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

Writer’s Journey with Vicky Adin

Today I have historical author and genealogist, Vicky Adin sharing her creative journey as a writer. Thank you for sharing your love of history and writing Vicky.

What, where, why?

Two separate incidents started me thinking this week. The first was a post by Nora Roberts on “Here’s how I work”.after she became embroiled in an appalling plagiarism mess involving 85 books and 36 authors. That alone is bad enough, but the fallout generated questions surrounding her methods, output and honesty. Nora took to the web to explain herself. I find it sad she feels she has to justify herself at all, but I was extremely interested in her methodology.

Now, in no way do I wish to compare myself with Nora Roberts, but I was pleased to read she, too, spends time ‘staring into space’ and ‘looking stuff up’. I wonder if that is a common trait among authors? I write historical fiction and I ‘stare’ and ‘look things up’ all the time, and while she didn’t use the word pantser, she starts at the beginning and keeps going until she reaches the end, which is also what I do.

In contrast, I tend to re-read what I wrote yesterday, fiddle with it a little bit if something jumps out that says ‘fix me’ and then I carry on. I let the story unfold in my head as I write or sometimes the characters have to have their say about the directions I’m taking. When I’m writing (and I don’t produce more than one book in a year) then I write every day solidly. While the book is away being edited, I work on the marketing and promotion. No-one, it seems, can sell books without a profile and it takes work to keep up that profile and books before the readers’ eyes. Once the editing stage is complete and the book released, then it’s back to writing again. There’s always a new story to delve into.

Which leads me to the other aspect of my writing I often get asked about. Where do I get my ideas? For me, that is easy. I’m a genealogist. I love digging into the past, searching through records, and reading old newspapers online. From that, an enormous number of ideas pop up. Tiny snippets of information will lead to a whole story line. A job – lacemaker, sugar boiler, costume maker, journalist, soldier – can often become the starting point. Other times, it’s the location: Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, but I always end up in New Zealand. On one occasion I found an article about the discovery of a long, lost painting by a Cornish artist hidden behind another painting. The research into the art world of the time was fascinating, and when I discovered links to New Zealand, the story fell into place.

My wonderful husband recognises when I’m in the zone and doesn’t disturb me other than to bring me coffee or wine (depending on the time of day) until I’m back in his world again. Often when we are driving anywhere, silence descends as my mind drifts off into whatever world or era I’m writing about at that time. I do an enormous amount of research to ensure the facts are correct and then wrap the stories of everyday life around the events of the time.

I love history, I love people and I love writing. I love my job. It’s a perfect combination.

Vicky

A fan of historical novels since her teenage years, Vicky Adin writes New Zealand based stories about the tribulations and successes of the people creating history as it happened. As a genealogist, she uncovers some amazing stories of fortitude and endurance and of love and hope. She combines her love of research and writing to weave together family sagas in a way that brings the past to life. Her books vary in format from dual-timeline. She waits for the characters to tell her how the story will unfold. Married to her greatest supporter and best friend for nearly five decades, Vicky has two children and four grandchildren. She holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education and enjoys travelling – especially caravanning and cruising; the opposite of experiences. Her writing has been compared to Catherine Cookson’s stories. Check out her website, books on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is an mixed day for me. My mum has passed, she’s been gone for over ten years now. You never know how things might change in life, and her passing was one of those things. I’ve learnt to treat this day like any other. One year, I even went on a first date! My mum would’ve thought it alright to do, and seen the funny side to it all. While it didn’t work out with that guy, it was one of the best dates I’ve had. You never can predict these things!

Last year was different.

Last year was my first Mother’s Day as a mum, and it was super special, and also a blur, as bubs was only three weeks old.

This year it will be different again, as he’s over one, but still unaware of what the day means. The day is becoming more meaningful for me. But really everyday feels like Mother’s Day with him. And the day is so much more about being a mum. This year, I’m catching up with family, and we’re celebrating the day together. It’s an excuse for us to make time for each other, and take time out of our busy lives. It’s not so much about it being about Mother’s Day, but being a family, and being together – and celebrating that.

Wishing you all a Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

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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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.

“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.

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.