Saturday, August 31, 2013

Word Count

Isn't finding time one of the hardest things about being a creative person? We have jobs, families, friends, and community activities all taking time away from the creative things we really want to do. So what happens when we do have the time to be creative?

Last week, I worked to have an entire day in my studio. I have little to show for almost six hours. I was unsuccessful in researching. I had a word count of about 200 words in a cover letter I am writing. That's not much to show for all that time. It was a productive day. Say what? Yes. A day in the studio, the workshop, the atelier, the garden, wherever you create is always productive. Why? Because you are there and you commit. You show up. You allow the thoughts and ideas to flow. Sometimes they flow like a waterfall and other times, like last week, like a mud puddle, which doesn't really move at all. But did I know which it would be when I sat down? No. I was happy to be there. Frustrated, yes but happy nonetheless.

And Monday, I found what I was looking for in fifteen minutes.       

Friday, August 2, 2013

Refueling in flight

This has been a summer to remember and it isn't over yet. I'm entertaining houseguests and traveling more  than I have in years. So far, I've made two trips, each, a week or longer. And so the question arises, how do you refuel in flight? How do you make art when you are away from your studio, your grand piano, your normal surroundings that nurture your art?
Coffee truck in the middle of the night.

It's been a question for me this summer and I have three ideas to share. In no particular order, here they are.

Miniaturize. Instead of working on your novel while attending a family reunion with all the fun and confusion, why not focus on a smaller aspect of your writing? Develop a list of adjectives for the villain. Create more backstory for the heroine. Write character sketches of your relatives. Outline your next novel.

Are you a visual artist? How can you reduce your work for travel? I recently saw a watercolor kit in a mint tin. Could you do something similar? Instead of large pieces, can you make Artist Trading Cards to share with the people on your travels? They would probably be greatly appreciated.

Speak up. Remember all that stuff you had to learn in Social Psychology about Groupthink and mob mentality? It's true and you have to counteract it while traveling. If you want to do something, speak up. It gets very easy to go along with the crowd and you could miss something good. At the travel stop in Virginia, on a whim, I asked the gal what about crafts. Oh my, she told us about the Heartwood Center for crafts. It showcases juried artists from the nineteen counties in Southwest Virginia. It was fabulous. It was very well done and if I hadn't said something, I'd had never known about it.

Look at your feet. I noticed while traveling that most of what I observed was in the distance, the Interstate that we were driving, the length of Beale Street, the Mississippi River, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (the coolest engineering feat, I've ever seen) and so on. But I'm telling you to look at your feet. There are two reasons for this. First, it helps you to focus, even for a few seconds, on who you are. When you're surrounded by people, it helps to sometimes to remember that you have your own opinions, thoughts and they don't have to agree with everyone else's. Call it a three-second retreat. The second reason to look at your feet is so you don't miss something. My sister and I are taking photographs of a wind farm. Have you seen modern windmills? They are huge towers that stretch on for miles. But when I looked at my feet, I saw not one but two Texas wildflowers that I had never seen before. Another time in Georgia, I had just finished photographing a courthouse when I looked down and saw this beautiful little pansy going in the gutter of the street.

Gutter pansy
So what have you been doing this summer? I'd love to hear from you.