Subscriber Showcase – Meet Elaine!

Welcome to a new Subscriber Showcase – where I share what your creative peers are up to in the world.

And this next showcase features a creative powerhouse from Ireland who is an inspiring whirl of productivity, creativity and force-to-be-reckoned-with.

Allow me to introduce…

Elaine Nolan  

 

Tell us about yourself, Elaine. 

Like, OMG… where do you start without either sounding like a shrinking violet (which I am, by the way), or an aggrandizing diva (okay… so I have my moments there too)

So, here’s the short answer:

I’m a creative where exotic and imaginative parallel universes sometimes overlap with this thing called reality.

And the long one?

For work, I recently did the personality-type tests and it came out as equally INTJ and INFJ.

Why tell you this?

Well… as with most creative types, I’m an introvert (see shrinking violet above), and intuitive, but all this science-y bit appeals to my Virgoan logical thinking and sense of achievement, (that’s probably the diva bit!!)???????

So what else is there to say…?

I’m an author, composer, cellist, pianist, awesome manager (I’m only quoting the results of my work test assessment here!!).

On the more mundane details, I’m the sole slave and door-person to three rescue cats who all have very strong distinctive personalities.

They all hate my singing (honestly, it’s not that bad), one’s terrified of the cello, and another insists on playing the piano while I’m trying to practice it. It’s never boring in my house.

 

• • •
• • •

Tell us a little about your creative life, and why it’s important to you.

 

My creative life is a bit like juggling, and yes, sometimes there’s too many balls, or all different sizes, thus distorting the balance a little.

And recently I’ve discovered that it’s also perfectly acceptable to let them drop every once in a while, to let them all drop, and without guilt.

Mostly, I write novels, and I compose mostly classical music with a celtic and techno twist.

I write soundtracks to go with the books to give a unique reading experience.

The books usually get written in a myriad of coffee shops, in various locations (purely for inspiration -honest, nothing to do with the pavlovas in one, scrambled eggs in another….), the music is exclusively composed in my dinky little studio at home.

 

 

Why is it important?

I’ve always said that writing was cheaper than therapy.

It is a way to play out the ‘what-if’ scenarios, (especially the ones where I ‘wish I’d said…’).

It’s a way of delving into deep emotions, experience them, release them.

As a child, I used books to escape from the world, and much later, in my final year at school, an essay I wrote was read out.

It was deeply personal and referred to a class bully, sitting four desks away from me.

Unfortunately she recognised herself even though she wasn’t named.

Well, all hell broke loose and I was subsequently shunned and isolated at school, but at that point I realised just how powerful words were.

But as to why it’s important: We all live epic lives in our own ways.

It shapes us, moulds us, but the experiences do not have to define us.

They are our teachers, as much as the person standing at the head of a classroom, trying their best to impart their knowledge and own experiences…

And so I write…

I write to purge…

I write to grieve for losses I can and will never speak of…

I also write for the joy of it…

I write to be brave…

I write to experience love…

I write to set my soul free…

And so I write…xx

• • •

Tell us more about your current creative adventure…

Currently, well…. There are a few projects on….

First up is the release of the 5th book entitled Crossing Lives, and its accompanying soundtrack. It’s a thriller about an Irish cop trying to catch a human trafficker who almost killed her in the line of duty.

Then, in March 2018, for International Piano Day, I’ll premiere the next album entitled Emergence, a 9 movement piano work of the journey and struggle to overcome the limitations imposed on a young musician to finally breaking free, and allowing the creative spirit to emerge.

The premiere concert will also be performed in aid of a mental health service in Waterford. (So practicing a lot on the piano!!)

In between those, I’m writing the first draft of the sequel for Red Hot Summer.

 

• • • 

 

Thank you, Elaine!

I hope that you enjoyed meeting Elaine and her (many!) creative projects. If you’d like to find out more about her, head over to her website or Instagram where you can find more details on how to connect, as well as a more info on her books and music (and cats!)

• • •

And if you’d like me to feature you and your creative projects in a future Subscriber Showcase – please just let me know.

Here’s to you and all the inspiring creatives up to great work in the world.

Have a lovely week!

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My Ode to Workflowy + 5 Tips for the Over-Inspired Creative

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A few years ago I began exploring one of my favourite topics:

the nature of inspiration, creativity and ideas.

And since energy flows where attention goes, the more I delved deeply into this topic, the more I learned – and happily, the more I began to experience more inspiration, creativity and wonderful new ideas.

Lots of ideas.

Dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of new ideas – many of which I thought were interesting or at least original / had potential.

New insights, ahas and flashes of inspiration became a daily, sometimes even hourly occurrence.

 

Inspiration often strikes during yoga…

 

I called the source of these ideas My Muse – and we became really good friends.

Which was nice!

Because many of those inspired nudges or gems of creative insight helped me in all aspects of my life – my work, my home life, relationships, health, finances, spiritual practice, they even improved my cooking. (Being a foodie – I loved that result.)

But after a few years of this ready-access to inspiration, a pattern formed that had an uncomfortable side-effect…

Idea overwhelm.

I’ve always been a note-taker, so I’m in the habit of jotting down all my ideas before they evaporate or move on or do whatever it is ideas do if they are ignored or neglected.

This habit has meant I have a mountain of notes; both physical papers and notebooks, as well as digital notes and files.

As a writer, this is great!

I have a wealth of prompts and half-formed ideas to work with.

I am never, ever faced with a blank page.

 

 

But as someone who loves and craves order, my ever-growing Notes Mountain started to become a source of angst.

Every month, I’d include ‘Notes Org’ on my To Do list – and I would manage to corral some of my flights of fancy into a productive format, but so many still remained as the raw, unedited scribblings that I’d captured in the white-heat of inspiration.

And these multiplying notes kept calling for my attention – so much so that when asked what I’d do if I had all the money in the world, my answer would be:

retreat somewhere beautiful
to sort out my gazillion notes!

 

{Somewhere like this would do…}

 

Because I know there are some good ideas in there. (My muse has excellent quality control.)

I know there are several books and courses that I could share with the world… if only I could get my notes into some kind of manageable order.

So I recently decided that it was time to get to grips with my Notes Mountain.

I affirmed that I was going to devote a block of time, every day, just to make a start, just to begin to sort and organise and shape and see what I’ve got.

After all, what use is a ever-ready access to inspiration and a wealth of great ideas if we don’t do anything with them?

And so I began…

 

 

But it wasn’t long before I was stopped in my tracks by the spirit-sapping prospect of;

• 3966 Evernotes
• 533 mind maps
• 540 Scrivener documents
• 226 Wunderlists

And that was just the digital collection. I had yet to unpack my boxes of notebooks and papers.

This is what happens when you learn to woo your muse!

So, faced with the overwhelming prospect of too many notes to know where to begin, I called for reinforcements.

I eventually remembered that I could call out for inspiration on how to tackle my overload of inspiration!

And magically – it worked.

As it always seems to when you’re on good terms with your muse.

(One of the benefits of having your muse virtually on demand is that you can get help with pretty much anything you need. It’s a nice way to live. 🙂 )

My prayer was answered within a matter of minutes as I ’stumbled across’ a new app called…

Workflowy – an organisational tool to ‘organise your brain’.

