The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Rochelle Melander

Affirmations-366Days#27-I routinely schedule time for my ‘genius project’; the kind of writing project that takes my breath away.

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

Commentary:

During this past holiday break, I spent a lot of time listening to writing coach, Rochelle Melander’s backlog of excellent podcasts. In one of the episodes, she encourages people to make time for their ‘genius projects’. Genius projects are the ones that take our breath away every time we think about them. Genius projects, are the ones we daydream of attempting because they are so inspiring, mind-expanding, challenging, different, boundary-breaking, etc. These are the projects that if we could just make a little time for them, working on them would light us up from the inside. Sadly, these are the projects that often live at the very bottom of our to-do lists, languishing behind deadline driven work, prior commitments, other practical writing projects, and going to the dentist. She recommends that you schedule time in the calendar to focus on your genius project.

Do you have a genius project? Does it have time and space on your calendar?

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Feeling worthy is a learned behavior.
—Beverly McIver

Happy New Year!

How lucky are we that we have another year to explore our creative passions and dreams.

Last month, I got the nub of a terrific idea from meeting the writer James Maxey. He is using the energy of 2016, being a leap year, to spur him on to write every day and aim for 366,000 words by the end of the year. Intense, I know!

I loved the idea of attempting something inspiring, mind-stretching and ambitious for my creative life in 2016. I thought about what I need in my creative life and what other creative folk might need.

New-Year-Pictures-Download-1024x576

I asked myself the question: What could I share with you on a daily basis that would support a positive mindset as we approach our creative work?

Answer: Affirmations!

I was lucky enough to meet renowned visual artist, Beverly McIver at a professional development conference. She talked at length about how important it is that creative people do the inner emotional work to support the (often) long path to professional success. Anxious and unhelpful self-talk and inner critics often stop us before we can even get to our projects.

What I need as a writer is lots of practice in self-kindness, plain and simple. I have technique, craft, discipline and perseverance in spades. Many creative people struggle with simply being self-accepting. As you know, we can think the meanest things about ourselves.

Over the years, I have found affirmations to be a potent tool in combating unhelpful self-talk/criticism. The use of affirmations has come a long way. An affirmation is a short, simple, positive declarative phrase that as Eric Maisel says, in Coaching The Artist Within, “you say to yourself because you want to think a certain way…or because you want to aim yourself in a positive direction.”

You can use them as ‘thought substitutes’ to dispute self-injurious thoughts (as a cognitive behavioral approach), or to provide incentive and encouragement when those seem to be in short supply. Affirmations as writer and coach, Rochelle Melanader notes in her book WRTE-A-THON: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and live to tell about it), helps to “challenge and reframe assumptions.”

Now that many psychologists, mental health workers and coaches advocate the use of affirmations, they’ve become respectable. Gone are the days that affirmations made you only think of Shirley MacLaine, flouncy scarves, and quartz crystals. (Though for the record, I’ve liked each of the above at different times in my life.)

So, my commitment to you and myself is to post an original affirmation every day through the end of the year. It’s a fun and daunting goal! Some affirmations will focus generally on creativity, but many will focus on writing. I imagine some will be serious and others will be a bit more whimsical. They will usually arrive without commentary, but occasionally I may offer some additional thoughts. I encourage you to use the affirmation as you see fit. You can say it to yourself several times a day, write it down or adapt the words to your liking. Periodically, I’ll be writing about the different ways creative people use affirmations and the current research on the use of affirmations.

My greatest hope is that the affirmations I write will be there when you need them most. And, that they will embody a tone and energy that can carry you past the sometimes insistent, unhelpful and inaccurate voices in our heads.

Affirmation #1- The more creative work I release into the world, the happier I am.

NaNoWriMo update: We’re now wrapping up week three of NaNoWriMo. I’ve got about 31,000 words which is great. But, I’ll need to write about 2500 words a day to finish by next week. I have to say that I got a little cocky earlier because the words were coming so easily. I literally felt that my characters were talking to me and all I had to do was listen. This is rare for me. My characters are not quite as chatty now and I am definitely working hard for every scene. Like many NaNoWriMoers, I will be working a lot during the Thanksgiving break. Send me your good vibes this holiday week.

Here’s a treat for you: Writing coach Rochelle Melander’s insights on how to boost your creativity. Her work is phenomenal, so check out her link at the end of this post. Enjoy!

