Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writer Girl: Where are you Storing all Your Good Ideas?

Day 5:
In spiritual life there is no room for compromise. Awakening is not negotiable; we cannot bargain to hold on to things that please us while relinquishing things that do not matter to us. A lukewarm yearning for awakening is not enough to sustain us through the difficulties involved in letting go.
It is important to understand that anything that can be lost was never truly ours; anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us.
Jack Kornfield

I find myself in the furious flow of momentum which is something I have never experienced before. Ideas come in the middle of the night and I am making the dreadful mistake of thinking I will remember them in the morning-I NEVER DO! In the past, I would have an idea and I would wake myself up literally every hour and rehearse the idea in my head convinced that this time I would retain the inspired thought only to wake up with NOTHING. The constant awareness of the thought throughout the night would play so vividly, the idea danced in my head like a carousel.  Now if only I would get my tush out of bed and write it down.

The biggest fear in all this flurry is that the flow will end. I admit I am a pessimist when it comes to the idea of a writer being able to make a living from her craft-surely one would run out of ideas after awhile. So, rather than enjoy the bounty of material for as long as it lasts, I calculate the endgame and whether or not this is the most practical use of my time given the length of time a windfall of ideas could possibly last.

These thoughts are hilarious given my state of life at this moment-I am a stay at home mom of a toddler-which, given a certain amount of discipline, offers an incredible amount of time. I am a type A, multitasking woman who has incredible amounts of energy. I have about 10 books I am in the process of reading. Three "books" I am in the process of writing. I have started crocheting a scarf. I am creating a name plate for my little girl's room. I am in the process of co-organizing an abstinence conference for teens. I am organizing a book club.  In a month, I will be training to become a facilitator of a support group. Yeah, time is not really the issue; it's focus.

Now I will cut myself a little slack in that the generation of all these seemingly unrelated projects in part offer incredible solace. I have a tendency to bore easily, hence the need for a three-ring circus in my life. And, thank God, I reach for constructive activities rather than finding a self destructive means of amusing myself. Plus, all of these projects are incredibly flexible in that they have the capacity to be interrupted based on the needs of a toddler. So, if my girl is painting, then I will incorporate my deal with her thing.   She still naps so that is a set amount of time in the day as well that I can write. 

The interesting outcome in this flurry of activity is that when I go back to writing, I find a stream to draw from. For the first time since I can remember, I "thought" of a hook for a fictional short story. I am still staring down the fear of writing a complete story but I did free write with the concept for a few paragraphs just to flesh it out a bit. I took Heather Seller's advice from her book "Page after Page" and used the technique of "butt in chair." Yeah, another one of those simple concepts which simply means sit your tush in the chair and write. Pretty much this advice ranks in importance right alongside the advice of writing an idea down when it comes to you.

Priming the Pump:
Do you have any blocked artists around you?  If so, does it fuel your desire to want to break through and write or challenge the idea that writing is a valuable use of time?
Write 100 words OR write for 15 minutes (set a timer to help you focus and whatever you get down on paper for 15 minutes let grace hold you – well done!)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writer Girl: Fear and Fearlessness

Day 4:
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."-Marcel Proust

 As I continue to write daily trusting God to give me something to write about, I hope I can inspire and encourage others on the way. I do find from past attempts of trying to become more creative that, very similar to my walk with Jesus, I am "simply A BEGGAR trying to show other beggars where the bread is".
I came across the guidelines for a writing contest the other day and decided to settle in and work on an entry, another attempt to cement this "hobby" as a lifestyle.   At the same time, I am going through a support group called "Mending the Soul," a group that helps me work through various types of childhood traumas that I could not seem to figure out how to navigate how faith in God helps me to move past.  One of my assignments is to write about a particularly painful experience from my past. I "somehow" worked on a story about a most unlikely candidate given my past - my father. The piece was very therapeutic personally and therefore a perfect candidate to help me to stick with the re-writes that were ahead. This is the story I was going to submit to the contest.
Well it turns out that the requirement for the short story entry is that it needs to be a fictional work. I sighed, knowing that fiction is not what I "do". I prayed silently: is writing fiction something I have closed myself off to or do I just really stink at it, plain and simple (I think it is the latter!).
As a result of this support group, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood. I remembered that I loved to write and always longed to have one of those diaries with the little lock on it-something about having these secret thoughts that my parents could not know really appealed to me. We have of course upgraded the term "diaries" to "journals" and I guess given the age of reality television, we no longer need to hide the words behind locks.
I remember vividly my dream was to become a playwright. This probably stemmed from a couple of school plays I was in and the whole idea of writing the words that people speak (side note: my husband says to me sometimes when we are arguing 'why don't you give me a script so I know what you want me to say?').

