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For the Love of Writing

For the Love of Writing
I started coloring this page from "Coloring on the Go: Floral Designs for Fun and Relaxation."

I started coloring this page from “Coloring on the Go: Floral Designs for Fun and Relaxation.”

I’m a writer, but sometimes I find it very hard to get out a single solitary word on a page. It’s frustrating and downright painful, especially when there’s a deadline looming. In those moments when I can’t seem get my brain whirling at a good enough pace to spit out letters at the damn blinking cursor, I know I have to take other measures.

Traditional “brainstorming” doesn’t work for me and meditation doesn’t work for me (not for an immediate-ish cure writer’s block anyway). I need physical action. Something about actually DOING something helps get my brain going again. Here are a few of my tried and true go-to activities for getting my pen moving:

1. Scrubbing Grout
Sexy, right? I think it’s the repetitive motion that makes my mind open up and hum on the right frequency to pick up some good creative energy. If you hit me up and I tell you I have writer’s block, you should invite me to your crib and hand me a grout brush. I’ll have your kitchen and bathroom sparkling. Mmmhmmm. Yup.

2. Walking
This is by far my favorite. Meandering around the neighborhood or a park is the perfect anecdote to a brain that has been too focused on trying to get “it” on paper/screen. The air, the sun, the people-watching, taking in the sights, the act of putting one foot in front of the other. It helps get different parts of my mind going and makes me more likely to have that “aha” moment.

3. Twisting My Hair
I love my hair. I do, I do. It’s big and a labor of love. Twisting it or putting it in bantu knots (which means detangling and moisturizing beforehand) is a nice feeling. Self-care. Creating future cuteness. Like the grout thing, the repetitive motions are soothing.

4. Coloring
This is a new one for me. I bought Coloring on the Go: Floral Designs for Fun and Relaxation and so far, so good. I like making pretty stuff and keeping my hands busy. Usually I listen to some music while I color too.

Those are my current ways to dissolve writer’s block. What do you do to get your creative juices pumping when you’re in a slump?

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in Creativity

 

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Artist’s Way 3: Week 3

Artist’s Way 3: Week 3

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Week 3 is all about recovering a sense of power.  Good stuff here. Cameron talked quite a bit about anger and how to use anger in a positive way. I got angry a couple times in the past couple weeks and I expressed that anger in such a way that I had to apologize to the folks on the receiving end. So, it happens.

One quote from this weeks’ reading that I really enjoyed was from Goethe. It reads: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”  Well said. Or like Nike said, “Just do it.” You’ll never do “it” if you don’t make that first step no matter how tentative it is.

For this week’s Artist Date, I attempted to go and buy a new notebook and some new pens, but my mission ended up a failure because I embarked on said adventure on Easter Sunday and stuff closed early. Womp, womp. So, my Artist Date became the walk there and back. The picture above is from my travels. Reminds me of a song from my adolescence. “The red, the black and the green. With the key…”

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Creativity, Writerly Things

 

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Artist’s Way 3: Week 2

Artist’s Way 3: Week 2
My view during my run/Artist Date.

My view during my run/Artist Date.

Week 2 focuses on recovering a sense of identity. My girl Julia goes all the way IN with this chapter. Here’s an excerpt where she talks about having “crazymakers” in your life, essentially the folks who always manage to suck away all of your energy creative and otherwise:

Crazymakers discount your reality. No matter how important your deadline or how critical your work trajectory at the moment, crazy makers will violate your needs. They may act as though they hear your boundaries and will respect them, but in practice act is the operative word. Crazymakers are the people who call you at midnight or 6:00 am saying, “I know you asked me not to call you at this time, but…”

Yes, Julia, yes! I most certainly had a crazymaker in my life a while ago and I’m so glad I let that go. Good riddance to drama. But here is my absolute favorite quote from this week:

The quality of life is always in proportion, always to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.

She’s basically saying that even when life seems to be piling on every possible miserable thing, focus on the good stuff. Appreciate the little things. FIND THOSE LITTLE THINGS.

