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How Writing Nurtures Me

Today, I have children’s poet Kristin Martin giving an insight to how writing nurtures her. Thank you Kristin for giving a valuable insight to the creative process for yourself.

How Writing Nurtures Me

by Kristin Martin

I am a children’s poet. I write poems about nature, and about children’s wonder and awe at the natural world. I find it easy to put myself in the shoes of a child, because I still am that child. I still feel that wonder and awe.

On Monday Lilliana asked me to write a blog post. I typed the title on my laptop: How writing nurtures me, but I didn’t know what to write. So I closed the document and went back to writing poetry.

Today I spent the entire day writing children’s poetry. When I say ‘the entire day’, I mean that I dedicated today to writing poetry, rather than I sat at my computer and typed poems all day, because that is not possible, at least not for me.

In order to put myself in the right frame of mind this morning I looked out at my back garden. I saw something moving under a tree, and realised it was my turtle! I hurried outside because I rarely see her out of her pond, and watched as she rambled off into the bushes.

turtle hiding
Can you find the turtle?

And that was when I noticed the path. A smooth path under the rosemary bush, leading into the darkness. She obviously has wandered along this path regularly, as she has worn it smooth. I put my head down and peered along the path, under the jumble of branches and sweet smelling leaves, and her little face peered back at me.

And then I returned to my laptop and tried to capture my joy at discovering this mysterious path.

That poem is not finished yet, but the challenge of writing words, with perfect rhythm and rhyme, to tell a story about this path is one that I relish

Next, I opened a poem that I have been writing over the past week, but that still had a couple of lines I didn’t like. I read it, then left it open on my laptop while I went into the kitchen to make apple sauce. While I chopped apples I ran over the words in my head, and played with alternatives, and that is when I came up with the solution. I rushed back to my laptop and typed in the words. After finishing the apple sauce I re-read them, and they still sounded perfect.

I had solved the puzzle I had set myself. I had written a poem that tells the story I want and conveys the emotions I want it to, as well as having the correct rhythm, and rhymes that are true.

I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment.

After going for a walk, and then working on several other poems, all of which are unfinished, I realised that I felt happier and more fulfilled than I had in weeks. I felt nurtured. So I returned to the ‘How writing nurtures me’ blog post, and wrote this.

 

Kristin Martin writes poetry and short fiction for children and adults. She is the author of two poetry collections, To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme? published by Glimmer Press in 2019 and Paint the Sky, published by Ginninderra Press in 2016. Her poems and short stories are published in numerous anthologies, including Tadpoles in the Torrens and Wild, in magazines, including Page Seventeen, Orbit, Count Down, Blast Off and The Caterpillar, on websites and in art exhibitions. You can read more of her children’s poetry on her website, Poems For Kids, at kristinmartin.net.

The Benefits of Creative Rest

I was in the flow of writing the first draft of a story, when I found that I had an influx of edits to be done which took priority. When doing these edits, it meant I didn’t have the brain space for creative writing. I knew the edits were coming, but I’d been struck with a new story idea and I wanted to get writing.

Timing is everything, but it’s a tricky beast when you’re creating. So, when I was inspired to write, I did. I got over half the story written. It meant that I had to then stop writing this story when I didn’t want to because of the editing that needed to be done. I don’t like doing this, especially when I’m inspired to write. This time I had to, otherwise I would’ve ended up doing neither of the jobs well.

After a few weeks break from the story, I finally had the time to go back to it. It took a day to get back into the story. Then I re-found the flow, and managed to finish writing the story in three days. Wow! I even surprised myself with this output.

I could only do this because I trusted myself.

I was connected to my writing process, and aware of what works for me and what doesn’t work.

And I had a creative break during the editing process.

While editing for a few weeks had been a disruption, on the flip side it meant that I had a break from creative writing. When editing I’m using more of the right side of my brain, and during this time my left side had a bit of a holiday. This meant that when I got back to the story with time to write, I could get it done. My creative muscles were ready to flex and do the heavy lifting required to finish the novel.