 

Three Tools to Boost Your Creativity by Rochelle Melander

 

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere. —Albert Einstein

 

In 2006, I launched Dream Keepers, a writing program for at risk children and teens in Milwaukee. Since then, I’ve taught at dozens of libraries, schools, and churches. In the past year, I’ve noticed that many of the young people have difficulty imagining. When I ask them to write a scary story, they write what they’ve seen in movies and on television. When I push them to create something of their own, they stare at me like I’m from outer space.

My own ability to imagine has taken a hit in recent years, too. Too much time hooked up to the computer has made me much more likely to research than question. Research backs me up. A 2010 study done by Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, discovered that creativity has decreased in children since 1990, along with the ability to imagine.

So how can we address the problem of our dwindling creativity? We need to practice imagining and immerse ourselves in creating. No doubt, our creative play will support our writing. If you’re up for a little fun, try these exercises:

  1. Don’t look it up, make it up! Have you noticed how public wonderments have turned into competitive research sessions? You’re standing in a park talking and someone says, “I wonder what people did for fun in Milwaukee in the mid-1800s?” Then five people pull out their smart phones and race to find out first. (Actually, the answer for that, like the answer for all things Milwaukee, is easy: they drank beer.)

Your assignment: Next time you wonder, don’t pick up that phone (or tablet). Quickly make up

5-10 answers. If you’ve got time, develop one of them into a short story.

  1. Play the “What If?” game. As a chronic worrier, I play the “What If?” game all the time—what if my kids flunk out of school and have to live on my couch forever, what if that chicken I ate for lunch was bad, what if I never get this book published! Far better to play the “What if” fantasy game: what if squirrels were really super intelligent and took over the world? What would life look like then?

Your assignment: Create 5-10 crazy “what if” sentences. Then take one of them and follow it to its strangest conclusion.

  1. Invent it. Earlier this summer, my dog had a giant sore on his ear (I know, yuck). It stunk and worse, every time she scratched, it bled all over the house. Before we brought her in to have the sore removed, I spent a lot of time devising ways to keep her from itching it. (She can’t use the Elizabethan collar.) Believe it or not, I had lots of fun trying to invent a protective ear device.

Your assignment: Invent a solution for a pesky problem in your house. If you don’t have any problems (lucky you), get a bunch of stuff from your junk drawer and see what you can create with it.

Bonus Tips:

+Do something impractical and creative every day.

+Read about artists and inventors.

+Visit places that honor art, science, and creative endeavors.

 

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her

Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 

 

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some insights about how to prepare for the coming New Year and lay the foundation for making headway on our creative dreams. Today when Rochelle Melander’s wise newsletter landed in my inbox, I knew this was a perfect prompt to begin introspective work.

The Reckoning by Rochelle Melander

Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions…as soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss vital new information. Wait awhile in the stillness, and do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing. —Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs

I’m a huge fan of Jacqueline Winspear’s mystery series featuring Maisie Dobbs, a private investigator working just after the end of World War I. At the end of every case, detective Maisie Dobbs sits with her case map and does a reckoning. She reviews her notes, makes decisions about how to deal with any loose ends, and thinks about how she’ll use what she’s learned in her life and with future cases.

Before we dream up a brand new exciting year of writing, we need to take a look at 2013 and do our own reckoning of sorts. Yeah, I know you’re still living it. But you have enough of the year under your belt to reflect on what rocked and what didn’t.

Here’s a brief process to help you start your reckoning:

1. Make a list of the creative work you’ve done in the past year. Include everything in your list, even the stuff you do because you have to (like hanging out on Twitter, doing research, or sending out invoices.)

2. List what you value most about your work as a writer. Again, include everything from the philosophical (exploring new ideas) to the practical (earning money, working at home).

3. Evaluate how this past year’s creative endeavors (list #1) matched up with your values (list #2). In other words:

–Did you get to do enough of the stuff that brings you joy?
–Did you meet your practical needs through writing?

4. Finally, as you review the two lists, ask:

–What kinds of creative work do I want to do less of?
–What kinds of creative work do I want to do more of?

That’s it for now: make your lists, check them twice. Then hold onto them: there’s more reckoning to be done. And some dreaming, too.

Rochelle Melander

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It).

As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at http://www.writenowcoach.com.

 


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

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

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