For this week’s Artist Date, I went for a walk/run along the Hudson River and it was great. Just a bit before sunset and it was a beautiful night–70 something degrees. Just me, the sun, the river and my music. It was an Outkast mix by the way. Got in some good people-watching of course and got to notice nature showing all the way out with different little creations along the path.  Good week!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Creativity

 

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Artist’s Way 3: Week 1

Artist’s Way 3: Week 1

 

"Meow."

“Meow.”

Technically, this will be my fourth time doing the Artist’s Way process, but it’s the third time I’m documenting it on this blog, so we’ll go with three. Follow this (successful) attempt at the Artist’s Way process by searching for the hashtag #AW3. My last attempt was last year and I made it to Week 8 before I quit. I don’t even remember precisely what happened, but I’m sure a bunch of life stuff got in the way and I just ended up tossing the process out of the window. But now I’m back! And I just completed week one! I’ll be here every Monday for the this 12-week process giving a run down of my experience with the process. Heeeeeere we go…

Week 1 is all about recovering a sense of safety as an artist. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) we do not express creativity because on some level, we are afraid of exposing a vulnerability. Sometimes art is very personal and it stings to have prying eyes and critical thoughts lurking around the most fragile bits of yourself. I’m currently getting back on the book-writing horse, so this is right up my alley.

The  margins of The Artist’s Way are peppered with inspirational quotes and my favorite one from the Week One reading is by Joseph Chilton Pearce.  He said “To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong.” Just touched my soul. Indeed. It’s scary to not only share your work with others, but to even get to the point of expressing your creativity to yourself. We have so many excuses as to why we “can’t” do creative things that make us happy. No time, no energy, blah, blah, blah.  We do have time. We just have to carve it out. I’ve found that the early morning is the best time for me because it allows me to start my day with purpose and if I left it for the end of the day it would never get done. I would always find something more “important” to do.

For this week’s Artist Date (a weekly solo, creative adventure as described in the book), I went to the kitty cat section of the local pet store and hung out with the felines. Cats are great. I own a 12-year-old cat and cats in those little cages like that have to get creative to keep themselves from utter boredom. It was great to be around all those super duper cutie pies and all of  their stinky awesomeness.

In addition to doing Morning Pages  (three pages of free-write) everyday and an Artist Date every week, I’ll also be doing two to three of the recommended tasks each week. I won’t always go into great detail with those because I want you to pick up the book and do your own stuff and also because some of this process is just for me. I’m sharing the journey because I hope it will inspire others to take the leap and give it shot too, but I don’t feel compelled to share every single part of it. So, suffice to say that I completed three tasks and I’m feeling good about this go-round.

If you are looking to delve a little more deeply into your creative side, I highly recommend that you join me on this journey. Welcome!

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Creativity, Writerly Things

 

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Writing Prompt: Describe Being a Writer

Writing Prompt: Describe Being a Writer

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Writer’s Relief posted the above picture on Facebook with the following caption: “Describe being a ‪#‎writer‬ without using the words ‘writer,’ ‘write,’ or ‘words.’ ‪#‎writingprompt‬ ‪#‎writinglife‬.” I’m always down for a good writing prompt, so I decided to share my (short) response here.

A somber-looking stranger on the train. The bewitching pre-dawn hours while alone at my desk. A long-abandoned building with “beautiful bones”  observed during a walk in the neighborhood. Any and all of these things could be the catalyst for my muse to alight upon my shoulder and whisper into my ear.  My mind starts churning, thoughts fill my head beyond capacity and I must (no, I really must) transfer those thoughts to page or screen. Sometimes those penned or keyboarded thoughts make it to a wider audience than my own two eyes.  In some bizarre corner of the universe, a company or a person will pay me for the privilege of baring my soul/art/modestly dressed thoughts to the masses.  It is then that my strokes and clicks are subject to the whims of a fickle public.

It’s a blessing and a curse.  Like Badu said, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.”  All good though. I’m always flabbergasted that anyone is interested in anything I have to say, much less pay for it. I’m grateful.

 
 

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A Life in Lists

A Life in Lists
Just a few of my handy dandy notebooks.

Just a few of my handy dandy notebooks.

