The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘spring cleaning

Dedicate v. 1. To set apart for a special use. 2 To commit (oneself) to a course of action. 3. To address or inscribe (e.g., a literary work) to someone. (Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary, 2nd ed.)

Spring possibilities are about to cede to summer pleasures. I’ve been ruminating on the importance of spring cleaning for your creating life and have covered the first two steps—reassessment and reorganization. The third step is the most powerful one—rededication. To rededicate ourselves to something we deem as special in our lives strengthens and amplifies our commitment.

Rededicating ourselves to our creative life sends a joyful message to our ‘Creative Self’. Our Creative Self loves to be wooed. Its language includes ritual, ceremony and demonstrative acts of appreciation.

 

What aspects of the creative life would you like to rededicate yourself to as you move into summer’s rhythms?

Here are some to consider:

I rededicate myself to knowing that my creative work will matter to someone, so I must finish it.

I rededicate myself to owning my creative impulses, even in the face of naysayers and saboteurs.

I rededicate myself to claiming my creativity despite bouts of envy, doubt and fatigue.

I rededicate myself to curtailing the diet of my inner critics, who feed on fear, and instead nourish my Creative Self with periods of rest and play.

I rededicate myself to appreciating my Creative Self’s firework moments and subtle whispers.

I rededicate myself to taking incremental steps to finish my creative projects.

I rededicate myself to looking for support, for my creative work, in new ways. [i.e. critique groups, mastermind groups, creative buddies, mentors, etc.]

 

Here are some aspects of the writing life that I’m rededicating myself to between now and fall:

I rededicate myself to sending more of my work to professionally paying venues. [I am aiming for paying semi-pro and professional speculative fiction magazines.]

I rededicate myself to naps, a restful schedule, and daydreaming, all of which nourishes my Creative Self.

I rededicate myself to cultivating time for reading.

I rededicate myself to remembering that I am here to seduce and delight the reader.

I rededicate myself to finding ways to make writing fun and feel like a game.

[I discovered word sprints during last year’s NaNoWriMo. I find them to be so fun. How many words can you type in 10 or 20 minutes? Last November, I wrote 7,000 words in about 5 hours using timed sprints (100 words=10 minutes, 200 words=10 minutes (2x), 300 words=20 minutes, 100 words=10 minutes…at the end of an hour, you may have written anywhere from 700-1,000 words). This works very well for messy first drafts.]

I rededicate myself to looking at revision as a way to honor my writing by keeping the right words and setting the rest free for another day.

I rededicate myself to spending time honing my social media presence.

When fears are attended to, it clears the way for clear and simple writing that comes from your heart. Even the briefest attention can melt fear. Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK)

In March, I began a series about spring cleaning for your creative life. There are three steps in the process:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life!

Reassessing your physical space is a great place to start because it is visible and you spend a lot of time there. Another thing to reassess during spring cleaning are your ‘patterns of mind’. By this I mean, the habitual ways of thinking and responding to your creative life. I’ve been looking at the pattern of fear.

Fear can show up in so many ways in a creator’s life. We fear to write, draw, and sing badly, we fear rejection, we fear we won’t reach our potential, we often fear the blank page, canvas, music studio, etc. Fear often causes us to procrastinate.

Recently, I noticed that I was procrastinating on contacting an editor of a magazine that I met in January. This editor encouraged me to send him a story of mine. I’ve known for months exactly the story that I want to send him. Sending him my story has been at the top of my to-do list, but I have had some fear around taking action. Ironically, I’m not afraid of getting rejected. I’ve been writing long enough to not be undone by rejection. I know rejection is part of the writing process. What was it then? It was a ‘taking the next step’ fear. Since I’ve met him, he’s not a faceless editor anymore. Sending my work to him because I met him and he was encouraging made it harder, not easier. I know this sounds weird. Fears are far from rational! And, because he wanted me to send it to his assistant, and not through the regular submission process, it triggered a fear of ‘not getting it right’. These twin fears around ‘taking the next step’ and ‘not getting it right/doing it right’ are familiar patterns of mind that I am paying attention to this spring.

To put fear in its place,  this weekend, I set a deadline for myself. I wrote a very nice email to his assistant and sent my story with it while I was also so sending out other submissions for this month. I keep a submission sheet to record where and what I have sent out to contests and journals.

