Guest Post: Creative Fuel

Creative Fuel And the winner is: Julie Schwartz!  Congratulations, Julie, I've sent your contact info to Karen and she'll be in touch with you soon.  (By the way I used this random name selector to choose.)

Please join me in welcoming my special guest post contributor, Karen Caterson, today.   Readers of this blog know that Karen and I have been cyber-buddies for a long time.  She did a wonderful interview with Emma Jean and she and I have taught a class together.  Read to end of this post to learn more about a very special give-away Karen has arranged for readers of this blog!

Creative Fuel

by Karen Caterson

I was born creative.

All my life I've shaped
fabrics and fibers into clothes for stuffed animals, dolls, people, performers
(wait! performers are people) – messed with color in textiles, glass,
language (that's what writing is, right? playing with the colors of language) –
imagined other worlds (and others' worlds – that's what you do as a listener, a
reader, or a therapist, right?).

But despite all those years
of creative play I only recently noticed the BIG connection between my creative
output and my self-care practices.

(This may have something to
do with the fact that, until recently, I've shunned consistency in many areas
of my life. I still have a sign in my office that pays homage to this; it
reads: I may be inconsistent, but not all the time.)

Here's the BIG connection I
noticed: Self-care (substitute self-nurturing if you like) fuels my creativity!
Big time!! There's an exponential relationship – have YOU seen this too?

When I realized that this
connection existed I began to add to my self-care practices (I call these
X-treme self-care practices). I now have quite a number of them, from some that
you hear of quite often – using a gratitude journal, yoga and meditating, watching
Groucho Marx movies – to some that are less commonplace: facial acupressure,
tuning the chakras through sound, infrared foot massage, and whistling at the
top of my whistler.

And I keep adding more!
Sometimes it seems like there's not enough day for all my self-nurturing.

While it might seem
counterintuitive to take time away from creating in order to boost your
creativity, it works!

Self-care practices connect
us with our bodies and the physical world – get us out of our heads (where many
creatives spend a lot of time) – and re-energize us. Which results in more

When my creative work is
supported by self-care my work is more focused, I'm less stressed, more
inspired, and more energized.

And conversely, when I put
off self-nourishing until after creating (or forget it altogether) I become
scattered and less productive (my daughter insists that I add cranky to the
list, but we know that's not true, right?).

The more we practice
self-care the more we see our creativity flourish!

Fitting in enough
self-nurturing – consistently – isn't always easy, though. In the creative rush
to write or make art it's easy to forget self-care (heck, sometimes we
creatives get so involved with our work that we forget to eat!).

For me the struggle is with
scheduling. (I have a wee problem with rules and structure – see note about
inconsistency above – so much so that I even thwart my own rules!

But I work with that
struggle, and keep looking for ways to incorporate self-care into my life, because
I've seen the difference it makes.

What fuels YOUR creativity?

Please comment on this wonderful post from Karen! When you do, you'll be entered into a giveaway to receive her fabulous new release, the Square-Peg Celebration: Stories of Acceptance & Grace package (MP3 and PDF), which you can read more about here.

I'll draw a name from those who comment on Wednesday, June 5th, one week from today!

And here, in her own words, is Karen's bio:

Hi, I'm Karen Caterson, aka Square-Peg Karen – I write a lot about celebrating your uniqueness, accepting yourSELF and X-treme self-care practices. Visit me at Square-Peg People ( and let's get acquainted.

Photo by Lauren Caterson, Karen's talented daughter.

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23 Responses to Guest Post: Creative Fuel

  1. Jessica Baverstock 05/29/2013 at 02:48 #

    Hi Karen! *Waves*

    You’re right, we need to regularly get out of our heads and into the real world. I find even going for a walk is enough to spark my Creativity and get me going again.

    At times we’re so caught up in efficiently using our time that the pressure drives our Creativity away. Taking a few minutes to go for a walk or do something nurturing actually saves time in the long run because we’re not staring blankly at our screen.

    (I’ve been listening to Karen’s other new audio package on Community is an Inside Job which I’m really enjoying. So you don’t need to enter my name in the giveaway. I’m sure one of your other readers will enjoy the prize. 😀 )

  2. Charlotte Dixon 05/29/2013 at 06:14 #

    Excellent point, Jessica–listening to something soothing can be a huge form of self-care.  And Karen's audios do the trick!  I urge everyone to check them out.

  3. Square-Peg Karen 05/29/2013 at 10:00 #

    Waving back, Jessica : )

    Charlotte, thanks so much for allowing me to share with your readers!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 05/29/2013 at 10:05 #

    Karen, it is such a pleasure to have you on my blog!

  5. Julie Schwartz 05/29/2013 at 10:17 #

    For me, it is time and space. Enough time between projects to let the creative mind rest. Time to do things that are in no way related to creative output – read, cook, clean a closet. And then, sufficient time to start, start over, and start again. Usually the first two or three versions of any project are not fit for public consumption. Space for me means having no one else in the building (I work at home) intruding on my brainspace. Much as I love them, my work rhythm is different when my family is in the house, no matter how quiet or far away they are. The other aspect of space that is critical for me is a clean workspace. I can’t get to work until things are put away and all surfaces are clear. For me that is the most important part of self-care – taking the time to tune up my space so the whole room is my blank slate.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 05/29/2013 at 10:30 #

    I love that aspect of self-care–taking time to make things the way you want them in your space.  You don't often see that mentioned and it is very important.  I don't feel I can work properly once my desk gets too cluttered.

