Accountability matters

When my alarm goes off and it’s dark outside, all I want to do it hit snooze. But I always think about my accountability partner. She’s probably working out right now because she’s amazing. I can’t let her down. We’re on this journey together. So I get up and, after walking my dogs, I change […]

Budgeting matters in the creative life

My husband and I recently completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, so together, our financial budget matters. But so does our time budget. Your grandma’s birthday is this weekend? My best friends’s birthday is next weekend and I work all day.

Why does money and time matter to the creative life?

We need to budget our creative time and, when applicable, budget money for our creative life.

This includes things like blog fees, publishing fees, graphic design fees for your new book cover. I’m not going to lie. I kinda suck at this (aren’t I poetic?), but I’ve learned to sneak in time for my creativity lately, a lot in part because of this blog. Write in the cracks of life. I write during breaks at work. I write on my phone while riding shotgun to events. I jot down ideas as they come to me on sticky notes, to-do lists, and random slips of paper.

Taking time away from creativity because you’re lazy can be like signing on for a loan.

You are indebted to whoever or whatever you signed the loan and your time to. You can pay it back and slowly get your time back, but it takes time and money. Time and money you’ll never get back.

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you get money quick, you’re probably going to lose money quick. The same thing goes with inspiration-driven creativity.

If you rely on only creating when the muse visits or when inspiration hits, your creativity is going to be fleeting.

You’re going to lose it fast. But if you budget time for creativity often in your schedule, it will just keep on building, similar to interest on an investment.

Challenge A: Budget your time for next week. Make time for your creative life by literally writing your creative hours down on your calendar. I don’t care if you put it in your phone, write it in a tiny box on a printed calendar in your office, or add it to your to-do list, but write or type it somewhere. Then follow through with this commitment to yourself and for yourself.

Challenge B: Add a creative line to your budget. Whatever your art needs, like a computer program, contest fees, or paint, set aside some money for it because your art is worth it.

Got goals? Learn from the pros!

Last week we discussed #goals. This week, we’ll talk about how to achieve those goals.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process that takes a lot of time and effort:
Step 1: Learn from the pros.
Step 2: Do what the pros do.
Step 3: Achieve goal.

No matter what your goals is – writing a book, becoming a MIG and TIG welder, budgeting your finances – the best way to fulfill those goals is to learn from the pros. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of pros want to share how they became a success because what they do is important to them. And who better to learn from than someone who already figured it out? Ideally, learning from a pro is done in person, such as job shadowing or an apprenticeship, but that’s not always an option, which is okay. There are other ways to learn!

Learning isn’t just for students. Learning is not limited to the classroom. You don’t stop learning when you get a diploma and not having earned a diploma doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your dreams.

Lifelong learning is necessary for everyone with goals.

I believe in the value of higher education, but I recognize that going to college or starting a job training program isn’t the only way to learn. We must think outside the box for various avenues to learn, which is fun and easy to do in this technology-driven world. My favorite ways to learn are:

  • Visit a library. There are seriously SO many opportunities to learn within a library – and I don’t just mean the books. (Although you should try reading books, reading eBooks, and/or listening to Audiobooks, too.) Many libraries offer events and workshops, and they are usually free – no library card required.
  • Visit a local college or university. They often host well-informed speakers (pros, if you will) for lectures and present cultural events, and many of these are open to the public at little or no cost. Also, look into their non-credit offerings. You can’t earn a degree when you take them (non-credit = no credit earned toward a degree), but you can learn a lot of amazing things for a low cost. (My mom and I took a few cake decorating classes a few years ago. We spent less than $100 between the two of us and had a blast. I also learned that I won’t be starting a cake decorating business anytime soon.) Check a college’s website or call them up to see what they offer. They aren’t just there for their students. They are there for their community; they are there for you.
  • Attend workshops and training opportunities. Personally, I seek out opportunities through my employers and my local libraries, but a quick search on Eventbrite shows a variety of local options. You might have to pay for these if your employer is not.
  • Listen to podcasts. Podcasts opened up a whole new world for me! There are so many experts on various topics out there who answer questions and inform their audience on their specific area of expertise.

