Line Up Your Shoes.

It is traditional when entering a Japanese home to take off your shoes and place them together, neatly, inside the hallway. These shoes should also be pointing out of the building, prepared and ready for your outward journey.

Creative types come in all shapes and sizes – like people really,

There is a romantic notion of creative genius being messy and chaotic but creating beauty out of it.

For some of us that might be true – messy and chaotic at the very least.

Others may be ordered and organised.

I have no judgement on either type, but I will confess that I can easily slip into one but prefer being the other – you can decide which.

One of the traditional ways of craftspeople and artists in Japan I admire the most is their focus on their tools and the process of creating.

For them, their tools are an extention of their movements and the process is part of the creativity.

Preparation and tool placement is very much like the chef’s mise en place.

Every thought and movement you make in the process of your creativity, helps to form the final piece.

Wasted movements take away from the creativity.

Searching for a brush you know is somewhere in a drawer, running out of a tube of paint in the process of application, trying to find the piece of paper you wrote that chord progression on in the footwell of your car, all interrupt and divert.

Organisation my not be a ‘creative’ word, but preparation and making the process as smooth as possible will have a fantastic impact upon your creativity.

Like lining up your shoes for the next journey, line up your tools for the process of creating.

Busy = Lose + Heart.

In Japanese writing the character for ‘busy’ includes the characters for ‘lose’ and ‘heart’.

To be busy is literally to lose heart.

In western society busy has come to mean working hard, becoming successful, going places.

Busy also means stressed, rushed, no time to think.

For creative people ‘busy’ can still mean working in our creative spheres but we could be losing touch with our creativity itself.

We can rush through a chapter in our novels, get another canvas started or finished, blaze through our instrumental practice.

Stuff may get done, but we may have lost our heart connection to it.

Being creative is a whole mind and body action.

It is physical action. It is mental concentration. It is an emotional effort.

Don’t be ‘busy’ or your creativity will suffer.

If you are busy then take a time-out.

Fresh air, coffee, tea, birdsong, a short walk, a shower – whatever you need to do to hit reset.

Remember your heart is in all of your creativity.

Creative Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the new mantra covering a lot of areas from simple meditation to a mental health checklist.

Some meditation and mindfulness techniques exhort you to think of ‘nothing’.

Hit the eco-setting, dim the screen, go to a blank screen rather than screensaver.

If you are a creative then this is probably impossible.

If you have managed it, I would argue that it may not benefit you.

Being creative is who you are and not a menu-setting.

Imagine asking a dancer not to move their body whilst you play a piece of music – they would probably cause you of being cruel.

Whether you are a writer, musician, or artist, you are tuned to be creative.

It is how you respond to your environment. It is how you communicate. It is you.

So, rather than emptying your mind, sit for a short period and reflect upon your creativity.

What are you happy about in your output? What are you finding difficult? What are you being drawn to which is new?

Afterwards, write down the strongest thought which came to you.

Pursue it.

Be creative with it.

Create.

Creativity Update.

I have taken once again to writing my reflections upon a verse of the Bible each week day. As always I write what I most need to hear and do. I am conscious of more focus on individual words in this phase of writing than before. Then the whole verse was in consideration. Now it is one word. One detail. I try to find the right expression of that word. Possibly using many more words than I need.

I had intended to finish one of my novels during this April Camp of NaNoWriMo. It stood at just over 75,000 words. By day two I completely lost the compulsion to continue. I don’t think this was due to hesitancy or doubt on my part. My focus had shifted.

Since I first summoned the courage to place artistic Apple Pencil upon iPad paper on 24th Jan of this year, I have now produced over 400 pieces of art. Many will be consigned to the dusty storage boxes of the iCloud, but I have begun to share some of them via Instagram. More courage. At times I am overwhelmed by how little I know about art and a deplorable lack of skills, in a way that I am not with writing. Despite this I am trying to fill the gaps.

As with the Daily Verse I am captured by a single detail. It may be a specific colour or combination of colours. It may be a pattern or shape. I am studying other artists and their works. I am watching YouTube videos and events online from galleries. You must watch ‘The Eye of the Storm‘ about Scottish artist James Morrison. (The link may only work if you are in the UK – sorry!)

Each image I make has become like an act of meditation. I relax. I have no anticipation of the final result. I try to be aware of God as a draw or paint. The emblem of three trees and the cross are repeated motifs.

