The holiday season is upon us again.
Thanksgiving is a week away and that means that Black Friday Sales deals are on the horizon for many of us. If you’re like me, you probably have a few people on your Christmas list that are hard to buy for beyond the usual gift selections in the aisles of your local Walmart or Target. So, I thought I would take a moment and give you some great gift ideas for the creative people in your life.
I’m going to keep this fairly general. Nothing specific for writers, artists, or crafters will be included in this post. However, I will likely do something for each niche in the next few weeks. My goal here is to give you some general ideas for how to inspire and empower the creative people in your life. You know, make sure they know you appreciate and encourage their creativity, quirkiness, and maybe even help them see that side of their personality in a new light.
I don’t have to put any disclaimers here. I’ll provide some links to sites that I think are great, of course. But, buying from these businesses (some of them small businesses) will only support them. I’m not one of these bloggers who have affiliations and get kick-backs from your purchases. So I can recommend them without a reservation on the simple premise that I like them and buy from them as well. That being said, let’s get started.
The first thing I would recommend for any creative person is so simple, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think about it first.
Yes, it is the simplest tool that any creative person can put in their arsenal. For the writer they are essential. A place to capture ideas, keep track of progress on projects, empty the clutter of the mind, and to refer when we need clarity. It is the same for visual artists. A blank sketchbook is an equivalent of giving an artist a world of their own to play in. And the truth is, this can be the most inexpensive gift option you could give.
A blank notebook is simple and inexpensive at Walmart. In fact, for less than $10.00 you could put together a set of journal and pens. Want to get fancy? Try heading to a stationery shop or a local Barnes & Noble or BAM for something a bit more sturdy and fashionable. Couple that with a fountain pen and you’re good to go. It’s a classic gift that will help any creative mind figure out what to do next.
Want to shop online? Try out sites like Levenger.com or Jetpens.com for options. Amazon is always a great resource as well. And I’ll give one more option at the end of this blog that will let you add a personal touch.
Bonus Idea: If your creative person is more tech-focused, you can also look at giving memberships to blogging communities like Livejournal.com or deviantArt.com that will give them a year of ad-free usage with a few other perks. There are also paid apps that you can give as well.
The next gift idea is something I have given to creative friends on numerous occasions.
Books On Creativity
There are loads of these out there and all of them have their merit. For me, there are two that stand out on my shelf. (Hint: I’ve blogged about them before.)
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book quite literally has the power to change lives. It certainly did mine. A self-study course on how to unblock your creative self, I return to her process over and over again. It is something I have done not only on my own but with a group of others that has given my creativity a boost even when I thought it was buried. And you have several options with this because there is the original which will run you about $13.00 for the paperback, but there are continuations of this that are also included in a lovely hardback compilation edition that includes her additional books in the same process. You can find it here: THE ARTIST’S WAY. And there are companion books, journals, and tools that you can also opt for.
Another book on creativity that I love and find inspirational is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Your Creative Career by Anna Sabino. (Which incidentally, will be going with me on my road trip home to see family this Christmas.). There are others and I’m not going to make a list of titles for this post. However, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive list and review of this type of book, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and make sure you subscribe so you won’t miss out on those posts. Maybe we’ll make use of the Creativity tag and category for these. Let me know.
And my last idea for this post is …
A personal planner or accessories for one that they already use.
I’m going to do a more in-depth post about this one closer to the start of 2019. But, all creative people need a way to keep things going, organized, and figure out what to do with their time. We’re all a little scatterbrained these days. A place to keep track of appointments, tasks, accomplishments, birthdays, and goals is essential for me. And I don’t think I know a creative person who is serious about getting projects done and out there to the public who doesn’t use some variation of a planner.
Now I’m a planner addict. I’m one of those color-coordinated people that has a case of stickers, colored pens, and stencils. I use a combination of an Erin Condren Life Planner and a Bujo that I personalize. But I’m not going to tell you that it’s a cheap gift to give. You can get cheap planners at Walmart. And you can find all sorts of accessories. Some people use travel journals for this purpose. (Yes, I have one of those too.) There are digital options, as with everything. And there are versions that range from being a very utilitarian calendar to more like a workable journal experience.
