Monday, June 26, 2017

Still Life

This is for the perfectionists, the work-a-holics, the ones who never stop climbing their mountains. The people who don't think they're good enough yet.  This is even for the people who think they're lazy, 'cause chances are, you're trying too.

I try a lot.

I try to do so many things, then sometimes I realize I'm trying to hard...and I'll try to stop trying.  Which obviously, is also a form of trying.

Sometimes you gotta actually stop trying so much.  There's a balance somewhere in there, between doing too much and doing nothing at all.  That elusive grey area is called living. And it's very important.

Here's a nice list of things we often try to do:
 - Eat better
 - Pray better
 - Be more productive
 - Write more words in a day
 - Go to sleep earlier
 - Wake up earlier
 - Be happier
 - Rest more
 - Read more books in a year
 - Get straight A's
 - Be more nice
 - Get to the bottom of the to-do list, or the TBR
 - Blog regularly
 - Breathe
 - Make lists so we realize what we're trying to do...

Obviously none of these things are bad things to attempt.  However, you shouldn't spend your whole life trying to do something.  Sometimes, you can sit back and realize that today, you accomplished one of those things.  You can sit there for a while, because maybe you've been trying to do that for a really long time.  You can celebrate before you start trying to do something else.

You can also stop trying things for a while.  Give yourself permission to pause the endless cycle of self-improvement, for goodness sakes.  You have permission to just exist for a while.  You just do.  Who told you to base your life around accomplishing things?  Maybe these are all good things, things that often make you happier, but most likely, they also stress you out.  So there's good reason to take a break every once in a while.  Realize that in the end, no one is telling you to do these things.

You are under no obligation from the world to improve yourself.  Improving yourself is going to help...yourself.  So take it slow, and remember that sometimes 'doing nothing' is a step forward too.

- still life is art too - 

Love you guys!
- Caroline

What have you been trying to do lately?  Do you ever celebrate your progress for more than a moment?  (Who caught the Dear Evan Hansen reference?)

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Five Phases of My Writing Life

It seems that I fall into phases of writing. Inspired, uninspired...and lately, it's been the later, which is painfully, always.  But I'm noticing more distinct patterns as well.  Here we go...

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0. This wasn't originally the first step but I added it here and was too lazy to change the numbering soooo we have a zero now.  Writer's block. Oh dear.  This terrible phase seems sometimes like the constant existence of my writing life.  It lasts between a few weeks to 3-4 months before I can get through it sometimes, depending on how busy and stressed I am.

Only way I really know how to get out of it is to be really inspired by something like a movie (For me, I have special movies for this that have previously inspired great things - August Rush, The Age of Adaline, Lion, Hidden Figures, and a few more) - that's for temporary inspiration. To really get out of this phase, I usually have to muster up enough strength to begin Phase 1. Music like Sleeping At Last is amazing for writing motivation as well.

1. Getting into the writing routine.  This is where I'm suddenly motivated and make a bunch of plans that I may or may not keep beyond the second day.  Stuff like "write twenty minutes a day" (which I did all of 2015), "write a sentence a day" (which is my goal for this year), or read a random poem each day (tried to do that once).  Practicing writing in this routine is super important. Usually it's stuff totally unconnected with my actual main writing project, but it helps the writing muscle stay fit and keeps my gears turning, lets my writing loosen up so when I actually write, it comes out easily and more free.

This is where I am right now - on the first day of this phase.  I got a book for my graduation party, "3 A.M. Epiphany" by Brian Kitely, and it's already amazing. Short writing exercises. It's gonna be great.  This phase usually lasts anywhere from a week to a few months before the next phases start happening and honestly, these writing exercises and routine should be kept up throughout every single phase in order to keep writer's block away.

2. Starting to work on the main project again.  Here, I start finding interest in whatever precious novel I'm writing again, and it's great.  It's usually really slow. This is brainstorming and writing a little bit every other day. Gathering steam for the near future. This usually lasts somewhere between a week or two or a month.  Any longer and it usually slips into writer's block again.

3. Novel writing explosion.  This amazing phase where you're writing hundreds or thousands of words every day and you're in love with your story and the world is light and beautiful.  This is passion and energy and talking about it constantly to your family and friends and trying not to rant too much on social media for fear of letting too much out at once and losing steam. This usually lasts one to two weeks for me before I start falling off...

4. Fading away back into writer's block.  You get busy or life happens or you just lose steam. This is accompanied by fear - fear that you won't get back up after this blow, or that the staleness will become permanent. Writer's block is scary is you see it as potentially "forever".  In reality, though, it will always be temporary, so push through it like any other obstacle in life. Your passion must be greater than the dulling lack of color that seems to be imposed on your brain. And it will be.  This phase always leaves.

(5.)  Phase Five is this random poetry phase, that comes during a writer's block phase, or in the middle of another phase, or between.  I'm almost constantly writing poetry. Mostly when I'm upset or have an overflow of emotions that need to be taken out of their chamber, untangled, and put back again.  This phase sometimes brings about three poems a day, or daily poems, etc. At the end of it, I often find myself wondering how I'll ever write a poem again, because it seems I've written every single one that will ever exist. But after a while of recharging and cycling through the other regular cycles.....there's always more subject matter, in the end.  The poems always come back.

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So those are the five (technically six because I changed the stupid numbering but anyway false advertising never hurt anyone right) writing phases I seem to go through.  A circle of inspiration that comes and goes, often painfully slowly, but at least there is comfort in knowing that I'll always eventually end up back at the peak.  The energy is always there somewhere and you can work towards it.

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What phases do you go through in your creative processes?  Are they similar to mine, or am I just a weird penguin?  Are your writing phases dictated by circumstance, emotion, etc.?