Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Creativity Log

This is my weekly log in my beloved planning/ideas book. The illustrations are not mine, but by Jill Bliss. The book is put out by Chronicle books and I loves it. This is my second one. Luckily I found it at nice and ubiquitous Barnes and Noble.

Ah, but I am not here today to talk about the wonderful pages (some of which are grids... my favorite notebook format after plain pages). No, I am here to talk about the plan of my creativity.

Aside from the normal daily To Do lists and long term goals for life and shopping lists or outlines or whatever it is that I'm trying to pin down so I can get it done, I have found that, as an artist, and as a mom, too, I need to keep track of what I actually HAVE achieved. I need to pay attention to the steps that I am taking so that i can see how far I am coming.

Particularly with writing a long piece like a novel, it is easy to think you are getting nowhere, because you're still writing the damn thing, and you don't actually HAVE a novel to show for yourself. You have bits and pieces and the hours spent twiddling the words and dreaming up characters and writing this line and taking out that one.

The thing is, it's all that invisible and small work that leads you up to the big work of a novel.

So to feel like I am achieving something, not just shouting into the void and wasting my time, I mark down exactly how many words, how many pages I've written. How much of the book I've revised. How many hours or minutes I sat at my desk and worked.

I can watch my word total go up and up every day. I can watch as the pages pile up. Three pages doesn't seem like a lot to write, until you add up a hundred days of three pages each. Then you have the body of work. Voila, like magic. Like magic that goes at a snail's pace and is like pulling snail's teeth every squoosh of the way.

Another bonus to keeping a creative log, is that you can keep track of the mechanics of your creative process. When do you write? How often? How long are your creative sessions? How long does it take you to finish a piece or how long do so many words take you? Is there something that you always need to do first? Or afterwards? Also it's a good place to write notes or questions for the next time you sit down at your work.

Plus, it's a prod. I really want to write in my log every day, and I can't if I don't do the work. And I can't let those non-productive days slip away unnoticed... because they are evidenced in those unmarked slots.

A have a different log when I am doing nanowrimo, or solely focusing on writing, which is more detailed, with separate slots for separate writing sessions and adding up details as to how I got my writing done. But for these twelve weeks coming, I'm looking to find balance in my activities.

What I can see just looking at my log today is that I have only missed two days of writing this year (that's 7 out of 9 days writing). I thought I was doing much worse than that. Interesting. Another thing I notice, is that my pace is slowly picking up. Not steadily, but it is. Perhaps I am getting my writing practice back, even if it takes some limbering up to get there (and it does). I am also noticing that my revision process is going slower than my first draft process. I had hoped it would be the reverse, but oh well. You can't really force the process. Maybe it will get quicker when I get to the parts of the book that I want to keep, rather than where I am which is almost all new material.

I'm used to keeping a writing log, so none of the writing revelations are that new to me. But I'm learning some things by keeping track of my other projects and aims.

Here are my categories (they aren't all in this photo, because I adjusted the Week 2 log to fit better into my life.)

Me. (Me comes first. I think that's very important.)
Creativity Project.
Misc./Home (this is only a half column which shows you my priorities)

Here are the things I am learning from the rest of my Creativity Log.

When I write something down in the Me category, I acknowledge that I am taking care of myself so that I can fulfill my other roles better. I take seriously some things that I would otherwise have thought were a waste of time, although they are, in actuality, about recharging.
I also remember to take time and do things for my mental, physical and spiritual health.

I am writing whatever I do that day in regards to painting , drawing, collaging... or whatever. Actually, I'm going to have to think about all the things that go into visual art here-- like looking at other artists. This is helping me because I'm not doing the "painting a day" challenge like I was before, although I am trying to paint or draw every day. Writing down that I did a sketch reminds me that I am being creative here, even if I don't have a Finished Flying girl to show for it.

As to Blogging, I am trying to do it everyday-- but I am not putting attention into my other blogs, and I would like to, in a different manner. Maybe not so much theory and process. Plus, I'm writing down the titles/subjects of the blogs, so I can see it all right there.

