Guest Blog with Emma Rowe

Today I have Emma Rowe, fabulous musician sharing her creative process. Thank you Emma!

 

Hello blog world. I’m new here, be nice.

My name is Emma Rowe, I am a singer/songwriter from Darwin. You don’t know me, and you’re not supposed to…yet.

So, this whole “write a blog post about your creative process” thing has really got me thinking…..What the hell is my creative process???

Sometimes it starts with a cool guitar bit, sometimes it’s lyrics popping into my head at inconvenient times (i.e. while driving, in the shower, while at work), sometimes it’s after seeing a life changing concert or discovering a new artist. Seldom times it’s when I’m sitting with my journal open thinking “I’m going to write a song now”.

Look, I don’t really have a process. But I do have some tips to help you get the best out of your writing. I call it “The Self Care System for Writers”.

If you find yourself in a rut, or just plain not enjoying writing, here are some simple (but effective) strategies that work for me:

– Get a good night’s sleep, you’re wittier when you’re well rested.

– Make yourself a cup of tea. This gives you some unfiltered thinking time.

– RELAX (I realise the irony of writing that in capitals).

– Give yourself a break. If the creativity isn’t happening for you today, that’s ok! Maybe tomorrow!

– Light some candles, I think there’s some actual science behind nice smells stimulating your brain (not a scientist).

– Cuddle your pet. They deserve it, guys. I think there’s science behind this too (again, not a scientist).

– Challenge yourself. Branch out into new genres, topics, collaborations. Prove to yourself that you can.

– Go see some live music/theatre/art exhibitions/dance…whatever your preference!

In the end, the most important thing you can do for yourself is have fun writing, and remind yourself that you’re good at it!! Now, get to it!!

Emma Rowe is a loud singer/songwriter from Darwin, Australia. Her latest single, “LIONESS”, has been critically acclaimed worldwide, and can be found on all major streaming services. Stalk Emma here: Facebook – Instagram – TwitterYouTube

Emma 3

Guest Emma Liggins

Our guest today is Emma Liggins, who is an intuitive business coach and is going to discuss the impact of energy vampires on creativity. Thank you Emma!

Almost everyone has had a time in their life when they are working on a project and get stuck inside their own head and depending on the deadline or lack there of this can last for hours through to years. This is quite an easy thing to break free from but the problem is you are stuck inside your head and so it becomes overwhelming and impossible to identify the solution through the internal noise that’s going on.

I personally like to define a problem in order to be able to find or create a solution. Defining this problem is likely going to start with something you may never considered before, you see we call this one an energy vampire. 

An Energy vampire is a common term and is generally defined as a person, animal or object that drains energy from its prey. Think friend who is always complaining, narcissistic ex or sitting in Centrelink. We tend to only think of energy vampires as external but they can also be internal.

This is what we are going to talk about today.

The internal energy vampire that is the inner critic!

Now an inner critic can be a good thing and at times you may have found it really helpful, when it assists you with that final tweak or reins in your massive idea to something much more manageable at a certain point in your life. But unfortunately sometimes it is given free rein and it becomes overwhelming and all consuming.

Several years ago I had a client who was an aspiring writer. My client was an exceptional writer and a very talented individual but he was struggling to get words down onto paper. He would spend the day writing and get two and a half pages and then he would come back the next day and cull it back to one. This would have likely still worked ok if he could achieve the two and a half pages regularly. However there would be long periods of time where he would struggle putting down a sentence and then labouring over that until he was satisfied and then he’d move to the next and so on until he had a paragraph. Then he would go over that again removing what he considered not good enough until he was left again with only a sentence or perhaps even no sentence at all only a blank page staring back at him.

This was an inner critic that new no bounds and had effectively taken over my client’s whole creative process and pretty much annihilated it.

So we decided to evict the inner critic!

We used a visualisation technique to walk the critic to the door and politely, or not depending on your mood, ask them to stay outside for a period of time.

Next we created a new behavioural pattern.

Once outside a timer was set for two minutes and the client tasked with writing non-stop during that time. The topic could be anything and in the beginning the client wrote about their pen and then later their desk. And when they could not think what to write, in order to keep writing they wrote ‘I do not know what to write’ over and over.

After doing this exercise for some time the client was then able to apply this behavioural pattern to their writing. First evicting the critic, then setting the timer and finally writing. What they found was once they had started to write for their project it flowed. Even when the timer went off they were able to continue writing and time passed quickly while words filled the page.

By evicting the inner critic for an agreed period of time you can create a new pattern for yourself which can then be applied to your creative work.

Bio
Emma Liggins is a qualified Intuitive Business Coach with a Master of Adult Education, Certificate of Intuitive Wellness Coaching and is completing her last two subjects for a Graduate Diploma of Psychology.
 
Over the last 20 years, Emma has worked in a range of different settings including medical education (both primary and tertiary care), oil and gas (WHS), migrant resettlement and hospitality. Emma has also built two businesses from the ground up, one a massive failure and the other a national/international success. Combining her professional experience with her extensive travel, property development and living in urban and rural Australia and overseas, Emma has significant life experience to guide her clients towards achieving their personal and professional goals.
 
Emma is passionate about Occupational Wellness, supporting and guiding employees, startups and existing business owners to combat limiting beliefs and impostor syndrome through identifying personal genius and recognising challenges as great learning opportunities. Wherever you may be feeling stuck, Emma is able to uncover the endless possibilities available to you and support you in implementing practical achievable actions.