Here are few resources I have found inspirational and insightful.

Books: 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller; Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis; and Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose by Sadie Robertson.

Podcasts: The Ken Coleman Show, EntreLeadership, Christy Wright’s Business Boutique, and Life Money and Hope with Chris Brown. If you’re not listening to podcasts, you should be. There are so many out there! These are just a few I listen to for free on CastBox, which is a free app for Android and IOS.

You know what’s crazy?

Learning to fulfill your goals can also get your creativity flowing again when you’re tired.

Creativity is intertwined with the rest of your life, so keep on learning.

Challenge: Do one of the above bullet points this week and let me know how it goes in the comments.

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In an effort to share my love for learning with the community, I created a library display that highlights all of the things you can learn from library books.
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I focused on what you can learn from the adult non-fiction section, from budgeting to getting a job.

Life #goals

Last week I shared a post about why we want to quit and talked about how important it is to flip the question and instead think about why we are doing whatever it is we’re doing in the first place. I talked about goals a bit and I want to develop the idea that goals are important here.

If the word “goal” makes you think of “New Year’s Resolution” and you grimace, think “challenge” instead. Who doesn’t like a challenge?

Goals should be stepping stones to achieving your dreams.

What do you dream about doing someday? Now make that smaller. Cut it up into bite-sized pieces you can attack today, this month, this year. Those are your goals.

Personally, I live for goals. If I’m not in a fitness challenge, I tend to slack on my workouts. If I don’t have a goal date to have a project done, it just sits there. So I always have running goals, short-term and long-term.

If you don’t have a goal in mind, then where are you headed?

Goals focus me. I realized early on in my 20s that I’m absolutely aimless and stagnant without goals. If something comes up in my life that doesn’t serve my goals, then I’m more apt to turn it down with good reason. If an opportunity comes into my life that aligns with my goals, I will probably jump at it to get closer to achieving my goals. Otherwise I’m just a ping pong ball going back and forth to what everyone else wants.

But what if you don’t have set goals? Break out your thinking cap and let’s go for a ride.

Life goals

What do you want out of life? You might know this even if you haven’t ever pinned it down or written it in your journal. Do you want a big family? Do you want a successful career? Do you want to own your own business? Do you want to publish a book someday? Your life goals encompass all of your other goals.

Focus on what you want but consider your family, especially your spouse, with your goals. If you want to own a big farm in the middle of nowhere but your husband wants to be a lawyer in a big city, you need to have a conversation.

Career goals

Is your dream job something big like being a heart surgeon or pop star? Or do you have more modest goals like being a stay-at-home mom or helping the community through your desk job? Think about what you want to do. Not what your parents/spouse/friends/the world say/says. What do you want to do with your life? Then pursue it and (hopefully) get paid for it.

Family goals

Do you want to get married or be single? Do you want a ton of kids or are you happy with a couple dogs? Do you want to adopt or do you only want biological children? If you’re in a relationship, talk about these things with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/fiancée now.

Creative goals

Do you want to publish on a blog or publish in a brand-name magazine? Do you want your friends and family to read your stories, or do you want the world to read them? Will you be happy if you never get on the bestseller list? Is self-publishing a few books enough for you, or do you want an agent and a career?

Take a deep breath.

If you’re not 100% sure what your goals are in any of these areas, that’s okay. You don’t need to have all the answers now, but I hope you’ll start thinking about them today. And it’s okay if your goals change over time, because they probably will even if you don’t fulfill them. That’s how life is. We change, sometimes our dreams change, and so our goals change.

I’m not completely sure what my dream day job would be, but I’m reading books, listening to podcasts, and journaling about it to figure it out. Then, when I know what my career goal is, I’ll be able to pursue that goal in incremental steps. In the meantime, I’m going to learn everything I can about what I might want to do and how I can go about doing it. That way, when I do know, I’ll know which path to take.