Fears never go completely away, but I’ve now got these two on the run for at least a few more weeks.

Do you have pattern of mind that needs some attending to during spring cleaning?

 

This week ushers in spring for many of us. It also marks passage of the first quarter of the year. Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday we were writing down our resolutions for living an even more inspired creative life in 2015. Have some of those commitments and intentions gotten sidetracked since then?

Totally understandable. Spring can put us back on track. This season enables us to connect with a feeling of renewal that we begin to see physically manifested all around us. Spring also powers us with the energy to tackle the physical spaces (and states of mind) that no longer serve our creative life.

It also presents us with a perfect time to reassess, reorganize and rededicate ourselves to the projects that we most want to bring into the world.

Here is my three step process that I have found useful for spring cleaning:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life!

 

Clutter can immobilize our creative lives.

Ah, Houston...we have a problem!

Ah, Houston…we have a problem!

I know from personal experience how debilitating and draining it can be to work in a perpetually cluttered space. I’ve written about how powerful it was to tackle clutter and dramatically change my home writing space.

My desk=before

My desk=before

 

my desk=after

My desk=after

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk more about the 3 ‘Rs’ as it pertains to schedule and patterns of mind. But, let’s start with reassessing your space.

What about your creative space? Does it need a spring tune-up?

Go and look at your creative space. What’s the state of it? Do you feel a sense of ease when you look at it? Is it crammed with stuff that belongs in other rooms of your house? If you live with other people, is this space known as your special writing/photography/painting, etc., area?

Have you even claimed some special place yet, or are you waiting for permission from someone else? If you’re struggling with this, see my post on claiming creative space.

Survey your space and make a quick list of what you feel needs your attention most. The questions below are not exhaustive*, but offer a good place to begin.

-Do you need to organize and sort your paper files?

-Would it be useful to create an index for your piles of journals, scripts, CDs, DVDs (i.e. whatever you consider your primary creative material)?

-Are there notes from conferences, master classes, residencies and/or workshops that need to be reviewed and filed?

-When was the last time you did a backup of your computer files? Do you need to delete or add programs?

-Are there creative projects that you’ve abandoned that still take up lots of physical space? Can they be re-purposed or stored elsewhere?

-Do you need to physically clean your computer?

-Do you have visible reminders of your creative accomplishments? Is it time to take some down and put up new ones?

-Do you have too much or too little of something in your space?

-Do you need more or less shelf space?

-Are there big physical jobs you’d like to do (e.g. paint)?

Once you have your list you can break each item down into specific tasks.

It’s important to not get overwhelmed during spring cleaning. Many people decide they will devote a day to a spring cleaning project and then realize that they’re cranky after two hours and that the task requires at least two days. Start small and reward yourself often. Why not take from now until the official start of summer to spring clean? You could choose one project each week. I suggest working in 15-30 minute intervals so there’s less chance of getting frustrated and overwhelmed. I enjoy using an online stopwatch.

 

*adapt this question and others to your needs if writing isn’t your primary focus

 

What kind of spring cleaning are you planning to do in support of your creative life? I’d love to hear.

 

Spring is here–finally!

I’ve just said goodbye to the graduating seniors at my university and am beginning to scheme about which creative projects I can move forward during the summer. Although I don’t teach during the summer, I still have to continue my research and academic writing as well as make time for my creative work (primarily creative writing and my coaching practice).

Spring powers us with the energy to tackle physical spaces (and states of mind) that no longer serve our creative life.

It also presents us with a perfect time to reassess, reorganize and rededicate ourselves to the projects that we most want to bring into the world.

Here is my three step process that I have found useful for spring cleaning:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your creative life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful creative life!

 

messy-office-03

Clutter can immobilize our creative lives. Last year, I wrote about how powerful it was to tackle clutter and re-imagine my writing space at home. Last summer, I also spent a little time each week decluttering my campus office.

All that hard work has paid off. I have great systems in place and now my focus is about maintenance.

What about your creative space? Does it need a spring tune-up?

Go and look at your creative space. What’s the state of it? Do you feel a sense of ease when you look at it? Is it crammed with stuff that belongs in other rooms of your house? If you live with other people, is this space known as your special creative area?

Have you even claimed some special place yet, or are you waiting for permission from someone else? If you’re struggling with this, see my post on claiming creative space.