It was a win-win. I got the editing done and kept on track, while off track for a while with my writing, when I did get the chance to go back to it, I was back on track in a matter of days.

What could’ve happened was that I worried about whether or not I would get back into the flow. This could’ve then resulted in crippling my creativity, and effected both the editing jobs and the story I was writing, and potentially the next story. It didn’t. Because I trusted myself that when the time was right, I’d get back writing the story. It reminded me that sometimes a break or interruption can work in my favour. This time it did. This positive creation also extends out into other areas of my life, helping my general wellbeing.

Have you ever experienced a time when you had to take a break from a creative project, to go back to it later expecting that it would take ages to get back into it, but then managed to finish it quickly? Please share below in the comments.

Act of Kindness

An act of kindness to a stranger is a lost art. Recently, it’s something I spontaneously decided to do. By giving a jar of pickled onions to someone. Odd right. So how did this come around?

I don’t like pickled onions. At all. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would. My dad would loved them, and so we would make them for him. He thought that they were pretty good because they were also made for him by his daughters. Pickled onions aren’t hard to make. I had an ex who loved them and so I made him some, because I wanted to see if I could, and why not make him something he’d enjoy right. Recently, when I was getting some work done in my bathrooms, the tiler mentioned he liked them, and the ones he was eating (straight out for the jar for his lunch that day) cost what he thought was a lot.

I don’t know why, but I thought you know what, I could make up some for him. It won’t cost much, and it won’t take long. And I was in a cooking mode, by doing some pickling it would mix things up. Plus, I would get to brush up my skills. It also gave me a chance to check in with my sisters about what recipe to use (Golden Wattle cook book wins again!).

When tears were running down my cheeks from peeling a kilo of pickling onions I did have a moment of why am I doing this? But when popping those little suckers into the jar, and jiggling them around to squeeze them in tight, there were a lot of reasons why, all of them good. And it was all reinforced when I gave the jar to the tiler, recipe written on the jar so he can make them in the future which he reckoned he would. He was very happy with the prospect of eating a kilo of pickled onions – in a month’s time! That’s why. There were no strings attached. I wasn’t hoping for anything, it was completely random. While my eyes stung with onion fumes, it was fun to see if I could still pickle onions, and to do it on a budget. If you’re going to pickle onions, especially for someone else, it becomes worth it as while I don’t like to eat them, the person receiving does, and it gives them a nice surprise. There’s something about pickled onions I never knew about! Those who like them love to get them as homemade gifts!

What act of kindness have you done when you might not have liked the gift but knew the person you were giving it to would?

New Recipes

I’m taking a break from writing so I can re-fill my creative well. With a little more time available I’ve turned to cooking. Cooking is a day to day chore, but does it have to be? How can I make this more interesting for me? Well I enjoy cooking for bubs so that helps. And I want to look after myself, so another helpful perspective to remember. I also like trying new recipes, bingo!

As I’m deciding on what recipe to try next, then how to change the recipe to suit my diet, and then the actual process of cooking, I realise this is another form of creativity, and it’s also helping to nurture me (and bubs) but also it nurtures my creativity too. So there’s lots of wins going on here.corn chowder

beef and vegetables
Beef and Veg for Bubs

By trying a new recipe I’m exploring the unknown, like I do when writing but I’m using different creative muscles. This means my writing muscles can have a break, and I work out a new set of muscles. And I’m still being creative, which is something I love to do.

While I’m expressing my creativity differently I feed my soul in a new way. This will then influence my writing when I get back to it, how I don’t know, but at least I’m setting myself up the best way I can. The only downside, is that I love baking cakes, which is not good for my waistline!

A simple but effective way to help with creative flow, at least for me. All from simply cooking, a day to day necessity.

Share below how cooking influences your creativity.

