Tag Archives: creativity

My Creativity Toolbox

I was out of town for a few weeks and to be honest, had zero creative spark. Nada. Not even an ember, it was just plain extinguished. Now that I’m home in my little corner of Oregon and back at it, I started thinking about the tools I use to get those ideas burning again.

Here’s what I rely on the most:

  • Music is a HUGE part of my writing. I think more than anything it helps to keep me from getting distracted. And to get very specific here – I love writing to Celtic music. If I’m writing a really intense scene, bring on the Riverdance! I use Pandora (it’s free if you don’t mind the occasional commercial) and I have some very finely tuned stations to fit my “writing mood.”
  • After many years as I handwritten writer, I finally transitioned to writing direct on the computer several years ago. Maybe not as romantic, but a much more effective use of my time. But when I’m stuck, I always default back to scribbling on a piece of paper. Instead of focusing on writing actual prose, I “talk myself” through a block. Such as “Okay, what I am trying to say here. I’m trying to get this character to____.” Before you know it, your story is off and running.
  • Write/draw/compose/create by a window. Even if it’s dark out, it always helps.

I started getting curious about what other artists use as tools to help with creativity. Here’s a few ideas that I might add to my own toolbox that are easily available online:

  • Allow yourself to get lost on Flickr…there’s some amazing photography on there to peruse and you never know, you may find an image that inspires your own project. (If you actually use it, make sure it’s part of Creative Commons!)
  • Many sites recommended using Pinterest for ideas…now, this is a tricky site for me. I tend to get VERY distracted on Pinterest and before I know it, three hours have passed and nothing is accomplished except 30 more pins. But I found searching specifically for “art journal ideas” or “art therapy”  or “writing prompts” came up with some amazing options! So if you tread carefully, I think it is a great creativity sparker.
  • Motivational quotes can be a big, well, motivator. For me, I have a poster with a Margaret Atwood quote hanging right over my computer.
Proof.
Proof.

To be honest, many of the websites that boasted “motivational quotes” were drowned with ads. I’m recommending my go-to for quote finding…which is good ol’ Goodreads. If you search for “quotes” they have a huge selection organized by tags such as love, knowledge, power, etc.

What are some of the tools you use to help “spark” your creativity?

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Bells on Her Fingers… Bells on Her Toes…

It’s Friday and I’m a little fried.  I want to listen to The Cure and read fiction and be in bed, but that is tomorrow’s activity docket. (Okay, so I might listen to The Cure while at work).

I haven’t drawn all week, either.  You ever get the feeling when you don’t draw your hands ache?  When I don’t play music my hands itch sometimes, when I don’t draw; they ache. I sometimes feel like I don’t have much choice in being a creative person, it was decided long before I was born.  I used to think of it as creative compulsion, but now I just think it’s who I am and that’s my lot.  Usually I’m grateful for it.

Sometimes it is hard to go about my normal day.  I’ve gotten over the not doing art for a living thing, I changed my perspective on that and I’m pretty good with working a normie job.  It’s more that my brain comes alive when I solve something at work and starts to compose a song or lay out a painting and it’s super distracting.  Sometimes I’m able to jot it down but often I have to turn it off and just lose the kernel of it.  It’s that trade off that we make sometimes in life, and I haven’t found a balance for it yet.

It’s been a week full of that, so I’m sure I will creatively explode this weekend… and I’ll post the results.

TGIF, y’all.

Gentle Reader, Strong Loss

deep forestYesterday, February 11,  my dear friend would have been 35, had he not left us 8 years ago.  I managed not to think about it in any sad way all day long, just in context of being terribly grateful for our short, intense friendship.  Once I tried to sleep, all I could feel was loss.

Like most people, I’ve lost quite a handful of people at this point in my life.  My grandmother who got me interested in painting and art,  the childhood mentor who encouraged my writing and my love for detective novels (just to name a couple).  The loss of a collaborator had ramifications that I still feel today.  He’s been gone 8 years and I still get the same sharp pain in my chest when I finish something and feel as if I have no one to show it to, no one that will understand the heartbeat of it.

Over the few years of our friendship, there were daily debates, all night calls to discuss Radiohead and how it’s like and unlike Classical Music and Art,  trips to the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo where I learned appreciation for Modern Art, poems that flew back and forth, songs sung over the crappy pre-skype video services or phones propped up by the guitar.  We both used to write for this online community/blog thing, and from the first few interactions, I’d write my post knowing that he’d read it and get it and still tell me what could be better about it… I would post knowing that if no one else read it (and people did, it was a vibrant little community), he would read it and since he was my Gentle Reader, it didn’t matter to me if anyone else did. From the moment we connected via AIM (yes it was that long ago) there was constant feedback, revision, collaboration and camaraderie.

I read a quote on Tumblr last night, it said:

“One day, whether you

are 14

28

or 65

you will stumble upon

someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die.

However, the saddest,

most awful truth

you will ever come to find —

is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.”

-Beau Taplin from Hunting Season

It took me years to force myself to start to do things that mattered to me creatively after he died.  I knew it would piss him off, just stopping, but my grief was a tidal wave that would flatten me when I least expected it.  And I had lost my Reader, why did it matter if I made anything?

I had never needed that before, I spend most of my life just making things as it pleased me, or writing songs for a bigger audience.  I don’t know why the second I found my creative twin soul I couldn’t do without him.

I finally just started forcing myself.  Just knowing that I would be sad and it would suck, and that maybe I was just doing it for me. It helped a bit.  Therapy helped a bit.  Prayer helped a bit.  Doing The Thing helped in various amounts. But I didn’t get over it until I inundated my creative world with the permeating sense of impermanence.

The thing about grief is that I think it needs to be expressed, and we don’t always get to choose what that looks like.  Until I started writing and painting and drawing my grief, until I started to be completely bored and frustrated by loss, I just couldn’t get past it.  I thought chin up, make myself Do, make myself Carry On and it would lessen.  But time doesn’t heal some things, really.  I don’t know if it is healthy for other people, I don’t know if it was healthy for me. However, for me the only way I have found is through it.

It’s a strange thing, setting foot outside the door of my inner creative mind, and to express it these days, sort of without a net.  Although, the gift of having loved someone is that I do hear my grandmother’s voice, my mentor’s voice, my gentle reader for good or for grief, in every scrap I release to the wind.