My Inner Organiser heaved a sigh of relief as I discovered what Workflowy can do, and how it works.

Its main feature is that it works the way your brain works.

Genius!

But the feature that soothed my over-inspired heart was this one:

Infinitely zoom-in-and-outable.

I could finally see how to get all my scraps of notes into ‘project buckets’, and then oversee them in a way that I could shuffle and organise to my heart’s content.

At the same time, my notes would build up in such an ordered way that they would naturally combine into coherent collections that I can manage and turn into finished projects.

Oh, the sweet relief!

I felt like the creative cavalry had arrived.

And so now, armed with my new friend Workflowy, I am on a mission to take all those gems of insights so generously presented to me by my marvellous muse – and turn them into something useful.

 

 

I’m going to transform my Notes Mountain into…

Books.

eCourses.

Blog posts.

Client workbooks.

Inspiring social media posts.

Maybe even a range of gifts, clothing and stationery for creatives.

All of these are now possible, and I believe, effortlessly inevitable, thanks to the simple genius of Workflowy.

(Thanks also due of course to my lovely muse who helped me find it.)

So, if you too are blessed with an overabundance of creative ideas,

I highly recommend taking a look at Workflowy

to see if it can help you marshall your many musings

into a more productive and happy format.

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Who knows what great works could come out of those neglected scribblings!

And since I know that I’m not alone in being inundated with more ideas than I know what to do with, I’ve also developed a few more supportive strategies that I’d love to share.

(Like any new convert, I want to share the sheer joy and soul-soothing relief of getting a mountain of treasured ideas into a manageable and productive order.)

Allow me to introduce;

5 Overwhelm-blasting Tips for the Over-Inspired Creative

Adopt Tidy Habits

Admittedly, this one wasn’t always easy for me, not being naturally tidy.

Like many creatives, the rush of inspiration and the flash-floods of creativity don’t always lend themselves to tidiness and order.

But please benefit from my cautionary tale; without adopting a habit of tidiness in your creations, you may not complete as many, if any, of the finished pieces that you’re capable of.

You may also enter the realm of overwhelm, which is neither productive not fun.

So, the next time you’re tempted to ‘sort it later’ (i.e. never), I hope I can tempt you towards tidy habits with the prospect of a calm, happy life and a body of work to be proud of.

 

• • •

Tidy Tortoise Time

The creative process can often be likened to a fiery furnace of activity or a torrent of inspired ideas – fast-paced action, a frenzied capturing of genius insights before they escape.

And this lovely flow-state is one of the delights and joys of a creative life. (It’s also good for our health!)

But I’ve learned that alongside the rapture of channelling our inner genius, there’s a place for a slower, more mundane and orderly focus.

A time to calmly, quietly and steadily plough through the results of any creative mania and put things in their place.

And because I have a habit of giving names to things, I like to call this Tidy Tortoise Time.

It may be tempting to neglect this less glamorous aspect of the creative process, but it has charms all of its own.

Benefits like…

• the peace of things being in order

• the clarity that comes from knowing what you’ve got to work with

• the confidence-boosting feeling of being on top of everything, in charge and in control

• the satisfaction of seeing your flights of fancy make their steady progress towards that creative Holy Grail: finished work.

So, if these benefits appeal to you – I invite you to play with the idea of introducing some Tidy Tortoise Time into your creative schedule.

Your Inner Organiser will thank you.

• • •

Ask Your Muse

We can ask for inspiration for dealing with our deluge of inspiration!

Your muse – the source of your creative ideas and genius insights – is ever-present, happy to help and full of ideas that can assist you with the actual creative process itself.

Just ask!

Then be on the lookout for any new ideas or resources that ‘mysteriously’ catch your eye or your attention.

And if you’d like to ensure a steady stream of assistance in the future – don’t forget to thank your muse when the helpful blessings appear.

• • •

Upgrade Your Tools

If your current tools, apps, devices, etc aren’t inspiring you to keep on top of your output or devote time to some all-important order – maybe it’s time for some new ones.

For the sake of your creative work – and your peace of mind – schedule some time to explore what new tools are available.

Brilliant, inspiring and innovative resources and solutions are added to the world on a daily basis.

So, have a look around to see if there’s anything that would be an answered prayer for you.

And don’t forget – you can ask your muse to guide you.

Or if she’s resting, you can always ask google…

• • •

Envision Your Dream Remedy

As a creative, you’re well-placed to harness the considerable power of your imagination.

So, ask yourself – what could possibly help?

What tools would be the perfect remedy for you and your mountain of ideas?

And feel free to get creative!

Imagine what kind of resources would make it easy and fun for you to take some of those projects to fruition?

Einstein said that imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions. He also said that it’s more powerful than knowledge.

So, why not make use of this creative power tool to support you in your creative work?

After all, solutions like Workflowy are born when people say things like,”Imagine a task management app that works like the human brain…”

Envision the kind of solution that would make light work of your version of my Notes Mountain.

Then enjoy the magic of seeing your imagined solution finding its way into your life…

(Don’t you just love how the creative process works?!)

• • •

So, there you have it; my own contribution for the over-inspired creative.

I hope you find it helpful.

And a HUGE thank you to the wonderful team at Workflowy who have brought peace, joy and order to my creative heart.

And, as always, here’s to the Marvellous Muse – as well as the Tidy Tortoise, and all the other wonderful characters who support our creative lives.

Wishing you a creative, inspired and orderly week,

 

 

PS If you’d like to discover or strengthen your relationship with your own muse – I share everything I’ve learned about that here.

• • • 

Is it time to discover your muse?

(Because life gets truly magical when you do…)

 

 

>>> CLICK FOR DETAILS

A tailor-made remedy for your current creative challenge.

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Why I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year…

…despite lots of ‘good reasons’ why not.

I’ve just signed up to participate in the fun and madness that is NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month)

…Even though I’m not a novelist.

…Even though the coming weeks could be the busiest and most intense of my whole year. (Featuring a house move and a big family wedding. In Austria.)

…Even though I’ve been on a mission to simplify my life and reduce my commitments.

So, why am I doing this? And why now?

Despite all the ‘good reasons’ for not doing it this year, I also have 8 great reasons to go for it…

 

1. The Call

In the immortal words of one of my heroines, Amelia Earhart…

“I want to do it because I want to do it.”

 

I do have a fair few reservations, but something about it is calling me.

And I’ve learned that magical things happen to me when I answer those calls.

• • •

2.  Productivity

I’ve had a number of book ideas at various stages of progress for the last couple of years.

I’ve been so focussed on the lovely work of helping other writers with their books, that my own have been patiently waiting on the backburner.

It’s time to see at least one of those projects make it out into the world.

I have a dream of writing a book a year for the rest of my life, and this fun/crazy NaNoWriMo challenge will support me in that goal.

• • •

3. Joy

I love writing books!

• • •

4. Expression

I like the idea of putting my writing first for a whole month, and feeling I deserve support and help in prioritising something that matters to me.

• • •

5. Research

This is something of a creativity experiment.

This intense method of creating is new ground for me and I want to explore it.

I’ve been working on a theory about how we create best under certain conditions.

And to test that theory,  I’m experimenting with the opposite – to see how both ways work for me.

