Tag: Creativity

‘Why not you?’

My brother told me about a conversation he had with my niece. She wants to enter a fiercely competitive field, full of people who seem so much more qualified and suitable for it than her. He stopped her as she talked herself out of it, mid-sentence of self-doubt, mid flourish of the tendency to accept failure before we even begin. And simply said to her, ‘Why not you?’

Of course he then went on to list all the reasons why she should try, why she was as competent as the next person and so on. But it was those three words which struck me.

Most people I meet are a lot more talented, creative, hard-working and loving than they give themselves credit for. We are pretty realistic too, so often the things we aspire to are not way out of reach. If we can just make the leap of faith to try, or in some cases feel we are worthy, then who knows where we might end up.

To believe in ourselves enough to attempt the things we want is tough. There is absolutely no guarantee of ease and success. Rejection and failure happen and are good reasons not to put yourself out there. Sometimes the things we seek are not realistic but isn’t hanging onto what we can’t achieve a way to avoid what we can. Yes, the trip could be a disaster, the relationship awful and bruised with regrets, even the career you’ve worked so hard for may be full of disappointment.

But what if it wasn’t?

Want to feel that sparkle not the dread of the unknown? The glow of satisfaction that your hard work is paying off. The promise of possibility and optimism which brings us to life. The readiness to make a difference? In which case, ‘Why not you?’

Do You Need Creative Inspiration?

You know sometimes we are so bombarded by where we should be finding inspiration that we can forget to look around us. We become so preoccupied with that greener grass, tempting us from the other side of the fence, that we ignore our own backyard. If you find yourself daydreaming more than doing, wishing more than appreciating, have a look for your inspirations close to home. Be mindful of your current environment, be present, and allow yourself to experience it in as many sensory ways as you can.

  • Your local natural world is a wonder. A garden, a park, a beach, whatever is near you, observe it. Albert Einstein summed this up so beautifully, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
  • Find a possession which you love. A painting, a book, a plant. Something, which every time you see it, you feel lucky to have. Imagine the journey it took to create it, the hours, or the passion which inspired it.
  • Remember feelings of accomplishment and achievement, find the items which remind you of your successes. A photo, a card, a present. They are our symbolic trophies, so stop and reflect on the work it took to receive them. Let them be a source of future inspiration.
  • And listen to your own personal soundtrack. Music takes us to the good times and the bad. It allows the mind to wander which can lead to a new path.

It is often the smallest, most mundane of things, which combined correctly, produce the greatest of things. The details of the world give an authenticity to creative work. And, who knows, your next great inspiration could be a lot closer to you than you think.

Love your thoughts…

Art work by @Dana Kinter- a wonderful artist who inspires me.

Take time to do things properly

 

There’s no denying I get easily side-tracked. I start doing one thing then something brighter will catch my eye and like a magpie I chase it. Now while I may have discovered something new and shiny it also means I haven’t finished what I started.

I was inspired to write this by the amazingly persistent Corpse Flower. It’s an extremely rare plant from way out in the Sumatran jungle. It gets its name from its terrible smell but what’s most admirable about this plant is the effort it puts into growing, its commitment to purpose. It takes seven to ten years before it even flowers and then years before blooming again.

We live in such a fast paced world, constantly rushing for results, that we can forget it actually takes time to do a good job. If I’m honest there’s no quick fix to my projects and I have to commit the time it will take to complete them properly. This is hard because we’re programmed for reward, to get rich quick, but life isn’t like that. To do things well takes time.

The Corpse Flower completes its purpose against a lot of environmental adversity. It works hard to survive. Our work and hobbies need that same commitment. This ability to persist when bombarded by other things seems key to finishing anything.

And after the magnificent flower wilts away it dies back, leaving nothing but a single leaf. What a beautiful image, it has done what needed to be done but the seed is sown for new growth to begin. So if you’re a great starter but poor finisher take some inspiration from the Corpse Flower. As Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

A good time to declutter

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When I was little I often visited ornamental gardens with my family. On one such day trip I discovered a summer house. It was decorated in the richest, most glorious wallpapers and fabrics, which just sung out at you. They were the creations of William Morris, the celebrated C19th British textile designer. But what was wonderful about that summer house was the composition of the rooms. No clutter, everything was in its place.

