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

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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.

New Easter Traditions

Easter for me in the past has meant the time of year when Dad wanted the rain to fall so he could get the soil ready to sow the seeds for the crops. It also evolved around Christian meaning with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

At school when growing up there was the fun and mystery of the Easter bunny. The eating of hot crossed buns, and Easter eggs. This still remains! (I plan to go on a diet after Easter!)

Mum began a tradition of buying us all pyjamas for the winter. A tradition I’m now continuing with my son. I have his new pyjamas ready to give to him on Easter.

There was always a big family focus over Easter for me. This year, this has a new meaning, as my son turns one, and it is his first Easter.

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It’s a big milestone, for my son, and for me, making this time very special, and not in the tradition sense. I’ve planned his first little birthday party. Printed photos of him growing over the last year, to make the milestone. The fun of his first birthday and Easter, being a perfect mix for the weekend. The Easter bunny feet are ready to put out (my big of fun too!), and I’ve planned my son’s first Easter egg hunt. It’s a time of transformation, and this year for beginning new traditions for my family. And the creation of new memories.

Happy Easter, however you choose to mark this point of the year.

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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.

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

Change is in the Air

Change is in the air, café style.

While I don’t really have a routine in my life, there are a few fixed points in my day or week that are regular. The boring, shopping for food, cleaning and cooking, of course done at different times and recipes change. The more relaxing like walking along the beach, though the times in the day may change. Or like visiting my favourite cafes, which I have a few, so I can mix it up and still keep a little bit of change.

This last week or so, I’d discovered one of my favourite cafés had closed, and now I’ve learnt another of my favourite cafés is moving. I was a bit worried for a few seconds, but fortunately they are only moving a few doors down. Then my mind switched into hyper-drive. Will I find the new environment appealing? It’s a smaller space so will I enjoy the vibe and be able to write? Will the new place work for them as a business and if it doesn’t I could lose another café where I like to visit, not just to write but also to meet up with friends.

When did I get so set in my ways?

It’s sort of snuck up on me. Here I was thinking I’m flexible, I’m going with the flow and I am, but I’ve also found some comforts in my life.

This isn’t a bad thing. Having some comforts, or enjoyments is good, and very beneficial. It helps me to be part of the world when I’m meeting friends. I get great coffee and food. I have a space where I can write and be inspired.

It’s these things that I fear, or worry of losing. All because of change. Of course this isn’t necessarily going to occur. It’s my ego feeling threatened. And that’s a good thing, because that means getting out of my comfort zone. This leads to change, and inspiration and feeds into my creativity. This ultimately is a good thing. Hey, it’s going to be fun going to the new place for this café, and even finding a new café if I have to. It has been helpful to be reminded that change is a good thing, and that I can mix up the comforts in my life.

I’m sure it won’t be the end of the world, and who knows I might even like this new place even better.

Lilliana

Halt!

After getting over my trepidation of attempting a more difficult crochet project, and then discovering I could actually read a crochet pattern I thought it would be full steam ahead.

Not quite.

Like all projects, whether creative or not, there are the unexpected halts. The impasses. Which can be frustrating as they take away the momentum making it even more difficult to overcome ‘the block.’

The problem with my current project wasn’t big. I simply needed some fibre filler before I could keep going. This meant going to the shop to buy some which of course I couldn’t because it was well past closing time.

I had to stop because I didn’t have all the materials to keep going. I knew I didn’t when I started. But I had such a strong motivation to want to start, now, and to see if I could read the crochet pattern. After all, I may not have reached the point of needing the fibre filler. I could well have ended up in a crying mess on the couch.

Somehow the instructions made sense and I knotted the yarn until I couldn’t go any further. This was frustrating because I so wanted to keep going but couldn’t. I sourced some fibre filler from my sister – oddly it was what I’d given to her a number of years ago but because I wasn’t using it I had decided to find a new home for it. I just had to wait a few days before I got it. Not long. But long enough to lose my momentum.

The upside to this, because I’ve got two other crochet projects on the go, I could return to them. It meant stopping on the sheep project wasn’t as much of an issue. I could still create. Still make progress on other projects.

I’ve not yet picked up the sheep project, but I will. I know I will. I just need a few hours where I can sit and work on it, because it’s harder and I need to be in the right frame of mind to concentrate more compared with the other two projects I have on the go.

Sometimes halts can be beneficial, or at least not as much of a hindrance as first expected. And by going with the flow, and being patient, I could source the fibre filler for free and progress two other projects. A productive outcome for an impasse!

When has having to stop or pause a project actually been a benefit for you? Please share below in the comments.

Stuck

I’ve been stuck on these two rows for about a week! I found a mistake, so frogged it, re-did the rows, made another mistake, frogged it again. Caught up. Another mistake! Frogged it.

Now I’m taking a break.

It’s a basic stitch, so something else must be going on here. I’m rather busy right now, so tired when I sit to crochet. While I want to crochet I don’t have the headspace for it. Frustrating on one hand, but so is re-doing the same two rows.

Sometimes you just got to step away from the creative project, breathe, have a break, then get back into it.

I look forward to getting back to crocheting this blanket…next week sometime.

Not Writing Time

Coffee time at the Royal Adelaide Show.

No writing. Just coffee time.

Purely time to ponder, daydream, and to let my thoughts wander at will. Though maybe it’s writing in my head which makes a nice change to writing with pen and paper or typing on the computer. Considering some of my books are set at the Show, sitting and soaking up the environment is all part of filling the creative well.

My well is now full.