• • •

6. The power of focus

Despite the uncertainty…

Which book project to choose?

Will I have time?

Will it be too much?

And most importantly – will I enjoy it?!

(Joy is a major factor in my decision-making.)

Despite these unanswered questions, I know that if I intend to do it, if I choose to focus, if I decide to go for it regardless – something will come out of it.

(If only how to not do it.)

• • •

7. My clients and readers

I believe this experience will benefit my work in supporting other creatives.

I write a lot about the creative process, and I am dedicated to supporting creative people.

And to do both these things well, I like to spend time in the creative trenches, up against the challenges that my clients face.

I’m continually investing time and energy and devotion into being the best creativity coach I can be, and this is one way to explore new solutions and gain new insights.

So, if all I gain from NaNoWriMo is more compassion and understanding for my clients, it will be worth it.

• • •

And finally, and this was the clincher…

 

8. The Nudge

I felt very strongly ‘nudged’ by my inner creative voice, what I call ‘my muse’.

I’ve toyed with the idea of NaNoWriMo before, but this year, I was inexplicably drawn to it.

It felt like a divine mandate.

My muse – my source of inspiration and inner guidance – was very clear;

Do this.

Even though it made no sense – she offers no explanation, she cares little for logic, she just asks that I trust.

And after following my muse’s nudges for the last few years – I know it will lead somewhere surprising and wonderful.

I’ve learned to follow her mysterious ways.

• • •

 

So, I’m in!

 

I’m excited. I’m nervous. And I’m doing it.

I want to see what happens when I just commit, stop questioning, ignore the excuses, and do it anyway.

I’ll keep you posted!

 

PS If you’d like to know more about my studies of ‘the muse’ and how she makes life so easy and fun, you can get the full scoop here.

Or to rekindle your own connection, I’ve created a daily email series to help you. 

More details below…

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On hiring support

I recently invested in support for a creative project that I dream of bringing to life.

 

Even though I thought the timing wasn’t right…

(Turns out, the timing was perfect.)

 

Even though I thought it was too expensive…

(Turns out to have been worth double or triple my investment.)

 

Even though I thought I didn’t really need it…

(Turns out, there was so much more to learn – we don’t know what we don’t know!)

 

So, was I sure it was the right thing to do?

Not at first. I had lots of doubts and ‘reasons’ to not go for it.

 

Was it worth it?

1000% yes.

 

It wasn’t an easy or convenient commitment of both time and money – but it was an investment in me and my creative dream.

And I’m learning that the returns on that devotion are the surest and most rewarding.

 

• • •

 

So, if you feel called to invest in a vision or project that’s tugging at your soul, here’s my test for whether to invest…

 

Slightly scared + inexplicably drawn to it + feels exciting  = go for it.

 

If it’s calling you, if the idea of it makes you smile, there’s a reason – even if it also makes you nervous.

 

Looking back, it will all make sense.

 

The tricky bit is taking the leap.

(Turns out, it gets easier the more you do it. :-))

 

Good luck!

 

My Writer’s Toolkit: What I use to catch the Muse

Writer’s Toolkit #1: MindMap App for iPad

mindmap app for writers toolkit

I love this app. I use it daily. It’s perfect for brainstorming / braindumping as it has no boundaries. If you get carried away in one direction, you can just keep going. (Unlike on paper where you are limited by the page size.) Thinking without boundaries can lead to some highly creative surprises. (And the calm that rushes in after this mental decluttering is a nice side effect too….)

It’s great for just getting the random thoughts and ideas out of your head and pinned down – where you can actually do something productive with them. Plus, it makes it clear, at a glance, which ideas have legs.

With a mindmap, you don’t need to worry about priorities or orders, as you would with a list. But once I have everything out of my head and down on the ‘page’, it’s then easy (and fun) to comb through for gems or sequences or natural patterns or groups.

At which point I use…..

 

Writer’s Toolkit #2: Evernote

Evernote for writers

There is a popular guide to Evernote which goes into this fabulous programme in more depth. But just quickly, it is an app where  you can store your notes in seperate notebooks (as many as you like). You can then organize your notebooks into ‘stacks’ (groups). I am writing my next book almost entirely with my Evernote notes and stacks.

The webclipper is a useful tool, too. If you are reading anything on the web that relates to one of your projects, you just save it into that notebook to read later or keep for reference. Like a virtual filing assistant – it’s indispensable once you get used to using it. (Being able to file things away quickly and easily means you’ll spend less time getting sucked into all the interesting/distracting stuff online – until you’re ready for it.)

 

I use Evernote for organising my Mindmap ideas and for giving everything structure. But for catching those visits from the Muse that occur when I am out and about, I use….

 

Writer’s Toolkit #3:  iPhone Notes app

iphone notepad for writers toolkit

 

 

 

My phone is always nearby so this is the perfect place to jot those random musings and flashes of inspiration.

And to encourage those visits from the Muse, I use…

 

 

 

 

 

 

yoga mat for writers toolkit

+

walking shoes for writers toolkit

+

bath for writers toolkit

 

(Yoga + walking + R&R = my kind of productivity regime.)

• • •  

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If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

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This is for you. 

My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer : The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.

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” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.
The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull

 

Getting creative with life’s dramas

Today I have a little story for you – how I got creative and turned a frustrating mini-drama into a very happy ending…

 

Creativity: a tool for life

Now, as you may know, I am obsessed with the creative process – how to find the time, inspiration and energy for more expression, and how to enjoy more flow and ease as we go along.

Because I love creative people. I have so much admiration for the brave-hearted souls who are facing the bumps and challenges that arise when you answer the call of your art and spirit.

And I know the powerful life-enhancing benefits that arise when you do manage to live the creative life you were meant to enjoy.

So, I’m a big advocate of creative expression – whatever that looks like for each of us.

But did you know that honing your creative skills can make for a happier life, even beyond the writing room or studio?

When you actively build your ‘creativity muscle’, it can help you in so many areas of your life. 

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It can help you with work challenges.

It can help with relationships.

It can help with health issues.

It can even help you with cooking – transforming basic fuel into a delicious experience.

And cultivating a creative response can also help with the little (or big) dramas of life, that seem to be an integral part of our human journey.

• • • 

For example, yesterday evening, at about 9pm…

My son was packing his cricket kit in preparation for his first match for his new school.

This was the high-school event he’d been waiting for – a chance to finally shine in his favourite sport.

We were chatting happily about his debut in the morning, until…

He discovered that his cricket trousers – optimistically know as ‘whites’ – had somehow been left in his bag at the end of last season.

This might not have been too bad, had the season finale not been quite so wet.

And muddy.

As you can imagine, chaos ensued.

How to turn a pair of brown trousers white in just a few hours….

 

File 28-04-2017, 15 14 11

Time to get creative. Part I.

After some ‘discussion’, we decided that the offending trousers were a write-off.

Instead of staying up all night to get them clean, we agreed on a simpler option: Mum’s Concierge Service would make an early morning trip to the sports shop and then drop off a new pair at school.

Problem solved.

(This seems like an obvious solution in hindsight, but in the heat of bedtime panics, it took quite a long (and noisy) time to find.)

However, this particular Mum Concierge was less than thrilled with the solution, having made other plans for my Friday.

Time to get creative. Part II.

