A blog about my writing projects, creativity and books!

 

1 For Linda – 0 for Muse

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Creative Thinking | 0 comments

1 For Linda – 0 for Muse

Creating without the Muse

Last time I let you know that I ‘fired my muse’! I’ve been experiencing a spiritual crisis and I have not be talking about it, to anyone. I have a lot of mixed emotions surrounding this subject. As an artist who has always felt my biggest inspirations have come from something greater than myself, I felt like a traitor to even admit I could possibly be deluding myself. As a logical, thinking adult who has also always questioned everything, I tried giving myself some slack. I mean, even Mother Theresa experienced this same doubt!

writing mugSo, to date, my Muse hasn’t returned, although I’ve been working away without him, her or it. I have been writing a novella based on my feelings and insane imagination. I made one decision in 2012 regarding my writing. Finish the books I’ve started. I didn’t manage to finish one last year, but am close to completing this one. Mainly because it’s going to be short – say 25 chapters – and because the last chapters I get to vent my actual contrary feelings and thoughts on religion and spirituality. Using my characters as devil and advocate make it much more easier for me to be expressive.

This year I’ve decided my books need to be shorter! Novella sized, which is really just a shorter novel. I asked for some classic sci-fi books for Christmas and discovered they’re all really tiny! Tiny books, packed full of such brilliant ideas we’re still making movies out of them, like ‘War of the Worlds‘ and ‘the Time Machine‘. I’m hoping to find ‘Village of the Damned‘, originally a novella by John Wyndham from 1957 called ‘The Midwich Cuckoos‘. (Have read a lot of John Wyndham.)

I hope to finish draft one off this crazy novella by the end of February! Then my friends have to read it and give me constructive feedback!

So, take that Muse!


by visual artist and art instructor (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

I Fired my Muse

Posted by on Feb 11, 2013 in Creative Thinking | 2 comments

I Fired my Muse

I had a wonderful time taking to a fellow artist Lisa Steinke today. We talked a lot about getting in touch and working with our muses, and it just occurred to me that I may have actually fired mine. I not only suppressed it, I think I actually evicted it!

For those of you who aren’t sure what a Muse actually is, the brief description would be (verb) to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject; to gaze meditatively or wonderingly; to meditate on and to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon. That’s from Dictionary.com and is actually the worst description I’ve probably ever seen.

artist seeking my museEach person’s Muse can come to them in different ways.

It’s that unexplainable thing that sparks creativity and somehow melds or is in itself our connection to a spiritual realm. Some creatives visualize their muse as a man or woman or even as an animal. There is a direct correlation between these mystical experiences that bring with them the incredible insight and the inspiration to solve some of the worlds greatest problems or create mankind’s most amazing art.

And here’s me, still trying to find myself in my art, Museless. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas! It’s not that I haven’t tried new things. New mediums in painting. New themes. Lots of new, and it’s all pretty much a struggle that I’d never had before. As you know, I’ve written a few blog posts so far on CreativeThinking Processes – also tools that come naturally to most artists.

It’s the inspired artists we’re drawn to, though isn’t it?

It’s the David Bowies and Mick Jaggers and Andy Warhol’s of the world we are attracted to. Now think on this. If you saw Mick Jagger prancing down the street and he was never a musician and never a member of the Rolling Stones – just a regular Joe Schmo, would you want to jump his bones ladies (and gents?)? Nuh uh. It’s that connection to something bigger and brighter, and sometimes darker, that draws us into their vortex. Their Muse is so damn sexy it makes them bigger than they seem.

And I fired mine! Why? That’s another blog post in itself, but in short, I lost faith in God. I’m still trying to find my way back and I can’t tell you what that new belief will form into, but I have been lost without it. Just lost. So, Muse! If you’re out there, please come back. I am sorry.

Any ideas on what I can do to coax it back. I’m sure it’s quite pissed off at me by now…


by visual artist and art instructor (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

Inspired by and deeply grateful to artist Lisa Steinke. See her amazing work here!

Lessons from the Online Open Source Community

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in Creative Thinking | 2 comments

Lessons from the Online Open Source Community

frustrated artist on computerI have a renewed respect for techies! Specially the ones who have found a problem like getting my not-that-old scanner to work on a newer Mac that was shared, for free. I can download his original application software and install it on my computer.  I get to keep a good quality piece of equipment I would’ve had to throw away at the expense of getting a new and possibly lesser quality product.