My elementary school had a creativity fair every year where all forms of writing and art were eligible for submission. I remember sitting down and constructing a play called "Torn between Two Lovers" based on a song from the 70's - I was in 3rd grade. I assure you I had no idea what the words of this old song meant. I was incredibly sheltered as a child, barely allowed to watch television and very limited music access other than what my parents wanted to listen to. Lord knows what the judges of the contest thought when they saw the title of my entry. I can't remember the details but I remember the play was based on an episode of "My Three Sons" - I had a crush on the oldest son, Robbie- where he and his girlfriend were going through relationship troubles. I also recall the play had 5 or 6 acts complete with stage direction, having become a "pro" at how plays were structured through my 2 experiences dealing with scripts in my school plays. Diligently I worked on this project, convinced that the judges would be amazed at my plot and flow and character development.
As the deadline drew near for entries, my friend Brenda was lamenting about how she wished she had something to enter into the contest. I began encouraging her to try writing her own short story assuring her that I would assist if need be. She began basting me with compliments about how I was the writer in the friendship.  Somehow by the end of the conversation I agreed to write a story for her to submit. The story was about a resourceful alligator -that's all I can recall. I vividly remember how I cranked it out in lightning speed and even included an illustration of the varmint - oh I draw now too? About a week later, the results are posted. Somehow my brilliant play was overlooked in the standings. However, the alligator story got an honorable mention. My friend received her first writing credential! God's witty way of teaching me not to cheat?

I think about this now as I fight with myself as to whether I really can write fictional short stories. I know that my preferred style of writing is more inspirational. Now to be fair, I have come across fictional work that is incredibly uplifting. I think I might be wound too tight into some kind of box that presupposes inspiration only comes in a certain form.

Perhaps I could free flow better in my "weak spot." One of the exercises in a book called "Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain" has the student turn a piece of art the opposite way of how it would hang on a wall (a.k.a. upside down). The theory is that your brain will begin to focus on shapes rather than the literal interpretation it perceives when looking at a painting straight on. Once our visual guard is down, we tend to focus more abstractly. In that same vein, perhaps I might experience the same outcome were I to take a chance and write fiction. What's to lose? Fear. What's to gain: fearlessness!

Priming the Pump:
Begin to write a game plan for how you will research other writings around your topic/experiences that you wish to write about

Write 100 words OR write for 15 minutes (set a timer to help you focus and whatever you get down on paper for 15 minutes let grace hold you – well done!)

To Purchase "Writer Girl"  or my other Faith and Creativity Resources:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Spark and Inspire Question #5: What Color is your Business?

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What color is your Business?

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the
world. This makes it hard to plan the day."


E.B. White 
I can’t believe I am saying this but the color of my business is pink! I am
not normally into pink and actually I very rarely wear the color. When I
first started my business I gravitated to orange and yellow and all things
funky, all things boho. And then suddenly my life, my heart, my business
took a feminine turn.

I got more heart centered, more soulful. The business became more about
the “why” I do business and why I was just the person to serve those that
connect in my business. So here I am embracing who I am… and embracing

Kelly Thiel:

I had to think about this one for about 2 seconds. Then I knew. Pale
Yellow. My business is Pale Yellow for several reasons. Right now, I know
that my business is a paler version of what it could be. I want it to be a
bright, blazing, and cheerful yellow, but right now it isn’t. My business is at
a slow simmer and hopefully over the next few years as the kids start
school, I’ll be able to turn up the heat and bring it to a boil. It’s an exciting
thought and one that keeps me awake at night!

Nolwenn Petitbois:

I would say «Teal». Because running Inner Voices feels like being on a
constant wave. Sometimes I crash and burn on the rocks that are put in my
way, sometimes I feel like I am on top of the World and can accomplish
everything my Heart and Soul desire.

I am swimming in a huge ocean of Creative beings and it is not always easy
to find my place, to figure out how to get noticed in all the wonderful art
that is created and shared and sold each day.

Jan Avellana:

Right now, my hand stamped jewelry business is in transition in a big way,
so I’d have to say that dark grey describes my business at the moment.
There are many things I am letting go of, many new things I am venturing
towards, but right now I am in the middle of getting from here to there.
This is the scary moment of letting go, that moment of leaping before the
net appears. All is not lost, since I do believe that the best is yet to be,
that’s why I’ve chosen “grey” and not “black”! There is a quote by Anatole
France and it reads:

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we
leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we
can enter another.”