Instead of heading down the (admittedly tempting) path of begrudging frustration, I decided to think about how I could mitigate this annoying drama, maybe even turn it into a good thing.

I got creative.

I took the ‘given’ – a reluctant trip into town – and did all I could to make it a more positive experience.

And I had the best morning!

I walked across the beautiful Harrogate Stray…

I stopped off at my favourite cafe…

 

I spent very happy 20 minutes in the local bookshop, treating myself to a book I’ve been wanting for a while…

I even acquired a new Tiffany Blue notebook. (Tiffany Blue anything makes me so happy…)

I was enjoying my enforced ‘inconvenience’ so much that I almost forgot to buy cricket trousers.

And as I walked back to the school to deliver the all-important debut-standard whites, I wondered…

How many other mini-dramas could I have turned around, with a more creative approach?

But not to worry, given the roller-coaster of family life, I know I’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice my skills. 😉

• • •

So, I share my mini-epiphany in the hope that it inspires you to cast a creative eye over your next mini-drama.

Imagine if we all got creative with our problems and somehow managed to always find the diamonds in the dustheap…

It may not solve every problem, but I’m sure it would make for a happier planet overall.

Creativity as a route to world peace – and we can begin with all the little hiccups at home.

 

Let me know if you give it a go!

 

Wishing you a creative, inspired and drama-free week,

 

Danielle

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Creativity &…food? Introducing: The Muse Diet


We are what we eat.

Literally. Our cells our made up of whatever we put into our bodies.

We all know that our food choices affect us physically.

But what’s less obvious is how food can affect the invisible aspects of our selves and our lives; 

• our energy levels,

• our emotions

• our powers of concentration

• our access to inspiration.

And these invisible aspects greatly impact our creative output, not to mention our lives in general.

So, is there a way to eat that can support our creative dreams?

Are there foods that can help us be more inspired?

Is there… a Muse-friendly diet? 

Yes, yes and yes!

But here in The Muse Spa, there are no recipes, shopping lists or food plans.

Here, we focus on just two ingredients:

Intention and awareness.

Intention

Making positive changes to what you eat can change your life.

Eating well is undoubtedly a vital ingredient of living well.

So one powerful way to improve the quality of your diet is simply to declare an intention to eat well.

Make a decision, or rather develop the habit of remaking this decision, as the habits of a lifetime may take a while to replace.

Of course, this is quite a challenge. But fortunately, there is help available in the shape of…. Your muse.

Your muse is cheering for the healthy, vital and beautifully nourished version of you.

It’s the You she most wants to work and play with, so she’s ready and willing to be your internal support system.

Once you decide to set this course – just this simple intention to eat well – your intuition and subconscious mind will be on the look out for the perfect resources.

• The books you need will find you.

• The perfect expert will ‘just happen’ to be on TV when you’re watching.

• Relevant emails will just pop up in your inbox.

• Chance comments with friends will lead you new cooking ideas, places to eat and foods to try.

In declaring your intention, your radar will shift to notice the things that support it.

This is your muse in action.

No willpower required.

Expect inspired new attitudes towards what and how you eat.

Don’t be surprised if your tastes begin to change, as you naturally begin to prefer quality food and purer, more natural ingredients.

You may become fired up with enthusiasm for a new eating regime, or changes may be more subtle; gradual improvements to daily choices.

Of course, there may be lapses – allow for them, forgive them and then begin afresh.

Remind yourself of the benefits of looking after your body:

• vibrant life energy

• glowing skin

• formidable powers of concentration, memory and focus,

• quality sleep

If possible, surround yourself with visual reminders of the glorious side-effects of a nurturing diet.

Choosing to eat well is a lifelong affair.

Even though rapid change can feel like a breakthrough, a more gentle pace could prove to be the most sustainable.

Either way, be kind to yourself and stay calmly focused on your intention.

And, as always, stay tuned into the messages from your body.

Which brings us nicely onto our second Muse Diet ingredient…

Awareness

The feast of dietary advice available today is bewildering.

So many systems and regimes.

So much conflicting advice or outdated information.

So many experts and celebrity endorsements and scientific discoveries.

How on earth are we supposed to know which one is right for us?

Luckily, there is one source which has your optimum health at heart, knows you intimately and is available for consultation 24 hours a day.

Your body.

Your body knows.

Your body has an intelligence and it communicates its needs to you – or at least it tries.

In modern life, many of us have lost touch with this inner source of dietary wisdom, but we can tune back in.

And not only will listening to your body’s signals help you find the right eating regime for you, it is also good practice at tuning inward.

The source of your body’s wisdom is also where your Muse lives.

Further in the course, we’ll explore how the Muse may be speaking to you via your physical body, so any steps you take to listen more closely will help you strengthen that line of communication.

• • •

So, how to begin?

Easy; just watch, listen, notice.

No need to make any changes at first, this is just an observational exercise.

Become conscious of your eating habits.

Be more aware of any cravings or unusual appetites.

Ask questions.

After a meal, assess how you feel.

Play food detective; if you notice a stomach ache or bloating, ask yourself what you ate recently; how you ate it – rushed, standing up, angry?

Monitor your bodily functions. Is there any pattern to certain problems?

Do you have energy dips at certain times of the day?

Do certain foods effect your concentration?

Are you more focussed before you eat?

Do you eat because you’re hungry? Emotional? Stressed? Bored?

Are you actually enjoying each mouthful?

Do you notice when you’re full?

orange chocolate fruit face

If you’re going to indulge in a ‘guilty pleasure’ – try to taste every mouthful and either savour the experience or learn exactly what need it fulfils. (Or doesn’t).

In Ayurveda, the ancient science of holistic health, the theory is that all health – or ill-health – can be traced back to the quality of digestion.

So it can help to also be mindful of how and when you eat, as these factors can have a bearing on digestion and, as a result nutrition and the after effects of food.

For example, eating when stressed compromises digestion.

As does eating while walking. Or jumping straight into another activity immediately after a meal.

Eating late at night or just before exercise can also cause problems.

See if you can pin-point any eating habits that are causing you unnecessary issues.

Keeping a food diary can be enlightening.

It may be a time-consuming practice but if this is a potent issue for you, the results can be surprising and may help to make simple changes that will last a lifetime.

Even doing this for a short time can train you to notice what you eat, and its effects.

A habit of awareness will recalibrate your relationship with your food and your body. 

It will also move you closer to your intuition and internal wisdom, aka; your muse.

This attention to what you eat is less about fitting a certain dress size and more about how you feel in your body.

It’s a journey towards increased health and wellbeing and the myriad life-enhancing results that naturally follow.

The Secret Ingredient

There are actually 3 ingredients to the Muse Diet…

Whilst the above information is vital if we are to stay healthy and live a life where we are poised to reach our potential, there is one vital element that will not only keep your dining habits muse-friendly, it will also ensure that your life retains an essential pleasure that’s meant to be a part of the human diet:

Joy.

The joy of food.

The sensual indulgence of good food – food that nourishes us, body and soul.

The pleasure of eating, and eating well.

What’s the point of losing weight and looking great if we have to remove all the things from our life that give us pleasure?

Could stressing about your diet actually be worse for you than poor nutrition?

And how good can we look or feel when living a life of deprivation?