There are lots of Open Source Communities online. They’re often large groups of people who have technical skill who offer fixes and website modules for free. Because there are so many, it’s actually easy to find an answer to an issue most times. Joomla is a Content Management Website (CMS) system that is almost entirely Open Source. Yes, you can get a website module for your newsletter or to sell event tickets for free. You can get an upgraded module for some cash. Sometimes the modules are expensive. Sometimes they’re as little as $20. And often, all they ask is for a donation. The donation is worth it!

As an artist, I’m always being asked to illustrate people’s books for free – or for a small royalty from authors who have no marketing plan. 2% of nothing is nothing. That gets tiresome and we artists start to feel under-appreciated. The techno-dudes have turned this around. I’m sure they get their friends, neighbours and family asking for free work too. They offer stuff for free if they already resolved their own problem. They did it already, so why make the rest of us suffer? They generously share – a great way to be. If they’ve had an idea for a module for a website, they can offer it in two ways. One for free, that’s limited, and one that has no limitations for a fair price. Still pretty generous.

How can we offer our art services and products in that way? Got any ideas?

I’m happy to offer the odd print, advice and advertising copy, but the more I do it this way, the more I undervalue years of hard work and skill. This open source concept might be a unique way to gain a little more respect for our work and to still continue to be generous without the bad feelings that can be attached. So how can we do that as writers and artists?


by visual artist and art instructor (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

Some useful links

About Joomla
About Open Source

6 Steps to Defining your Problem in Creative Thinking

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Creative Thinking | 0 comments

6 Steps to Defining your Problem in Creative Thinking

You need to come up with great ideas to get out of a creative rut or so your business can survive a couple tough months. The only way to start on the right track is to know what and why you really need these ideas. Case in point; I wrote down at least 50 ideas and realized I’d broken two of the rules you’re about to read! They weren’t focused on the real problem and had I spent any serious time working on my list of ideas, I would likely have found myself wasting a lot of time going nowhere.

“Creative thinking can turn your future in a brighter direction.”

So, speaking from experience in coming up with and using bad ideas, I offer you this. This is part of the Process of Creative Thinking that I’ve developed and have found it’s turned my future in a brighter direction.

1. Identify the Real Issues – It sounds simpler than you think. You have to write out a list of what you think all your problems are. What is keeping you from succeeding? Is it the economy? Is it your attitude about the economy? Most hate to hear this, specially artists, but is it your product? That one is a big question. It could be your product isn’t in front of the right buyers, not that no one wants to buy it. A gallery owner friend of mine once told me that if you don’t like what you’re making it’ll show – so if you’re not into it anymore, then it could be a message that it’s time to stretch and redevelop. You have to ask yourself how you feel about each question. The ones that trigger a physical or emotional response are probably the ones you should dig a little deeper on.

2. Problem Hierchy – Now that you’ve got your list of problems, you can list or number them in order of what needs immediate attention. Focus on the more urgent issues first!

“Our limitations are only as limiting as we allow them to be.”

3. Ignore Limitations – List your limitations, then choose to ignore them! Most limitation lists look like this:

  • Money is limiting (ex. Do we really need an example here?)
  • Fear is limiting (ex. too afraid to put my writing out there for criticism)
  • Economy is limiting (ex. people not spending due to economic fears)
  • Attitude is limiting (ex. people no understanding art as work and artists as biz ppl)

A good thing to remember here is that there are a lot of people with huge limitations. Maybe they lost their legs fighting for their country, or are blind or deaf. If people like artist Joni can draw with her feet because she can’t use her arms, or Christopher Reeve can fight for spinal research. Our limitations are only as limiting as we allow them to be.

4. Ignore Old Answers – This is one of the rules I broke, and big time! Most of the problems I came up with I’d worked on before. When brainstorming, it’s OK to write these ideas out, but they need to be crossed out too! That way you can get them out of the way. You need to make sure you stick to this first phase of Creative Thinking by focusing on what your problem is before you start coming up with the answers that come as baggage with old questions. This is your opportunity to step forward, and away from the past.

5. Motivation – When you go through your list of potential problems, pay close attention to the ones that draw out the most passion in you. The ones you most want to live out make the consequences feel more intense. Think of what the consequences are if you do not succeed. How much will that hurt? The more intensely you feel about one problem and the possibility of not succeeding, the more likely it is that you’ve discovered something you can put some passion behind.

“If you can’t not do it, then you’ve discovered the right problem to focus on.”