Survey your space and make a quick list of what you feel needs your attention most. The questions below are not exhaustive, but offer a good place to start.

-Do you need to organize and sort your paper files?

-Would it be useful to create an index for your piles of journals, scripts, CDS, DVDS, etc. (i.e. whatever you consider your primary creative material)?

-Are there notes from recent conferences and workshops that need to be reviewed and filed?

-When was the last time you did a backup of your computer files? Do you need to delete or add programs?

-Do you need to physically clean your computer?

-Do you have visible reminders of your creative accomplishments? Is it time to take some down and put up new ones?

-Do you have too much or too little of something in your space?

-Do you need more or less shelf space?

-Do you need new supplies?

-Are there big physical jobs you’d like to do (e.g. paint)?

Once you have your list you can break each item down into specific tasks.

It’s important to not get overwhelmed during spring cleaning. Many people decide they will devote a day to a spring cleaning project and then realize that they’re cranky after two hours and that the task requires at least two days. Start small and reward yourself often. Why not take from now until the official start of summer to spring clean? You could choose one project each week. I suggest working in 15-30 minute intervals so there’s less chance of getting frustrated and overwhelmed. I enjoy using an online stopwatch.

Gerrus-Clutter-Removal-300x197

We just have a few more weeks to go before summer officially arrives. In April I began a series on spring cleaning for your writing life. There are three steps in the process:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your writing life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful writing life!

If you’ve spent some time reassessing your space, schedule and patterns of mind, in connection to your writing life, then you should be in great shape for the next step which is reorganizing.

Most of us tend to like the status quo, so reorganizing is where we can get stuck very quickly. We actually have to combine intention with action to yield results.

Here are some questions to consider:

1) Is your writing space set up so that everything is easily at hand (pens, treasured writing books, computer)? Can you see your writing surface?

2) Most writers keep inspiration quotes somewhere nearby, either on a corkboard, white board, or piece of paper tacked to the wall. If you have a set of quotes near where you write, do these quotes still carry the same emotional weight  of when you put them up? Do they fit with the writer that you are now versus the writer you were when you put them up?

3) Have you reorganized your writing schedule to better reflect this year’s aspirations? If you need more support for creating a new writing schedule, are you asking for it?

4) David Huddle in his excellent book, The Writing Habit, reminds us that writers have to pay attention to our patterns of mind in how we approach our work:  “You…have to become aware of your inclinations toward laziness, dishonesty, glibness, and other personal foibles.You have to be skillful at outwitting those negative aspects of your character.” He goes on to talk about his tendency to send out a story before it’s really finished as well as procrastinate and to “evade writing that will require my greatest effort.” Spending some time reorganizing (and rethinking) the intersection of your inclinations and your writing life may yield significant insights.

Spring is here!

Spring presents writers with a perfect time to reassess, reorganize and rededicate ourselves to the projects that we most want to bring into the world. Spring powers us with the energy to tackle physical spaces (and states of mind) that no longer serve our writing life.

Last December, I made a major commitment to re-imagining my writing space. I was tired of being one of those people who always seemed to ‘be in the process of organizing’, arguably one of the most important rooms in my house, without ever accomplishing a significant change. My writing career during the last two years has taken off in remarkable ways and I began to view my perpetually cluttered room as a pattern of self-sabotage.

These before pictures show that my space definitely needed some attention!

roompix 439roompix 445

I hired a painter. I spent two days packing up, two days watching the painters work their magic and then three weeks unpacking.roompix 444roompix 447

The challenge came as I began to unpack. I needed to create new systems and to let go of stuff. During the cold days of December I often found myself frustrated, overwhelmed and entirely baffled that I could feel so emotionally undone by this process.

I began to explore how some of my discomfort in relating to space was closely tied to childhood patterns.  Due to financial constraints I shared a room with my mother from the age of nine until eighteen. I missed out on a lot of  developmental experiences of the joys and challenges of having one’s own room and caring for it. Although this wasn’t the sole cause of clutter in my life, I understood why I held onto things too long (often coming from a place of scarcity or deprivation), and also how I simultaneously paid little attention to the aesthetics of space. After these insights, the organizing went a lot smoother.