New Writing Spot

It might seem a usual place one might write – on your bed. But this is one place I don’t write. Maybe I might jot down a few notes at 3am when my mind thinks it has come up with some wonderful idea, which I usually consider lame at 7am. That doesn’t count as writing.

I’ve never written while on my bed. I never studied on my bed. Now, out of necessity I have. Bubs was sleeping and there was a lot of noise downstairs with the council work ripping up the path for some reason. I needed to be near bubs, so I could hear him when he woke. So, I set up to write on my bed, lap top on my lap, with a cup of tea (not the usual coffee), and got writing. The dog was on the floor near me (bed is out of bounds for him), and I’m comfortable and inspired, despite the jack-hammering noise outside.

cup of tea and writing.jpgInstead of allowing the noise, and the disruption to bother me, I adapted to my environment, and got on with the writing project I needed to do. Bubs slept. I wrote. The dog was happy. I even enjoyed drinking my cup of tea during the session.

Then when bubs woke, I had a little writing to finish, so he played on my bed while I wrote. Then my computer was packed up, and we played for a while.

This sounds easy, but I don’t really like writing on my bed. By allowing myself to adapt to the situation at hand, I got to write, bubs slept, and then we got time together.

I’ve often have had Charles Darwin’s quote in mind:

“It’s not the most intellectual of the species that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

While I might be still at home, my environment is constantly changing with bubs. It’s not always easy to adapt in the moment. I now know what this can be for me in a simple form. Which means I can do this again more easily in the future. And instead of coffee, I enjoyed a cup of tea, and reduced my caffeine intake. Lots of little wins all around!

Have you had a simple moment when you’ve adapted in order to create? Please share below in the comments.

A Project Finished~almost!

Doing up this old kitchen cabinet has been a creative project of persistence.

start-of-sanding.jpg

It’s taken three years to get to the point where the cabinet doors are now attached to the old-style kitchen cabinet which I had sanded and painted.

This has been a creative project of persistence. I bought the cabinet over four years ago, ended up moving, then I decided to get started. I bought an electric sander. Paint. Brushes. Wall paper. Sourced hinges, latches, and handles. It took over four weeks to sand it back, and remove the old paint over my summer break. Then painted it, not in enamel paint deliberately. This paint will flake off over time and that’s the look I want.

starting-to-paint.jpg

 

I planned. I took my time. I sourced hinges, and handles. I did this during summer, so some days it was just too hot to work in my garage. My dogs were by my side, laying on the floor (looking rather bored!) while I worked. It was a long-term project. But it wasn’t meant to have gone on for this long.

Kimba helping.jpg

For one reason or another, the step of attaching the doors and handles was being more of a hurdle than I had expected. I had a few false starts, where I tried to organise people to help. Life got in the way. It looked like I wasn’t doing anything about it, but I wanted to, and had tried, but there were other things were needed my attention, and were a priority. I was almost thinking that I might never get this step done. And this would be one of the many craft projects that I haven’t quiet finished.

painting-done.jpg

Finally, I cornered someone to help who delivered. I’m super excited that the doors are attached, and the handles are too. This kitchen cabinet is one step closer to being refurbished in my own unique design. This is the first time I’ve done a project so big – and the last. It’s been fun, but my attention needs to go elsewhere. There’s a limit to how many different crafts I can have on the go!

doors attached and handles

 

First, this projects still needs to be technically finished. The last step is to attach some chicken wire to the side – it’s cut out, and has been for the last three years, I just have to work out how best to attach it! Now, I can focus on this more easily now that the doors are on and so are the handles! Once the wire is secured then it will be finally finished. At least I can still use it in the meantime. And now when I walk past, I feel that little bit more content that it’s closer to being finished. And it’s been worth it.

 

Share a time below when you have taken a long time to finish a project ~ or almost finished a project, and while it might not look like it, you are planning on it, it’s just taking longer than expected.

Broken Pen

Starting my café writing session this morning, I reached in to my handbag and pulled out a pen, only to have part of a pen in my hand. It’s somehow in a number of pieces. I must be writing a lot! Or putting my pens under a demanding workout. Or ‘life’ in my handbag must be rather rough?!