Erin Condren offers highly personalized options. I’ve collected custom covers over the years. 2019’s is a paisley design that features my initials. Last year’s looked like antique lace overlaying a pretty shade of blue with my name on it, and my first one three years ago also featured my name but was geometric and colorful with the quote “I Want to See You Be Brave” on it. That last one served as a reminder to keep going with the pursuit of my dreams.
Erin Condren also offers a lot of accessory options and they even have notebooks that also fit their custom covers which, by the way, are interchangeable throughout the year. One of these personalized notebooks would make for a great journal in my opinion! And I love the options for stickers, their pens, and their stylized sticky notes.
It is no secret that I’ve gone through a big process of reinventing myself over the past few years. The reality is that we’re always evolving into someone new. There is no stopping it. We’re shaped by our interactions with others, experiences that we have, and even what information we choose to feed our minds. Every decision we make is a catalyst for some sort of change in our lives. So, it is perpetual with time.
Living in the modern world is simultaneously easy and difficult. There are all sorts of expectations for how we are supposed to live, be, and even act. For most of us, we do our best to simply fit in and go with the flow. We get a job after schooling. We work the set schedule with some overtime. We then draw a paycheck, pay our bills, have a little bit of fun with friends and/or family, and then we repeat the process. But for some of us that isn’t enough. Instead, we need to be doing something that truly allows us to be ourselves and to be involved in life.
So, how do you find what really sets your soul on fire? How do you discover that thing that you truly love to do?
This is where a journal becomes a necessity. You start in the past with what you loved to do as a child or a teen. No, I’m not talking about what all your friends were doing. That’s how you ended up where you are. I mean what did you truly love to do when no one was looking? I find that those are the best places to start.
You excavate what you once loved. Dig deep and then you try those things again. Did you spend a lot of time coloring as a kid? Pick up a coloring book and some crayons or colored pencils (if you choose the adult versions). See if it still gives you the same joy it once did.
Did you like to sing or put on puppet shows? Why not go try a karaoke or deliver a monologue at an open mic night somewhere? Pick out a new monologue to learn and practice in the mirror. Why not opt to take a drama or acting class?
Were you a poet or writer? Why not dust off old ideas and see what you can do with them now? There is a thriving writing community out there who would love to have you join whatever your level is.
From there you can explore new ideas that come up. Maybe that love of the dramatic has turned into a love of directing the stage or a film. Maybe a love of coloring turned into a love of feeling the paint slide over a canvas instead. Maybe you are interested in picking up a camera now. There could be any number of things that can help you find that passion in life. The key is exploration.
So pull out your pen, open a google doc, create a video log to talk to yourself so you can hash it out and figure it out. Try new things and explore the world around you through different eyes for a while. You may find that you learn more about yourself than you realize.
As I deal with some technical glitches with my newest endeavor, I find myself frustrated and seeking solutions to these little problems. I realize how first-world these are. Even as I talk about them with friends and family it seems trivial compared to other things going on in the world.
In our local community a very young boy lost his battle with cancer this week. Understanding his fear of the unknown it is a bittersweet piece of news that leaves me a bit more heartbroken than I thought it would. You see, I have always had a unique outlook on death. Well, at least, I have for as long as I can recall. It has never really bothered me as it does many people. But, I cannot imagine having to comfort a young child who was scared, confused, and questioning everything knowing that he would be facing that unknown sooner rather than later. My heart goes out to his family. I know they are devastated. I would be. But I also firmly believe that he has his answers and he’ll eventually be giving them the scoop when their time comes.
I’m thankful that I live in a small town in times like this. There is something to be said for a community that is close-knit in times like these. East Texas has always risen to the occasion when needed. And this is no different. While not everyone will attend a memorial service for this boy, so many of us are praying for them and grieving with them in our own way. And they will have the support they need, I’m sure of that.
