Are You Honoring Your Creative Self?

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In all the world, there is nobody else exactly like you. Dreamer. Beautiful Soul. Creative Person.  You have a unique voice with something special to share. The story, painting, song or other art form is anxious to burst from your creative brain and out into the world. It was given exclusively to your creative self. Honor it and your talent.

DO respect your talent by staying true to the story or piece

DON’T completely alter the piece based solely on someone else’s bias

DO listen to your creative instincts

DON’T be swayed by the whims of the fickle market

DO be kind to your Creative Self when inspiration doesn’t immediately come

DON’T take yourself too seriously. Nobody’s perfect

DO be patient. True art takes time and a large amount of effort

DON’T quit when things get hard. Your art is worth the trouble

Finished! Not Quite Yet

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Congratulations! You’ve typed “The End” on your book. Listed “Fin” on that indie film. Played the last note of your glorious symphony. You’ve earned that great sense of accomplishment. Excellent job!

Hang on! You’re not quite done yet. Things to think about before you shut down your creative projects:

  • Putting Artifacts in a Safe Place – You worked hard to gather your research. Who knows when you may need it again?
  • Tying Up Loose Ends – Have you handled all the legal (or other) requirements associated with your project such as copyright or obtaining permission to use illustrations, etc.
  • Planning a Method to Evaluate Your Project – Are you planning to monitor social media or purchases, etc. to determine the performance of your product? Do you have a strategy to improve performance?
  • Improving Your Processes – Have you gathered lessons learned to improve your next project and avoid the same mistakes? See my post “What Can You Learn from Your Last Creative Project?”

Don’t forget the most important step. Celebrate your success!

Keeping Your Momentum

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Life is beautiful when your creative project is humming along. Ideas easily fall into place. You are the engineer on your “positive energy powered” locomotive. Work is actually fun for a change. Weeks fly by as you pursue your goal. You toot the whistle of your happy train with all you’ve got.

Then the tracks take an incline. The train starts to struggle a bit. Progress to the mountain peak slows. Your train is running a little low on positive energy. Maybe you’ve come across a difficult task or problem? Or you’re not feeling well. Sometimes unpredictable circumstances can put a damper on things.

I love my epic fantasy series – The Heart of The Warrior. The series spans five books, so my journey will take years. I won’t stop writing this story until I scribe the last “The End” on the last page of the last book. Currently, I’m working on edits for Book Two. It’s slow going. Why? Editing is the hardest part of writing the novel (in my opinion). I’m antsy to move on to the next book, BUT I can’t until I make sure the WIP is polished and accurate. Editing is a slow process. My happy train has dropped from 90mph to about 10. It’s hard to keep the momentum going.

Here are a few tips I use to keep my train chugging along (even if the pace has slowed to a crawl):

  • I take it one chapter at a time. If that’s too much to handle, I split the chapters into sections and do at least one section per day. The train doesn’t move very far, but at least it’s still moving.
  • I become my most enthusiastic cheerleader. Sometimes I’ll read sections out of my published novels to remind me that I can do this, because I’ve done it before.
  • I take time to find positive encouragers to motivate me. Online, feature stories on the news, positive songs, upbeat quotes. If you look for them, you’ll find the one you need to hear.

Remember: Any positive movement forward is better than standing still. Your funk will pass. I promise. Keep the momentum going!

 

Avoiding Frustration when You Hit a Road Block

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Creative projects – by their very nature – should be fun. We race down the path, full of energy and excitement. It’s easy. The ideas flow and don’t stop (at first). Then you hit your first road block. Maybe you’re stuck on a problem or run out of cash to complete your project? Boom. You’re just entered Frustration Town.

If you caught my blog series, Planning Your Dreams into Reality, then you’ve made a project plan. It has the tasks you must accomplish to complete your creative project. Maybe you’ve even created a schedule (look at you go!). So what gives? How did you end up staring at your personal road block?

It could be any number of things. You may have forgotten a step. Perhaps the research you did was incomplete or inaccurate in some way? Or maybe the Universe just hates you! Kidding. Sometimes road blocks happen. It’s how you handle them that determines whether you’re going to succeed or fail.

Try taking a step back. Rather than looking at the Ultimate project goal, try coming up with a short-term goal. Don’t get me wrong. You should always keep the end goal in mind. However, smaller short-term goals make up the big project. Taking them one at a time can reduce stress and help you avoid frustration. Keep slamming out the little goals and before you know it, the big project is much closer to being complete.

 

Are You Ready to Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Busy?

