A Little Experiment

Last week I began a little experiment that I am going to try and keep doing in the new year — an approach to writing more regularly.

For whatever reason, I’ve discovered that if I start a habit just before January rolls around, then my New Years Resolution is that much easier to keep, because I’ve already gotten a couple of days (or in this case, weeks) under my belt.

So what is this resolution and how will it help me (and you, quite possibly) write more, you may be wondering. I’ve made a decision to do the following:

Do one small thing for your art today.

That’s it. However you define “small” — whether it’s woodworking or needlepoint, or textiles, ceramics, visual arts, dance, or writing. Just define what “small” is for you, quantify it (so you can remain accountable) and then do it. How small? As small as a marble, that is, small enough that you can accomplish it without thinking twice about it, small enough that it won’t seem like it’s even worth doing because you’re not making any huge leaps and bounds towards that end goal.

I can’t tell you how many working sessions I’ve wasted sitting around, struggling to try and meet a self-imposed goal because this writer or that writer has that working pattern and when confronted with my own inability (or lack of time) to meet those impossible-for-me-at-that-time expectations, I grew to hate my writing and myself. And trust me, if you are constantly trying to measure yourself by someone else’s standards, you will always be miserable. There’s no kind of artistic block quite like misery.

And maybe you’ve never encountered this but I’ve found that when I’m miserable, when I feel like nothing that I’m doing is making any headway, then I give up. If I can’t do my art at the same level of excellence as someone else (or same quality or speed, or quantity) then I’m not going to do it at all. I quit, and quitting equals no progress at all, and the self-loathing spiral continues downwards.

But I promise you, believing that you’ve got to do things the way someone else has or it’s not worth doing at all, that is a lie from the pit of hell. You’ve got to begin to change your thinking and it begins with a courageous decision to try.

So, beginning last weekend, I made a radical decision. Do something. Do one small thing for your art today. For me, I defined something small as “a page of writing” (i.e. 250 words). For you, it might be something different. That’s totally okay.

marbles-1680664_1920The point of all of this is to establish a regular habit of sitting down and working on your art.

To release yourself from the expectations of others to just experiment, and try, and yes, occasionally fail, at a pace that you can do without thinking about it too much. If you do that, then trust (like I am) that your overall output will slowly begin to increase as all those little actions begin to add up; trust that you will be moving closer to your goal, and:

Trust that your confidence will begin to grow from all of your tiny victories.

So a week is gone, and how is my little experiment going?

I’ve already written:

  • an article for The Scribe
  • two blog posts (including this one)
  • and 10 pages of a screenplay that I never finished (due to lack of time) back in college.

And my overall stats for the year are slowly creeping upwards. Enough that I’ve had to modify my “End of the Year Writing Statistics” post, and likely will have to again. Small gains add up.

So, I just want to encourage you never to give up on your art — it’s a gift that God gave you to share with others. And if you’ve been struggling as I have in this area, why not try giving my little experiment a go for yourself?

If you do, I’d love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment below and share your journey.

do-one-small-thing-for-your-art-today This quote photo is released to the Creative Commons (CCO) and you are welcome to redistribute it, save/share it if it inspires you or encourages you in your artistic journey.

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Week 14 In Review

This week I’ve been enjoying a lot of reading! My new Kindle Fire (2015 model) arrived last Saturday– a Black Friday deal I picked up to replace my older model which died a couple of weeks ago. This meant, of course, that I spent the majority of the weekend re-downloading all of my favorite apps, books, and music playlists. And because  my desktop is too old to be compatible with Amazon’s music platform, I manually transferred 888 songs and created 60-some odd playlists. Yes, I like my music!

Feeling inspired and looking for some new reads, I picked up Driving Mr. Dead by Molly Harper (2012), an amusing paranormal romance with some nice tension about a road trip gone horribly awry.

I also read Borderline by Mischell Baker (2016), a weird trip of a contemporary adult fantasy where faeries live in a parallel world to our own and are the muses behind Hollywood greats, told from the perspective of a protagonist suffering from BPD.

jay-548381_1920If that weren’t enough, I also finished my final novel for review this year, The Artisan’s Wife by Judith Miller (2016) —  a sweet inspirational historical romance that you’ll be able to read more about in the next issue of HNR.

So clearly, I’ve been doing a lot of reading…

As to writing, I’ve had several submissions for our guild’s literary magazine and have begun compiling those for the January 2017 issue (still need to edit). I completed my final review for HNR for the year. I also took some time out to take a look and analyze all of my writing statistics over the course of the year, and you’ll be able to check those out in a future post.

