’ on some of the horribly, bumpy roads in South Texas. Let me tell you, it was a challenge.

All that aside, two things Sebastian stressed in his first video were journaling – not jotting it down journaling but dig deep journaling – and accountability. I decided to combine the two here, on my blog, where words come out to play. Now, I won’t be sharing everything with you. Some of it will be too personal to see the light of day. Dig deep journaling can be that way.

I won’t be sharing his exact lessons either. That wouldn’t be fair to Sebastian. I would encourage you to sign up and take his course with me if you want to unleash more creativity in your life.

What I will be sharing is some of the new work I will be creating, some of the new truths I will be discovering, and a few of the handy quotes Sebastian shares with us – the ones that strike a chord deep inside me.

What I ask from you is a gentle nudge now and then to keep me on track. Hold me accountable to follow through and complete the assignments every day for the next 21 days.

Now, I’m off to find the perfect journal and my favorite pen so I can get to work accessing my creative flow.

“It’s time to start living the life we’ve imagined.”     Henry James

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Why NaNo?

Why NaNo? Good question …

Fifty thousand words in thirty days, one thousand six hundred and sixty-seven words per day, that’s a lot of words. Heck, that’s a lot of work. My fingers ache just thinking about it.

Will they be good words? Some of them will be. Will you wake up December 1st with a novel ready to be published? Probably not. Then why do NaNo?

NaNo develops a habit. Did you know it takes doing something consistently for twenty-one days in a row to create a habit? If you write every day for thirty days, it will become an ingrained habit to keep you writing every day.

NaNo provides a goal – a simple concrete goal of 50,000 words in thirty days. Yes, I know, you probably already have a goal of writing a novel but what exactly does that mean? Will you meet your goal when you finish the first draft? Will you meet your goal when a publisher says yes, I’ll take it? Or will you only complete your goal when you see your novel on the shelf of a bookstore? See? Kind of subjective. NaNo is not subjective. Write 50,000 words in thirty days and you win. YAY! We all love winning.

NaNo teaches you to write fast. How much time have you spent writing and re-writing and re-writing again the first chapter of your book? I am the world’s worst about this. My WIP has been restarted a minimum of 237 times. I know because I save each version on my computer and in Google Docs. NaNo allows me to take the pesky inner editor, wrap duct tape around her mouth and shove her in a closet under a pile of last year’s jackets that no longer fit. I lock the door to that closet and shove the key in a desk drawer where it sits until December 1st. You know the really cool thing I discovered when I let that inner editor out of the closet last year? She’s a lot quieter after spending thirty days locked in the dark.

NaNo connects you with a wide world of other writers. The sense of community and the things you can learn from that community are immeasurable. Jump in and join us. Go to NaNoWriMo and sign up. We can be writing buddies. On NaNo, I’m cmtgkt. Come write with me.

106 Years … Can you imagine?

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This past weekend, we celebrated my grandmother’s 106th birthday. What a blessing! Can you imagine the things she has seen? The changes she has lived through?

She has voted for 18 presidents and seen the ratification of 12 Constitutional Amendments including the creation of income tax and the Internal Revenue Service; Prohibition – coming and going; the right of women to vote and presidential term limits.

In her lifetime, our country has been involved in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam Conflict, Bay of Pigs, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War. Thousands and thousands of young soldiers have died and she lives on.

She was here when Henry Ford first began mass producing automobiles. You could order a Ford anyway you wanted it, as long is was black and came with the standard features. She was here when the Wright Brothers took their first (and reportedly only) flight together.  Look at the numbers of automobiles and aircraft that surround us today. She was here for their beginnings.

She survived the Great Depression and the Dustbowl. She witnessed the discovery of the Milky Way and forty-one years later, the first manned space flight when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space when he orbited the Earth in a Vostok spacecraft on April 12, 1961. About a month later, she watched Alan Shepard, Jr. became the first American in space onMay 5, 1961, when he was launched aboard Mercury-Redstone 3. She was around when the transistor radio was invented and when television and telephones came along. She saw television transition from teeny-tiny black and white screens to humongous high definition, three-dimensional color screens.

In her time, penicillin and other antibiotics were discovered. Cardiac surgery went from cracking a chest open to minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery.

Things we take for granted every day are things that developed or were discovered during her lifetime: telephones, cell phones, computers, air conditioning and heating units, indoor plumbing, and microwaves.

More importantly to us, Leah Virginia Trammell was born in Iredell, Texas on October 14, 1910, to Marion and Ada Trammell. She married John Roy Dannar and together they raised three children: Becky, Shirley, and Roy. Her family grew to include eight grandchildren, twenty-four great-grandchildren, and twenty-six great-great-grandchildren.

She still loves to quilt and when I called to speak to her the other day, Aunt Shirley said she couldn’t come to the telephone. Worried I asked why. 106 years old, Grandma was up to her elbows in ground beef. She was making her world famous meatloaf for dinner.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! Wishing you many, many more to come. We love you and wouldn’t be here without you.

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NaNo’s Coming …

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Tick-tock, tick-tock … are you ready? NaNoWriMo will be here before we know it. Are you ready to commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days?

This year I’m going to win. I will confess though that I’m a NaNo Rebel. I will continue working on my current work in progress, Broken Toys.

As we lead up to November 1st, I’m going to post the Who, What, How, Why and When of Nano. The easiest to answer is When. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) runs from 12:01 a.m. November 1st to 11:59 p.m. November 30th.

Who or What is NaNo?

NaNoWriMo is a world-wide virtual write in. Imagine hundreds of thousands of people around the world all sitting down to write novels together.

The very first NaNo consisted of twenty-one people getting together and deciding to each write a novel in one month. Can you imagine? 50,000 words in 30 days? Crazy, right? Well from that simple beginning, NaNo has grown and grown. Last year 431,626 people started the month as ordinary people – waitresses, auto mechanics, bookkeepers, oilfield hands, stay-at-home moms, police officers. They finished the month as novelists.

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’sWater for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. You can see the complete list here.

So who’s ready to join me? If you want to tackle this crazy challenge, sign up at Nanowrimo.org and send me a buddy request. My NaNo “handle” is cmtgkt. I look forward to hearing from you.

I’ll be gone over the weekend helping my Grandma celebrate her 106th birthday (yes, that is her one hundred and sixth birthday!) with a fajita cookout at my sister’s house but I’ll be back next week with more on the how and why of NaNo plus some really cool tips to help you prep for your NaNo challenge. (And with some fun photos from the birthday celebration!)

Until then, keep writing!