Yes, nutrition matters but stress can make us gain weight, whereas happiness can help us lose it.

The key is balance, to follow a nutritious diet we can enjoy, without stress.

How we feel about what we eat – our thoughts and emotions – these are important for our enjoyment of life.

But did you know that they can also effect us on a deeper level – even on a cellular level?

(I was blown away by this idea – that what we think and feel about the food we eat, can influence its cellular breakdown in our bodies. See The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton if you’re interested in how this works).

So don’t forget that as much as your body craves good health, it also thrives on joy and pleasure.

Aim for a healthy balance of quality nutrition, mindful awareness and the delicious enjoyment of eating well.

You may find that the more you pursue foods that support you, and the more you tune into what you actually want and need, you’ll begin to savour and relish your food more.

This level of mindfulness usually results in getting more satisfaction from less food, as opposed to what popular health coach Brook Castillo calls ‘fog eating’.

And waking up from the fog of unconscious living is a powerful step on the road to inspired living – the route to your muse.

The Muse Diet

So with a starter of intention, a main course of awareness and a sweet serving of pleasure to finish – et voila! 

A recipe for a healthy, balanced, emotionally-satisfied you.

Which just happens to be the version your muse most likes to visit.

And when you’re working with your body, rather than against it, you’ll need less time for ill-health, excessive exercise or time-consuming food plans.

Which just might open up a little breathing space in your timetable to focus on the new creative ideas that are beginning to flow…

• • • 

Obligatory Disclaimer

Though I can’t imagine there is a doctor in the world that would advise against eating well, it may be the case that you need medical advice on exactly what that means for you.

If you have any health concerns that require a professional to supervise any dietary changes, make sure you seek the support and guidance you need.

However important your creative goals, your basic health and wellbeing always take top priority.

 

• • •  

The Muse Spa Recommendation: Eat well.

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This post is an extract from The Muse Spa – a 6-week ecourse for creatives with a focus on health & wellbeing.

The Muse Diet is just one of a series of digital ‘treatments’ – articles, workbooks and exercises designed to help you rediscover to your innate wellness and reconnect to your creative spark.

If you’d like the workbook that supports this post, just let me know – I’d be happy to email it to you. 🙂

 

 • • • 

Discover the life-enhancing connection between creativity and wellness…

Creativity & writing tips for bloggers

Writing does look easy!

But ask any writer – however much they love to write, it can be a bumpy journey.

And if you’re a blogger with a post (or 10) to write, the struggles can sometimes make you forget the Joy of Blogging.

So, in my role as Ambassador for Joy, Flow & Ease in the creative process, I’ve collated a few of my favourite creativity coaching techniques – especially for my fellow bloggers.

Enjoy!

MAKE-IT-EASY PREP WORK

Make notes

Keep a notebook or file of ideas.

Whenever ideas occur to you, write them down as soon as possible,

Inspiration often strikes at unusual times, so to make sure you don’t lose these gems, acquire the habit of making notes.

Use whatever you have to! (Napkins are a notorious favourite of millionaires… ;-))

If it’s inconvenient or feels like a chore, be motivated by how easy it will make your writing process.

I find the Notes app on my phone is usually the most convenient and close-to-hand, as well as a physical notebook and pencil at home. I then transfer my notes to the relevant homes in Evernote.

• • • 

Sow the seed
Give your blog post some calm, relaxed attention, as early as possible.

Just begin pondering it a few days before you plan to begin writing.

Jot the title or a few words down on the blank page a few days before you need to start, and pin it to your board or wall.

In the days before you plan to begin, write the blog title or idea on a sticky note and put it where you’ll see it before you go to sleep.

You could also keep a note on the dashboard of your car – driving is a great time to ponder new ideas.

(Just make sure you pull over safely if you need to write things down!)

If you’re heading out for a run/walk/workout etc – write down the blog title and keep it in your pocket.

Physical exercise can be very inspiring, so make you have your notebook ready for the downloads.

• • • 

GETTING STARTED

When you’re ready to sit down and begin writing…

Explore your notes

Hopefully, you’ve already got some notes and ideas to begin with. Just explore these to see which ones naturally grow and evolve. If any feel difficult or confusing, move onto the next.

Build on your notes, adding any new thoughts and developing your favourite ideas.

• • • 

Create a mind map

Mapping out key points or the intended structure of the blog can help you stay on track and keep your writing clear.

However, if you feel inspired to go off in another direction, go with it. If ever the words come pouring – don’t stop them!

Then afterwards, you can assess whether the new material is relevant, or perhaps for a different post.

Use your mind map to check back in to see if the new ideas fit with the original intention.

If they don’t add to the clarity or flow of the blog you’re working on, file them for later use. (You may have just written the next blog post instead!)

• • • 

First draft first

To get words onto a blank page – just focus on producing a first draft.

Aim to simply get the words out of your head onto the page – in any order.

Don’t worry about structure – that will emerge as you review your notes and ideas.

You can polish and edit and refine once the core material is in place.

• • • 

WRITER TIP:

Writing is essentially a two-part process of downloading ideas, then refining them.

It can feel like a struggle to do both tasks at once, but there are different techniques of switching between the two modes.

Writers vary – some like to do nothing but composition for a long time, then edit days later.

Others like to switch back and forth between the two modes as they go along.

Experiment with which method feels right for you.

• • • 

KEEP GOING

If you feel stuck or run out of ideas…

Use prompts

You can often bypass your resistance by using sentence prompts such as:

I want to write about…

Or:

If I knew what to write, I’d write about…

• • •

Move

Try changing your location, working in a different environment. If possible, choose somewhere inspiring, beautiful of refreshing.

Moving your body also helps to boost your creativity.

Can you take a break for a short walk or a few yoga poses?

• • •

Lights & sounds

To stay calm and inspired as you write, play some music designed to enhance the creative process. (Spotify is great for these kind of playlists.)

If you love candles, keep one on your desk and light it as a symbolic gesture that you are ready for some focused creative work.

It can also serve as a meditative focal point when you need to think through an idea or phrase. (Gazing out of the window is also great for this.)

 

Take a breath

If you feel yourself getting frustrated with your writing, just take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe deeply.

When you focus back on your work, you’ll have a clearer head and feel less of that creativity-sapping frustration.

• • •

Tidy up

Whenever you hit a block or feel confused about what you’re writing, a great trick is to stop for a few minutes and have a short tidy-up.

Clear the papers on your desk or tidy your workspace.

Doing a mundane task that you can do on auto-pilot gives your mind a chance to rest and percolate ideas.

And creating physical order can lead to clarity, helping you find more order in your writing.

• • •

Use your sleeping mind

If you can, review your notes/draft before you go to sleep, with the intention that your subconscious mind will take over and work on it.

You’ll be amazed by the new ideas that ‘mysteriously’ pop into your head the next day.

You may even wake up with the perfect phrase or structure – so make sure you have a notebook by your bed.

• • •

GETTING FINISHED

You’ve written your first draft, you’ve edited and polished – but it’s still not quite finished.

Here’s what to do to get that blog post ready for the world…

Leave & return

When you leave a piece of writing and return to it later, it’s much easier to see any muddled sections or clunky passages.

