Sunday Rest

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I recorded this yesterday and saved it for today.

I always feel restful when I watch and listen to this river and I thought you might feel the same way.

You might also be able to hear my dog snuffling along the bridge I was standing on. That may or may not be restful!

Put It Aside – keeping a pop-up thought from distracting you from your work

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Do you find that, when you sit down to work, your brain ‘helpfully’ churns up all kinds of other things you could (or should) be working on?

Or gives you answers to problems you were trying to solve earlier?

Or maybe it sends new ideas for projects? Reminders of things to do later? Cool things to investigate?

I’m sure there is a very good reason why brains do this.

Maybe they are protecting us from the intensity of the work we are about to do.

Or, perhaps it is afraid that the project won’t turn out the way you hope.

Or maybe your brain is just bored with having to focus at the moment.

No matter *why* it is happening, I want to make sure that you don’t tell yourself a negative story about it.

Let’s just take the facts of the matter.

  1. When we sit down to work, our minds fill up with distracting thoughts.
  2. We need a way to stay on task.

We *could* expend a lot of energy fighting off the churning thoughts or we could surrender a little bit.

a white index card with the word 'Notes for Later' written in blue ink on it. There is a pen laid at an angle on top of it. There is the corner of a lapboard visible on the left.

Oddly, I was setting this up just to take a photo but, in the process, a distracting thought occurred to me so I flipped the card and wrote it down.

I’m not advising letting your brain lead you off into the various rabbit holes of the internet, I’m suggesting a way for you to get the thought out of your brain and quickly return to the task at hand.

WRITE IT DOWN.

Yep, that’s it.

Keep a little notebook, a piece of paper, or an index card, next to your work and whenever a distracting thought pops up, write it down and promise your brain you will return to it later.

You could even set a reminder to check the paper later – just so your brain really trusts that you will return to the list of ideas.

Taking this approach means that you can learn to focus on your work while during your work time. That focus will keep your work from spilling over into your play time and your rest time – and more rest and play is VERY good for you.

Be Kind to Yourself

Yes, it will take some practice to get used writing things down like this.

You will be better at it on some days than on others.

Sometimes you will be annoyed when you emerge out of the rabbit hole and you’ll ask yourself why the hell you didn’t write things down instead.

Those things are all okay. They don’t MEAN anything about who you are or what you are capable of – they just give you information about where you are at the moment, the struggles you are facing, or (maybe) changes you may need to make. That’s totally fine – that’s just information, not a reason to be hard on yourself.

NOTE: Being hard on yourself never works. It seems like it is going to but it just ends up making you feel bad. You don’t need that.

You don’t have to be ‘disciplined’, you don’t have to beat yourself up about it, you don’t need to tell yourself a story about why it happens and what it means, you just need to work on a solution.

Even if it takes lots of practice, it’s worth finding a way to focus on your work.

You have important things to say and to do in this world and a little bit of notepaper might just help you get to it.

 

By the way, this ‘Put It Aside’ approach also helps you keep your inner editor quiet when you’re writing. When a ‘fix this’ thought or a ‘you shouldn’t be writing that’ thought pops up – write it down and come back to it later.

Creativity Prompt: Writing

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What better way to get back to blogging than to encourage *you* to write, hey?

Here’s what I would love to see you do.

  1. Pick a time today when you can do a little writing
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes (or less if 10 minutes feels intimidating)
  3. Write a short piece that includes these 3 words : tea, hat, dog

A square piece of red paper with the words Tea, Hat, and Dog written on it in black ink. There is a simple drawing of each item next to each word.

Tea, hat, dog – a writing prompt or a kindergarten reading list? Either way, have fun!

Perspective Shift

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I am definitely not one of those people who is all caught up in ‘Just think POSITIVELY, it will all work out.”

I do think that finding the positives in almost any situation will help…eventually. But I think it is a terrible idea to tell someone in pain or in crisis to just look on the bright side!

However, there often reaches a point in a stressful situation where a perspective shift, or a useful action to complete, can help you to feel a bit better about the whole thing.

An Small Example, with rain

Even though I didn’t have any stressful feelings about this, I did notice a distinct perspective shift on my feelings towards the rain when it woke me up at 5:50am today.

My friend G absolutely LOVES the rain and her love for it has changed my view on it a bit. I’m not a rain-hater but until I heard about her love for it, it didn’t occur to me that you could really ENJOY it. Because of her, when it rains, I take an extra minute to think about how it might be GOOD.

When the intense rain jolted me out of sleep yesterday morning, at first I was annoyed and then I thought ‘G would be so happy to hear this.’ Imagining her lovely smile brought a smile to my face, and I immediately grabbed my phone to capture the video below so I could share it with her.

Taking the video make the rain seem less annoying, and thinking of sharing it with G actually made it feel a bit positive.

