The Avoidance Trap

Sisters_SelfieI just returned home after spending almost a week in upstate New York, seeing family. It was a strange sort of visit because 1) it was just me visiting, and 2) I visited just one household. I left my husband, kids, and dogs behind, rather than packing up the whole gang for our usual cross-country expedition; and although I got to see lots of different family members, I didn’t try to see everyone, the way I usually would.

I also didn’t try to keep up with work, write a daily word or page count, or even pop into social media (except the occasional Facebook “like” when my sister posted about what we were doing!) I was there to see people–to talk to them, hang out with them, be part of their lives for a while, and generally get to know them and find out what’s going on in their lives.

Workaholic, Much?

This type of visit might not sound that earth-shattering to some of you, but the truth is that I might be just a teensy bit of a workaholic. (I’m not admitting that I am a workaholic, mind you–just admitting that it’s a distinct possibility….) Setting aside work for almost a week–not just “work” work, but also child-wrangling, laundry, scheduling, emails, and all the other day-to-day minutia of modern life–was a new concept for me. It felt kinda weird.

And uncomfortable.

There’s something safe and familiar about staying busy, ya know? It gives me an easy exit if conversations get too intense (“I really have to spend some time working…”). It makes me feel valuable, maybe ever-so-slightly self-important (Look, mom, the world can’t really keep on ticking if I don’t check my emails and get back to my Important Clients and do my Important Work and other Important Stuff…) Staying busy makes it easier to stay a safe distance from worries because you can just straight to solutions, bypassing those pesky emotions altogether. (Yes, yes, stop talking about feelings, let’s FIX THINGS, okay? That makes me feel in control again….)

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Six Ways to Recharge Your Creative Mojo

2014CalendarImage2I just returned from the Rocky Mountain Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 2014 fall conference – and it may have been my best conference experience yet.

I know, I know: I think I say that every year! But this particular year seemed to deliver exactly what I needed, leaving me recharged, filled with ideas to explore, and excited to dive back into creative work.

If you’re in need of a creative recharge, a conference is a fabulous remedy – but not one that’s always available. Fortunately, you can gain many of the same benefits even if you’re too late for this year’s RMC-SCBWI conference :). Read on for a few ideas gleaned from my recent conference experience…

1. Step away from the desk!

A change of scenery jars your brain out of its routine and forces you to turn off your autopilot. Just as important, stepping outside your ordinary environment removes the distractions of everyday responsibilities and worries — allowing your imagination room to play!

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Symbols for Writers: the Snake

About the Symbols for Writers Series: I’ve found that symbols and imagery can trigger valuable insights into writing, life, problem-solving, finding joy, and more. This series was born because I wanted a collection of symbolic images coupled with text and questions intended to kick-start the creative process, help identify a creative block, or aid expression of complex concepts in condensed packages–and I thought you might enjoy such a collection, too! If you’d like to know more about how the Symbols for Writers series came to be, check out the first post in the series.

How to Use

This week’s image is meant to inspire thoughts about success and what it means in your personal universe. You can also use the image as a creative prompt, or as a reminder of some key idea you want to remember in the coming week. Have fun!

The Snake…

 snake

SOMETHING THAT IS: UNPREDICTABLE 

OUT OF CONTROL

UNKNOWN

FEARED

HIDDEN & THREATENING

* * *

SNAKES CAN ALSO SYMBOLIZE TRANSFORMATION

SHEDDING THE OLD, AS A SNAKE SHEDS ITS SKIN

What thoughts and emotions does this image bring to mind?

Take a good look at the image above, then close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Let your thoughts wander through the meanings this symbol can carry.

  • Is your gut reaction to the snake image positive or negative?
  • If positive, what transformation might the snake image bring to mind?
    • Is there a change happening–or a change that needs to happen–in your life?
    • Can the snake help you think about a transformation one of your characters is undergoing?
  • If your reaction is negative, what feels unpredictable or out of control in your writing life?
    • Consider how these ideas might apply to your characters: does one of them face something beyond their control?
    • Do they face a betrayal? A danger that might strike without warning, like a snake’s sudden attack?

Take 5 minutes and journal about the snake symbol and the thoughts or images it sparks. 

How could this image relate to something in your writing life? Please share in the comments!

Friday Fun Poll: How Do You Celebrate Success?

 What’s Your Vision for Success?

Balloons

Yesterday, I sent you on a guided visualization about success and how you envision it for YOUR creative life. I’d bet the poodle that every single person who went through the exercise came up with a different vision.

“Success” means different things to different people. Heck, it means different things to the same person at different times! 

Unfortunately, we humans have a tendency to reach one goal and immediately latch onto the next, without taking time to celebrate along the way. It’s all too easy to live in a constant state of if only…

I’d be happy…IF ONLY

  • I sold a short story
  • I found an agent
  • I got that book deal
  • I got a good review
  • I hit the bestseller list
  • I ______________

I have to make a conscious effort to celebrate success in my writing life, or those successes slide by unnoticed. 

How do you celebrate when you have a creative success or reach a goal? Check out the poll below to cast your vote and see where your fellow writers land!

[poll id="9"]

If I didn’t include your favorite celebration in the answers, please share in the comments–I love to hear from you!