And oh, Business. I can see in this Log how I am ignoring you. There is my prod to not let you slide into the shadows of fear and disappear to the daily doingness. Get to work there, Ro.

I remembered to put my kids on the Log. I want to acknowledge the large role that parenting has in my life right now, and that I am doing that almost every moment. I also want to keep track of where I am being creative as a parent. I'm not just putting potty training on this list. Although that's a HUGE deal. It's a reminder to me that creativity does not stop at painting and writing, but it's about LIVING creatively. I'm finding these tiny notes here are also reminding me to capture moments of joy.

When I added my new section on the Creativity Project, it was because I had just realized that while I was documenting my process with this Portfolio Project, I was also starting my Creativity book that I have been wanting to write forever.

Something I want to do with this log is put things in more than one category. A blog entry could also count as the Creativity Project. A Kid entry could also be a Me entry.

All in all, I am pleased with the format of my Creativity Log. I might adjust it later. I like that even more. That I can tweak it according to my living, rather than following some agenda planner or calendar. Who needs straight lines, anyway? It gets the job done rather remarkably.
This about making life explicit. And paying attention to it.


Genie Sea said...
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Genie Sea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Genie Sea said...

Okay. I must be on drugs... I posted twice and it was full of typos and alien inscription. So I deleted them! Sorry for messing up your comment section! I'll get my vacuum. :)

Let me start again... :)

I have read your past few posts, because I was fascinated. I could sit here and write a whole essay, but I think the rules are that the comments shouldn't be longer than the post! :)LOL

First of all. I love your artwork! I especially love "Flying Girl Whispers"! Her tree wings are stunning and the whole piece is captivating. The tree house from two posts down is magical! I want to play in it! :)

You are a prolific creator who needs 48 hours in a day. I get that :)

Your abundant creativity is truly awe-inspiring. May you find the time and peace to continue :)

Shayla said...

This is a great idea, Rowena. Interesting that you are doing more than it feels. Isn't that always the way? I've tried this before and it so works at handling my perfectionist tendancies. Thanks for the reminder. Will have to start again.

Christy said...

Your words have power, Rowena. Rock on and create!

Querulous Squirrel said...

Some people get so busy writing detailed lists they don't get anything done. You, on the other hand, have a foolproof list system that doesn't overdo it but gives you just enough information for motivation. My life is so tightly structured at work that I feel I have to be totally spontaneous at home or I would go crazy.

Rowena said...

Thank you Genie, you know about prolific.

Shayla, it helps my perfectionist tendencies too, especially when I'm busy not counting things because they aren't important or finished or whatever is going on in my neurotic brain.

Thanks Christy, I'm trying.

And Squirrel, baby, I think I really need the structure. As a sahm of two kids under four, if I didn't schedule myself then I would be swept away in a tide of cheerios, diaper changes, playing on the floor, dinner time, nap time, exhausted running to catch up. It would all be about the immediacy of children, and very little would get done on my own work.

We do what we gotta.

Unknown said...

even your creativity log is so *%#$ creative I can barely stand it. You blow me away each day my friend!

And inspire. Awesome.

Atta girl.

Suzie Ridler said...

Sounds like you are doing an amazing job at keeping up with your objectives while also taking care of yourself...that's HUGE! You're on the path to healing and success, I just know it.

Anonymous said...

I too think is important to keep track of what we *have* accomplished - at a our progress along the way to the finished result. So often I get lost in the final product that I don't give myself enough credit for the the steps to get there. However, I have struggled to find a way to really keep up with this. I love (!) your method (and that gorgeous joural - I have some smaller journals of hers, but I think I'll have to get the larger one too). I think I'm going to adapt this for myself. THANK YOU.

I too agree with what you have said about the creativity in daily living. I am trying really, really hard to focus on this.

Just catching up on your latest posts, its been a long week.

Thank you again, for being such an inspiration.

cupcakesandcoffee schwartz said...


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