Start a Creativity Journal

moss in hands

When you begin any creative project, whether it be writing, painting, or cooking an amazing meal, there is something to be said for honoring your own creative process.  Sure you can follow the path of others and there is much to be learned from those with experience in your field.

However the fact of the matter is that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.

I know, right?  That is some kind of crazy-makin’ notion going on right there…  Fact is that we are all different.  What works for Jane may not work for Janet and so on.

Get to know your motivation:

Before you even begin to create, take a moment to jot down what it is that is driving you to create in the first place.  Do you desire fame and riches?  Do you want your Mummy/Daddy/ bully to finally acknowledge you?  Do you feel motivated by some divine source to put something new into the universe?  Or are you just itching in your fingers to Do Something?

Whatever it is that is motivating you to create, one thing is guaranteed.  It will be overwhelming at times and ignoring that motivation can be a recipe for disaster in the form of mental unwellness.

Because creativity is the very act that will bring up our deepest fears.  Creating something is, after all, about innovation.  It is about birthing something into the world that has never been seen in that exact form before.  It is about making a statement of independence and offering yourself to the world in a physical form.  It is the ultimate act of manifesting.

Forget affirmations and hocus pocus (although I love me some hocus pocus.  If it helps then why not?)

Creating something is about taking a risk. 

It is an act of courage.

And as such you should record the insights that come with taking that leap of faith.

Start a creativity journal

This can be just a diary which you fill in after your creative time. Or you can make it a work of art in itself. (Beware that this can be a bit of a creative cul-de-sac but lovely nonetheless!)

Answering the following prompts can be fun:

How did it feel to put words on the page?  What did you think of those marks you made on the canvas?  What did that strange spice mix taste like?

What do you need to take this creative act further?

What emotions did this act bring up for you?

Why start a Creativity Journal?

I’m no expert but I know this:  when I examine myself for Truth, I always find it.  Being creative is a great way of getting to know yourself better.  It will familiarise you with the monsters that dwell within your psyche and throw some light on the shadows that you have been hiding from.  Recording this new sense of self awareness will make you stronger and better able to continue on the journey.  It is amazing how our subconscious offers us answers when we take the time to listen closely.

Here are some other ways to use a Creativity Journal:

  1. Record insights from other creative types.  Whether it is from their blogs, books or interviews, creative types love to talk about their ‘process’.
  2. Jot down ideas for future creative experiments.  Jotting it down means that you have caught the idea and don’t need to waster dream space on them just yet.
  3. Interrogate your demons.  Writing down your fears has a funny way of lessening their power.  It’s amazing the guidance that comes through with journaling.
  4. Put in lovely quotes and inspiring images.  Make it pretty.  Creativity is beautiful and often visual after all.
  5. Record your progress.  How many words today?  How much time painting?
  6. Evaluate your experience.  How can you improve it?  What tools could be handy?  How can it be improved?  What went great?

So, do you have a creative journal?  I loved reading about Kate Morton’s notebooks which you can read about here.  Such an inspiration!

Do you journal your own creative process?  What tips do you have for ways to use the humble journal to take your creativity to greater heights?  Share a comment.  I would love to know your thoughts.

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Write every day but set yourself a limit

Love this interview.  It makes so much sense and I love how he uses the metaphor of the dog to explain how to train our subconscious to get used to daily practice of writing.

Moral of the interview is to write daily and set a realistic limit.

Great quote:

“Know yourself and say to yourself I am most energetic at this time and that is when I write.”

Enjoy x

How to set a realistic writing target

pic-promo-tick-chart

Image courtesy of this site

We have all read the importance of setting ourselves a writing target, but today I am thinking closely about the importance of making that target achievable.  Now that Nanowrimo is over for another year (got as far as signing up this year which is progress!!) it would be tempting to think that we could all churn out 50 000 a month, if only we could get up an hour earlier, or imprison the children for an hour or so every day.  Or, that most insidious of suggestions, relax our housekeeping standards a little.

