Creative Time and Priorities Baseline (The Sea of Distractions – Creativity Quest)

My daring adventurers, the finish line is just ahead: we are on the last two sections and then we will be geared up for the next stage of our quest. Putting in the work here at the beginning is going to make all of the difference later down the line. Right now we are building up that foundation, and we need to make sure it will be able to hold the weight of our own little world.

This section is very closely tied to the one we tackled yesterday surrounding our work-life balance; only this time, we are reversing our perspective and analyzing from the creativity side of things. While it can be difficult to make your creative projects one of your top priorities, it is vitally important to make sure it is a valued slot on your personal time-board. How much time do you allow yourself to play and explore, or watch new YouTube channels, read a different blog, sit down with your keyboard and just tap away to the rhythm of the neurons firing in your brain.

I have been actively trying to prioritize more creative time when I have the energy for it (some days it just isn’t going to happen, my brain has turned to oatmeal and I’ll be lucky if I can pay attention to one of those old tv shows I’ve watched 10,000 times). But lately I’ve been making a point to sit down and write after work- even if it’s just for ten minutes, that’s still ten minutes more than I was doing before.

I tend to do my best writing first thing in the morning- that is one of my favorite things about weekends. I am usually the first one awake, so I can take the dog out and slip back into bed with a hot cup of coffee and my notebook. I scribble away until the rest of the house wakes up and I must start my day in earnest. Unfortunately, this isn’t a routine I have been able to carry into my working week. I already have to get up at 5:30 to get the animals and plants taken care of before I get ready for work, and I am struggling to push that start time any earlier. I need to work on going to be earlier so I can give myself a little bit of a chance.

I’ve intentionally cultivated my social media so that it has a more positive creative focus. I can spend a few minutes scrolling and gather up some new inspiration or tips from others; though I try really hard to limit any time spent there. I also like to fill my feel with any type of hobby I’ve had a passing interest in; it’s a beautiful mishmash of gardening, book nerdisms, home brewing, history buffing, animal loving madness. All of my passions pasted hap-hazardously like one of those collages you make as a kid using magazine pictures.

I’ve been making a point to slow down and let new ideas percolate. I don’t listen to anything when I’m in the shower, I try to find new music when I’m tuned into Spotify, take breaks after I read chapters in my book, dive into any research that sparks my interest. And more importantly I’m getting better at talking about these random side-quests with my friends and family. Not only does it liven up conversations, but I’ve actually learned a lot of random facts about them. For example, who could have guessed that I would share the same bizarre goal of going to Mount St. Helens and finding the sites where some of the people passed away in the explosion- to sit and share a moment with the spirit of the place and pay respects to people I have never met, but who’s stories have touched me. Very random, a bit dark and twisty- but surprisingly common considering the very first person I mentioned it to laughed and said they went through the same thing two years ago (you guys, we both even had little routes planned out to get to a couple of the locations).

So while I am headed in the right direction, I do still have a lot of work to do in this area. I need to get better at protecting my personal time and spending that in a way that is nurturing for my soul. These habits aren’t easy ones to build, but if I want this life, then I need to fight for it. Whether that means waking up 30 minutes earlier, or rearranging my evenings to that I can do my writing while my brain still has some go-go juice left in it: I have to decide where my priorities will lie.

My score: 4/10

Creativity Challenge

  • Put your spotify list on random, play at least 2 songs (ideally closer to 4), write a story or poem inspired by the selection. Even better if they are completely different genres and really have nothing in common.
  • As soon as you wale up, spend 5 minutes writing about whatever dreams you remember
  • Strike up a conversation with someone about something completely random (a little-known fact, a dream of yours, an unusual hobby) – did you learn anything new about them or yourself?

To Create, To Experience, To Live

You are a creative soul; that’s why you are here, that is how you found this tiny little hobbit hole in the great expanse of the internet. You dare to dream in the middle of the day, you find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. You, my friend, are a kindred spirit. You can see shades of the world that others cannot or will not acknowledge. You have a flame that burns inside of you; some days it is just an ember, and on others it roars with a passion that could rival all the stars in the universe. Your work is your physical soul molded by your own hands. You tirelessly give your energy to this creation without realizing the magic you are wielding. There is a beauty in the way you bring something tangible to life, something that was born from the firing neurons and synapses in your brain. You have a passion that demands to be explored, a gift that the world would be priveledged to experience.

Art takes many forms, some are more subtle than others. We are all artists to a degree. The writers, the painters, the musicians, the actors; yes, these are easily counted. But there are others: a chef who plays with the ingredients, a mechanic bringing an engine to life, a mathematician calculating the mysteries of the universe, a lawyer crafting an argument that turns the law on it’s head. Our mediums may be different, but our love is the same. The things that we give life to in this world are often the same things that also give life to us.

To make lasting art you must step outside of your comfortable corners. To breathe life into your work you must first soak up as much of it as you can. Your new knowledge will color your creations, bleeding into the corners, etching the nuanced edges until they gleam and entice the rest of the world. An art piece bursting with life is a piece that demands to be witnessed, it is a creation that carries within it the power to change the world. To invest in your work you must first invest in yourself. It doesn’t matter how perfectly crafted your sentences are if they drop lifelessly from your pen. Interesting things do not need a perfect presentation to be noticed.