Like most writers, I have approximately 8, 942 notebooks that I’m currently using. They all have different purposes. One is for calligraphy practice, one is for taking notes at events/interviews, one is for my Morning Pages and so on and so forth. One notebook is what I call my “everyday” notebook. It’s a black Moleskine that I carry with me at all times if I have a big enough bag. If I have a tiny bag, I use my mini-Moleskine.

I use this Moleskine for those aha moments on the train and in the café and on my weekly artist dates. I also use it for the writing exercises I get from an iPhone app called Writing Prompts. I’ve had this particular “everyday” notebook for about a year, which is when I moved to the place I live in now. One year ago was a kooky crazy time for me. I was delving back into single life, trying out new freelance opportunities, living alone for the first time in years and generally trying to keep it together.

I just happened to flip through the notebook today as I was looking for something and I ended up getting caught up in my past writing. For one thing, my Writing Prompts exercises were pretty good. I need to start doing those again.  But the main thing that caught my eye was the vast amount of lists. If I read nothing else in those pages, the lists alone told me everything about where I was in my life at those moments.

There’s a furniture budget list that is itemized and organized by room. My natural handwriting is atrocious, but this list  is damn near flawless with its straight lines and consistent spacing between letters. I was being meticulous. It was difficult for me to put that list together and have to think about the practical parts of getting my life on track as I simultaneously dealt with the intangible issues. I’m not in that head space anymore, but just seeing that list and the mounds of effort it must have taken me to write it, I was put right back into that moment. Glad I’ve moved past that and have now re-embraced my usual sloppy ass handwriting.

Then there’s the list of back to school supplies for my mentee’s first day of college last year. She didn’t know I was getting her anything, so I just kind of winged it as far as what I thought she might need (and asked some “innocent” questions about what kind of school shopping she had done). That was a fun list to make. Made me feel kind of giddy even though I wasn’t the one heading back to school. Exciting. I appreciate that she brings me these unexpected moments of joy. Oh and she was so surprised when I gave her the big ol’ bag of goodies! Nice moment between us.

I have tons of lists of story ideas for various publications, for this blog, for short stories, etc. About half of those ideas have been executed. Probably about half of the rest should be scrapped. But that quarter that’s left? Definitely need to revisit those. I like visual evidence of my peaks in creativity. Motivates me.

I could go on and on with these lists, but you get the idea. My lists are a glimpse into my moments, my thoughts, my emotional well-being. A life in lists.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Living

 

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Artist’s Way2: Week 8

Artist’s Way2: Week 8
The super moon.

The super moon.

Before I dig into Week 8, let me just say how beautiful the super moon was over the weekend. I was walking down the street in Harlem headed east at night and the moon looked like this big, beautiful, radiant, low-hanging fruit begging to be plucked and enjoyed. I love it when Mother Nature reminds us to slow down and take in her gloriousness.

So, back to Week 8….This week had THEE best task to date. The task was to write down a goal and where you envisioned yourself being with that goal in five years and then came the brilliant part. The task was to write down what you could do towards that goal in the next month, week, today and right now. YES! I love it.  This is  the work of turning your dream, your literal dream, into a reality. You have to put in the work. You have to figure out what the work is, how you value it and just do it.

I think we humans are all “creative types” in a sense, but for  those of us who have chosen to make a living off of creative pursuits, there’s a bit more at stake ego-wise and bank account-wise. You want to be that head in the clouds creative person who is only concerned with the integrity of the art, but you also have to pay the bills and that’s real.

I’m not passionate about every subject I write about, but I am passionate about writing. So, if I’m writing about some ho-hom or “low brow” subject, I’m still putting my everything into making it a well-written piece and at the end of the day, that’s what makes me happy as an artist/creative person.

I appreciate each and every single person that bothers to read, much less comment on my work. But when someone I respect/admire “likes” something I posted or when that person tweets me or emails me or sends me a note, that is just beautiful. You never know who is watching and for me, it is the fact that I am watching myself. I am my harshest critic. The possibility that other people read my pieces at all is very humbling and awesome.

Thank you.

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Creativity, Writerly Things

 

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