After working so closely and intently, we get word blind and don’t see inconsistencies or glaring errors.

So, your writing will always be better for a rest.

When possible, plan to finish at least the day before the deadline so you can sleep on it.

(This also trains you to not leave things to last-minute which is stressful and saps the joy from the creative process.

• • • 

Know when to stop

This is tricky! We naturally want to keep tinkering.

But there comes a point when we need to let the work go and do its work in the world.

Practice tuning into your intuition for help with this. Is that inner voice urging you to make some vital improvements? Or are you just resisting the decision to stop?

This is a difficult skill for all creatives, so go easy on yourself and be prepared to practice and gradually get to used to knowing what’s right for you.

• • • 

Get a second opinion

Ask someone else to take a look at your writing. They’ll spot things you’ve missed.

They may also have some suggestions that inspire you to make the post even better.

• • • 

Rescue your darlings

As you edit your posts, get in the habit of keeping any of the good writing that you cut.

It may not have been right for that particular blog post, but it could find a home elsewhere.

It may even spark a whole new post of its own. (I’ve written a blog post about this idea if you’d like to explore more.)

• • • 

Hopefully these tips will support and inspire you with your next blog post, as well as make it ever-easier to create further posts in future.

(Because relaxed, calm and happy bloggers make for better blogs. 😉 )

 

Happy blogging!

Danielle

 

PS I’ve got a whole series of these Make-It-Easy tips for the many aspects of the creative process.

So, if you’d like to find more joy, flow and ease in your creative adventures, sign up for my Mastermind Remedies email series.

Details below!

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The All-Year Resolution: Intention vs Force

The All-Year Resolution: Intention vs Force

All Year resolution

 

It’s New Year time again.

I love the energy and optimism of this time of year. We’re so hopeful for the future, we’re determined to improve things, to live better, to be better, to finally do those things we’ve been saying we will do.

It’s the perfect time to resolve to actually make it happen this year.

And yet…

New Year Resolutions don’t have a great success rate.

Instead of an inspiring opportunity to harness the wonderful New Year energy, they’re more often associated with forced denial, failed attempts and fractured self-esteem.

But I don’t believe the New Year resolve is to blame for the high incidence of abandoned hopes and dreams. I believe there’s another culprit that can be an insidious saboteur of the human spirit:

The All-Or-Nothing mindset.

When our New Year Resolutions fail, often it’s not because we’re weak-willed, or ‘just not meant to do it’, but simply because we’re humans, not machines – when making powerful changes, it may take many, many attempts and re-attempts before these new practices become established.

What would happen to our success rate, if we removed the pressure to enforce our New Year changes without fail every day, from January 1st?

 

What if we accepted that it may take time to adjust to these changes, it may take weeks, perhaps months for new habits to form?

After all, humans have limited supplies of will-power, we have finite reserves of discipline. There’s only so much force and steely-willed determination we can summon before we become exhausted, disillusioned or unpleasant to be around.

Is this really the best way to craft our dream life?

If our New Year changes are meant to increase our success and happiness, how does being miserable and set up for failure support that goal?

And isn’t the quality of life en route to our goals just as precious and important as the (fleeting) moments at the Finish Line?

Whilst it’s true that 100% commitment can work brilliantly for some, (at least for a while), for the rest of us, there’s a more spirit-friendly alternative to the strait-jacket of All-or-Nothing Resolutions…

 

Christmas candles

The Power of Intention.

Intention is powerful.

Intention is a fuel that will never run out. No matter how many times we may lose our way, if we hold fast to our intention to get to where we want to be, the odds are good that we will get there. Eventually.

There may be detours, but if our intention is strong, we will soon recover our path.

There may be failures, but if we ditch the pesky and unhelpful All-Or-Nothing Mindset, we’ll find it so much easier to simply try again.

Intentions don’t require deadlines; they allow you time to just begin playing with these ideas, they allow you space to gradually incorporate these changes into your life.

Intentions are lighter and less demanding than the Must Do mentality, meaning you’re far more likely to shrug off any slips or blips and have another go.

So if a day or two or more goes by, and you’ve missed or forgotten your new practices – your intention is still there, as strong as ever, ready to shore up your resolve.

You can tap back into your intention, revisit your reasons for making these changes, and begin again.

This approach to creating anything will carry you much further toward your vision than any number of failed All-or-Nothing attempts.

New Year ‘Intentions’ are undoubtedly a less dramatic, less aggressive route to ‘getting results’, but for many of us, they can be so much more enjoyable, not to mention easier to stick with. And when the journey is easy and fun, that way success lies.


So this New Year, instead of giving up on resolutions altogether, perhaps try the gentler, subtler tactic of The All Year Resolution.

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Simply intend to create the fabulous New You that’s calling you.

No unrealistic deadlines. No forcing of will. Just an intention to devote this new year to working towards your vision.

And when you’re not chasing a fixed result by fixed time, there’s no failure. You’re just making changes, gathering feedback, adjusting and re-adjusting.

Less urgency = Less stress. (A significant health bonus even before you start.)

Even if it takes all year, you’ll still be closer to your vision than if you go all-out for a few miserable weeks in January, then abandon it for another year – or even worse, never attempt those life-enhancing changes at all.

And imagine how lovely life could be this time next year, if you make your resolutions an all-year focus.

 

Cambridge tree

 

So this year, why not play with the idea of The All-Year Resolution. It’s a kinder, more sustainable route to the improvement, success and happiness that you’d love to create in the year ahead.

As an added incentive, the more your reaffirm your intention to do something, the more you’ll find it ‘mysteriously’ popping into your head, or occurring at the perfect place or time. (This is the muse’s handiwork. 😉 )

It becomes ever-easier to live and act in line with your intended goals.

So I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the promise and potential of a fresh and sparkling New Year, with a yearlong intention to make the most of it.

No struggle. No force. Just a resolve to evolve.

Allow the phenomenal power of intention to fuel your hopes and dreams, and make this new year the magical success it’s waiting to be.

 

Wishing you health, wealth, peace and joy – in the New Year and beyond,

Danielle

 

 

• • • 

 

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Resilience – A Creative Superpower

Resilience – A Creative Superpower

Resilience A Creative Super-power - Danielle Raine Creativity Coaching

#33 in my Tonics for Your Creative Spirit email series: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

• • •

A little (big) magical something for you this week!

I’ve got another dose of soul-soothing creative goodness, and for one lucky winner, I’ve also got a copy of the book where I found it.

And that’s especially good news because this week’s featured read is…

Big Magic Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Now, even though Big Magic promises inspiration and comfort for anyone on the creative path, I actually resisted it for a while, for many of the reasons Liz explores in the book.

(It’s always heartening to learn you’re not alone in your worries…)

For example, I’m currently writing a book about the creative process, and so I was a little nervous in case I found that my ideas had already ‘been done’.

This is apparently a very valid fear, and actually happened to Liz herself, when her book idea was created by another author before she could write it.

Also, since I’m still shaping and forming some of the theories for my book, I worried about being influenced, both consciously and unconsciously.

(We creatives can be unwitting magpies, merrily adopting any shiny gems we discover along our path.)

However, despite my resistance (or maybe because of it…), those book angels were covering all their bases and I actually ended up with 2 copies for my birthday.

