The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘joy


I’ve been working on a Passion Project since the beginning of the year. In my January newsletter, I shared some thoughts about the joys of committing to a passion project. I have expanded the piece here:

In order to begin my PP, I had to do something pretty radical for me. On Jan 1, I stopped listening to writing podcasts, I stopped reading craft books and clicking on the columns of my favorite writing experts. I took a break from everyone else’s wonderful advice, knowledge, tips and went within. I got reconnected with my own CORE WRITING VOICE AND WISDOM.

This was hard to do! As you know I am a ‘resource maven’. I LOVE finding resources and sharing them with my community.

I, however, also believe it is super important to take breaks from the avalanche of others’ advice and guidance and deeply connect with our inner writing intelligence. That inner writing intelligence is always there, of course, but by the end of the year, it craves recognition and reconnection. It craves being in the center and having your undivided attention.

I also truly believe that whatever you focus on the first couple of days and weeks of the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. I decided to make room for a passion project that I’ve been dying to tackle. I am writing a creative nonfiction piece (maybe a memoir) about the year my mother left my abusive stepfather and we were almost homeless. I was ten and my sister was four.  Through a special state program, we wound up living in a Manhattan hotel on a floor designated for “battered women and their children”. This year changed my life and I’m investigating all the ways it shaped the woman I became.

A passion project is one that is both scary and ambitious and tugs at your heart. It’s one that has urgency. The one that has been trying to get your attention for all these years. The one where you don’t know if it will “pay off”, the one that is unruly and messy.

How do you make room for a passion project?

You look at your schedule and you notice what activities you do that are either draining, time-wasting, unnecessary or just take up space. We all have some of those. You look for slivers of 10-20% of activities that can be consolidated or cut to give you time. Then you get into the frame of mind where you get excited about your passion project (the one you would LOVE to do, but never seem to find the time). You imagine yourself working on the PP within the time that you have made for it.

To make room for a passion project in light of what’s already on your plate (and I’m assuming that could include, work, childcare, eldercare, exercise, life stuff, other writing projects, etc.) takes some effort. I know it’s not easy, but isn’t it also important to make space for a passion project that has been on your list for a LONG TIME that you intuitively know will bring you JOY, or at least make you feel really ALIVE?

I decided that I would write daily on the PP for 10-45 minutes beginning around 9:30 pm. This meant giving up and rearranging late night time with my partner (we moved our TV time up), ignoring work email (unless it was urgent),  not listening to podcasts, and shuffling other creative writing projects to earlier in the day. It has been challenging but also super rewarding. I began with a brief outline, but most writing sessions I started freewriting with, “I remember”. I now have about half of a journal or 65 handwritten pages.

As luck would have it, I also found my first diary which chronicles a few months of that year.

This was buried under many other journals.

It’s humbling to see what one decides to document when one is a ten-year old!

My handwriting was much neater at 10!

Today, I have begun to transfer these writings into Scrivener. It feels good to move this work from my journal into the computer.

Passion projects replenish our creative wells. They are also addictive. I now will do just about anything to keep this work going though I have other writing projects to finish. These, however, are good problems to have.

I encourage you to find a way to go deep into your work, be it a passion project or something you have already started. And, that might mean taking a break from the outside world for a bit. That was crucial for me. The first quarter of the year is a great time to mirror nature. Winter is about going within and metaphorically playing in the dark.

Do you have a passion project that you want to tackle this year? I’d love to know!


Affirmations-366Days#312: I allow myself to envision the joy I will feel in my body when I achieve a major writing goal.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Affirmations-366Days#122: Success is a multi-layered experience for writers. Its meaning changes over time. I affirm that my definition of success is fluid and marked by joy.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

Dear community,

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!

Do you want to do something out of the ordinary this weekend? I hope so!

I wanted to make sure you knew of the terrific Love Summit that my friend Linda Kroll is hosting this weekend. She’s brought together an awesome group of fifteen speakers who will share tools to support people who want to experience more joy, passion, peace, connection and fun! The speakers include authors, coaches and healers.

I’m registered for the Love Summit and am absolutely loving the program. It’s all FREE but you need to register for it.

Get your joy groove on!

Click here to see the line-up and register – remember it’s FREE!

Abundance is the bounty that comes from embracing all of your energy. Judith Orloff

Abundance holds different meanings for different people. For one person, abundance means having a certain amount of money in the bank. For another person, abundance means having time to curl up with a good book. I love Dr. Orloff’s definition of abundance because it acknowledges that we have a role in being aware of how we use and cultivate our daily energy. Dr. Hoff looks at joy as an important pathway to abundance. I’m happy to include her wisdom in the final days of this series.


Joy as a Pathway to Abundance

Abundance begins with cultivating joy. The energy vibration of joy is very high and this helps you attract what you really want in your life.  Find your daily happiness in 2013 by writing thank you thoughts in a journal, deliberately choosing happiness- affirming I am happy many times throughout the day, and surrounding yourself with other happy people. Have you noticed that your energy goes up when you are around happy people and it drops when you are around cranky people?  These three tips helped me move from a place of elusive happiness to a life of everyday happiness. The key is that you get to choose. You have the power- always.

Dr. Sheri Kaye Hoff, PhD, Your Inspired Action Success Coach. Sheri is a life, executive, and small biz coach.

As I shared last week, I went to a SARK workshop. One of the best aspects of the workshop was her reminding us, the participants, to find joy and delight, in support of our creative projects and lives. The great thing about creative energy is that it tends to spill over into other parts of our lives. Indeed, if allowed, creative energy infuses our lives with new problem solving skills and new insights for mapping our everyday lives.
So, I left the workshop on Sunday, happy and inspired. I’m a college professor and this week classes have begun. As I sat down to finish up my syllabus and prepare for the week, it occurred to me that after a decade of teaching, I tend to do some of the same things on ‘the first day of class’. It also occurred to me that I always hand out my syllabi on white paper. Indeed, although I tend to think a great deal about ice-breakers for the class and creative ways to get to know students, I hadn’t ever really thought about how to make the physical appearance of the syllabus more interesting. I was astounded! Me, a writer and creativity coach–not ever thinking about any another color except white for syllabi. Where did I learn this? I’m almost positive that in my many years of schooling, I never received a syllabus on anything but white paper. I would have remembered! It is one of those things that I’m sure no professor even considers. Talk about doing something by rote!
One of my classes this semester is a research inquiry/research methods course. Having taught this class before, I know that students come in with many pre-conceived ideas about how hard it is going to be, or that they lack certain skills, or that it is going to be a painful experience. I always want to shift this perception immediately. Well, I realized that one way to do this was to copy my syllabus on ‘paper of color’. Nothing says fun and creativity than receiving an orange syllabus. So, I went about copying the syllabus on various shades of “paper of color”. I even took the liberty of using different types of color in one syllabus–so some syllabi were all purple, but others had sheets of orange, white and yellow.
I completely delighted myself in this task! I took the syllabi over to the class and handed it out. After introducing myself, I said, “There is good news. This is going to be a fun course. Research is about understanding one’s own passion, curiosity and creativity.” The students loved it and they loved the multicolored syllabi. They too, have never experienced receiving anything but white paper syllabi.
Thinking about why I had always copied my syllabus in a certain way was definitely a spill over from the creative investigating of the workshop. Most often we think that creativity is about particular big projects (finishing the novel, redecorating the house, starting a company). Sometimes it is, but just as often creativity is also about the small, daily ways that we delight ourselves by doing something differently. So, take a few moments and think about the taken-for-granted-tasks that you usually do. Is there a way to infuse more delight or surprise in them?
Do you always write your shopping list on old scrap paper? If so, what about using the inside of a gorgeous card? Or adding stickers? Or putting a favorite quote about food at the top of the list?
What about your answering machine and cellphone outgoing messages? When is the last time that you left a joke, a snippet of a song or a quote? For years, I loved changing my answering machine message. I used it as another creative outlet.
Let the next few days be an investigation in all the small ways that you can delight yourself through small everyday creative expression.

Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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