Here’s a mini workshop on how to design your own writing practice so you can write what you want, when you want.
I call on you to step up fully to honor your impulse to write. I invite you to ask yourself not will you write but what will you write.
What if you lived as if writing were not optional, but a daily tonic, a balm to your spirit? What if you finally took your writing impulses seriously and wrote something, anything, every single day?
What will you write today?
What will spring from your heart
leaping to marry with your mind
and beg your body to
sit still enough
to bring it all together
onto the page?
You, giving what must be
so your day
and your life
What will you write today?
You have probably heard me say that consumerism is the weakest form of creativity. Sure, it’s fun and creative to choose art supplies. But the real payoff is in using them. Like many people, I am seeking more simplicity and clarity with ‘stuff’. My friend Courtney Carver’s book Soulful Simplicity has inspired me to shed my extra stuff. That said, some things do make a huge difference in our lives. I am all for having the right tools.
My guess is you worked hard this year, and that you could use a little treat. What if you got or did something that honors the writer you? The artist in you? Maybe one of my favorite things will soon become your favorite, too.
There were a few things I got this year that I really loved and want everyone to know about. Perhaps one of these treats will be the right gift for the writer or artist in you.
Hahnemühle is one of my favorite notebook and paper companies. I love the high quality and design aesthetics. This German company won my heart. They are an in-kind sponsor of my year-long Atelier program. Atelier members receive one of the Diary Flex notebooks, one of my favorites for easily and elegantly capturing all my ideas. They have a new cappuccino notebook that they sent me along with some coffee and a cool mug. Get your Diary Flex here.
Rancho Gordo My friend Gigia told me about this company. I checked them out and thought, oh, they’re a little expensive, I am economizing now. But when I went back to their site, I was lured in by the gift section. I could get myself beans as a gift.
What could be more practical and more luxurious at the same time? I splurged on the 20-bean box ($119 includes shipping). When they arrived, I nearly cried. The abundance! The beauty! The possibilities!
Speaking of cozy, I have started wearing a vest around. Now, it’s not your ordinary vest. We call it the Spy Vest. My friend Lisa Sonora was wearing one when we were in Paris together, and of course I wanted one.
This vest has many, many pockets. So many, the vest could replace a carry-on if you’re traveling light. I love the vest, with its many pockets and its hood. I never thought this would be my style. But I am with a Colorado dude through and through and I think the rugged look is starting to rub off on me.
You need one of these vests. Just think about the supplies you could tuck in here for a sketch crawl.
HaikuBags is another in-kind sponsor. This year they came out with the Trailblazer backpack. I am not much of a backpack person, but I love all of Haiku’s products, so I got one. And, surprise, surprise, it’s as fabulous as all the other Haiku bags I have had.
I call it my Portable Author Office. When I am going to a cafe to write, I easily put everything into the backpack. The weight distribution is great – no back pain! As always Haiku knows me well and has designed a bag with pocket for everything. This was a great surprise – the bag I didn’t know I needed.
Crystal Journey candles Speaking of my dear husband, when Steve came to my first Solstice party three years ago, he brought two gifts: a Crystal Journey candle (Joy) and a bouquet of flowers. This guy had my number right away. Now, we treat ourselves to these gorgeous candles. In the winter, they are in almost every room.
I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked this year. I checked a lot of them out of the library, but only a few made it into my brain. I’ve included a range of my favorites from 2018 here.
Your Story Is Your Power by Elle Luna and Susie Herrick I loved this book so much, I hosted a book group discussion about it. Just go get it. It will inspire you to be more you, more authentic and more creative.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee Such a good novel. I had the luxury of reading this on vacation, which meant I was immersed in two strange worlds. Pachinko is set in Japan and shows the hard lives of the Korean people who migrated there. Told through the stories of one family, this is an epic and compelling adventure.
Calypso David Sedaris David Sedaris has long been a writing role model for me. His wit, insight and tenderness for his family compel me to be a better writer. In this book, we get to hear more about his family. A quick and easy read that doesn’t hesitate to pull the reader in deeply.