6. Is the Problem Compelling? – If you don’t believe you can solve this problem, chances are you won’t. You won’t work hard enough to ensure success no matter how much you may want it. Know this. The most successful people in the world have all had to perservere.  They’ve had to continually find new solutions to new problems that arise on the path to success. Think Ghandi had an easy time of convincing his people that they could protest peacefully and without violence? Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 39. That didn’t stop him from being elected to office four times. It didn’t stop him because he was compelled to it. If you can’t not do it, then you’ve discovered the right problem to focus on.

7. Simplify – You may have done a lot of writing and scribbling in the process of defining the problem you need to be working on. It will be much easier to focus on it if you clearly define it in 25 words or less. I highlight the “less” because it is important to keep it as short and sweet as you can.

Here was my process:
“Eliminate barriers to prosperity as an artist.”

  • it was pretty close, but wasn’t appealing to my motivation. except for the prosperity part, it wasn’t compelling.
  • what the hell are the barriers? leaves me a few too many to think about or focus on.

What I’m working with now:
“Make money creating things that make people laugh.”

  • that gets down to it! it speaks to what I want to do with my art – painting and writing. it speaks to my passion and motivation.
  • it also speaks to the part where I make money!
  • I have had no trouble coming up with ideas of things I can create since I’ve had the right problem to work on.

Stephen Hawking didn’t decide his problem was to solve the mysteries of the Universe.  He was motivated to do something to secure a good job. He met a girl and wanted to get married and support a family.

Feel free to share your process here! It’s still the beginning of 2013. It’s a great time to define your focus for the year and creatively tackle it the rest of the year! I’m on this journey now and hope to share a lot of new art and creativity inspired by using this process.


by visual artist and art instructor (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

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Up to 75% off art & craft supplies at MisterArt!

The First Step in the Process of Creative Thinking

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Creative Thinking | 2 comments

The First Step in the Process of Creative Thinking

Who is Creative Thinking For?

first step n brainstorming - who is brainstorming forCreative thinking is basically just a problem solving process that allows a person or group of people to think outside the box. Anyone can get involved in the process, but they should know that it is a process.

The first step in the process is to Define the Problem

Sounds simple. “I need more money,” sounds reasonable enough, but how much and what do you want it for? Defining the problem is a process in itself. You need to ask yourself some pretty deep questions first. Here are a few good ones to start with.

What does your ideal life look like?

For this one you need to remove all limits. And why not? You deserve to have that sail boat just as much as anyone else! The trick here is to force yourself to really dig deep. What do you really, really want out of life. Who do you want it for? Your kids? Yourself? (Don’t feel guilty about wanting things for yourself! The happier and more fulfilled you are, the happier your family will be.)

What are your Values?

If you believe in family first, but find yourself working 18 hour days and missing your kids games and don’t have time to talk to your spouse, no wonder you’re miserable. We all have different value systems ingrained in us, sometimes since we were little kids. Below are some core values and a note on things to look out for:

  • Achievement – downside is the fear of failure.
  • Money – fear of being a Walmart Greeter is my big issue
  • Respect – fear of not achieving respect from family and peers
  • Accountability – a good one! We must always be accountable for out own decisions
  • Integrity – makes us think things through, according to our values, and act accordingly
  • Perseverance – need this one to get to the next level. It’s too easy to quit!
  • Discipline – any successful creator has a great deal of this

(You can add to this list in the Comments section!)

Once you know what you really want, what and who you want it for, it makes it much easier to Define your Problem. The biggest obstacles in solving problems is in our own heads. We define disabling problems and spend time spinning our wheels trying to solve them.

An example of a Disabling Problem: Flying by Flapping your Arms.
No wonder it took so long for humanity to get in the air. The problem, redefined, was really, “How do we get off the ground?”

The first time I went through my process I wrote: ” To eliminate the barriers to Prosperity as an Artist.” The huge list of ideas were the same list I’d already written and worked on for years! After discussing it, we thought maybe it was my marketing. Someone else suggested the real problem was that I wasn’t getting my art in front of the right buyers. After a group brainstorm the problem was redefined again! After much discussion about the difference between creating art that will sell to more people with money, and creating art that comes from my heart and soul, this is the problem I need to focus on:

“How do I make money and make art that makes people laugh?”

Short ‘n sweet! It speaks to doing what I love and making a living at it.

Put all your limitations in a safe and lock them away. How would you solve your problem if there was nothing to hold you back from getting the result you really want? Now write your defined problem down in 25 words or less. Bet you your problem truly defined looks a lot different than you thought it might!

