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

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

My Creative Processes ~ Bob Goodwin

Today, I have guest writer Bob Goodwin, giving us some insights on how the creative process works for him. Thank you for sharing your writing journey Bob. And I agree, wine isn’t such a good influencer on writing, but coffee is!

 

My Creative Processes

by Bob Goodwin

Some writers have a regular highly organised routine. I know writers who cannot do anything between certain hours on certain days as this is exclusively their writing time. For me, I am disorganised – any day, anytime on different devices at any place I happen to be. I have lean periods when I write very little for weeks at a time, then I write every day for just as long.
I often like to walk around aimlessly when thinking about a plot twist or a new character. If anyone was watching they think I needed treatment!
I do have a few writing dislikes – no closed-up rooms – at the very least I want to see out a window. After 10 pm my creative brain wants to do some creative dreaming. TV must be off, but music can be on, not too loud, and this can at times be inspiring. While I enjoy a red wine from time to time, I know that alcohol and half-decent writing do not mix! On the other hand, a good coffee is always welcome.
My somewhat disturbed brain gets lots of ideas from different sources. My past 35 years in mental health has been a major contributor. People watching is something I find intriguing, and I find myself making up macabre stories as I look around. Looking at the ocean never tires me – this is uplifting and stimulating. As hinted to above, my dreams also aid my creativity. They can, at times, be very disturbed and gruesome – of nightmare quality. Yes, they do wake me up, which is good because I can then remember them. Over many years they have happened so much that I am now able to quickly reset my brain and settle back to sleep.

Bunya Mountains
This is my holiday house at the Bunya Mountains – great walks – amazing wildlife – wonderfully motivating

While I have written some drama and comedy, my main genre is suspense thriller fiction and I am currently editing novel number 5. The last are a trilogy. Finishing book 5 was quite an emotional experience, more so than any other. Farewelling characters that I have spent several years with was harder than expected!
I have also written many one act and short plays, screenplays and short stories. My website is http://storiesandplays.com/
A big thanks to Lilliana for inviting me to prattle along on her blog.

Bob Goodwin was born in Nottingham, England and moved to Australia when he was 7 years old. He has spent over 35 years working in various areas of mental health – including Psychiatric Institutions, Mental Health Inpatient Units, Community Mental Health Services, Mental Health Rehab & Residential facilities and Telephone services for Mental Health Triage.

Bob started writing in 1987 and, aside from his novels, he has written several One Act Plays, short plays, feature length screenplays and short stories. Bob is an independent author and has self-published 4 novels thus far – the 5th is just around the corner! Bob has an active family life with 7 children, 14 grand-children and one great granddaughter.

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.

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.

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.