Invest in yourself, in your experiences, in your knowledge. Let your interests guide you and teach you. Pick something that you love; a place you want to travel to, a book you want to read, a skill you want to learn- and dive into it. Find a class for tarot reading, go to the post office and get your passport, find your way to the nearest museum, watch a documentary on the Stone Henge and UFO conspiracy theories, go to a Chinese New Year celebration even if you don’t know a soul there, read books about people that inspire you. Never stop learning, never stop investing in yourself, never stop feeding your passions. All of these tiny things, these new experiences, these tidbits of random knowledge will find a way into your heart, your mind, and your work. They will create an authentic story, they will grant you a new perspective that you can share with the world.

You will create something beautiful, something that will resonate with people. You may not change the whole world, but you will have the power to change a single person. You will have the power to inspire them. Your work will find it’s way into their own, over and over again until we find ourselves staring at a beautiful tapestry of the human experience. After all, that is what art is; it is passion, it is the spirit personified, it is an interwoven story of all of the things that have made us who we are. Be proud to be a part of this tradition, be proud of your contribution to it. Invest it in, nurture it, and never be afraid to dive headfirst into it.

The voice of a writer (or: that one where I compare all writers to fish)

It’s a universal desire to be good at what we do, to excel within the parameters of our passions. As writers, this is no exception. We are all in search of that spark- the little flicker of a flame that will light our way to those we hope to reach. We hold ourselves to the highest of standards and stare in defeat at the work we continue to denounce as ‘not good enough.’ We are writers, our existence by its very nature is mired in self-doubt.

And yet…and yet…the more I immerse myself in this world, the more I realize- I’m chasing a rainbow that has no damn end. You see, becoming a ‘good’ writer is subjective. I adore Victorian classics, while my friends thinks they are only good for putting you to sleep after a long day. I have found certain books that I could not for the life of me get past the third chapter; and yet literally thousands of other people proclaim that same title to be their all-time favorite; their own copies battered, well-worn, and (gasp) dog eared. Oh yes, my friends, the dog-ear epidemic is a true horror story. And buying the afflicted readers their own bookmarks does not seem to cure their ails. Once infested, they must never borrow another book ever again. I know- Harsh punishments for harsh crimes. 

I have a slew of writers I wish I could emulate. I am deeply envious of J.K Rowling’s eye for detail. I turn green with jealousy at the easy way J.R.R Tolkien created a world almost more elaborate than our own. I lust after the idea of creating a nerdy-science-action thriller like James Rollins. And yes, I have been known to swoon for the adorable play-on-words you will discover in the lines of Norton Juster. And no, my dear friends, do not get me started on the creative concepts and thoughtful breath of life that Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss give their creations; they are deliciously diabolical in the best possible ways. 

And yet, to some of you, these names will mean nothing. Perhaps you may find them a tad overrated, or not all that enjoyable. And why is that? Because what I find to be good is subjective. We do not have to agree to both be right. 

Which brings me to my main point (believe it or not, I did have one, though I only discovered it somewhere amidst the third paragraph). Why are we constantly judging our work by other writer’s standards? We can be good and not be like them. I will never be J.K Rowling, sad fact. I will never weave elegant phrases or silly quips quite like some of the masters I adore. But does that mean that my work does not have credence, does not do me justice? No. It means that if I keep judging my fishy self by my ability to climb a tree, then I will forever live my life feeling like I am not good enough. I’m a fish. And damn it, I can swim with the whales if I want to (okay, not realistic because I’m actually afraid of deep water, but let’s get temporary amnesia and roll with the analogy).

The craft of writing is mired in the pits of self-doubt. We would not be creators if we were confident in every little bookish-beast we kissed on the head and sent out into the world. And yes, some of our work may soar, and some of it may sink deep below the roiling waves. But guess what, my friends: to someone out there- you are J.K Rowling, or Neil Gaiman, or whoever it is you love and feel inspired by. You do that for someone else. Because you love your craft and you have a distinct voice that someone out there is desperate to hear, a voice that cannot be mimicked or emulated. You are a writer because you love it, and you love it because, when all is said and done, you were meant to do it. The passion burns inside you for a reason. And you, my friend, will someday be the rainbow that another writer is chasing.

Yes, I know that I am not J.K. Rowling, I am not any of my favorite authors. But I am no longer trying to be. Because I am me: I am Kaitlynn Knable (good luck pronouncing that last name, heroes have attempted and fallen at the weighty task). These authors I wish I could be; their skills sets are not mine, and by that same token, the skills that I bring to the table are not theirs. I can do what they cannot just as easily as they can do what I cannot. We have different voices, we are singing different songs, and they are meant for different people who all need them just the same. 

For at least one night, I am going to convince myself that being this writer right here is good enough. No, not good enough. Just good. And you know what, my friends, you are too. You are inspiring. And you deserve to measure yourself by your own standards and not by anyone else’s. Because the stories that you have to share with the world are completely and wholly you. Your words will lose their power if you try to speak them in someone else’s voice. Yes- even if it is a voice you really, really like. Your words will lose their power if they don’t come from you, spoken in the only way you know how. That is what gives them meaning, that is what makes a writer inspiring.

We are writers. And we are good at it. We are fish. We do not climb trees, we swim with the whales. And that’s pretty damn cool. (Also, that fin looks really good on you. And those bubbles- they bring out the color in your eyes).