Although this spring I still have a few more things to work on in my new space, I am in love with it!

extrablogstuff 029

extrablogstuff 027extrablogstuff 030

Spring cleaning, for you, may not involve any deep-seated emotional issues. But, if you think it could, you can begin by asking the following questions:

-Is clutter an ongoing issue for me?

-Have I experienced patterns of deprivation that may effect how I relate to material objects?

-Do I feel unusually sad, frustrated, or angry as I try to declutter and organize my space?

Depending on your answers, you may want to solicit support from a coach or therapist who specializes in organizational issues.

The first step in my spring cleaning process is to reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your writing life.

Go and look at your writing space. What’s the state of it? Do you feel a sense of ease when you look at it? Is it crammed with stuff that belongs in other rooms of your house? If you live with other people, is this space known as your special writing area?

Have you even claimed some special place yet, or are you waiting for permission from someone else? If you’re struggling with this, see my post on claiming creative space.

Survey your space and make a quick list of what you feel needs your attention most. The questions below are not exhaustive, but offer a good place to start.

-Do you need to organize and sort your paper files?

-Would it be useful to create an index for your piles of journals?

-Are there notes from conferences and workshops that need to be reviewed and filed?

-Are there writing exercises that could be useful to you if they were typed up?

-When was the last time you did a backup of your computer files? Do you need to delete or add programs?

-Do you need to release some writing books? Welcome others?

-Do you need to physically clean your computer?

-Do you have visible reminders of your writing accomplishments? Is it time to take some down and put up new ones?

-Do you have too much or too little of something in your space?

-Do you need more or less shelf space?

-Are there big physical jobs you’d like to do (i.e. paint)?

Once you have your list you can break each item down into specific tasks.

It’s important to not get overwhelmed during spring cleaning. Many people decide they will devote a day to a spring cleaning project and then realize that they’re cranky after two hours and that the task requires at least two days. Start small and reward yourself often. Why not take from now until the official start of summer to spring clean? You could choose one project each week. I suggest working in 15-30 minute intervals so there’s less chance of getting frustrated and overwhelmed. I enjoy using an online stopwatch.

What are you reassessing right now in support of your writing life?

Is your desktop (or smartphone) awash in files and icons that you rarely use? Is your Inbox crammed to capacity? Do you break out in a cold sweat when you think about the last time you backed up and sorted photos stored on your computer? Do you have hundreds of bookmarks? Digital acquisition feels easy at first, but like any kind of clutter it adds up and over time can contribute to disorganization and psychological stress.

Last week I started a series about springing cleaning for your writing life. Spring cleaning brings both physical and psychological benefits including increased energy, clarity and an uncluttered space. I focused on reassessing clutter in one’s physical writing space. In doing my own bout of spring cleaning, I couldn’t help notice how cluttered my desktop looked, how I was a bookmark acquirer and how all three of my email accounts haven’t been purged or organized in quite some time. After I posted, I realized that e-clutter deserved some time of its own.

E-clutter covers a vast array of digital items: email, contacts, bookmarks, photos, videos, text messages, blog posts, e-books tweets, documents, newsletters, etc. Items that as Jamie Derringer says, in her article about e-clutter, can “turn your computer into a virtual disaster area, making it nearly impossible to locate items without conducting a search.”

Managing the digital world too often fails to get (or sustain) our attention. E-clutter is easy to ignore, unlike physical clutter, most of the time as it fades into the larger digital background noise of our lives. While I’ve trained myself that if I bring five books home it means that I have to give away five, I’m less diligent when I subscribe to blogs, accept a specialty coupon by email, or bookmark every passing fancy to ask: What’s my capacity here? Do I really need this bit of information? How often will I use it? Where will I store it over time? These are the kinds of questions that are useful to ask as we go about our day navigating the digital landscape.

The psychological payoff for decluttering our physical environment holds true for our digital lives. It takes time, patience and a strategy. If you’re interested in putting e-clutter on your spring cleaning agenda, here are some helpful resources to get started:

http://www.diylife.com/2010/10/05/organize-your-e-clutter-like-a-pro/

http://www.otherinbox.com/cbs-early-show-tips-to-declutter-your-e-clutter-with-organizer/

I’d love to know: What’s your story with e-clutter? How are you managing it? Is it on your spring cleaning list? Any worthwhile tips you can share?

(post appeared today on She Writes)

(Photo credit-Google Images)


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

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

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