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

Creative Journey with Louise

Today I have a special guest, Louise Lyndon sharing her incredibly creative journey, from nail decorating, to writing, to making journals (which are stunning!), and how that has nurtured her. She’s one very talented lady. Thank you for sharing your journey Louise.

I’ve always been creative. In fact, in my family, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been known as the ‘creative one’. And I wore that title proudly. After all, I love using my imagination. I love to create – be it characters in a story I’m writing, nails I’m painting, or journals I’m making. I didn’t think much of that title because being a creative is who I am. It’s in my blood. Louise's notebook.jpg

However, I never realised, until recently (perhaps in the last five or so years) that being creative, at least for me, is so much more than producing an end product. It’s been a lifeline. It has saved me on so many different levels. You see, I have bipolar type 2 disorder. My illness is characterised mainly by depressive moods. While I am on medication (which helps) I also must help myself. I need to find ways to ‘get out of my head’ and break the cycle of negative self-talk that often fills my head. I’ve tried everything – yoga, meditation, keeping a positive list. The only thing that seems to work is sitting down and occupying my hands (and mind) by creating something. It allows me some breathing space, some downtime. And not only does it quiet the talk in my head while I’m doing a project it remains quiet often for days, sometimes months.

Handmade journal.jpgA little while ago I asked my mum could she remember when she started to see the ‘creative’ in me (aside from the usual finger painting toddlers do!). She nodded and said, ‘Just after your father died.’ I was four. So perhaps, without ever realising it, I’ve always used creativity to get me through some of my darkest moments.

Louise grew up in country Victoria, Australia, before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia and now lives in Melbourne. In 2013, Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest – Historical category for her story, The Promise, which is now called, Of Love and Vengeance. When not writing, she can be found either covered in mud, crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls, or up to her elbows in vintage paper, glue, and ribbon handcrafting journals. Check out her books and handmade journals.

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.

Welcome 2019!

Happy New Year!

May 2019 shine bright for you.

To welcome in the New Year, I’ve made my own little decoration. The other week I did some marbling with my niece and so decided to use that as a background for 2019. A little bit of fun! Let the adventure begin…

This year, I’ve come up with my usual word to guide me through the year. The word for 2019 is Adventure. I’m sure there are many adventures ahead for me this year, which I hope to embrace with confidence, curiosity and an open mind.

I’m excited with the adventures that have already begun, and those that are continuing in to the New Year. Who knows what unexpected ones will start, and I look forward to them. I’m putting on my adventurer’s hat, and heading off into the unknown of the new year of 2019!

Lilliana

Freestyle

When painting to date I’ve had an image to use as a guide. This time, when painting a seascape, while I did have an image to work with, the muse led me and I went freestyle. I think this is what I like to do the most when creating, ‘fly by the seat of my pants,’ or ‘go with the flow’. It’s risky, as maybe the painting produced won’t be any good. Or maybe it will. Reward comes with a little risk.

This is the first time I’ve managed to do that with my painting.

Because I can’t track this process visually with my writing, I find it fascinating to look at the image I was working on and compare it to the final painting.

I don’t think I could’ve planed this if I tried.

And I have no idea where the inspiration came from. Perhaps my muse was guiding me. Or my intuition. Or because I was relaxed and having fun, I just went with the creative flow, and suspended all of my expectations of having a finished piece of a certain standard. Maybe all of the above.

Anyway, below the image that I worked from. And a photo of the final painting. Very different.

This is the magic of creating.

Cp1Kn+r0TXCLQSfpltnzWw      NVjRY9YWRom00OJYtfCPVg

Signature

I’ve taken the step and have signed my painting. Seascape is the first painting I’ve signed! (I’m disregarding the paintings done at school)

It’s long overdue, I have finally signed my most recent painting. It is a big deal. For one, I never felt a painting was feeling finished enough to sign. And two, how was I going to sign my name?

Isn’t it interesting what I was hung up on? What did it matter how I signed my name? As long as I signed it. I thought about writing my initials, or my full name, or a shortened version of my name. Then I realised it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that I took the step to sign my artwork. Because in doing so, I was saying to the world, but more importantly to myself, that I am happy, proud, and content with what I’ve created. And I am just that with this seascape. My signature might change with time, but of course that won’t matter. It’s all part of my development as an artist.