Naturally my first reaction was to give the extra copy to one of my lovely blog readers, so, I have a beautiful hardback copy of Big Magic to give away. (Details below.)

But first, this week’s words of wisdom from the creative trenches;

Liz Gilbert creativity quote

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Of the many snippets of wisdom that I jotted down from Big Magic, this is the one I love the most.

In these words, Liz sums up an idea that has been gradually dawning on me over the last few years, particularly this last year as my study of the creative process has deepened.

It’s the idea of resilience. Or, as success coach Lisa Nicholls joyfully calls it; bounce-backability.

Admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous aspect of the creative process.

It doesn’t have the sense of mystery and miracles that accompanies Inspiration.

It doesn’t have the sparkling buzz of Creation, when the work pours forth effortlessly in a rapture of creative bliss.

It doesn’t even have the smart and savvy air of confidence that Productivity delivers.

It’s much more subtle. It’s quiet and unassuming.

It’s barely even noticeable during much of the process, yet it’s the quality that will make a crucial difference when you come up against the inevitable creative challenges.

• • • 

When everything’s going wrong, when it feels too hard, when you’ve had enough and you want to give up – it’s Resilience that whispers, Let’s try again.

• • • 

It’s a tenacity, an imperceptible core of strength, that enables you to redouble your efforts in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

It may be born of resolve or will, or it could be sparked by an innate purpose.

It can appear as sheer bloody-minded determination. Or it can simply be a calm refusal of defeat.

(It’s summed up perfectly in the clichéd-yet-profound wisdom of Keep Calm & Carry On.)

But for all its low-key subtlety, there is a quiet fierceness to resilience – and it’s a true creative superpower.

In one of my favourite films, Tristan & Isolde, there’s a scene featuring King Marke, (played by the rather lovely Rufus Sewell).

The scene shows King Marke returning to his medieval village which has been attacked and destroyed in his absence.

His people turn to him, asking him what they should do. He surveys the smouldering remains, sighs sadly and offers one word in response. “Rebuild.”

That’s resilience.

And cultivating that inner steeliness, as Liz Gilbert so beautifully describes in her book, is very often the real work of creativity.

So I hope this idea of resilience will inspire you to hang in there, whenever you’re feeling bruised by the creative process.

Because mastering, instilling, even faking resilience strengthens your creative courage – making you an unstoppable force in the direction of your creative dreams.

And that way, magic lies.

Danielle

PS Also in my birthday book haul was Rising Strong by Brene Brown which also focuses on the superpower of resilience – so stay tuned for more on this important topic.

• • •

: : :  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED  : : : 

Liz Gilbert Big Magic giveaway cropWin a hardback copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic

To enter:

1  Leave a comment below describing either your Big Creative Dream, or your idea of Creative Heaven.

2  Make sure you’re on my magic list, as I’ll be notifying the winner via email.

3  If you’d like to spread the magic, please share this post with any friends who could a boost to their creative superpowers. (Buttons below.)

I’ll select the winner at random on Monday 14th December.

Good luck! May the Big Magic be with you. 😉

: : :  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED  : : : 

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• get clear

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>>> CLICK FOR DETAILS

 

12 ways to survive (and enjoy) NaNoWriMo

12 ways to survive (and enjoy) NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

twitter aquaLike most great challenges, the secret to a successful NaNoWriMo is in the preparation.

A little forward planning and consideration can make an amazing difference to your results and your experience.

So here are some suggestions for a few lifestyle tweaks and preparatory efforts, to help you not only survive NaNoWriMo  – but actually enjoy it…

1. What can wait?

Unless you’re lucky, it’s not every month you spend intensively working on a novel.

So November is going to be an unusually busy month!

If you plan for that, ahead of time, you can create some lovely breathing space in your schedule. (Doesn’t that sound good…)

So, what can wait?

What can you let go, for now? Give some thought to anything that you can put on hold – just for the month.

Are there any things that you normally do, but aren’t essential to the smooth running of your life?

Can any other hobbies be put on hold? Can any responsibilities be temporarily delegated or scaled back?

Are there regular activities that can wait for a few short weeks? For example, dinner parties, shopping, getting lost in a book…. They’ll all still be there in December! And you’ll be free to return to them with a new appreciation, and a sense that you fully deserve to indulge and enjoy them.

The run up to NaNoWriMo is a great time to simplify, but this is actually a great thing to do at any time of year, as you might discover that a number of things you ‘just do’, aren’t actually worthy of your time and attention, and you’re ready to let them go for good.

So cast an enquiring eye over your timetable – without panic or urgency. Just assess. No drastic action. No drama.

Simply review how and where you spend your time – what serves you, and what can be suspended as you devote November to your writing goals and dreams.

• • • 

2. Look after your main asset: you

To simplify is good – but if you have a healthful and supportive daily practice (e.g. exercise, meditation, journalling, inspirational reading etc…) – now is not the time to let that go!

You will need both internal and external strength to help you navigate the challenges of the month ahead.

And if you don’t already have a daily practice?

Since you’re adopting a new regime for this month, you may like to include something small and relatively easy to implement that will support you on a daily basis.

It may seem like another task for a busy month, but it could be a wise investment of your time if it increases your energy and productivity.

• • • 

3. Special measures

Now is a good time to call in any favours.

If you are always the one helping out the other parents, team-mates or workmates, now is the time to ask them for help. They’ll probably be thrilled to have the chance to give back.

“Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.” 

~ Proverb

Besides, people love to help a person who is up to wonderful things. So, if you explain your plan, you may find they’re not only willing to step in and help out, they may be cheering you on from the sidelines, too.

And a little social accountability can also be a motivating force. For those days when you’re tempted to let things slide, the prospect of facing a supportive friend or colleague may give you the nudge you need to get over the resistance hump.

• • •

4. Stock up

Stock up on supplies. Unless you find cooking therapeutic, relaxing or ideal for pondering tricky plot puzzles, plan ahead for your basic maintenance.

Stock your freezer and cupboards for the month, so that you’re not drawn away from vital book-pondering to spend precious concentration units on; What’s for tea?

(By the way, if you’re a snacker – blueberries are supposed to be good for creativity.)

• • • 

5. Join a support group

Being in a group of like-minded people with a similar goal is a proven tactic for staying the course.

In-person weekly meet-ups can be an inspiring boost. Or daily check-ins online can also help you feel less alone in your challenge.

Do whatever works for you, but notice the effect of the groups or networks you belong to. How do they make you feel?

If they leave you feeling energised, motivated, inspired and confident – check in with them on a regular basis.

But if you feel drained or prone to Compare & Despair – give them a miss for a while.

• • • 

6. Get to know your muse

In the weeks before NaNoWriMo, spend a little time monitoring when and where you get your best ideas.

These are your Muse Magnets.

If you always come back from a run full of new character ideas, you know what to do when you’re stuck with character problems.

Or it may be that driving, gardening or showering work for you. Any mundane chores you do on autopilot can give your subconscious mind the rhythm and quiet to suggest some new plot twists or solutions.

Get to know which activities calm your busy mind and enable your muse to make contact.

This is priceless info for any creative and will really help you stay inspired during the demanding weeks ahead.

• • • 

7. Keep notepads everywhere

Whenever you lean into a creative project, it begins to grow and take over more of your thoughts and attention.