Challenge: Think about your life goals. If you know what they are, take a big step to achieving them this week. If you’re not sure, take some time to think about what you would like to achieve, ask yourself why, and talk about it with friends or family members to receive solid feedback.

Extra credit: Turn superficial #goals into real-life, “I’m getting stuff done and pursuing my dreams” #goals. Or, like me, grab a cup of coffee to give yourself the jump start you need to pursue your goals. Share your #goals with me on Instagram @writersam77.

Note: If you’re not sure where to find information on how to achieve your goals, visit me next week.

Get your creativity flowing again

When your creativity flows more like a slow trickle instead of a gushing waterfall, it’s time to rest.

I could be poetic and say something like… Creativity is an ever-flowing waterfall. Whether it’s trickling or gushing, it’s always running. Until it stops…

But I’m too tired for that right now.

I’ve been working A LOT these last few months. I’m lucky if I spend a couple hours with my husband, read a chapter in a book for fun, and sleep seven hours most nights. On top of that, I prioritize this blog, working out, and meal prepping, and I do my best to work on my current writing project at least once per week. But… I’ve been slacking on editing my big project. (See this blog post for more about prioritizing in life.)

It’s the sad truth. I’m tired of juggling so many things and missing out on other things because of it. I’m worn out. I’m frustrated. I want to nap 98% of the time.

Do you ever feel like this?

If you don’t, high five! Share your secret in the comments.

If you do, take a deep breath and keep reading.

This is only a season. Circumstances in life will change. This will not last forever.

You’ve probably heard it before: When you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit. ﹘Banksy

That’s what fitness trainers say. If your body needs a break or if you’re just plain super sore, take a rest day. Don’t give up on your training or try to get a refund on that race you already registered for. Just take a day off and give your muscles time to rebuild. This is why most fitness programs focus on different muscle groups every day – to give the muscle you worked on yesterday a break while building different muscles today. Give your inner critic a break, too, and realize that rest is necessary to avoid injury. Then jump back into your training tomorrow or the next day.

I can get tired with stories, too. Just opening that notebook or Word document can make me sigh. Flipping through pages I need to edit feels daunting and painful. (I wrote that? *continues reading* I wrote that! *practices fainting dramatically*) It can make me question why I ever thought I could write and edit. I consider giving it all up at times because it’s so hard.

But you’ve also heard: It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. ﹘Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

Writing is hard. Editing, especially your own work, is hard. That’s why so many people set out to write a book and never finish. This creative life is difficult and tiring, but it’s worth it. Not only when you’re published, but also when you realize how much you’ve improved over the years. Those moments of recognizing personal growth are exhilarating and peaceful. They make it worth the pain and difficulty we sometimes experience.

It’s okay to be tired, but let’s not glorify it.

Tiredness leads to injury, physical and mental. It’s important to take care of yourself – physically, mentally, spiritually, and creatively. So don’t give up; rest. Don’t empty your creative well until it dries up and you have nothing left to write. Walk away for awhile. Fill your creative well with other activities and projects in the meantime, but keep this tricky one on your list. (That’s called “active rest” in the fitness world.) You never know when you’ll have the ideas/skills/aptitude/desire to attack it again. And then, you’ll be so glad you kept it.

Challenge A: If you’re tired of your project, set it aside for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Keep it on your to-do list but start another project, even if it’s a short one such as a short story or poem. Then do something you enjoy, like going for a walk, swimming at the local (indoor) pool, or playing a card game; Easter weekend is perfect for this! Let me know how the break feels in the comments.

Challenge B: If you walked away from a project because it was difficult, pick it back up again. You might be ready to tackle it now. Give it at least an hour, a day, a week, a month. Give it a chance. It was your idea to begin with. Maybe you’ll remember what sparked the idea and be able to reignite that fire. Let me know how restarting that project feels in the comments.