I will try and share more, more regularly.

Daily Verse – James 1:2

You Version

Making the word order a little easier to follow in the Greek Interlinear, this verse reads, ‘Esteem it all joy, my brothers, when you might fall into various trials’.

This verse may well be the equivalent of that common saying, laugh in the face of danger.

Neither are reckless or uncaring of what happens next – danger or trials.

But both offer a logic which is counterintuitive.

Mindset is a buzz-word everywhere in recent times, but all the way back in the 1st Century, Jesus’ brother is onto it.

The word James uses for trials is peirasmos, which means ‘temptation’.

It is the experience of temptation rather than an abstract notion.

It is only used three times in the N.T. Once by Jesus, here in James, and once by Peter. It is differently translated as trials or temptations.

When these temptations happen we are to esteem – hégeomai/think or judge (the only occurrence in the N.T.) – it chara/joy or delight.

We should all be aware that life is not without its difficulties.

James exhorts us to have a different mindset at such times. We are to see these kinks in the road, or low points in our self-belief, as opportunities to face up to these temptations in faith and trust in God.

Remember to smile when times are tough.

Daily Verse – Colossians 4:6

Colossians 4:6 https://my.bible.com/bible/113/COL.4.6

The Apostle Paul is talking again about proclaiming the mystery of Christ.

He exhorts us to talk about Jesus, the hope of our lives, wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. As in yesterday’s verse, we are to always be ready to share our faith, even in the face of opposition.

Today, Paul asks us to have grace in our conversations.

The Greek word is charis and it occurs 24 times in the New Testament and is mostly translated as grace and favour, from God and from ourselves as a result of God in our lives.

Strong tells us that charis is from chairo meaning: of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude).

Our conversations are to have God upon our hearts and be a reflection of Him in our lives.

What Would You Do With 47% Extra Time?

A study, led by Harvard, claims that an average ‘knowledge’ worker works in a state of distraction for 47% of their time.

Flip this around.

By being more focused they could accomplish the same amount of work in half the time.

Or potentially double their output.

Just because we are ‘creatives’ it doesn’t mean we don’t get distracted, or it doesn’t matter if we are distracted.

So how effectively can you focus?

Remember that multi-tasking is a myth – your brain focuses on each task by rapid switching, so you only ever do one task at a time.

Phone messages. Phone calls. Social Media. Changing the tunes. Not being clear on the task you will execute in a defined period of time. Not being prepared with everything you need for that task.

Any improvement in your habits or discipline, which impact that 47%, will result in a significant improvement.

Professional cycling team Ineos – formally Team Sky – are as famous for their 1% rule as they are their Tour de France victories.

Try and improve everything you do by 1%.

Over time those 1%s add up to something incredible.

  • Prepare properly – have everything you need where you need it.
  • Schedule specific tasks in your calendar and put a time limit on it.
  • Use a timer to keep you on track.
  • Limit the amount of time you need to switch away from your task – if you are hinting for 90mins don’t have a playlist which only lasts 55mins, for example.

You can Log/Record what you do in the time you devote to your creative endeavours, to see how personally bad the problem is for you. Every time you stop doing your intended task make a quick written or voice note.

Review it and do what you can to delete those clear distractions. See how much of that 47% you can gain back.

(The distraction of keeping the log doesn’t count!).

Tips for Screenwriters from a Professional Story Analyst – Coverfly

Tips for Screenwriters from a Professional Story Analyst – Coverfly
— Read on www.coverfly.com/tips-for-writers-from-a-professional-story-analyst/

Great pointers from story analyst , Micah Goldman.

‘Your voice is the soul of the screenplay.’

So what is your voice and how can you show that on the screen or the page?

The Daily Verse – John 15:18

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.” – AMP

‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭‬‬

What does it feel like to know that you have been chosen?

Do you think it is possible to ‘bear fruit’ even in difficult circumstances?

In this verse, Jesus is talking to his disciples.

He tells them that he has chosen them.

Elsewhere Jesus prays for these same disciples, declaring to God that he hasn’t lost one of them.

Just as the disciples were chosen, so are we.

Jesus’ final sacrifice of himself gave everyone in the world access to the God of the Jewish people.