Green-light Your Book : How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing by Brooke Warner If you are considering self-publishing a book, this is a great resource for all the ins and outs of the publishing process.
My favorite pen to gift people. If I were giving you a gift, I’d get one of Pilot’s Metropolitan fountain pens. I give everyone this pen, because it’s fancy and fabulous but not too expensive. I’d get you one in turquoise or purple or my favorite, gold. (See my pen at left with my Diary Flex notebook.)
This pen was gifted to me and turned me into a fountain pen lover. I use the refills and changing the Namiki ink is easy peasy.
Maya matches, tiny but mighty. Here’s something odd about me you may not know. I am a match fiend. I love matches and have a collection I bought in a jar at a yard sale. It’s stuffed with Denver restaurant matchbooks from decades past.
When I travel, I like to go to grocery stores and prowl the houseware section. The matches are always interesting, always local and always cheap. They make a great souvenir. I love my matches from Amsterdam and France. My suitcase always has a stash of matches upon return.
Recently, in Cozumel, we went to the local grocery store. It’s always the first thing I do when I go somewhere. I know, it’s weird. Why go on a mundane errand? Didn’t I leave home to get away from those errands? Well, I must procure almond milk for my coffee and while there, might as well get some matches.
I bought a set of 6 Maya matches. Cerillos in Spanish. On the back of each yellow box is a picture of a Mexican site. These are some of my favorite matches ever. There’s a tab on the box, making it extra easy to open. The matches are tiny, flimsy little things. But they light like magic and are better than some of the sturdier wooden matches. I can’t wait to go back to get more.
What was a favorite treat for your writer or artist? Share the goods in a comment below.
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When it comes time to reflect on the year, I often go all-out, writing a long document about my year. I love savoring how my projects have grown me. This year, though, I am deep in the revision of my book and don’t have space to write a long annual review. But I found a quick and fun way to reflect on my year, and I am so glad I did.
While on a recent plane trip, I took out my journal and made a two-page calendar, one box for each month. I identified a few categories – work, personal, travel, education, then filled in the boxes with things I had done throughout 2018.
It made me laugh to see that on the first couple of passes, I had forgotten major things like the Summer Chillenge. I also forgot the three weeks I spent in Paris working on patterns for my 100 Day Project. Or that I had learned so much about home renovation through choosing paint, tile and floor stains for our new home.
While it’s cool to see the events and things that happened, adding a reflection process can elevate the annual review beyond a list of what happened. Two things make this process more potent: values and stories. Try this four-step process to elevate your annual review process quickly.
First, list significant events from your year. Do this across a timeline, or in boxes on paper or notebook. This may take a few days. Go through photos and your calendar to spark your memory.
Next, add values. When looking at each event, ask yourself what values were being most honored. For me, doing the 100 Day Project, making 100 patterns, was one way I honored learning, creativity and sharing. Working on my book was a way to honor my value of doing good work that has a lasting impact.
Then, make a list of the stories you have been telling. What are the stories about? Are you cast as the heroine or victim? What transformation has taken place in these stories? I often recount the story of our honeymoon in Hawaii and the flood that gave it a much different ending than expected. I have also been telling stories about the process of writing my book this year. In both stories, I recognize a resilient yet adaptable heroine.
Sharing our stories helps us process our experiences. This is how we make meaning. Look back over your year and see what meaning you have made. What stories reflect who you want to be?
Lastly, look ahead. If you want to use this reflection process to make changes for 2019, go back to your values list. What values do you want to see lived more fully? Identify those and the list activities or experiences would honor those values.
Look at the stories you have been telling. Is there a different story you want to tell? My friend and mentor Jonathan Fields has a card that says “If you don’t like the story you’re telling, write a new ending.”
Enjoy this quick annual review process. Add it to your own reflection process or do it as is. Let us know how this review process goes for you in a comment below.