On the home front, all of my Christmas cards are now in the mail and if you’re on my list, you should be getting them any day now.

With the holiday season always feeling so frantic, be sure to take some time to be present in the moment (a tip I picked up from this year’s devotional, Savor by Shauna Niequist.) Suggestions for a 2017 devotional are welcome. 🙂

Enjoy your weekend everybody.

P.S. Don’t you just love WordPress for letting it snow on blogs? I adore it!

P.P.S. Much love and a shout-out to Pixabay.com, my go-to source for free, high quality images released under the  Creative Commons CCO license, and attribution is not required. For small bloggers like me, this makes a world of difference. Thank you.

December 2016 Edition

On Sunday, my family began the holiday pastime of Advent, a liturgical tradition that my Catholic-raised father and Lutheran-raised mother introduced into my childhood and that carried over into my Catholic-Evangelical marriage.

The Advent wreath, which is the center of our tradition’s focus, has four candles, each lit on a successive week (until all four are lit at the same time) and a fifth candle in the middle, representative of “the light of God entering the world” through the Nativity. The individual weeks represent: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

This year, more so than in years past, God has opened my eyes to the pain of my neighbors and to the uncertainty that many Americans are facing every day (myself included). Coming to know the struggles that everyday people are facing, some of them faceless strangers that I could call neighbors by their proximity to where I spend most of my time, well, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. And scary. And it makes me angry too.

It doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot of hope, peace, joy or love in the world. Certainly, there is no expectation of a rescue “advent” (coming), when you feel abandoned, unseen and horribly alone.

lights-1088141_1920What I can say, with utter certainty, is threefold: with God, you are never alone. With God, who is the ultimate source of wisdom, we don’t have to be afraid to seek out answers, or ask Him to illuminate our path. With God, no matter how rocky and bleak the future appears, there is no surer and steadier foundation than the one built upon Him.

Therefore I have hope and this advent observation my family participates in is a reminder of His coming into the world to bring restoration and healing. May you find peace in Christ and discover that you are never alone.  Maranatha (Come, O Lord!).

Week 12 in Review

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everybody!

This season is always a time for gratitude and for me, I am never more grateful than when I am busily humming along through life with an agenda full of writing tasks to accomplish.

Give me a step by step and I will chug along that track, even if they’re still laying each railroad tie in front of me as I go, until I hit Promontory Summit.

With plans to see the family this year, I spent my free time working on the final productions of the year — the November and December issues of our guild’s magazine, the monthly newsletter, and a handful of reviews quickly approaching their deadlines. I may have to tidy those up next week, actually…

gleise-1555348_1920Nothing makes the blood race quite like writing and that sense that any journey is doable, if one can only find the path.

Losing the vision under the storms of discouragement, rejection and fear is another way of being derailed from your destination. Sometimes, it feels like you’re spinning your wheels, other times, like you’re moving backwards. I’m learning that it’s all part of the process. Accept it and move on.

Want to encourage a local artist or writer? Today is Shop Local Saturday. Energize the artists and writers in your community by buying their products for Christmas. We artists need your help along our journey and appreciate your support.

 

Week 11 In Review

pine-cone-1245888_1920It’s been a quiet week here, mainly just reading. I’m writing in an attempt to honor the weekly reviews that I promised.

There’s been no progress to speak of on my own writing although I have been slowly working on coordinating the November and December issues of my guild’s literary magazine, and have attended a NaNoWriMo write-in, which was a lot of fun.

This coming week’s goal is to finish all outstanding articles for the year and email them to my (co-)editor(s) for the literary magazine, as well as the historical one that I do reviews for, and all before Thanksgiving which means I need to get my ducks in order.

Sterling & Stone had a great webcast this week, talking about “The Value of Deep Thinking”. This is something I wish I had more time for… just thinking (not nodding off, which is usually what happens) and brainstorming ideas. Jeff Goins also talks about having time just to create and fill that well so you have something to draw on when you’re ready to write (he uses the analogy of a bucket system, which works too).

Sean (Sterling & Stone) also mentions how important it is to have a sounding board where you can throw ideas around and get feedback. This is something I don’t have at all. I work in a vacuum and all of my ideas boomerang back at me and seem worse than when I first cast them to the wind.  It’s a bit like wandering in the woods without a compass — sometimes, I just want to stay still and wait to be found by my ideas, rather than walking miles and miles in the wrong direction.

Sometimes, that’s the only way out.