Remember when God spoke to Moses he said He was, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ – Exodus‬ ‭3:6

‬But to Abraham, God had promised ‘through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’ Genesis‬ ‭22:18‬ ‭

Jesus continues reminding the disciples that as well as choosing them he had appointed them as Apostles.

They had parables explained to them and saw miracles at first hand.

He tells them that they were placed and purposefully planted.

A gardener plants with with the combination of the right soil and right mix of sunlight and shade for each plant.

Why?

So they might be fruitful. Not just fruitful, but to continually bear fruit.

To this end Jesus leaves them with yet another gift, which will out do all of the others they had received so far – they could approach God in prayer and ask Him for their needs in the name of Jesus.

God would respond as if it was Jesus himself asking.

It is powerful to think that we have been chosen – especially when so many of us probably don’t fell that way most of the time.

God – Jesus – must have got the wrong ‘John or Jane Smith’ when the letter came through the door.

Surely he can’t mean us?

As the disciples were chosen, so were we.

As they had a purpose, so do we.

We have been planted purposefully.

This will again also surprise many of us, as perhaps the current place and position of our lives may seem anything but purposeful.

If we start to view our current circumstances as part of our ‘planting’ we can meaningfully pray for our purpose at this time.

As gardeners know, a plant may get moved around the garden, so don’t despair if the thought of being where you are fills you with dread.

Jesus tells us that we will bear fruit and to continue to bear fruit.

This fruit will be a blessing to ourselves as well as others.

Galatians 5 tells us, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

If we can exhibit these fruit, God can work through us in our circumstances.

By blessing others we also bless ourselves.

On top of this we have an extra gift.

Jesus tells us that if we ask (pray) for anything we need to God, it will be as if Jesus himself had asked for it.

Remember a ‘need’ probably isn’t a BMW or a holiday in Monaco.

An immediate need will be for ourselves or for others to do the work of God.

You are chosen.

You are planted.

God listens and responds to you.

Chase Jarvis – Creative Calling – Pt.2

Last week I shared some takeaways from the first session of Chase Jarvis’ Creative Calling Bookclub – if you missed it then click here!

Week 2 was about focusing on the I.

  • I – Imagine what you want
  • D – Design a system to do it
  • E – execute the plan
  • A – Amplify

So Imagine what you want.

Then be creative and take it further – take it as far as it will go. Push the envelope. What does the want look like now?

As a writer my want might be to get book(s) published. I can push this further to, publish enough books to mean I can write full time. Plus, I want to publish a fiction book one year and a non-fiction book the next year.

Let’s keep being creative!

The fiction books I want to write will be a series and some stand alones. The non-fiction books I want to write will be sport based, focused on the teams I follow, spending a season with each. Other creative arts as well.

More creative!

Let’s not worry about bestsellers but add in a podcast and still sharing writer’s knowledge to help others on the journey. I’m pretty keen on music as well – and art – so maybe the odd book or the podcast can cover these subjects?

Where does this all leave me?

Planning!

I might not be a full time writer yet, but I can sure plan as if I was!

I can set out a three, five, or ten year plan – or all of them.

What books do I plan to write first? Fiction series – more chance of catching a book deal when there is the easy sell, several more similar to the one an editor/publisher might like. I want the fourth book I write to be non-fiction.

I’m going to develop a podcast alongside those first few books – writer’s craft and the other creative arts I’m interested in. Part of this development is to start talking with other creatives in these different fields. This is preparing the way for the non-fiction books.

All the time I’m developing and adding to the blog/website.

The timeline is the guide for me to get my butt in the seat researching and writing! It all might be completed slightly sooner or later. It almost doesn’t matter. I can adapt and adjust, so long as I keep researching and writing.

Whilst doing all of this I need to keep learning and take on board new stuff.

For this Chase Jarvis recommends the following – DEAR.

  • D – Deconstruct
  • E – Emulate
  • A – Action
  • R – Review

In all of the areas I have identified I need to Deconstruct – Look at the best in craft in the type of fiction and non-fiction I want to write. Listen to the best podcasts similar to what I want to produce.

Then I need to Emulate – I need to practice all of those good things I deconstructed from the best in the business.

I need to take Action – by analysing what I have produced and checking it against the guides and teachers from that original deconstructing.

Finally, Review – go back to the beginning and start all over again, with the new writers/podcasters who have risen to the top since I last looked.

Now it’s your turn!

What’s your 3 or 5 of 10 year plan?