Physical disharmony and clutter can be very unconducive to creativity and action. Mess bombards us with distractions. We forget where things are and waste time looking for them. We get sidelined into dealing with the consequences of our disorganization, and that’s time consuming. By decluttering you significantly lessen the attention grabbers.

The clutter that evolves around us can be a visual sign of our own procrastination. It can be overwhelming to decide what to keep or where to move things to. So start small, if you cook declutter cupboards in the kitchen, if you garden try the shed, if you work from home, your desk. By tidying, donating, recycling, we create an energetic living space and can celebrate our active decision making.

Clear away to refill. If a jug is full you can’t keep pouring more water in it, there’s nowhere for it to go. It’s the same for our home environments. Hopefully, we’re alive for a long time; fashion, tastes and technology changes, we need to make room for the new phases of life. Which also means we have to deal with the old.

Now, I’m not advocating a frenzied attack on all possessions. The history, sentimental value, and relevance of belongings to our identity should always be preserved; but anything other than that really does have a shelf life. As William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

The Importance of Mentors

I hope you’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor. Someone who’s been able to help you transform your life or at least a part of it. Like an umbrella in the rain they offer security, wisdom and support to help us move forward with new projects, learning or ideas. In dictionary terms a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. Words like confidant, counsellor and consultant keep popping up to describe them. So how do they help?

  • Mentors are experts in their field. This may be professionally or within a creative community. They’re industry or artistic leaders and this gives them credibility. Learn as much as you can from them. It’s actually okay for this to be important because we all want to learn from the best.
  • Mentors provide validation to an important area of our lives. I mean, isn’t it great that someone you respect wants to take the time to improve your practice. The belief they have in you shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, why would they bother if they didn’t feel you were worth it? So embrace this recognition and celebrate their faith in you.
  • Mentors have good connections. Whatever you’re doing or want to achieve we don’t live in isolation. Now more than ever it can be really helpful to have someone support you to forge industry or community links. Build on opportunities which present themselves.
  • Collaboration is a vital part of the mentor/mentored relationship. The opportunity to share ideas, discuss options, and review actions, develops a partnership for a purpose. Mentors ask the difficult questions while pushing you to do your best. Continue to earn their respect by trying and or acknowledging what they suggest as your work advances.

If someone you respect is offering you mentor-ship don’t ignore it, if you think you’d benefit from mentoring seek it out. I’m eternally grateful to the people who’ve taken the time to mentor me. At its core the mentor/mentored relationship is reciprocal, it may last only weeks or a lifetime, but it’s a relationship which changes you forever.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  Benjamin Franklin

Making A Tough Decision

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Making the big decisions is one of the hardest things we have to do, especially if they effect relationships, career or health. Maybe this springs from our desire to control, maybe we want the cake and to eat it too, maybe outside pressure is backing us into a corner. But whatever the reason, being in that state of flux isn’t good. You get swept up in the world of what if and as the poet Edward Young said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.”

  • So give yourself a time frame or the situation may possibly have one. Of course there are some decisions you can’t rush. Circumstances need time to play out. But don’t fool yourself, there always comes a point when you need to decide. Putting it off any longer than that is just making excuses.
  • Ask the advice of a friend. One who knows you really well, warts and all, and one who’ll be honest with you? It can be tricky asking for advice and then not acting upon it. But advice is like a present, we should give it freely and be able to receive it without obligation. A good friend has your best interests at heart and wants what’s best for you.
  • Weigh up the pros and cons. Don’t be afraid to make a list. Writing alternatives down focuses thinking. This makes options more concrete rather than random swirls of thought which come and go.
  • And follow that hunch. There’s a lot being written about the power of our inner voice. And sometimes if we allow ourselves to shut out all the other dialogue we can hear the answer we need.

When the decision is done you really do feel lighter. Take comfort in the fact there are no guarantees, because no matter what you decided you cannot control the outcome. The most interesting people I know have made some decisions they regretted but others which have transformed their lives.

Do You Need Creative Inspiration?

 

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You know sometimes we are so bombarded by where we should be finding inspiration that we can forget to look around us. We become so preoccupied with that greener grass, tempting us from the other side of the fence, that we ignore our own backyard. If you find yourself daydreaming more than doing, wishing more than appreciating, have a look for your inspirations close to home. Be mindful of your current environment, be present, and allow yourself to experience it in as many sensory ways as you can.

  • Your local natural world is a wonder. A garden, a park, a beach, whatever is near you, observe it. Albert Einstein summed this up so beautifully, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”
  • Find a possession which you love. A painting, a book, a plant. Something, which every time you see it, you feel lucky to have. Imagine the journey it took to create it, the hours, or the passion which inspired it.
  • Remember feelings of accomplishment and achievement, find the items which remind you of your successes. A photo, a card, a present. They are our symbolic trophies, so stop and reflect on the work it took to receive them. Let them be a source of future inspiration.
  • And listen to your own personal soundtrack. Music takes us to the good times and the bad. It allows the mind to wander which can lead to a new path.

It is often the smallest, most mundane of things, which combined correctly, produce the greatest of things. The details of the world give an authenticity to creative work. And, who knows, your next great inspiration could be a lot closer to you than you think.

Love your thoughts…

Art work by @Dana Kinter- an artist who inspires me.

Seek Out Your Positive People

Now, if I lived in The Hundred Acre Wood, of Winnie the Pooh fame, I wouldn’t be hanging with Eeyore for motivation.  Not that he’s not a nice person, but his glass is always half empty and that’s never a good vibe when you’re trying something new. There’s heaps of research about the benefits of surrounding yourself with positive people, especially if you’re on a fresh journey. We need them. The naysayers are not helping! So seek out your Tiggers, your positive people.

  • They thrive on energy. It’s infectious. Spend time with a passionate, enthusiastic person and you will be inspired. It doesn’t matter what they do or how they do it. It’s the energy that’s important. Don’t waste it, it’s a gift. They want you to have as much enthusiasm for your life projects as they do.
  • They take a risk. Sure, it may be a disaster but at least they try. We all need people who take risks in our lives. They push us to do new things or at the least help us confirm what we can’t and don’t want to do.
  • Motivated people are resilient. Look how when things go wrong they regroup and try again. It’s hard to dig deep and keep going but somehow they manage it. They inspire you.
  • They’re optimistic. A deep-rooted sense of self belief in themselves and the world cloaks them. Share it. Scoop it up.
  • They actually do stuff! And to get anything done you actually have to start.

Now, sometimes we all need a little down time. When you really can’t be bothered, hang with your loyal Piglets and depressingly funny Eeyore’s. But to get things done embrace positive people because, after all, “Bouncing is what Tiggers do best.”

P.S This is for my PP-you know who you are.

Is Self-Publishing a Digital Abyss or the Promised Land?

Now this is a tricky one and as someone sitting on the proverbial fence I’m considering my options. This is probably a familiar place for heaps of writers. Your work’s been written, it may even have had good feedback from publishers or agents, but there are still no takers. The possibility of a traditional publishing opportunity is looking increasingly bleak and the enthusiasm of your personal cheer squad is waning, “What’s happening with your book?”

It’s a bit of a grim place to be.

So, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing? Go on take out that notebook and have a scribble. These are the positives I came up with…

  • You can finally get the work out there. Yeah!
  • You’re actually doing something with that beast which has taken up so much of your time, energy and love.
  • The thought of putting the beast in a bottom drawer and forgetting about it is so depressing you’d rather take up wrestling…well actually…
  • You have control. Remember you’ve controlled your characters or content from the beginning so why give that up now.
  • It’s 2016 for goodness sake. The star of self and digital publishing has well and truly risen.

Now that all sounds fabulous so why am I still writing this and not out sourcing my book cover to a graphic artist? Because the legitimacy of getting a contract from a publisher is the big fat fish I want to catch and it bugs me it hasn’t happened. So, to the cons…

  • There are zillions of self-published books fighting for readership in the ISBN ocean. How will yours stand out?
  • Do you really have the skills, time and money to self-publish? Because you probably have a bill paying day job and are not a marketing entrepreneur?
  • What do you really want to get out of self-publishing? Will being able to say you’ve sold maybe three hundred books be enough of a return on all your hard writing investment? And once your book is published it will be very hard to reel it back in.
  • Finally, is this book part of your journey as a writer or your final destination…

There’s no denying these are the hard questions. But, like me, if you’ve finished that final draft you’ll probably have to face them.