Next … how to create an extensive Idea List!

your teacher too!


by visual artist and art instructor (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

Please support our Sponsor!
Up to 75% off art & craft supplies at MisterArt!

Rules for a Healthy Imagination

Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in Creative Thinking | 1 comment

Rules for a Healthy Imagination

I saw this inspirational post by “The Faeries and Angels Magazine” on Facebook:

“Some rules for a healthy imagination:

  1. Never place into your imagination any thought that you would not want to materialize.
  2. Never allow your imagination to be contaminated by ideas about how your life used to be.
  3. Your imagination is yours and yours alone.
  4. Dont let your imagination be restricted to the current conditions of your life.

by Abraham Hicks

These are great words to live by! How many times have you found your mind looping over past mistakes or stupid stuff, like your co-worker looking side-ways at you in the break room? What was she thinking? Then your mind takes you to the worst place possible. I find when that happens I don’t sleep at night. So annoying and so much more exhausting.

So what if you followed Abraham Hicks rules? Start with number 3 – your imagination is yours and yours alone. Take yourself to your ideal place, wether it’s you on vacation in Jamaica or you reaching the peak of your success! It does take some work. Your mind can wander back to that co-worker. But you have to train your mind to quit doing that. Just keep returning to the beautiful place. That way you get good at following rules 1 and 2!

Not restricting your imagination to your current position in life is the best one! You can do, be and get everything you want out of life. It’s possible if that’s what you focus on. We all have our ups and downs too, so just because you may be down now, doesn’t mean you need to stay down. Imagine what you want, and the methods for you to get there often appear in your mind, wether you do it while falling asleep, meditating, creating a dream board or however.

So what are you going to imagine? Where do you want to be in your life? Do you want to create something cool, go somewhere exotic or do something wild and exciting?

Good luck. Imagine well! You deserve it.


by visual artist, graphic designer (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

My Mews

Posted by on Oct 19, 2012 in Creative Thinking | 0 comments

artist's muse

This is Cricket, my Muse, or should I say Mews. If she looks a little evil here, that’s because she is. (She’s an only cat, so she’s very spoiled!) When I’m working in the studio, and when it’s too cold outside for cats, this is where she is.

I value your opinions on my work, thoughts and ideas, so please get in on the conversation! (One BLOG poster will receive a freebee this October!)


by visual artist, graphic designer (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

 

I am published!

Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in Writing | 0 comments

Anyone Can Draw in Ten Sessions” by me, Linda Laforge, is now available on Amazon. Yay!

It’s available on Kindle and Paperback now, on the US and European Amazon sites. Not sure why they don’t sell this title on the Canadian site, but hopefully that will change in time. You can click the link below to get s sneak peek at the book.

Anyone Can Draw in Ten Sessions bookIf you ever did want to learn to draw, this i one easy way to find all the drawing lessons you need. Anyone Can Draw offers you skill building exercises that retrain your brain and your drawing hand. With Linda Laforge as your guide, you’ll learn the secrets of seeing what’s right in front of you, and have fun along the way.

Inside you’ll:

  • See historical proof that anyone Really Can Learn to Draw!
  • Discover how your own brain has been messing up your drawing
  • Learn how to trick your brain into drawing what you see through proven skill building exercises
  • Gain time-tested tips, techniques, and step-by-step tutorials for drawing, using all of the Elements of Art, Perspective, Contour Drawing and Measuring your objects to draw accurately
  • Learn to Draw what interests you, and how to find your own expression on paper
  • Learn how to Draw using the Grid Method
  • Receive a chapter from the book “Anyone Can Draw in Ten Sessions” each week.
You can learn to draw anything from the world around you on your own shcedule. This is a full intensive workshop. It’s time to embark on your creative journey. Pick up your pencil and begin today!

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com!

My Writing Process – Hold on to Your Socks!

Posted by on Mar 1, 2012 in Writing | 0 comments

You might just think I am completely off my rocker, but this is how I write.