So when you dive in head first during NaNoWriMo, it’s an almost total immersion. You flood your conscious mind with your story, and as a result your subconscious mind will very helpfully keep working on your story even when you’ve had enough.

So keep notebooks handy to catch all the new ideas and insights and solutions that will keep floating up to your consciousness as you go about the rest of your day.

• • • 

8. Get sleep

It’s tempting to think that coping with less sleep will give you more time.

But what you need for this month is quality energy; not just time at the page, but quality time where you can concentrate, plot, imagine and string a half-decent sentence together.

So skimping on sleep is counter-productive. (<<< and I don’t use bold lightly!)

Ensure you maintain good quality sleep, and you will reap the benefits in terms of energy, focus and concentration.

If you want the best version of you – fit, well and ready to write – getting enough sleep is essential.

And your loved ones will appreciate this one – a cranky, stressed, overtired writer-under-pressure is not often a joy to be around.

Besides, if you’re clever, your sleeping time need not be unproductive downtime….

• • • 

9. Utilise your sleeping hours

With a little forward planning and intention, you can actually make productive use of your restorative sleeping hours.

By reviewing any daily quandaries just before you go to sleep – posing a clear question to your subconscious mind – you can hand over the puzzle to your mind as you sleep, very often being rewarded with the solution as you wake up, or during the course of the following day.

It takes a little practice to harness this powerful creative source, but if you’re planning to sleep every night anyway, why not begin to practice?

• • • 

10. Balance input with output

NaNoWriMo will call for a considerable amount of creative output.

To keep your creative spirit balanced and happy (rather than drained, spent and exhausted) don’t forget to do the things that inspire you.

Remember to play, have fun, relax, spend time with people (real ones) – do the things that fill you up.

These simple daily pleasures may seem superficial, and candidates for stripping back from your timetable, but these are the valuable sources of life that feed your creative spirit – and it’s going to be hungry over the coming weeks!

So you may even need to replenish these vital stores more than ever.

• • • 

11. Visual aides

Before you begin NaNoWriMo, spend some time getting clear on why you are doing this.

It’s not an easy thing to do!

It will challenge you. It will take over your heart and mind for the coming weeks. You’re planning to devote large amounts precious time and energy to this project.

So why do it?

You may not know why exactly, just a sense that you want to do it – and that’s more than enough.

twitter aqua“I want to do it because I want to do it.” 

~ Amelia Earhart

But if you can imagine the benefits, the fuel behind the desire, it can be a powerful tool to keep you going through the inevitable wobbles.

And if you can create a visual representation of your Why, and keep it somewhere you’ll see it daily, it can really help you to stay clear, focus, grounded and on track.

So, what’s your Why? And how can you represent it?

Maybe mock up your favourite bestseller list to see your name on the top. Or a picture of the TV show you’d love to be featured on with your new book. Or maybe it’s in honour of a loved one, or a long-held dream.

Whatever the reason, find or create and image that you can glance at and know instantly why you’re doing this.

• • • 

12. Pre-empt The Wobbles

The Wobbles – those thoughts and moods that make you doubt your dreams and goals, and your power to achieve them.

We all face them, they’re part of the creative journey.

They may be unavoidable, but it’s possible to limit their power to throw you off track by pre-empting them.

Anticipate the usual suspects; e.g. thoughts like; what’s the point?… I’m no good at thisIt’s a waste of time…. (add any more that regularly come up for you.)

Then, when you are feeling calm and confident and capable: Go through each one and argue the opposite.

You can do this.

The human brain loves questions, so ask things like: Why is this a good use of my time? …Why am I good at this? … What are some really good reasons to do this?

Tap into your Why (see above) and the reasons you’re taking on this incredible challenge.

Get all your ‘arguments for’ in writing, where you can refer to them during the upcoming weeks.

So whenever a doubt pops up during NaNoWriMo, you can calmly say; Hello, I’ve been expecting you – and I know just how to deal with you…

• • • 

So there you are! I hope you find these tips helpful.

If you have time before November, play around with these suggestions to see which ones work for you.

And if you’d benefit from more comprehensive support, please do get in touch. I’d love to help you get your book into the world.

Enjoy NaNoWriMo!

I look forward to hearing about your new novel.

May the muse be with you. <3

Danielle

• • •

PS. If you’d like more goodies for lovely writer types – sign up for the free Writers’ Corner email series. Or join me for a free mini-ecourse designed to help you #writethatbook.  Details below!

If you’re a writer… life is better when you write. 

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Creativity Lessons from Life : The Power of Whim & Fancy

 

This week, I’d like to share with you a lesson I learned from my recent month of non-stop decorating. 

(We’re finally selling our house, after buying it as a 2-year renovation project. In 2002. So much for the best laid plans…)

Although I had a huge amount of work to do over the last month, I was actually a very happy bunny because I had complete and utter freedom with my timetable. 

This really suits how I love to work; Planning, organising and creating a comprehensive To Do list – then doing whatever I feel like, without pressure or urgency. 

And boy, did I get stuff done!

(Here’s a little evidence of my labours….

 

Dining room

 

I was a Decorating Dynamo! 

Armed with my vision of the end result, I harnessed what I’ve come to call; 

The Power of Whim & Fancy.

I noticed that I was far more productive, efficient and happy, when I did whichever tasks felt the most appealing or inspiring.

The work just flowed. Things went my way. People and events ‘mysteriously’ lined up to meet my plans. 

Even though I was busy, the work felt effortless. So I was able to do far more than if I’d forced myself to stick to an uninspiring schedule, which can be so draining and depressing.  

 

So, here’s my tip for happier productivity; 

If you have a major project that you’d like to get moving on, and you also want to actually enjoy the process: 

Can you harness The Power of Whim & Fancy? 

Can you create a degree of freedom to do whichever tasks appeal the most? 

Can you spend some time on general planning and organising and envisioning, but without setting concrete deadlines and schedules? 

This leaves room for you to tune into whatever you feel inspired to do, helping you enjoy the work and build momentum, making you far more likely to complete more and more of the required tasks. 

There’s less need for discipline and will power when you feel naturally inspired to do a task.Twitter icon

(CLICK TO TWEET) 

(I believe the carrot is far more powerful than the stick. 😉 )

So, if you have a project in mind that you long to do but can’t seem to get moving with, I invite you to play with the fun and freedom of just going with the flow, indulging in whims and following whatever task takes your fancy. 

I realise this kind of freedom is not always an option. But the more you explore this approach, the more you’ll see areas where you are free to tap into your natural tendencies – which makes any task so much more enjoyable. 

 

So there you have it – my tip from the decorating trenches. 

I hope you find this helpful, and if you’re tempted to try it, I’d love to hear your results. 

Wishing you a lovely week of whatever takes your whim and fancy. 

Danielle

• • •

PS Speaking of fanciful whims, I’m planning another writing retreat to work on my next book. (Bliss!) 

But if you’d like some help in finding your own creative bliss, my 1-2-3-Go! Creative Support Service is still available for a short time, before I disappear to my creative cave. 

I’d love to support you in finding more flow and fulfilment in the creative projects that are close to your heart. 

Because life gets really magical when you do. 😉

• • •

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