Take from that what you will but I like having found a way to enjoy the rain a bit more.

I’m going to try to apply the lesson of the rain in other contexts, too. (I know, I know, I can hear you saying, “Of COURSE, you will, Christine.”)

 

5:51am. Beautiful but not so much a time.

A post shared by Christine Hennebury (@empress_of_the_unknown_world) on

(The above video is of a rainstorm outside a window. The window is closed and green trees and grass can be seen outside.)

My Creativity Coaching on CBC NL!

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Some of my writing is on the CBC N.L. website right now and I could not be more thrilled about it.

Many thanks to Sarah Smellie for the GIFs and for reaching out to me to write about how to get your creativity flowing again.

Thanks to John Gushue, too. 🙂

Blocks are part of the process of work, no matter how creative you are. They’re a signal that you need to stop thinking and start doing. They’re a call to be kinder to yourself. They’re a reminder to not get caught up in doing it “right.”

Read more here: How to get going on that big creative project you have always wanted to complete.

Getting Nothing Done? Your Experiment is a Success!

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When you set out your plan for the week, you are guaranteed success…at least in my books.

Either you are going to get your list done or you are going to find a method that doesn’t work. Either way, you have moved forward.

I can hear the voice in your head saying “But how can I have success if I didn’t finish my work?”

I completely get that, but I think you have misunderstood the experiment.

The Nature of the Experiment

I like to think of each day or week as an opportunity to figure out what works for us. We need to know if we need a long list or short one, or if we think we can get more done on a given day than we can. Or if our schedule is too crowded.

The only way to find out if something works for us is for us to try the plan.

So, if your list for the day has twenty items on it and you only got three done, that’s not a failure. That’s an indication that your list was too long, that you had too many interruptions, or that your working conditions were less than ideal.

There is no point in being hard on yourself about what you did get done. And there is definitely no point in being hard on yourself about what you didn’t get done. You need to find out what’s going on and then change your approach.

The Rest of the Procedure

Your next step is to reevaluate the parameters of the experiment.

You know one approach that doesn’t work – so ask yourself, what got in the way of the plan?

Do you need to have a shorter list?

Do you need to delegate some things?

Was something ‘off’ about your work environment?

Did you underestimate the time you would need for your projects?

Do you understand what your various projects entail? Do you have the resources you need to do them?

Once you figure out what wrench got thrown into your work, you can adjust your approach and expectations for your next list.

Your Takeaways

If you don’t clear your to do list, it is never a sign of failure on your part. It’s a sign that some part of your work system needs tweaking.

Have a look at the factors that prevented you from working, and adjust as necessary.

A Question

What factor is most likely to affect your work schedule and how could you adjust for it?

My new ‘go-to’ relaxing moment

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When I was on my writing retreat recently, I spend a few minutes sitting on a (very rocky) beach just watching the water. I took this video so I could (kind of) go back there whenever I need to.

I thought you might enjoy the video, too.

 

Reminder: We all have baggage and that’s totally okay

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I’m doing the Daisy Yellow Index Card A Day Challenge again this year and the prompt ‘suitcase’ brought me to this reminder.

a drawing of a person who is wearing a purple shirt and a black skirt, they are pulling a wheeled suitcase. There is black text that reads 'Having baggage doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you. It just means that this isn't your first day. If you can't check it and leave that stuff behind, put some wheels on it and roll on."

I know that things are often waaaaaay more complicated than this but, in a way, they are also this simple.

Please don’t add to your stress by thinking that you *shouldn’t* have any baggage.

No matter how much you are carrying with you, you are enough just as you are.  You are okay. You are loved. <3

 

Some Writing Advice – 10 Minute Novelists Posts

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I really like writing flash fiction (stories under 1000 words) because it’s fun to work with quick ideas and stories that size feel really flexible to me.

If you’d like try some, here are a few tips: Into the Heart: Writing Flash Fiction

If you are spending any time telling yourself that you are not a ‘real’ writer, please give me a chance to change your mind.

How to Become a REAL Writer (Spoiler: You already are)

Story A Day 31: Spell

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They arrived once a season on a schedule of their own making, that’s what the locals said, anyway.

The townspeople weren’t sure where the women came from, but they trickled in over the course of the appointed day. The shrieks of laughter and the growling of grievances stored in other places but unpacked here reached a fever pitch by the time the sixth one arrived.

They brought food for their feasts and for their offerings. They brought tea, and coffee and wine to sustain them.

They devoted themselves to the rituals, to the rhythm of work and play, giving each its due.

And when their labours were done, and the moon was high, they built a fire. Sitting around it, their faces studies of light and shadow, the strands of their connections were visible to those who chose to see.

Some swore they had heard the women howling at the moon one clear cold night.

There were those who swore the visitors were witches.

And perhaps they were.