amazing-trees-22
For Creative Artists, General

Keeping it Simple

I have never been able to keep it simple. My mind takes off and before I know it, I’m looking at how to describe the forest when all I needed was to write about a single tree. In those moments I must take a step forward, not back, and get into focus on one thing. I must commit to that one thing with intention. That intention has allowed me to be as productive as I am.

People ask how I do so much. It’s because I always start at a tree and then wind up staring at a forest before letting myself fall forward into the lush foliage of one single tree. (And maybe because I’m a bit obsessive – but we won’t talk about that.)

amazing-trees-22Do I keep it simple? I never have. It’s not how I think. I am detailed and sometimes, annoyingly so. (My poor family.)

However, when shaping perceptions and being a writer attempting to influence ideas, society, and where we’re headed I am being forced to keep it simpler. I realize I must start where people are, bring them in, and then I can go further. I love the view of the forest and all the details and intricacies from above, but most people want to be shown a tree.

The next time you want to give an essay about why the world is a certain way, start with something simple. Rather than tackling six issues pick one or two to speak about in that piece. This is especially true if you are just beginning to add your voice to a subject, because you don’t want your message to get lost.  As you draw people in, expand the content while still leaving the simpler pieces for people to have an introduction to your body of work. You can still wow them without overwhelming them.

As writers, artists, and creatives desiring to influence our world how do you form an initial connection to draw people in so you can give more?

self editing
For Creative Artists, General

Eleven Steps and Tips for Self-Editing

Eleven Steps and Tips for Self-Editing

Before sending your work off to anyone – friend, agent, publisher, or as a submission for a journal or magazine you must edit.

Some places expect perfection in prose while others may accept that there will still be editing required. That can range from minor editing to rigorous editing.

In my experience as an indie author, self-editing is a required first step before sending your work to anyone.

DON’T SKIP IT! DON’T THINK READING IT THROUGH ONCE IS EDITING.

I learned my lesson with my first novel to not take for granted the editing process.

Take the time and even the expense to do the following when self-editing. This is before you send it to a professional editor.

  1. Use spell-check AND grammar check. For long manuscripts I have found it won’t catch everything the first time. I find that I’ll go through it and correct things and run it again. I have also found that the Google Docs version finds things my MS Word doesn’t. So run it through both.
  2. In prose especially, do a search for phrases you commonly use. Words I search for are JUST, SO, THEN. I also go back and edit dialogue so that I can minimize the use of SAID and especially ASKED, because I have a hard time saying that word when reading aloud. So figure out your overused words and search for those.
  3. Read through your entire book or manuscript line by line, sentence by sentence. Very slowly and out loud. (first time I do this on the computer)
  4. Make those edits and print it out and do the same thing – line by line, sentence by sentence. Read it slowly out loud. Things like missing punctuation, open quotations, missing words like a, to, the, will jump out at you much more in print form. Get yourself some red pens and go all English-teacher on your work.
    1. Reading it out loud lets you hear it in a different voice than the one who was typing it out.
  5. Make additional edits based on this reading.
  6. Find a helpful friend or beta-reader that can help you find anything egregious left in the manuscript. If you can find a few readers, this is even better. They can work simultaneously, providing feedback in a tool such as Google Docs. This way you can see their comments and choose what to do with that information. Don’t have them actually change anything so set it to comment only and not edit.
  7. Once you’ve gotten all those comments, read it again line by line, slowly and out loud. I suggest reprinting it.
  8. Have a fresh-eyed beta-reader read this draft and provide any final comments or suggestions and then integrate them as you see fit.
  9. I’m a bit cautious so I’ll read through all the areas that were changed once more and I guarantee you – you will find something else to change either because you find a small error, misspelled word in the context, or a better way to phrase something.
  10. Depending on the goal for your work, either secure a professional editor (it’ll cost you less and frustrate them less if you’re work has already gone through the process above) or submit it to wherever it is you’d like.

Most importantly #11 – Make sure you have a product that you will be proud to put your name on for years to come.

 

-Bernette

feel the truth smaller
For Creative Artists, General

Give Up Figuring Out How to Be the Artist You Want to Be

Give Up Figuring Out How to Be the Artist You Want to Be

You want to express more of yourself as a creative artist, but how? Not knowing the answer may actually be the best thing for you. It invites the question, the exploration, the wonder. If you are a creative artist perhaps you’ve been trying to figure this out for yourself and find that you wind up back where you are. Give it up!

The problem isn’t that you haven’t come up with an answer. The problem is that you actually think that YOU have to be the one to come up with the answer.

