Life Happens: Keeping Your Creative Spark in a World of Distraction

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Writing 0 Comments

Last time, I talked about the dangers of distraction, and how being constantly busy and distracted can actually alter our brain function. It is good to be aware of the distractions in our lives, and the ways we can unintentionally sabotage our ability to work deeply. But what can we do about inevitable distractions that life hands us? Like it or not, most of us can’t opt out of our families, jobs, and other commitments (although we can think about limiting those other commitments, learning to say No in order to protect our time to create). Retreats and residencies are …

Are You Damaging Your Ability to Be Creative?

janav Creativity, Writing 0 Comments

The fact that many people in this culture are insanely busy and distracted is not news to anyone. According to this article I recently read, the constant attachment to smartphones and our need to feel productive by doing something at all times leads to a lowered ability for focused, deep-thinking work. It also means less time simply spent daydreaming and ruminating, activities which are central to our ability to be creative in all aspects of our lives. Think about it: how comfortable are you these days with just sitting there, letting thoughts flow? How likely are you to check your …

Your Summer Plan

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Many people count Memorial Day the official start of summer; others follow the meteorological calendar (or Summer Solstice) or start of the school summer vacation. It depends on your lifestyle. For me it never really feels like summer until after the MFA residency ends, which this year is July 1. However you count it, this time of year signals a change of routine for many people. For some, it means more free time, for vacation or flex schedules. For others, it’s busier because kids are around more, or other things take precedence. At any change of season, it can be …

Compassion, Kindness, Gratitude, and Love

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This meditation focuses on developing these four attitudes toward the self, and it occurred to me to take it deeper, into our own creativity. How often do we judge ourselves around our creativity? Usually it’s in terms of “not good enough”: I didn’t spend enough time, the writing wasn’t good enough, I’m not creative enough… we spend so much time and energy beating ourselves up around not being “enough” that we end up not wanting to do anything at all. We construct a cage of ice around our creative heart, and then wonder why it’s so cold and unpleasant whenever …

Resilience: Recharging or Enduring?

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I recently came across this article in Harvard Business Review online: “Resilience is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure.” I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience lately, and how it’s a skill many of us understand very little about. What does it mean? How do we do it? There are times in all of our lives when we’re overwhelmed by external events (or internal ones, like depression and illness). We can get discouraged, feel like a failure, and wonder how we’ll ever get back to what we intended to do. This has certainly been me the last few …

Friday Favorites: TED Secrets for Writers

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Unleash the Master Within – Or, be passionate about what you write. With mastery of your material comes confidence that allows your passion to shine through. Nothing takes the place of having a real passion for the story you’re telling. And if you don’t have a passion for writing itself, for communicating your ideas through the written word, you will give up easily. Master the Art of Storytelling – Stories are compelling to the human brain. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, using stories to make your point allows audiences to respond to what you’re telling them. Stories are how …

Rise and Shine!

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I haven’t been posting as much lately because life outside my blog has been a little crazy – in addition to the MFA residency, I’ve been focusing on the new semester starting, and I’m teaching two courses: Intercultural Communication and Grant Writing. I love my students – they are smart, engaged, and really want to learn – so it’s pleasurable work, but it has left less time for other things. Also, I received some sad news: Bev Down, the President of the Creativity Coaching Association, passed away recently. She was also my mentor coach through the certification process. It’s a …

Goal-Setting for the New Year Part II:

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Today we’ll continue talking about the process of effective goal-setting, as we focus on our goals for the New Year. If you’ve come up with your list of 3-4 things you’d like to work on, and refined it until you know what accomplishing that goal really means and the steps it will take to do it, then you are ready for the next step. Here I want to note, however, that ONE goal is perfectly fine. In fact, some research suggests that we do better focusing on one thing at a time, versus multiple things. Research also says that it …

Your True North – Goal-Setting for the New Year

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Many people, myself included, are setting some sort of goals or intentions for this year. As we look at all the things we want to change in our lives, it’s easy, in the rush of enthusiasm and optimism of the New Year, to overdo our ambitions. Or to think that we should. That word, should, is a telling one. When I set goals for myself (or help other people with theirs), I first write down everything I’d like to do differently this year. I usually put them under larger umbrella categories, like “Health” or “Creativity.” I just get it all …

“Brutal” Truths About Creativity?

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I winced a little at the word “brutal” in the title. Creativity, it seems to me, is not best served boot-camp style. But the tone of the article is positive overall, and I agreed with its points. All of us are born creative. Some use our creativity more than others. Some give up at the first hint of “failure” i.e. when the world responds with a yawn or a criticism. And that is what is brutal about creativity, in my mind: that often, we’re just doing it for ourselves, because even what we truly hope will resonate with people doesn’t …