Remember what I said about inspiration turning up at the oddest times? Well, as I’ve thought about this boy and his family an idea came to mind for a short story. I started to put it on the page today and realized that I have plenty of tidbits for stories that could be produced fairly quickly. That got the wheels turning on how to put them out to the world. And that leads me to a question for you dear readers.
Would you be interested in short stories by me? Single stories that aren’t novel length but more a quick read for an afternoon sitting. I would release these on Kindle rather than having them available in paperback. Though I won’t rule out the possibility of releasing a paperback collection down the road. But, I would love to get some input from all of you as I consider how to proceed. Would you prefer them to be singles or a collection?
Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.
Also, if you don’t mind, say a prayer, send some good will, or just generally give good thoughts for the family of little Brock. I am sure they could use them.
The first full week of 2018 was hectic for me. The day job was crazy busy. That wasn’t so surprising though. First of the month and after a holiday, I had to expect it. But, I don’t think it is every something I am really prepared for. By the time I was able to call it quits on Saturday I was burned out and ready to come home and relax. Hence no Saturday post because, I didn’t prep it in advance.
A lot of my posts are on the fly and fairly raw for you. This is my way of really giving you my first impressions and the best window into my little slice of the world.
My weekend was nice and relaxing. After the week I had, I really needed to decompress a bit. Being a crafter, I have a couple of projects lying around that I am working on in my spare time. There is a particular one that I ordered to do as a gift for my mother for Christmas. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive in time for me to complete it. In fact, it didn’t arrive until the 30th of December despite ordering it in November. But let me show and tell you a bit about it.
My mother is very into peacocks at the moment. It is a decorating theme in her living room and kitchen. So, I try to find unique things from time to time for her. This ad showed up on my Facebook feed for something called “Painting With Diamonds“. They had a sale going on and I decided to buy a kit when I saw this Azure Peacock. I thought it would be a lovely gift for my mother.
Now, I will say that I was disappointed in how long it took to arrive. And, yes, I contacted their customer service and was very happy with the result. So I will definitely order again because this was absolutely meditative and almost addictive once I got started on it.
The whole process is simple really. It is akin to a paint by number or counted cross stitch project but I think the results are a bit more stunning really. Now, I’ll have to post an update once I am able to frame it for hanging but, here are a couple of the process.
Now, I think that it is a great start for someone who is looking for an inexpensive way to start something creative. Why? Well, several reasons.
- The images are beautiful and inspiring. They have many to choose from.
- They are affordable. This small one was $19.99 and they have a discount code available for additional savings. (HINT it is DIAMONDS so use it when you check out.)
- Small or large is your decisions. They all come in various sizes. This was a relatively small project and all said, I’ve likely spent about 48-50 hours to complete it. Which is great for me to think about other things going on and get mental plans going.
- It is easy to start and stop and doesn’t requite a lot of space. I placed everything into a gallon ziplock bag when I was done at the kitchen table.
- They provide most everything you’ll need. The only additional supplies that I used were scissors and some Ziploc bags, and a Sharpie to mark what number was in the bag. BTW I recommend snack size instead of sandwhich like I had.
- You have something gorgeous to frame and say ” I did it!” when you’re done. And that, my friends can motivate you to do other things.
Number 6 is probably the most important of those. Why? Because that momentum is what you really look for. You start with something small and then you branch out from there. This time it might be the diamonds. Next time you may buy a canvas and some paint and brushes. The idea is starting where you are and finding something to kindle that fire for passionate creativity.
I am working on an article that I want to offer my email subscribers that is a list of ways that you can start being more creative on a daily basis. As soon as I figure out all the back end things for putting it all up, I’ll let you know. It’s on my list this week to get those details worked out.
As I get ready to head back to the office I hope that you all have a great week and find some time of your own to decompress.
In the meantime, you know where to find me!
I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, food, and eventually a nap. I certainly had a wonderful day. I filled mine with all of the above, plenty of puppy kisses, and snuggles. Add in a lot of words and we have a good picture of my day. We’re still eating leftovers though and enjoying them. And I’m sure that they will last through the weekend. I am delighted by that to be perfectly honest.