Asking for What You Want

question mark

Let’s try this instead. Ask this question and don’t try to figure out the answer.

How can I express more of myself through my art?

Now don’t go trying to think hard about exactly what you will do. Rather, open yourself to the possibilities of this vast universe without trying to define what those possibilities are. Trust me, your ideas will pale in comparison to the infinite ideas of the entire universe. So just ask the question and whenever you find yourself trying to answer it and figure it out for yourself – STOP; and then ask the question again.

I know it sounds crazy. I get that. Maybe a little crazy is just what you need. When you stop trying to control what you are creating, how inspiration comes, how you express it in this world, you begin to build a personal box where you put you and all that you have to share inside.

Feeling Versus Figuring

feel the truth smaller

Instead of trying to get an answer with your head, find it with how you feel about various activities and opportunities. Does the thought of a particular audition make you feel good? If so, it may be right for you at this time. If it doesn’t ask yourself, “What about this audition is making me uncomfortable?” Be aware of anything that comes up for you. It might be a song on the radio, something on television, a book, billboard, or maybe a social media post that resonates with something that gives you more insight into why it makes you uncomfortable. You can ask another question (and another and another) when these things start to show up.

Here are a couple handy ones:

  • How is this related to my discomfort? Or What about my discomfort is related to what has been showing up?
  • How does this relate to my desire to express more of myself through my art?

Now, don’t do anything to get the answers. That’s right –no trying to figure it out. I will even suggest that you don’t visualize what it looks like. Keep doing what you do, without forcing. See what comes up for you. The answers will reveal themselves in ways you might not even expect. In their time. If you are tempted to work the answer out for yourself, go back to the question with an open mind and heart.

The right answer for you may not be the right answer for anyone else. And this is fine. You are a unique individual with unique dreams, talents, and purpose. Why would the right path or solution for you be what is right for everyone else? (Yes, that was an intentionally completely close-ended rhetorical question.)

Within the next twenty-four hours I invite you to choose to stop figuring it out and start asking questions. Take this post to get you started and ask big open-ended questions with an open heart and open mind. Then, be open to what shows up, even when it doesn’t look like you might have imagined it.

swadhistana
For Creative Artists, General

Creating and the Sacral Chakra

Creating and the Sacral Chakra

 

As you might imagine, there is the potential for many seeds to be planted in this area and this area is fertile ground for manifesting our creativity and inspiration. It is a place where our ideas and beliefs can take hold and grow. This is true whether those ideas, beliefs, and inspirations are helpful or not. Nothing can grow unless a seed is first placed in the soil and it begins to take root.

Your seeds take root when they are given energy and nourishment. We naturally have a desire to create and see our ideas become reality. What grows must first be planted, and what might be fertile ground for one thing may not be fertile ground for something else.

Think about the ideas you may hold about yourself, your potential, your ability to have what you want. The soil for nurturing positive ideas is going to be different than those that feed the negative ideas.

Our body has seven main chakras. While many discuss twelve important chakras and even more minor chakras, I want to talk about the one that is relevant to our wombs and conception. Our sacral chakra.

swadhistana

Where is it? The sacral chakra is your second chakra and is located in your lower abdomen in the area of the womb or navel. It is accessible from the front or back of the body as it is energetic and passes through.

What it controls and helps with: The sacral chakra is you’re the center for creativity and inspiration. If you want to create life, real or metaphorically, this chakra needs to be balanced and clear. The associated color for this chakra is orange.

Getting Your Creative Center – That Sacral Chakra Going

How can you get this chakra spinning for creativity? Try these simple ideas, but remember the most important thing is holding intention.

Using Prayer or Mediation

Prayer or meditation are great methods because you don’t need any tools.

Golden Ray Visualization for Sacral Chakra

Sit or kneel or stand (it really doesn’t matter) and imagine a beautiful golden ray of light coming into the top of your head (crown chakra) and flowing down your body to near your naval where your sacral chakra. Let it fill up that area with that golden light. Imagine that golden color deepens to like the sunset to an orange as it moves through your sacral chakra, energizing it. See your creative center expanding.

Prayer/Meditation for Sacral Chakra

Know and speak or think these things for yourself

  1. I am a creative person by nature
  2. I create easily and effortlessly because it is my nature
  3. I am grateful for the flow of creativity in my life and through my artistic craft

Thank you (always say thank you, it’s polite.)

Using Crystals

crystals-for-sacral-chakra

For this method, you’ll need at least one crystal to help hold the intention.