Driven to finally take the step of signing my name on my painting I realised I didn’t know what brush to use. Or what colour. These details do sort of matter. I asked my teacher. The colour didn’t have to be black, but a colour used in the painting. So I used a blue tone. I borrowed the teachers brush. I didn’t have a brush that was thin enough. Then I jumped in. I didn’t practise. I simply signed my name. And I think that it’s the best part of this painting.

I look forward to signing many more paintings.

 

Tinkering

I’ve painted enough to know to try and be mindful of overworking the image. It can be difficult to know when to stop, and consider if the painting is finished or needs to be left for a while. This also applies to tinkering.

When tinkering too much the painting can be changed in way that wasn’t wanted. A bit different to overworking. Tinkering is the adding another bird in the sky, or flower in the field, or apple on the tree, when the painting may well have not needed these extra additions.

The same can happen when writing, and editing. The life of the story can be altered in a way that was unintended. Not a big deal if the result is liked, but it’s a problem if the new direction ends up in a dead-end, or the wrong way. Then it’s a lot more work to get the manuscript back on track.

But when to stop? This is when it’s helpful to check in with yourself and ask question like; is what I’m doing improving the work?

I didn’t do so much tinkering when doing my last painting of a seascape, but it was something the teacher kept mentioning during the class. Stop tinkering! And I got what he was saying. Maybe that’s why I didn’t tinker so much. It’s another tool I can have ready to use when I’m painting. I can even extend this to editing a manuscript. There becomes a point when words are being changed but not necessarily adding to the story. At this point I need to stop tinkering. Leave the project, and either come back later, or consider that it may be as good as it’s going to be and release it into the world.

Stop tinkering! Is now something I’ll have in mind to help guide me through the painting of my next canvas and other creative projects.

Lilliana

Quick Study of Seascape

To start a recent workshop on seascapes, the teacher had participants do a quick study. With only 20 minutes to do the painting, I had no choice but to go with the flow. And to keep it simple.

I learnt that this was a fun way to experiment, and learn. And it will be something I’ll try again at home. This is always a good sign as I’m inspired. Often I don’t get to paint in short time frames like this, normally it’s much longer, and can take months. So it’s also refreshing to do a smaller image in a short time.

Sometimes writing is a long drawn out process. And I can’t map the process like I can when painting a canvas. So to be able to see the stages from start to finish in a short time is exciting. It’s a different creative process for me, which helps to keep me inspired, and ready to try new things, and to experiment. Because it’s also a quick study, if things don’t turn out, then because it’s not taken a huge investment of time, I don’t get hung up on that. I can take what I’ve learnt, and apply it to another study or if I’m happy with my skill set then a canvas.

With this new level of inspiration, and off to get creating. Who knows what I’ll create and learn!

start quick painting  step 2 quick painting.jpg finish quick painting.jpg

 

Seascape

The fine line between not liking your work to being constructive about what you’ve created is important. Actually, it’s important in life as well.

I was reminded of this boundary between my perspective of negativity versus constructive thoughts in regard to a recent workshop on painting seascapes. Not only did I learn how to paint waves I also learnt the value of looking at my work, seeing how I feel about it, by asking myself some questions.

Do I like what I see? Is the painting working? No. What can I do about it? What can I change?

It’s the last two questions which I found particularly helpful. Because the answers gave me positive action to take. By asking these questions, it also prevented me from spiralling down into a puddle of negativity that what I’m doing isn’t good enough.

Why were these questions so valuable?

Not only did the answers help keep my mindset positive but also allowed me to pause and consider how I could improve the painting. The answers gave me a positive focus. And a chance to try something with the intention of progressing the painting.

Whatever I do may not improve the painting (to my liking) but I can keep repeating these questions until I do. Or worse case, if I’ve tinkered too much or overworked the painting, then this becomes a valuable lesson for me to have learnt, which I can apply to the next painting I do.

How did I apply this process to my seascape? The big wave in the centre wasn’t turning crashing over like it is now. It was rolling in a white top across the canvas. This looked a little boring. I wasn’t happy with it.

step 4 seascape.jpg

With the help of the teacher the wave was changed part way across so that it was partly rolling over. It worked. It could’ve easily not have. And if that was the case, then I would’ve tried something else. Or learnt what not to do for the next seascape I painted.

 

Seascape Finished

It’s too easy to get down on your creative project, so it’s a good safety net as such to have process like asking yourself a few questions. “Am I happy with this? No. Then what can I do about it?” Because this can help generate inspiration and ensure the creativity keeps flowing.