With Thanksgiving over, there are a number of things on my mind. We have five days left of NanoWrimo and I’m still playing catch up. I’m not sure if I will be able to complete the challenge or not this year. Regardless, readers of my fiction will be happy to know that there is much progress on the sequel to The Secret of the Storm which is still available over on Amazon. I’m pretty stoked about what is going on in the new book as well. So, I’m very excited to complete the project so that I can let you all in on the secrets that are unfolding in that little seaside town.
It is time to get in a more festive mood as well. Christmas is right around the corner. I am already starting the gifting list for family and friends. And I’ve chosen my Christmas Cards so those need to be put together and out into the post. There is always a lot of hustle and bustle to the month of December for nearly everyone I know. Lots of shopping, parties, family expectations, and even surprises for some.
In the middle of all the merry making, I would also remind you to think about yourself a bit in a time when we think of everyone else. Answer the question of what you want for the holidays. This is a great time to tell friends and family about a new interest. If you have been inspired to try something new and creative that seemed too expensive, use this season as an opportunity to get supplies you need.
Think about it. Let’s say you want to learn how to paint. So, you get with friends and family. You talk about it. Let them see your enthusiasm for it. One friend gets you a brush set. Another an inexpensive easel. Maybe someone picks up a starter set of paints for you or some canvas panels. The next thing you know, it is 2018 and you’re standing or sitting in front of your own art set up ready to create your first masterpiece.
Creative living also means that we use our creativity in times when we need to. Not everyone has a big budget for holiday gifting. So, can you make some of your gifts this year? If you’re planning on that what are you planning to make? I have a few that I’ll be making.
What’s the John Lennon Quote?
Yep, that would be the one.
Living creatively is as much about stopping and experiencing life as it is about creating things that will enhance it for yourself and possibly others. It is impossible to create constantly. If we do we deplete the well of experience and inspiration that we draw from. Once in a while, it is necessary to stop and smell the roses. Whether that is literal or proverbial is entirely dependent on the artist.
NanoWrimo is a huge undertaking even for published authors. 50,000 words in a 30 day span is a huge commitement. It takes planning and foresight. Not to mention everyone in your life being on the same page as you and willing to pick up the slack if you are working full time. Planning is a must if you expect your story to have any sort of flow or cohesion at the end of November. And sometimes, life happens and you know you aren’t going to make that goal.
For me, when it happens, as in previous years, I don’t just stop. Whether I finish a self-imposed ludicrous deadline, or not, isn’t the end of the world. We can’t plan for all the interruptions that can happen in a month.
For example: You get sick. Your attention is pulled away on a project at the office, requiring you to work late most nights. A dog that is persistent in his need for extra snuggles or play time. (Don’t laugh. Have you ever tried to write something with a chiweenie yapping at you from the end of the bed? Impossible! I really need some noise cancelling headphones.) Kids needing attention or homework help. Not to mention extra acitivities with them being off from school or prepping for plays etc. Spouses that want attention or need something from you when you’re in the middle of a huge plot twist. (Suddenly I’m very thankful for my single status.) Toss in a major family holiday to the mix.
The point is. Life happens. No matter how much you plan your schedule or think you have all the distractions in check, life will eventually find a way to pull you away from the projects in your head. And that’s okay.
When you find yourself completely flustered with all these things; sometimes all you can do is embrace them. Enjoy the moment. Be present with the people you care about and who care about you. Whether they be big, small, or furry. They won’t be there forever. They will eventually leave you to your thoughts and projects. And you may find something in those moments that adds just what you needed to your projects.
For me, it is all about embracing this journey we call Life.
There seems to always be an interest in what authors are reading. Make no mistake, most of us are always reading something. Some of our favorite places are bookstores after all. So, I’m going to do a recurring posting series talking about books I’m reading and what I think of them. Hopefully I’ll be able to promote some of my fellow independent authors in doing this too.