Either way, I suspect this little pen has seen better days. So the repair isn’t going to happen today, and it will meet its death in the rubbish bin later. Instead, I’ll use another pen.

Despite writing for nearly ten years, I’ve discovered something else to think about when selecting a pen. This pen has numerous parts to screw together, which gives it a few weak points, perhaps the main reason why it has come apart. This is no good for me. I need a pen I can rely on, that’s ready to go when I am. So another type of pen gets crossed off my list as not suitable for writing use!

I really am fussy with my pens!

 

Ideas Popping

This happens all the time with my writing. Up until about now, not so much with my paintings. I go to classes, do what the task is and that’s it. Until now.

Finally, I’ve got ideas popping like popcorn in my head!

And it’s exciting.

Not only am I learning new techniques, I want to go home and try them on a blank canvas. To add my style to them, to experiment and see what art I can produce. I’ve got one blank canvas ready to go, and I now own an easel, and I have new colours to paint with.

I’m not sure what’s happened. Maybe a certain heat level, has been reached and now the ideas are popping into life in my head? Or I have done (finally) enough basic experience so I can begin to use what I’ve learnt with more confidence A bit of both maybe?

To actually be conscious that this is going on is something, which further inspires me. I can map out my journey because of this; of how I’ve improved and persevered and now I am expanding on my journey of creative painting.

I’ve not managed to find this point when on my writing journey, so I like being able to mark this difference in these creative endeavours. It helps me to be more self-aware of the process, so that I can ensure that I repeat these positives when creating in the future.

Ripping Up My Notebook

As part of art class we’re doing a collage activity. My inner child was inspired and excited, as well as my adult self as I got ready to mix mediums to embark on a more grown up version of a technique I haven’t used since primary school.

I’ve come prepared with tissue paper from home, and have both acrylics and oil paints to use. The brief was to draw a figure and I selected a Victorian looking lady from the pile of images. I’d rather not to have to draw another figure because I find it hard, but I’m inspired so I embraced the task. Victorian Lady

There were stencils to use and I sat thinking what I to include in order to add texture and variety to the background of this rather pensive lady I’d chosen to draw and paint.

Why not use my own words? Written on paper with my fountain pen? My notebook and fountain pen are always in my handbag. Inspired I took them out and turned to the back of my notebook to write words I think will compliment this lady.

writing for artNot once do I think about how I’m going to have to rip out these pages of my notebook ~ one of my rules is not top rip out pages. If I don’t like what I’ve written too bad. It stays, a record in time of a difficult writing day. Right now, I’m too inspired about the canvas I’m working on to even care about this rule.

I want to get the words written, paper ripped up to see what magic I can create on the canvas. Then to see how the colours change, the image forms over the next few weeks. This is the part of creating I love. The experimenting side. The hold my breath stage, maybe it will work out, but maybe it won’t. The time when I have an idea of what I want to do, I’m going along with the journey and the destination could be quite unexpected.

When did you create art which was completely different to what you set out? How did you feel about this? Please share your comments below.

“Blank” Canvas

The first steps in this task of completing a collage, was to add a background colour in acrylics. I only had three tubes of acrylics with me, which limited the colour palette.

I could’ve brought more, but I’d recently purchased some acrylics but had left them at home.

So I decided to make do. And I’m glad I did.

The look was more rustic, perhaps a bit industrial than I was going for (I might actually re-do this background in the future for other projects, there’s a few ideas sparking). This is for a collage. I’m going to build on this first layer. And when I stepped back I could see in my mind’s eye where the next layer might go. Even though this wasn’t the ‘look’ I wanted, it was a start that I could work with and build on. Sometimes it’s better when things don’t go to plan and you are moved by the creative flow and take notice.

When have you started a creative project but it’s not gone to plan? But the result has been better than you had initially planned? Please share in the comments below.