Tag Archives | Artist’s Way

Self-Love For Writers

I've got a guest post this morning over at Sandi Amorim's blog.  It's on how authentic creativity is self-love.  Won't you check it out?  Here's the site: Deva Coaching.

And I've got one more thing for you.  Remember how I reviewed the Artist's Way Toolkit site?  Well, the site is offfering a free promo.  If you want to try the tools for a month, go ahead and register using BLOGHER as a promo code.  You will need to put in your credit card info, but it's only because that's the only way the registration works–there's no tricks, no continuation after the free month unless you want it.  Check it out.

But go read my guest post first.

UPDATE:  The Authenticity + Creativity class is next Tuesday night!  You can still register.  Check it out on this page.  (And thanks Heather for the reminder that I needed to post this today.)

 

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Taking a Break

Last weekend, I left home for a night to head south to Eugene, home of my alma mater, the University of Oregon (Go, Ducks!).Waterslide-watershoot-oregon-2580145-l

This may shock you–it shocked me–but I didn't even turn on my computer the entire time I was gone.   And I had a blast.   We ate at Rennie's and the Glenwood, two old favorites, stayed at the New Oregon motel, shopped at the U of O bookstore and the wonderful local yarn shop, walked along both sides of the Willamette river, and went to a surprise birthday party at fabulous house.  All in 24 hours.

I came home refreshed and with a slightly different outlook on life, which is what getting away will do for you.  Yet I don't do this often enough.  Yes, I travel a lot, mostly to Nashville and LA, but that is always at least partially for work.  Heading out for a night or two nights just for fun is an entirely different animal, and one I like. 

So, this may be as shocking as not turning on my computer for 24 hours, but now I'm going to advocate the benefits of taking a break from your writing.  And by taking a break, I mean taking a break break, like a mini get-away, or an afternoon off to wander by the lake.  Maybe you could think of it as an extended Artist's Date, the activity Julia Cameron urges everyone to partake in. 

Whether you decide to go for a big break or a small break, some time off can have a salutary effect on your brain, and since writing comes from the brain, by extension a break can have a great impact on your work.  So, herewith, my list of Reasons Why You Should Take a Break:

Because it clears your mind.  And, I don't know about you, but mine usually needs clearing, bad.  I get into this one-with-the-computer mentality wherein I sit and work for hours.  As part of my new program to take breaks more often, I'm also going to take mini-breaks, and get up from my desk every half hour.

Because it opens new vistas.  Just seeing different stuff is good for the brain.  And it's great for writing, because the writing muscle strengthens with new input.

Because it reminds you of what is important.  Like spending time with family and friends and gazing at the river.  Having a beer with lunch and finding fountain pens–a whole amazing, lovely set of them–at the bookstore.   Looking for nutrias in the Millrace and hanging out in the motel room just because it is fun to be there.

Because it refills the well.  Come back to writing after taking a break and suddenly the words fly across the page.  Why?  Because you've refilled the well, which easily gets depleted if all you do is pull from it.  Once in a while, you need to put stuff back in.

Because sometimes we just need to be, not always do.  Enough said.

Because it energizes you and makes you eager to get back to your life.  The best thing about leaving is coming home, right?  And even better to come home full of ideas and energy.  And with fountain pens.

What are your favorite ways to take breaks from writing?

***Photo by d70focus, courtesy of Flickr, via Everystockphoto, my go-to place for pix.

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Process or Product?

I recently found a pillow I made ten years ago, when I attended Creativity Camp led by Julia Cameron, ProcessPillow author of the Artist's Way (as if you didn't know that).  The camp was great, life-changing, really, particularly in that I met a couple of people who I remain friends with to this day.  The way it worked was that Julia led us through Artist's Way activities all morning and in the afternoon we could take our choice of classes–yoga, performance tips, drumming, and painting.  Or one could head into town (the camp was located in Taos, New Mexico) or stroll about the gorgeous land. 

I did a little of each, and one afternoon landed in the painting class, in which we painted pillows.  Freshly inspired by the morning's activities, I wrote one of my favorite sayings of Julia's on my pillow: Process is Everything, Product Happens.  As my late mother would say, clevo, huh?

Back in those days I was still a bit of a dabbler at writing.  I'd been working on fiction off and on for years and done a little free-lancing.  I'd not gotten my MFA, nor ever done any ghost-writing or copy-writing.  And I believed fervently in the saying on my pillow, that if only I remembered to focus on process, everything else would follow.

I think I still believe in that, but I'm not sure.  I know for a fact that when I sit down these days to write fiction, if I worry too much about the end result–the product–I'll cramp up and not be able to write a word.  Conversely, if I don't have some idea of what I want to write, some structure in mind, I'll not be able to write, either.  Or, more to the point, I write too much, allowing myself to meander through all kinds of tangents.

Process is pure creativity, writing fast, free writing, not stopping to think.  It is bliss when it happens.  And I advocate going for this kind of free and fast writing whenever you possibly can. 

But there comes a time when you have to put product first.  I can hear the gasps of horror coming from you, and I'm ignoring them.  When I sit down to write a book for a client, I have to put product first.  Number one, I'm being paid to produce a product.  Number two, if I don't have a clear image of what the client wants, the project is sunk from the start.  So most of my projects for clients start with product upper-most in my mind.

However.

Once I get the product firmly in mind and know exactly what I'm writing, then I can head for process land.  Because the writing process for clients is no different than it is for myself–write a rough draft, and then follow it with successive drafts that get cleaner and clearer every time.  And, for me, the only way to get a draft out on paper is to let it rip.  To go wholeheartedly into process, trusting that the product will follow.

I think the product/process conundrum is a bit chicken and egg-ish.  One can't exist without the other and they both have their place.  So, maybe I do still believe in the message on my pillow.  Or I would if it had some good editing.  But try as I might, I can't think how to change the saying to make it more pertinent.

Any ideas?

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