I admit that I’m a slow reader. Between a day job that consumes many of my waking hours and trying to write my own fiction, this blog, and market the whole, I don’t get a lot of time to read for pleasure. But there is always something on my Goodreads shelf, Kindle Fire, and bedside table. In fact, I’m one of those people who start a lot of books and take forever to finish them. If you want to follow me or connect over on Goodreads, I welcome you to check out the profile by clicking here.
So, what am I reading?
This book is a great read for anyone who is ready to make the leap into a more creative lifestyle. I found it to be both inspiring and practical really. Gilbert doesn’t mince words when it comes to the valid fears that come up when you consider embracing your creativity.
She talks about various concepts that depict creativity as a series of experiences that are almost spiritual in nature. It is not a new concept. In fact, I find that the more creative people I talk to, the more I find most of us hold that belief about our own unique experiences in living this creative life. And there is something almost transcendental about bringing something to life on the page, easel, or whatever other media you choose to work in. What it definitely takes to do that is courage.
Big Magic is a huge pep talk for creatives. Wonderfully modern and frank in tone, Elizabeth Gilbert essentially tells creators to push aside the fear more often than they give into it. Reminders that while ideas are always out there, they may not all work out or be great ideas for a particular artist. The key is to step out and make the art instead of wishing we were or pining away for a life we aren’t willing to allow ourselves to lead.
I am definitely taking a page from her book of wisdom. Realizing that life is about discovering what we are capable of. I’m taking steps to write more and put myself out there more. Which is why you see me more often here and hopefully on the Amazon virtual book shelves in coming months.
What is your favorite book on creativity? I can always use more on my shelves.
Stop over and check out my Amazon Author Page for my latest work in print. All available in both Print and Kindle format. And don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the latest posts from yours truly.
When you get to know me, you’ll quickly realize that I am all over the place creatively. Yes, my primary focus is writing fiction. There are tons of other creative interests in my bag of tricks though.
For example: Did you know that I sing? Yep, I even recorded an album with a band. I also performed in musicals back in the day. I also decorate cakes and cookies with my mom. (Psst… If you’re in East Texas. We have a facebook page and take orders. So check us out here.) I am learning to draw and even paint using acrylics. I do embroidery or other sewing, usually by hand, when I watch television. And I’m slowly learning to play the violin. I could list a bunch of other things. My point, however, is that I try new things and do my best not to limit my options.
But what helps me do that? Is there some common thread in all of these things that I do?
The answer is that there is something I do on a daily basis that helps me keep it all together. I journal. I don’t mean sit down an type on the computer either. I use an actual book and I don’t limit it to words. Granted, my journals usually consist of a ton of words but, I also doodle and sometimes design pages so that they are a bit more visual. The point of it all is to put my thoughts down however they manifest.
Well, how many times have you thought of a great idea for something to do and you get sidetracked by some chore or errand? You do the required whatever it is. Then, you come back to your creative space to manifest your idea only to have forgotten what it was.
It happens to us all. Don’t worry. I can’t tell you how many great book ideas are lost to the ether because I failed to write them down early on. Carrying a notebook everywhere is second nature to me now. You’ll rarely ever find me without a way to write something down when it pops in my mind.
Now, there are plenty of journaling resources out there. I won’t get into all of that. Some will tell you that you should only use a leather bound, lined, 80gsm paper, with an expensive fountain pen. And you should format the pages a certain way and all sorts of other nonsense. If those things suit you, go for it. But for someone who wants to keep things simple let me give you the basic break down of what you need.
A notebook. Any notebook will do. Pick one up at Walmart or Target. Back to school shopping is upon us so they are cheap to find. If you’re inspired by something fancy then, go for it and splurge. I do, however, suggest something you can carry with you. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Walmart usually carries a half size notebook that easily fits in my purse or messenger bag. When on a budget, that’s a go to item on my list.
A decent pen. Whether you prefer a felt tip like Papermate’s Flair Pens, Pilot V5s or G2, or Bic Crystal Sticks you can spend as little or as much as you like. I have all of the above along with a box of others. In fact, some of the best writing ball point pens were freebies from the bank. But, I also have a fountain pen that I favor. It really just depends on my mood.