My Day Off

What really happens when I give myself a ‘day off’ from my writing?

Would you really be surprised to discover that I usually spend it writing? Seriously!

Let me walk you through my process of a recent experience where this happened.

I’ve been a bit on the sick side, for a few weeks, thanks to bubs beginning childcare and bringing home dreaded lurgies. Then there was the Easter break, and his first birthday that weekend, plus I’ve had books published, and running an online workshop. I love it. I love being busy. I don’t love being sick of course. It meant that I was run down. And after finishing the first draft of a novella, and meeting that deadline, I decided to have a bit of a break. In particular, I was going to take a full day to myself, which never happens now I’m a mum, to rest and not write, or do anything writing related. I decided that I needed this self-imposed break a few days ago. Just for one day. It’s not a lot of time, but for me it feels like it. I was completely looking forward to it, and trying not to feel that little bit of guilt which tends to come when doing something like this for yourself.

With the day stretching out in front of me, I decided to take my computer with me – just encase. Lucky! My muse came. Or I felt a burst of inspiration. I didn’t feel so tired anymore. Suddenly I had the energy to want to write.

So, I did.

And I wrote and wrote and wrote.

And the good thing about a day off, is that I don’t do word counts. I’m not goal focussed. I flip between three to four different projects. I’m completely in the creative flow in all its whims and touch of chaos.

And I’m in heaven.

This, for me, is the best day off!

Lilliana

Missing Goals

I missed my writing goal the other day. I wanted to write 5k, but I didn’t make it. Right at this point it was easy to get down that I missed my goal. I didn’t hit my target. I’m now behind. There’s a big but coming here.

But…

How does the situation look if I focus on what I did do? That day I managed to write 4k. And that is a pretty good effort for me at the moment, because the other thing to remember is to take in to account other factors which influence how much I write. Life needs to be lived, and it’s natural for it to get in the way of writing. Sometimes it’s best not to fight this, and to go with the flow, and work with what you’ve got. Writing this many words in one day was a fantastic effort. And this is most definitely a silver lining. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if a goal is missed, as that can create a negative mindset. By focussing on what I did manage to write, I know that the story has progressed, and I’m closer to finishing.

There is a bigger picture, to always keep in mind too. They day before I wrote 6k, when my goal was 5k. So, I can sort of pinch the 1k from the previous day and use it today, and remind myself that I’m on track.

It’s helpful to be mindful like this to ensure that I don’t get down when writing, thinking I can do more. Or getting hung up on the 1k I didn’t write today. Especially when I went 1k over yesterday – and even if I hadn’t. When that happens, it’s too easy to translate into a writing block, and then no words are written. Being mindful means that I’m thinking positive. I avoid creating a block for myself, and I keep on writing. Plus, no matter the word count, the story is being written, and that is what ultimately counts.

Then the next day, I wanted to write 5k, but I only wrote 2k. Life did get in the way that day. On paper, I’m behind in my writing goal, but really, overall, in three days I’ve written 11k, and I’m cruising towards the half-way point – those 2k helped to push that bit closer. And I could only write those 2k because I had a positive mindset.

It’s easy to get down about missing a goal, but what’s achieved during the process can be a silver lining.

Lilliana

Fox it is!

A while back I asked on my Cultivating Creativity FB page for people to say what I should paint next. A giraffe, a tiger or a fox. It was simply a fun exercise for me and a way for me to extend myself by painting out of my comfort zone. The fox was my least favourite choice to paint, it’s just not an animal I connect with. But I thought perhaps I could give it a go. I thought painting the giraffe could be fun, and the tiger something a little challenging.

Everyone who commented suggested the fox. So, I painted the fox. Twice.

The first attempt I wasn’t at all happy with. I’d grabbed the wrong colour, though crazy colours do work with this technique, I just don’t feel it came together in this instance. I couldn’t get the nose right. It was a warm day and the paint was drying quickly making it tricky to do adjustments. At the end of the session, I just felt that I could do ‘better’ but not that day. about to start

The image I used for inspiration was in colour. I remembered that it should be in black and white in order to see clearly the low, mid and high tones. I copied my print of the fox into black and white. Got together my three favourite colours I like to paint with and I attempted to paint the fox again.

first attempt

I also decided not to try and rush, and gave myself permission to take as long as I needed. This time, it took my half the time to paint the fox. Giving myself as much time as I needed took the pressure off, and helped. Having the image in black and white also made a big difference to see the different tones better. And I’d painted the fox before, so I had some experience to draw on.

This is the first time I’ve gone back and painted the same subject again because I wanted to ‘improve’ the outcome, and my skill set. Because of these benefits I’m even tempted to try to paint the fox for a third time. For now, I’ve got lots of other subjects to paint, so a third re-visit isn’t in the near future, but might happen one time. What I can do, is apply what I’ve learnt here not just to other animal paintings in this style (I’m sure I’ll do the giraffe and tiger at some stage). second attempt

second attempt finished

The painting of the fox serviced a bigger purpose, of also making me more aware of my process, so it has been a good exercise to do. And despite good intentions, creative projects don’t always work out well the first time, and that it all part of the process.

Now, onto the next project! (which is to re-paint a rose!)

foxes painted

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.

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 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.

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.