I started this blog post about five times with five different calls to action. “Stay Strong and Do Your Art!”, “Fear Limits Your Ability to Function”, “Are You Being Manipulated? Social Media Communities Are Try to Sell You Something by Using Your Fear or Anger or Empathy.”

Then I dialed into my first meeting on my first day back from vacation. My team, just like anyone else, is facing uncertainty. How will the new Administration impact our jobs? What does it mean for the individual as well as the team?

I can’t answer these questions. What I can do and what I must do as a leader is to keep us focused on the job at hand. I don’t know what waits ahead for us. All I know is what we’ve committed to do now, today. That is what we’re going to focus on. And we’re going to perform at our best.

What about you? Will you swim in your fear and anger? Or are you going to roll up your sleeves and get busy making the world a better place with your art, million-dollar idea or avocation?

Still feeling a bit mired in the muck? I hear ya. Been there. Put your imagination hat on. You are now Mysterio the Great and you’ve just had a vision:

Six months in the future all hell breaks loose. You lose your job, benefits, bank account and your freedom to use the internet. What are the top three things you would do anything to preserve?

Don’t think about it. These should pop into your head immediately. I’ll share mine:

Number 1 – Protect my little family

Number 2 – Pursue my life’s work – my writing

Number 3 – Preserve the Colorado Wilderness, national and state parks that I spend so much time enjoying

Trying to protect or change the entire world can be overwhelming (unless you really are Mysterio the Great). Focus on what’s important to you. Dedicate positive energy and your time to making those things happen. It will help your little corner of the planet and keep you sane.

 

A Special Holiday Sneak Peek

To My Wonderful Readers:  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season Greetings and my thanks for all the support you’ve shown me over the years. This special holiday sneak peek is for you!

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Coming the Summer of 2017

A new series from award winning Author, C.R. Richards: The epic tale continues. A new covenant has been forged in the chaos of war. Its price is nothing less than the Bearer of the Lion Ring’s soul.

The rivalry for dominance over the continent of Andara has taken a dark turn. Eternal enemies – the Jalora and the Sarcion – pit their forces against one another in bloody battle. Good weakens, betrayed by the very humans it has sworn to protect. Valdeon, its stronghold on Andara, falls to sword and flame. The fires of its destruction are set alight by barbaric invaders from across the sea. Their brutal hand conquers the land in a night, exiling the Lords of Valdeon – Sacred Guard of the Covenant. Cut off from the center of their power, the Jalora’s greatest heroes are helpless to defend their homeland.

Hope still lingers. Seth D’Antoiné, Bearer of the Lion Ring, journeys to the great Obsidian Citadel seeking a magical relic, the Book of Ancients. Its power could hold the key to Andara’s defense. He alone can open its pages, sparking the magic into life and restoring the Jalora’s waning power. Finding the book won’t be easy. Elusive Obsidian Gates – appearing and then vanishing again by their own will – keep the secret of the book’s location well hidden.

In the depths of the mountain fortress, he finds treachery and intrigue hiding within its walls. Can Seth open the Book of Ancients before the Sarcion’s men find him? Or will the power of Good leave the land forever? Andara’s future awaits behind the Obsidian Gates…

 

Haven’t started the adventure yet? Check out Book One.

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I’ve Got It. Now What Do I Do with It?

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If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few weeks, you should have a boat load of information ready to go. No? How about a good idea for getting your hands on the information you need? For the purposes of this blog, let’s say you do. Now what? All this information is useful, but a bit cumbersome. Time to build your master plan.

Here’s a simple technique to get organized:

  • Picture each piece of information as a wooden block (or Legos if that works better for you)
  • Make categories to store the boxes. I’ll use writing a book as an example.
    • Yellow would be all the research I did for the book
    • Green would be creating the outline and all the other steps I must take to write the rough draft of the book
    • Red would be editing and the tasks associated with this phase of my book development
  • Make columns in your favorite word processing or spreadsheet tool. Color code the columns to match your categories
  • Think about how you’ll go about completing each category. Sometimes the categories may overlap (example: I may have to do additional research while I’m writing the rough draft)
  • List all the information or tasks in the order you need them to be accomplished

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There you go. You’ve just created your draft plan! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Then let this sit for a while. You’ll probably find holes in your plan as you review it more carefully.

Final step to the plan: Add Dates! Hold yourself to a schedule, but be realistic about time frames too. You want to see your goal become reality, but being too aggressive gets discouraging.

BEFORE YOU GO! Join me next week on DTJ for a sneak peek of my upcoming book release: The Obsidian Gates – Book Two of the Heart of the Warrior series!