Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in March: permission to keep writing, overcoming creative obstacles, the history of murder ballads, and more.
1. having… one of those weeks when my daily tarot draws are uncanny.
2. listening… to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness for the first time in two decades, because a certain Apple commercial got ‘We Only Come Out at Night’ stuck in my head.
3. rolling… my eyes at the empty shelves in the supermarket.
4. being… brave. I think it paid off.
5. catching… a cold at the worst possible time. (Yes, definitely a cold—there’s been no fever—but I still kind of felt like a plague rat.)
6. starting… to suspect that it’s not going to be warm enough to start running this month after all.
7. rethinking… my plans for the website. It’s going to mean more work, but I think it’ll be worth it. (That said: the new homepage in the WordPress.com editor is incredibly annoying.)
8. trying… to stay on top of my todo list. It hasn’t been easy.
9. spending… far too much money on books lately, but I’m done with that for a little while…. At least a month. Really.
10. feeling… sleepy. Stupid time change.
1. realizing… that I’ve been procrastinating on some important projects.
2. ordering… so. many. books. (I had loyalty points to redeem, and I spent them well.)
3. having… the worst week. Seriously. Between the 9th and the 13th, everything that could go wrong did.
4. wishing… I knew how Lucy would react to another cat. (I met an adoptable pair of kittens that I’m absolutely smitten with, but I can’t really consider it with that uncertainty.)
5. regrouping… and refocusing. (Which is somehow not connected to #1.)
6. turning… off likes on posts and comments. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and it’s time. (I’m extending the comment window a bit to make up for it, but aside from that the comment policy isn’t changing. And, yes, likes still appear in the WordPress reader—I’d turn them off there too, if I could—but this way it doesn’t benefit the spammers who abuse the feature.)
7. trying… to catch up with my Instagram backlog.
8. solving… the email problem that was giving me stress dreams. (Part of why I had such an awful week… but at least it’s fixed now.)
9. getting… excited for autumn. I’m counting the days ’til I can break out the fingerless gloves and black tights. It’s almost cold enough, but not quite.
10. starting… to suspect I’m finally on the right track with Violet Lane.
Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in June: “I wrote a thing,” setting benchmarks, the impact of free stock photography, thoughts on wellness and mindfulness, crossing the US border, the origins of the Green Man myth, and more.
1. feeling… bored. With a lot of things.
2. making… friends with the neighbour cat. I’ve wanted to say ‘hi’ to her(?) ever since her people moved in, but this week was the first time I was outside at the same time she was. (She’s very friendly and fluffy. 😻)
3. rewriting… the NaNoWriMo story. It’s… a lot of work. But I’m happy with it. And I’m really happy to be back to putting words on the page.
4. getting… a bunch of books that’ve been on my list for ages. (And one of them is step one in those plans I was talking about a couple of weeks ago.)
5. starting… a couch-to-5K program, and modifying my usual workout accordingly. (Translation: everything hurts, in a good way. Mostly.)
6. baking… chocolate-Guinness cake. So good.
7. playing… with my DSLR, and remembering that I actually really love it. I rely on my phone so much lately—and I do sometimes appreciate the limitations—but I need to use the real camera more often.
8. cursing… Canada Post. They’re kind of terrible at scanning the parcels I’m waiting for. (The parcels did eventually arrive.)
9. hoping… to get into a routine that works for me next week. Between the new workout schedule, baking, and trying to fit errands in around the weather, this week was kind of a mess.
10. thinking… about what to read next.
1. making… plans for a few different sewing projects. I want to use up some of this fabric.
2. (re)reading… The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. It’s one of my absolute favourite books on creativity, and it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it. It’s time.
3. putting… the final touches on the new computer setup. I still haven’t found desktop wallpaper that I like.
4. loving… this TED Talk by Christopher Bell.
5. balancing… my goals with what I’m actually able to accomplish in a day (and this month in particular), and it’s helping.
6. getting… back on track with my weekly photo project. Finally.
7. starting… to think about my plans for 2017. A little early, maybe, but I’m actually being a little more thoughtful about my plans than I have in the past.
8. looking… for the perfect desk lamp. I’m trying (again, for real this time) to do something with the office, and I have almost everything else either sorted or planned, but I still can’t find a lamp I like.
9. trying… to find a good lightweight text editor. The new computer has a lot more screen real estate than I’m used to, and I don’t like how the editor I’ve always used works on the new screen.
10. thinking… about coffee. It’s a bit of an obsession lately. (Always.)
1. finding… my perfect recipe for chocolate cake. Now I just need to find my perfect frosting recipe to go with it.
2. wondering… when it’s going to start to feel like spring, and not just the slow decline of winter.
3. giving… up on my Fitbit. In theory, I liked it. And I’m really impressed with the company’s customer service, but still: I’ve had three devices fail in less than eighteen months. It’s getting ridiculous.
4. making… my plans for NaNoWriMo.
5. drinking… an awful lot of coffee. Not a bad thing.
6. wishing… the light was better. 😦
7. looking… for new books to read. (I managed to finish two in one day, and everything I really want to read right now is on hold at the library.)
8. trying… not to let myself get too stressed out. I’ve got a rough few days coming up. The last few weeks have been an exercise in Not Thinking About It Until I Have To.
9. starting… to watch some French tv shows. In French. Mostly, I’m still confused, but I’m figuring out bits and pieces.
10. hoping… the next two weeks don’t turn into a disaster.
Getting back into my creative groove has become easier since I started making an effort to both carve out the time to work and track my progress, but I still need an occasional hit of external motivation. So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been rereading the books that always make me want to make things:
1. Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman
If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that. And that’s much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine.
(Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art)
Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in a book beautifully designed by Chip Kidd. I read it again last week (it’s a short read, and I come back to it every time I’m feeling discouraged), and it made me cry. Again.
2. The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp
There’s a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.
(Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit)
This is the most practical book about creativity I’ve ever read. Twyla Tharp goes through her own process step-by-step, from generating ideas, to research, to dealing with failure. Not all of the advice will work for everyone (when does it ever?), but the specific, actionable exercises are a welcome change from the vague advice to ‘follow the muse’ that you usually get.
We make art because we like art.
(Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist)
First of all, if you haven’t read Austin Kleon‘s Steal Like an Artist, you need to go do that immediately. Read it through once, then keep it at hand to flip through whenever you need a reminder. And then do the same with Show Your Work! When I struggle creatively, it’s almost always with one of two things: the feeling that I don’t have anything new to say, or the feeling that no one’s listening anyway. These are the books that knock some sense into me in those moments.