  7. Square-Peg Karen 05/29/2013 at 13:10 #

    I’m just learning one of the things you mentioned, Julie -> self-care includes tuning up my space (to use your excellent phrase). I didn’t realize (until very recently) how clutter affected me!

  8. Zan Marie 05/29/2013 at 16:07 #

    I call it “Being good to myself.” And I’m planning more consistent exercise and rest to do it now that the kitchen renovation is all but finished. One more day, and we’ll be done. ; )

  9. Charlotte Dixon 05/29/2013 at 16:12 #

    Zan Marie, you are almost there!  You get to practice self-care by celebrating big time when its finished.  Hooray!

  10. Square-Peg Karen 05/29/2013 at 18:51 #

    Ahhh, I like that, Zan Marie – being good to yourself it is! And the kitchen renovation – ohhhh, what Charlotte said – hope you take self-care time to celebrate that big time!!!

  11. Charlotte Dixon 05/30/2013 at 08:38 #

    Don, thank you for that review, it is wonderful!  And I am so glad you liked the book.  Sorry to hear about those Mountain View folks tweaking your blog!  Hope you had a good trip, wherever you were, and I'm sure you're happy to be back home in St. John.  Thanks again, for everything.

  12. Square-Peg Karen 05/30/2013 at 09:59 #

    Oy, Don – you’re worrying me! If the post you read is correct I’m not creative as I could go to sleep curled up in a tin can during a thunderstorm (ok, I haven’t actually *tried* that). And I was so looking forward to being a creative genius (or genious).

    Charlotte – what Don said about Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior – yes yes YES!

  13. Charlotte Dixon 05/30/2013 at 10:21 #

    Karen–I KNOW you're a creative genius, however you spell it….

  14. 05/30/2013 at 08:09 #

    Nice post Square-Peg Karen. Interesting to read of your creativity. I’ve just read a post that says that creative people have a much harder time falling asleep than most people, which, if true must mean that I’m a creative genious! I have a hard time falling to sleep, as well as apparently spelling the word genius above!

    Oh, by the way Charlotte, I’ve been on the road, but I’m back in Saint John and I’m happy to say that I’ve finally found the time to read Emma Jean’s Bad Behaviour, and even happier to say that I’ve enjoyed reading ever damn word….. way to go girl!

    Actually, I did a small review of Emma Jean on my blog today. Unfortunately, ever since I started bashing Google for some ‘questionable practices’, I’ve seen my 800 or 900 readers-per day go way, way down. Everyday someone from Mountain View reviews my blog and the more I criticize Google, the less readers that I seem to end up with, but, hopefully, one of my two or three regular readers will pick up your book. Cheers

  15. Square-Peg Karen 05/31/2013 at 08:09 #

    Aww, thanks Charlotte, I feel the same way about YOU! And for the record, I spell it with a Q – but then I’m Square-Peg ; )

  16. Charlotte Dixon 05/31/2013 at 08:58 #

    And that's what I love about you, Square Peg Karen!

  17. Patty 06/03/2013 at 19:57 #

    Hi Karen & Charlotte – It’s so wonderful to find someone who lavishes so much time on self nurturing! I totally get the inconsistency thing too, and that’s probably why my own self care practices are sometimes spotty. I definitely see how self care feeds creativity and love the connection you’ve made here. Sometimes for me the opposite is true too and creativity feeds self care, especially when I’m involved in process creativity, with no agenda or defined outcome. My best forms of self care are when I have time to play without purpose: collage, painting, singing, dancing, reading, streaming old movies on Nefflix, aimless gardening. My absolute favorite self care practice going outside and soaking in the hot tub every morning before I start work. When I first started this 6 months ago it seemed a little frivolous and maybe not serious enough, but then I decided who cares? It works for me.

  18. Charlotte Dixon 06/03/2013 at 20:04 #

    Patty, I love that you mentioned the importance of play.  I was at a workshop recently where someone characterized play as the most radical act a person can do in our society!  We have such an emphasis on seriousness.  And I adore that you soak in your hot tub every morning.  That is fantastic.

  19. Square-Peg Karen 06/05/2013 at 07:56 #

    Hi Patty, YES to play – so glad you mentioned that! I adore your “absolute favorite self care practice” – being around (and/or in) water definitely feeds my creativity – and my heart!

    And I’m wondering if the inconsistency thing might be “normal” (yucky word!) for creatives – hmmm, could be.

    p.s. imho nothing that feeds your soul (read inner self or core if soul doesn’t fit for you) is frivolous!

  20. Square-Peg Karen 06/05/2013 at 07:57 #

    Oooh, I love that, Charlotte: play = “the most radical act a person can do in our society!”

  21. Square-Peg Karen 06/05/2013 at 09:03 #

    Congrats, Julie – enjoy Square-Peg Celebration! Thanks everyone who commented – and thanks Charlotte for giving me this opportunity to talk to your readers : )

  22. Amanda Moon 06/05/2013 at 18:40 #

    My big self-care thing is exercise. If I don’t exercise, I have a hard time being creative. It gives me the energy I need.

    Also, I’m a big fan of mani-pedis and massages. I mean, who doesn’t like writing with pretty nails?

  23. Charlotte Dixon 06/06/2013 at 07:59 #

    Agreed.  I've been walking every morning and its made a huge difference in my ability to stay focused, not to mention sleep at night.  Also, I love me a mani-pedi, especially the pedi part.  It's relaxing and you have a good result at the end–my kind of self-care activity.  I don't let myself do it often enough.

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