As for formatting? Throw all of those suggestions out the window at first. Just be creative with it. Do what you do. I generally freewrite for a while in my journal before I get started on any projects. It clears my head of the clutter and allows me to process things easier. So, start there and focus on getting the ideas out of your head and onto the pages. Think of it as a reference for later. If you feel like drawing or painting, go for it. If not, that’s okay too.
Some days may be nothing but complaining about life and the circumstances you find yourself in. That’s okay.
Some days you may find that you have a brilliant epiphany about what you want to do next in life, in a relationship, in your career, or in art. That’s okay too. In fact, those days are just amazing.
And sometimes, it will just be a mess. It will seem incoherent and disjointed. And that’s okay too.
Remember, no one reads this but you. Unless, of course, you allow them to. Then I would hope that it is someone you trust.
For any artist the journal is an essential. It is the catch all for ideas, fears, and even for celebrations. It is a sacred space with it’s own special sort of magic. The more you use it, the more of yourself you uncover. That includes hidden talents and desires for your life. I encourage everyone to try it.
In fact, give it a go and tell me about your experience with it in the comments.
Also, if you haven’t already, subscribe up at the top so you don’t miss a post.
If you want to know more about my journaling experience, feel free to leave questions or suggestions in the comments. Maybe a journal walk through could be a good starting video for a Youtube channel. What say you?
I’ve been absent much more than I wanted to. We’re still researching internet providers for the new apartment right now. Though we’re planning on having everything set up at the first of the month, we’re on a budget and looking for the best deal we can find. So, access to my blog, email, and other online things is very limited at the moment.
In fact, I know I was spoiled now. I got very accustomed to having high speed internet. My ex insisted on keeping it when we were living together because of his “hobbies”. Of course I took advantage of the connection. Since he was never without it, I’ve pretty much had continual access to high speed for about six and a half years. That is, until now. Now, I’m literally using a sort of dial up to post things and check my email. Sometimes I think it would be faster to do this by snail mail.
Regardless of whether the net access is up and running by the first of the month, there are still big things on the horizon. One in particular, I want to give you some details on.
Yes, I am planning to do a sequel to my debut novel, The Secret of the Storm. The readers are speaking loud and clear on this particular issue. And I have been putting pen to page to jot down ideas for the plot and a couple of new characters to add to the mix. I won’t give details away yet except to say that there are even more family secrets for Elora Castain to uncover in the next book. There is a certain small issue from the end of the first book to resolve as well.
As much as I am planning to do this, I have to admit that I’m concerned about the time that this “side project” will take away from the coming series Armageddon Rising. It will definitely make a lot more work for me in the coming months if I am going to meet a deadline as I have in mind. So, in a way, I’m going to leave it to the readers to decide if there will be another.
On August 1st, 2013 I will be launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund the sequel. There will be incentives for those who donate or pre-order the book. I hope to raise enough to pay off a couple of bills, market the books more, and allow me to get out there to meet the readers in a more one on one way, and give us a bit of breathing room here at home so that we can continue to move toward our goals for our family.
Yes, it will be up to the readers to help get this one done. I’m going to need funds to pay editors, artists, etc for things to make this happen quickly. If those funds aren’t raised to a certain level, I don’t think that I can sink as much time into it to get it done on a tight schedule as planned. Other works will take a front seat to this one unless I can reach at least half of my goal on this crowdfunding. I’m aiming for $3,000.00. If it funds completely or goes over the sequel will take a center stage for me for the next few months (aside from homeschooling the munchkin, of course) and will come out sometime in the spring. If I only get half of the amount it won’t happen until summer or later because I’ll have to put other projects into that mix and hopefully release two back to back. We’ll just see what you all say.
It may be the case that you’re all just being nice to the newbie on the market and saying you want a sequel too. In that case, I won’t bother with it. I’ll just move on to the new series all together.
In any event, there are a lot of things happening for me. I’ll be posting more about everything soon. I’m planning on starting my regular posts back up next week. So that gives me through Monday to get my thoughts sorted and things planned out. So, I’ll see you all on the other side of the weekend. Have a fabulous one!