I suggest either a nice clear quartz crystal (universal crystal) or a natural orange crystal of your choice. Don’t choose a crystal that has been colored or dyed.

Sit or lay or stand, but be relaxed and comfortable. Place the crystal against your sacral chakra and hold it there while you continue. Imagine the energy of the crystal flowing into your body as you follow the golden ray visualization above.

Feel the connection of the energy from the crystal in front of you and the golden ray entering you from above. While feeling this energy flow imagine that chakra opening up like a beautiful flower with countless petals, in hues of orange and deep yellows. Allow this to continue until you are ready to end. You may also continue with the prayer/meditation above.

I always like to end any energy work with gratitude. A simple thank you for the highest good and best outcome can suffice.

Are you a creative artist? How do you get your juices flowing? Read the post – Three Tips for Getting the Heart Flow Going – For Creative Artists

1980s-music-icons
For Creative Artists, General

Three Tips for Getting the Heart Flow Going – For Creative Artists

Staring at a blank screen or canvas or even a mirror that reflects you standing there is common to all of us creative artists.

The key to overcoming the ‘blanks’ (just made that up) is not to think it through but feel and do. Here are five easy things you can do right now to get that flow from your heart going.

Tip One – Get Moving

get-moving-to-get-creative-juice-flowing

When I’m in a creative slump it helps to get my body physically moving. I will exercise either by hitting the gym or if it’s nice outside, taking a walk along the nature trail. I take my phone along because quite often when I’m at the gym or on the trail, inspiration strikes and I need to be able to capture it!

I might also get completely free by dancing. Put on some music you love and that puts you in the energy vibe you want or need for what you are creating. Now dance. Move. Let the energy flow through your body and come out as something creatively you.

Tip Two – Get Inspired

women on bench

Whatever your artistic outlet is, we can all be inspired by the world around us. Go out and be around people, nature, the elements of your environment.and observe, take it in. What about the experience and sights mean something to you or make you feel something. Do they speak to a part of you that perhaps was dormant and is slowly waking up? Are you seeing something in the human or natural experience that you connect with at the heart level? What is it? That is your inspiration. Whether you are a writer, visual artist, dancer or something else work from that feeling it gave you and use your creativity to express it for the next person or yourself.

Tip Three – Revisit the Past

1980s-music-icons

There is nothing completely new under this Sun. We may update, revision, restructure, and newly express but the ideas and concepts and problems being solved are as old as our collective human experience, if not older. So pull from that experience and see how you can take it further. Read a classic book or poetry, go to a museum and look at the art that graces the walls, watch dance videos from the 1980s and 1990s. Ha! If nothing else, it’ll make you smile and that alone is good for creating.

In all seriousness, we do not create in a vacuum, void of the acknowledgement that much has come before us. We are continuing the expression of life with our contributions so look to the past and you might get a spark, an idea, that gives you a fresh look at an old idea. Figure out how you can put your heart stamp on it and make it unique to you and relevant for our time.

You want to take a more metaphysical approach? Check out this post on Creating and the Sacral Chakra.

the end blog-post-5.17.17
For Creative Artists, General

In Your Story

I’ve placed the last punctuation mark. The editing is done and after refining as much as reasonably possible, I acquiesce to the reality that the story is over, there’s nothing left to be told. The cover is done and just the finishing touches remain before delivering this baby to the world.

the end blog-post-5.17.17

I like the idea of wrapping up a book, a poem, and knowing that the piece is complete. It’s a sense of accomplishment and closure to be able to say, “It’s done.” That work of art, created with energy and time is done, but it only represents a fragment of time, mere moments and chapters of a larger story.

Our stories are much different. I look back on my life and there are many stories, some short, some stand-alone novels, some multi-part series. In between are poems and prose that fill in the gaps between books of our lives. Just as a writer develops a story as they become more intimate with the characters, we develop our lives as we become more intimate with ourselves. We cheer on the protagonist who has an important self-realization three-fourths into the story. We knew it had to come and were waiting to celebrate their personal growth.

In our stories we don’t have just one awakening. We don’t have just one moment of self-realization. Instead these come at us in big and small ways as we progress through the plot of our life story. And like a reader, we don’t necessarily know the full plot, where there will be plot twists, new characters introduced or when and how the story will end.

And this is okay. It’s what makes stories exciting. You are the main character of the most important story you will ever get to experience. What would you tell the main character in one of your favorite books? What would you yell to the screen because you can see what’s coming? Can you take your own advice for your life?

What are you going to do next in your story?