  1. I sleep. (Thank God for the nights I actually do sleep!)
  2. I dream.
  3. I wake up and remember my dream.
  4. I go back to sleep. (If I’m lucky.)
  5. I continue my dream. (I think it’s called Lucid Dreaming.)
  6. I wake up.
  7. I write an outline of what I was dreaming about.
  8. I work, eat, clean stuff, work, eat some more … over a few days, or maybe a week. All the while I throw the dream around in my head until I know how I want it to flow, and I have vaguely shaped my main characters.
  9. I write as brief a story outline as I can – by hand, on paper, with a pen.
  10. I write some character points – what they look like, what motivates them and I find photos of actors I think embody their character best. (It’s way faster than writing out their life story and all the nasty details.)
  11. I start writing, from chapter one to the bitter end, should I make it that far – by hand, on paper, with a pen.

creative writingFrom beginning to end, I dream about the story, the characters and what it would be like to be in their situation. It’s always me, putting myself in someone else’s shoes, in some crazy ‘what if’ scenario. My dreams often hint upon what’s been troubling me at the time, however, since I am in someone else’s state of being, it offers some interesting options – some I would most likely never choose, and some situations not too many of us would ever actually land in. That’s the beauty of the dream!

I’m thinking the one thing most writers (crazy people) and sane people (mostly sane people) will think makes my process absurd is that I write an entire novel by hand, in pen. I have tried typing the story first, but my writing gets stumped by my awful typing. Constantly stopping to make corrections interferes with the process and I lose the flow of words that come so quickly to me.

In spite of the fact that I’ve spent at least 20 years working on a computer, I still suck at typing. It could be my mild dyslexia. I tend to continually make the same typing mistakes, reverting the same letters. When I see that appear on the monitor, I have to stop, correct it, then continue. That interrupts my creative flow, which is really quite fast. I can’t keep up when I write by hand either. The difference is I don’t give a rat’s ass about spelling mistakes and grammar as I write by hand. I know I can decipher it later, and at that point I don’t worry. For some reason, I do when I type. Go figure!

One I’ve hand written around 4 or 5 chapters, I start typing them out. I type when I’ve lost the flow too. When I’m typing, I’m in the state of mind of the editor. Once the flow returns, I start hand writing the next chapters of the novel, then it’s back to typing again. By the time an entire novel is type written, it’s actually gone through it’s third or fourth edit. Then, I might let someone read it…

I hope to complete a novel by the end March. Hopefully sooner. I’m just fighting with myself over how it has to end…

Slainte,
Linda Laforge

by visual artist, graphic designer (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

How Does Mood Effect Your Creativity?

Posted by on Jan 25, 2012 in Creative Thinking | 4 comments

I’ve been a moody artist and need some pick-me-ups

As I write, I am looking at a painting I did when I was in my early twenties. I never finished it. It’s a portrait of my brother Christopher. Chris had Cerebral Palsy and suffered greatly in life. He was unable to walk, run, play with other kids, read a book or do any of the things we can often take for granted on a given day. He died before I finished the painting. His life was incomplete, so I thought it was fitting that the painting remained as such.

Inspiration

We decided to put it up in a prominent place in our home recently. It’s a reminder not only of how fortunate we are, but of how much love and joy he felt in life. In the painting, Chris is getting chocolate cake for his birthday. Man, did he ever love chocolate cake! And he loved us, his family. He used to laugh with pure joy when he saw us coming. He has left this world some time ago, but he has never left me. I love him so much.

original portrait of man with Cerebral Palsy

Joyful ~ an original portrait in oils by Linda Laforge

I am reminded to be grateful, and that I too am a work in progress. He is the reason I am such a hard worker and he is the reason I always do my absolute best, no matter what the task. Because I can do it, I must always do my best.

I do create my most compelling work when I am feeling some deep emotion and lately, I’ve been feeling sad. I’ve been writing a fictional novel I was planning to illustrate and turn into a graphic novel. I’m not seeing the graphic aspect of that anymore, but keeping focused on it and working regularly is tough when I’m sad. Though I can create compelling work when I’m in a dark mood, it’s tough to ‘want’ to do anything in that state of mind. (In spite of the great inspiration my brother provides!) Pushing the story out doesn’t work. It has to come freely.

Ask yourself the Right Questions

I have been watching and listening to ‘up’ and happy things. I have started a gratitude journal again. I have been trying to make sure I ask myself the right questions. Trust me, when your inner voice repeatedly says, “What’s wrong with you?” you will answer it unfavourably! I try to stick to “What can I do to feel motivated?” and “What do I need to do to get what I want out of life?” I feel way better and can actually work my way out of the dark place, as opposed to the “Why me’s?”

What do you do when you need to get out of the doldrums and get motivated to work? I’d love to learn some new tricks!

Slainte,
Linda Laforge

by visual artist, graphic designer (and sometimes writer) Linda Laforge.
See her art and some of her writing at www.LindaLaforge.com

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