Set Limits, Define Boundaries, and Impose Structure to Discover Your Creative Freedom — Daily Quote

in-limits-there-is-freedom.-creativity-thrives-within-structure.-creating-safe-havens-where-our-children-are-allowed-to-dream-play-make-a-mess-and-yes-clean-it-up-we-teach-them-respect-f

Being creative is a messy business. It requires work clothes, steel-toed boots, a sturdy hard hat, a trusty jackhammer, a backhoe, a crane for the heavy lifting, a construction fence to hinder the gawker’s view, and an enormous five-gallon bucket of elbow grease. I need room to sprawl, kick up dust, throw mud at the wall, and dig deep holes into the heart of my design. If I am lucky, I avoid roadblocks, anticipate setbacks, manage material delivery, labor negotiations, and hit pay dirt when I pass the required inspections. The intention is to deliver a completed project on time and under budget.

It all sounds so easy until something or someone steps in to gum up the carefully drawn plans. Writers, artists, and other creative people need access to a dedicated place and time to roll up their shirtsleeves and create, free from distractions. Freedom within specific constraints is an odd pairing, but they are crucial elements in the creative process. You can’t effectively work on an unlimited number of projects and hope to complete any of them. When you limit your concentration to one primary goal, organized chaos is often the next step.

Critics help an artist focus, improve their final product, and compel them to attain higher levels of meaning, competence, and beauty. But a critical eye imposed too soon in the development stage can demoralize, block, or even end a project before it has begun. It is a game of setting limits, defining boundaries, imposing structure, and then attempting to push past the artificial restrictions.

Don’t knock at my door when I am working. I don’t want, need or value your feedback before the shape takes form. The vision is mine. The struggle is personal, and it is a road I must walk alone.

What limits do you set on your creative process?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – March 1

2021-daily-writing-challenge

Yesterday was another magical day. After conquering my Must-Do List for the weekend, I sequestered myself in my office, posted my Do Not Disturb sign, pulled out napkins, receipts, stray scraps of paper, the notes on my phone, and began my work. The story’s timeline filtered through first. Last week, a central figure divulged a shocking backstory that illuminated his motivations and created a natural tension with my principal character. This stage of the game is a handwriting marathon. I used bright yellow oversized pieces of paper and scribbling as quickly as possible.

A set of family trees are emerging, along with rough maps, floor plans, scheming plots, and treacherous conspiracies. Follow-up questions are circled and highlighted, arrows and asterisk populate the pages. When I reached the end of one sheet, I often forgot to include the oh so helpful page numbers on subsequent pages. I noticed I was having a tough time reading my previous sentence and discovered the sun had sunk below the horizon. A short recess allowed for an invigorating stretch, a hot cup of coffee, and better lighting, before returning to my interviews.

I could only handle four hours of grueling transcription before my hand refused to hold my pen any longer. We have barely scratched the surface. I need more knowledge of their world, answers to individual impulses and desires, and the scoop on the juicy intrigue. The cast is much larger than I ever imagined, and my characters continually reference kingdoms, regions, facts, and details I didn’t know existed. They inundated me with information, and it is more epic than the story I intended to write, but I am recording every bit. I am clueless about my actual word count, but I will transcribe everything into a word document in the next few days.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 380 (countable) words.

Did you write yesterday?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Goodbye Cruel Winter, Welcome Warm Spring – Daily Quote

sometimes-the-best-thing-we-can-ask-for-is-change-and-a-fresh-start-forces-us-to-confront-change-head-on.-natalya-neidhart

Winter’s end is coming. My countdown calendar says we are a mere twenty days from the first day of spring. Tomorrow we flip the page to March 1. Monday morning, dawn to a bright day loaded with possibilities, the beginning of a week filled with promise, and a month dedicated to starting anew. March always feels like a breath of fresh air and hope. But throwing away old, tired and broken patterns is often easier said than done. Peer pressure is real, established habits are hard to break, and slippery slopes catch us unawares. We fear the unknown and approach change with caution.

If you have abandoned your New Year’s Resolutions, gotten caught in the sensational worries of the daily headlines, or fallen into the trap of thinking you are not worthy, remember each morning offers you another chance. Wait for your future to unfold before you write your story in stone. When and where your adventure begins is not an indicator of where your journey will lead you. Every day, ordinary people make massive changes, achieve astonishing feats, and create their dream life.

The sun is smiling, nature is waking, and your supporters stand in your corner, cheering for your success. Become a master at embracing and enjoying unique activities, and walking unfamiliar paths, laugh when you trip and fall, then get up and try again—it’s how we learn.

What will you confront head-on today?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 28

2021-daily-writing-challenge

Yesterday my focus was to deal with all my commitments for the weekend. Check, check, and almost done. A few minor nuisances to attend to, and I will officially clear my Sunday for takeoff. Everyone has been advised, warned, and threatened to within an inch of their lives. If they dare to ignore the sign posted on my door, retribution is mandatory. No exceptions. No admittance. If you knock, I need to see a protruding bone, blood, or smell smoke alerting me to an actual fire. I hope my muse received my dire request for a meeting, followed by my hasty memo that none of the posted notices pertain to her.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 396 words.

Did you write yesterday?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

My Saturday Morning Ritual, Procaffeinating — Daily Quote

procaffeinating_-the-tendency-to-not-start-anything-until-youve-had-a-cup-of-coffee.-anonymous

It is the final Saturday in February and the close of the longest month on the calendar. Yes, I know there are only twenty-eight days, but they pull double duty to outlast and outperform their competitors. Endless gray, gloomy, monotonous hours make it almost impossible to discern day from night and create a gaping hole of misery. This year forty-five inches of snow followed by ice and bitterly cold temperatures convinced me hell really had frozen over. I have a secret weapon. It helps me stand up, wake up, and face the next twenty-four hours. What would I do without my morning cup of Joe?