This is what “grey” speaks to me today...

Sonya McCllough:

The color that describes my business these days is GREY ... a sweet
combination of black & white (which express my view of this world)

Jean Simrose:

I’ve always had an affinity to turquoise. When I was designing my business
cards I decided to use a favorite photograph my husband took of a
dragonfly. To make the picture more dramatic we decided to make a color
negative of it. The red dragonfly turned out turquoise and the green
rosebud turned purple.

Turquoise: represents a higher heart; creative communicators; trusting
intuition and femininity.

Purple: represents higher mind power; good judgment; peace of mind and

I love these two colors together and they seem to fit with my creative

Leanne Wargowsky:

When I first read this question, I thought "easy peesy!" But the more I
looked at the color wheel, I felt drawn to so many of the colors out there.
Trying to narrow an artistic person down to one color is quite a challenge.

The color RED is represented widely in my studio, as bookshelves and
frames and accent pieces here or there. Red gives off a great energy and
inspires me to take chances and be BOLD in my work. However, I must
choose YELLOW as the main color to describe my business . . . Bright and
sunny, and full of creative energy. Yellow is said to stimulate mental
processes and encourage communication. Much of my art has to do with
inspiring and encouraging, and I can't think of a better way to encourage
communication with others.

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a
yellow spot into the sun." -Pablo Picasso

Kelly Warren:

“I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice in the brilliant
ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill.

Did you know that Winston Churchill was also an artist? And his quote
sums up my love of color. What color describes my business? Bright, happy
colors! The name of my business I think clearly reflects my outlook on life
and my love of color. When you think of a “happy shack,” what color do
you picture it to be? I certainly don’t think of brown. I think of bright
Caribbean blue, with pink porch ceilings and aqua doors.

Every room inside this little shack is painted a different color, each just as
happy. And in this, my friends, I have truly described for you what my own
home looks like to a T. And that love of color is reflected in my work. My
jewelry designs are filled with brightly colored handmade glass beads and
gemstones, my photography is juicy with saturated color, and my mixed
media work is spilling in color as well. I can’t pick a favorite. I love every
color on God’s beautiful rainbow.

Stephanie Amos:

After putting much thought into this I have concluded
that orange describes KoiStudios. I have three reasons why. One is that
orange is one of my favorite colors. It’s such a cheerful color and makes me
happy. I would hope that anyone that collects my art is happy when they
receive a package from KoiStudios. The second reason is that orange is a
warm and inviting color, one that represents me and my business well. The
last reason reflects the name of my business, KoiStudios. When I think of
koi fish, I immediately think of the orange koi first. So naturally, orange is
the best color that describes my business!


What color is your Business?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spark and Inspire Question #4: The Hardest Part about Year 2 of your Business is...

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Question #4

The hardest part at year 2 of your business is….

"The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested
art/project/enterprise is to you -and the more gratification you will feel when you finally
do it."

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The newness of the business and the excitement of all that could be in your
new little bundle of joy really wraps a little cocoon around you and protects
you from the rough spots and the tons of work that goes on in year 1. You
really live on adrenalin and hope and ooey gooey dreams…

Year 2 really grabs you and makes you pay attention to what is and IS NOT
working in your business. IN year 2 you really are paying attention as to
whether or not your work is going to produce financial results. Year 2 is
when you got to get honest about how long you can sustain an all out type
of work schedule ESPECIALLY if you are still waiting on break even results.
Year 2 truly can offer a ‘come to Jesus’ moment: is this a business or is this
a hobby?

Alease McClenningham:

The hardest part at year 2 of your business is…. for me it has been staying
focused. I like to do a lot of things. But I know that the only way to
continue to grow my business I have to stay focused on what’s working and
only add a few ideas at a time.

Leanne Wargowsky:

I'll let you know when I get there. ;-) Yes, if you see my bio, you know that I
am a newbie in this creative business life. While I participated in the Kelly
Rae Roberts' ecourse called Flying Lessons in 2010, it has taken me a little
bit longer to wake up and "smell the coffee". As I slowly approach year
two, I imagine the hardest part will be finding balance to create vs. running
the business part of things. Even now I find myself struggling with moments
when I'd love to just sit and paint and create, but know that there is some
business to tend to. The creating has to take a back seat. And, keeping it all
straight on the business end. Yes, I'm fairly certain that will be my
challenge. Time will tell . . .

Nolwenn Petitbois:

I currently am in this year 2 of business, or so. The hardest part right now is
to find new ways to market what I have to offer and to have my customers
to come back and buy something else.

My testimonials and feedbacks are good, but there seems to be something
missing that I still need to figure out. I know I will eventually (figure this
out) but sometimes, looking at my shop stats and not getting depressed
because of what I see is hard.

I have faith in my artwork, and in the fact that it can touch people. Not
everyone for sure, as my style is whimsical and my Nixies are far from
looking realistic. But I know there are some women (and men too) that feel
empowered by my messages. I just have to find them, or let them find their
way to me.

Again, it’s about commitment to my business and trust.

Kelly Warren:

Year two for me was in 2007, so this was before the U.S. economy tanked.
My girls were going on two years old and I was traveling to about eight
juried arts festivals a year. I can’t say that the hardest part of year two was
growing my business. My business itself was actually doing very well. My
shows were very successful. Given that, I think that hardest part of that
year for me was actually the growth. I was not at the point that I could (or
even was willing, frankly) to “give up the day job” for my creative business.
I’m very much a people person, and the interaction I have with those I
work with in my day job keeps me young. I work with college students all

The greater challenge for me at that point was the juggle: working full-
time, being a wife and a mother to two year old twins, AND creating
artwork for and running a creative business. To this day, the juggle is still
my greatest challenge. I think many creatives at year two might be getting
to the point of asking themselves the “Will I be able to quit my day job and
devote my time fully to my creative business soon?” question. But I wasn’t
at that point. I wasn’t asking that question because I knew that I wasn’t
ready for that, mentally or financially.

For me, the most important part of year two, year one, year eight, year
twenty, year whatever, is simply knowing yourself and what you truly want
out of what you are doing. Am I getting to the point at which I’d feel more
comfortable walking away from the day job and devoting my “work-time"
fully to my creative business? Maybe now, at year seven...maybe. Yet, I’m a
very realistic person and know that the changes that would have to take
place to make that happen aren’t quite ready to change yet. There are
dreams, and I have them, but I also keep a healthy grip on reality. To me, I
believe that healthy grip is the most important thing to have when building
and growing a creative business.

Sonya McCllough:

The hardest part at year 2 of your business is finally knowing where you
would like your business to be in say ... five years. But, knowing it will take
time (maybe, even five years) of travel time to reach our true destination.

Jean Simrose:

The hardest part in following my dream is not having sufficient funds to
carry out all of my business goals. I envisioned taking more classes, learning
more techniques and collaborating with more people. I planned on going to
art retreats and connecting with like-minded people who inspire me.
Instead I found myself working hard just to participate in fairs and keep my
Etsy shop stocked so I could sell my jewelry.

The Mind. Body. Soul Art Journaling e-course has helped me to further
defines my dreams. I have learned a lot about what I truly want from my
creative business and how to get it. The e-course facilitated this Project. I
hope it will lead to more connections in my creative business world.

Kelly Thiel:

Momentum. Keeping the momentum. Life happens. People get sick, and
pregnancies occur. It is so hard to stay focused on your business when life
keeps throwing distractions at you. And since you are your own boss, it’s
easy to let things slide a bit. Not always a problem (since sometimes you
really do need a break every now and then), but once that period is over,
sometimes I find it hard to get going again. I am in amazement at people
who never seem to lose momentum. I admire them for their continuous

At this time in my life when I have two young children at home, I realize
that I am going to have to be flexible in my work schedule. There are days
when I know I won’t be able to put much toward my business. On those
days, I try to do ONE THING that will put me one step closer to my goals. It
may be something as small as tweeting and Facebooking about an exhibit
I’m in, or writing a quick blog post. It may be one business phone call, or
even packing a box to ship to a gallery. Just one thing. And then for the rest
of the chaotic day, I will know that I haven’t lost ALL momentum!

I’ve also taken to getting up an hour earlier several times a week. It’s not
much, but it can make a difference to my mental state. I know I’ve gotten
at least a little done for my business before the rest of the household gets

Jan Avellana:

…wearing all of the hats. I had great difficulty juggling it all; motherhood,
wife, artist, bookkeeper, blogger, social media and marketing guru…at this
point in the life of Hazelnut Cottage (my hand stamped jewelry line), I was
barely getting any sleep at all and working much of the time. This was
especially hard since my babies were little; just 2 and 4 at the time.


The hardest part at year 2 of your business is….

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