Mmmm I have to say that I do not want to be the kind of writer who festers in her own dirty pajamas, surrounded by mouldy coffee cups and stinking piles of dirty laundry.  As a writer, I enjoy a tidy desk, and as a mother/wife, I enjoy a tidy home, so there is nothing for it but to try and find a way of having it all.  After all, isn’t that what we are all supposed to be able to do as women in the twenty-firsty centureee!

I considered going all manic and setting myself a mammoth target, piling out the first draft in six weeks max and then going into writers rehab but it just didn’t seem like fun to me.  I suppose it is a little bit like running.  Do you do the marathon approach and ‘train’ for it?  Or do you take a gentle jog every day?

To be honest, I know nothing about running because I am pretty sure that I am allergic to the mere idea of moving my body at speed, but as a writer, I can, of course imagine that the metaphor is somehow apt.

I knew that setting a word count target was important.  I also knew that it was impossible for me to write every day.

So here is what I did?

HOW TO SET A REALISTIC WRITING TARGET

1. Decide how many words you would like your novel to be roundabouts.  I chose 100 000 words because it seemed like a nice round number and is about the average wordcount for a decent novel.

2. Decide when you would like to complete your first draft.  I decided that 16 weeks was a good aim.

3.  Divide the figure from 1 by the number of weeks that you have set as your timeframe (2).  In my case that is 6250 words per week.

4. Divide the figure from 3 by 6.  This gives you a day off for good behaviour.  That gives me a writing target of 1042 words per day.  Which I have to say is totally doable.

5.  Create a pretty chart on which you can colour in the columns for each day.  I even set little smaller targets of 250 word increments. When I have written 250 words, I colour in that day up to that number and so on.

6. Buy yourself some gold stars.  When you hit your target for the day, give yourself a gold star on that column.

7.  When you have got five gold stars, give yourself a little treat.  Because you are so worth it, Beautiful!

So there you have it, my handy guide to setting realistic word targets.  16 weeks is like four months.  If you need longer, go for it.

Because you can do this.  And you know it.

How do you motivate yourself to hit a word target in your writing?  All tips gratefully received.  Leave a comment below….

How to start a novel?

How to start a novel? 

The million dollar question….  I think in the past I would have been rather methodical about he whole thing.  I would have planned each chapter and a word count, created a writing schedule and stuck to it.  I would have banged out the words to get the quota.

After all, we are all trained to work like machines and unfortunately we are often told that writing is no different.  Bum on the seat, fingers poised, stopwatch on and off you go.

photo credit: lucidtech via photopin cc

photo credit: lucidtech via photopin cc

I am sure that such a mechanistic model is very effective.  Just like I am sure that SMART goals work and that going to the gym on a regular basis will get your body in shape.  These are all proven methods.  They produce results.

But

I am so tired of being SMART.  I am exhausted by the punishing targets that I am setting for myself.  I have realized that as a boss of myself, I am a real BITCH.

So for this new novel, this first proper novel, I am choosing a new way.

I am retreating into my dream space.

I am resting and allowing the story to come to me.  Like a wild animal, my story needs to learn to trust me and in order for that to happen, I need to trust myself.

photo credit: lanuiop via photopin cc

photo credit: lanuiop via photopin cc

I need to rest into my writer intuition.  I need to trust that I have all it takes to tell this story.

Now, instead of thinking of plotting as Stage one of a project, I am retreating into the dreams.  Allowing the fragments of my story to drift to me, piece by piece.

I have set no words to these little pieces of ephemera.  I record them as they come in my trusty Moleskine.  I cut out pictures or pin them to my Novel Inspiration board.

I am trusting this new process.  It does seem rather right-brain and just a little bit dippy but, you know what, I am LOVING it.

Today why not join me in making a writer’s pledge to give your story the space to come to you.

Sit in the clearing of your imagination and allow your characters and their lives to creep out from the shadows and feed from your hand.

Here’s to intuition my friends.

What is your process for starting a novel?  Are you a planner or a dreamer?  Leave a comment I would love to know…

Juliette