My black gold gives me courage, puts vim in my steps, stiffens my backbone, and lets me know I will persevere. My stalwart friend guided me to this point where we can applaud February’s backside and welcome March with her promise of spring in a mere twenty-one days. Of course, February won’t go without a final salute and another layer of snow. I think I will pour a cup of coffee and see if March will melt the white, fluffy flakes and save me from another adventure in shoveling.

How do you take your coffee?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 27

2021-daily-writing-challenge

Yesterday magic happened. I finished my work in record time, my Pandora’s box of unwanted emails remained silent, my phone did not ring, and silence spread with the warm sunshine. A dozen long overdue tasks mysteriously migrated to the Ta-Done tab. A pair of Mourning Doves found a snowless patch of ground in my garden for sunbathing, my muse whispered in my ear, and I wrote. Then I sat and indulged in a brainstorming session for my new project.

Last weekend a failed water fitting behind the refrigerator derailed my intention for a full two-day writing extravaganza. The required cleanup consumed my energy and left me discouraged and a little sad. Hope rises when we least expect it, and yesterday added fuel to the thought of resurrecting my plan. My calendar holds a handful of commitments blocked into my weekend schedule that I cannot change. But I am determined to minimize the distractions and maximize the pockets of time available for me to write.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 609 words.

Did you write yesterday?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Identify Your Gift, Work Your Talent, and Realize Your True Nature — Daily Quote

the-artist-is-nothing-without-the-gift-but-the-gift-is-nothing-without-work.-emile-zola.

I see prime examples more often than I would like. They are the people with extraordinary gifts who work in professions removed from their core strengths. You’d never know their true potential. They might be a ground-breaking architect, the next Albert Einstein, an Ansel Adams phenomenon, or a Nobel Laureate. Instead, they bag your groceries, deliver your latest Amazon order, pour your morning latte, or complete your tax return. Those paychecks ensure you pay the rent and put food on the table while it strips fulfillment from your grasp. Life is insidious. It undermines what exists in our DNA for the false safety inherent in making a living and shouldering the mantel of becoming a responsible adult. There are countless stories depicting artists as unsavory characters, leading unenviable lives, except for their brilliant talent. The underlying message is, “don’t pursue the genius inside of you.”

Louise Nevelson said: “My theory is that when we come on this earth, many of us are ready-made…Some of us–most of us–have genes that are ready for certain performances. Nature gives you these gifts.” When I ask people about their unique talent, few can answer. Finding the clues to identify your calling is a simple process of observation. Listen when others comment about you how well you perform a task that is so difficult for everyone else. Pay attention when time slips away while you accomplish the work you love. Your ability lies in that activity. But knowing still isn’t enough.

Natural talents require nurturing to develop to their fullest, and that demands dedicated practice. Keep the day job and invest in working artist’s hours. Early mornings, late nights, lunch breaks, and weekends provide untapped moments to live, breathe, and fuel your passion. It is the one thing that will guarantee you a fulfilling life.

Are you honing your rare gift?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 26

2021-daily-writing-challenge

Yesterday I wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep. It is a forbidden weekday luxury. So I made a steaming hot pot of strong coffee and rustled up the energy for putting in my appearances, taking care of business, and faking my way through the day. Nobody seems to notice, and no one truly cares, if they have reliable and timely information. We have agreements, understandings, and minimum levels of acceptable performance. A couple of slack days following the successful completion of a large project never raise too many eyebrows.

Working at home makes it is easier to hide behind the computer screen and muster enough enthusiasm to skate through an hour-long call. I’m uncertain I would be as fortunate if the meetings were still in person. Thankfully, we have reached Friday, and the prospects of a pleasant weekend color everyone’s conversations. Predictions of 40-degree temperatures and a chance of rain are a welcome relief from the past weeks of snow and cold.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 339 words.

Did you write yesterday?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Treating Your Brain Like an Elite Athlete – Daily Quote

healthy-breaks-can-hit-the-reset-button-in-your-brain-restoring-some-of-the-glucose-and-other-metabolic-nutrients-used-up-with-deep-thought.-a-healthy-break-is-one-in-which-you-allow-you.

It has been a succession of endless, busy, stress-filled days. Work deadlines required late nights, early mornings, and the effort has left my batteries drained. During the week, I pause when I remember and only for a few seconds before I and push myself pedal to the metal to reach the endzone. But you can’t sustain that pace for long. I need less thinking, fewer decisions, and a real break. The signs are easy to spot if you look. I’ve noticed my lack of energy, lack of motivation, and my “fuzzy-headed” inability to concentrate.

My feeble, overworked prefrontal cortex sends me SOS messages, and I ignore them at the peril of sacrificing productivity. Scientists have identified this region as the center responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, and performance management. I have learned downtime is just as important as working hard. Elite athletes know the importance of recovery days. They schedule their downtime slotting them at strategic intervals between periods of intense training. It is time for a relaxing cup of tea, a blazing fire in the fireplace, a book, and perhaps a nap. No, there will be a nap. Then I will return to my regularly scheduled productivity.

How often do you take breaks and recharge?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The 2021 Daily Writing Challenge – February 25

2021-daily-writing-challenge

Some days have a mind of their own. They grab hold of your agenda, and like a new puppy with a chew toy, they shake and gnaw and rip and tear until it bears no resemblance to what you remember. In the aftermath, your adorable destructive mutt looks at you with pride and exhaustion before they collapse, ready for a nap. It is your responsibility to salvage what you can from the gooey, slobbery mess and throw the rest in the trash. There is nothing left to do but return to the drawing board, start again, and hope for a better tomorrow.

No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 417 words.

Did you write yesterday?

_________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer