Monday, January 27, 2014

The Artist Date (Momentum for Your Muse Series Part 2)

Momentum for Your Muse Series Part 2 

This, Momentum for Your Muse series is designed for writers, but it can apply to any artist  or business person because creativity is a major ingredient that is necessary in all that we do.

 The Artist Date

 “How vain is it to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau

In the book, The Artist’s Way, the author, Julia Cameron suggests that once a week we take ourselves out on what she calls an Artist Date. An artist date is an outing that serves the purpose of sparking your creativity.  This date does not have to cost money, but it should add value to helping refresh your mind so that you can create. Below you will find some suggestions for artist dates on a budget. 

Cultural Arts Experiences

Visit your local museum. If you live in the Detroit area, I suggest doing the tour at the Motown Museum or the tour of the And Still We Rise exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Did you know that if you live in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties that your admission to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is free?  If you are a Bank of America customer you can visit the Motown Museum, the Henry Ford Museum and other places for FREE on the first weekend of every month.
Regardless of your region, there will always be art. Pay a visit to your local museum or art gallery and just sit back to wait for and watch the mental magic that will occur. 

Movies and Music
Do you remember the dollar show? Well we still have one in Warren, Michigan called Cinemark 16. The price has hiked up to a whopping $1.50, BUT they have specials for children, seniors and the first show of the day.

As for music, I often enjoy my favorite local jazz/funk/neo-soul fusion band for free at various venues around that city. Live music just does something good for the soul.

Nature and Architecture 

No matter where you live, there is usually some beautiful park, body of water or natural scenery that you can enjoy. My park of choice is Belle Isle in Detroit where I walk the perimeter (5 miles around so it’s a great workout too) and enjoy the view of the water and wildlife.  When it’s colder I like to drive along the shore headed East on Jefferson Avenue, passing through several small cities while enjoying the water to my right and big, beautiful homes to my left.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. This week (and every week hereafter) I challenge you to visit a venue that will ignite your creativity. 

If you haven’t done so already, check out part 1 of this series where we talk about making mental space. Next week we will discuss how to set up your work space and environment in a way that will motivate your muse.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make Mental Space (Momentum for Your Muse Series Part 1)

This past Saturday I had every intention of facilitating a custom workshop that I designed for the Motown Writers Network called “Momentum for Your Muse.” My body had other plans. It completely shut down on me and I was so sick that I could not move for over 24 hours. I still hope to facilitate this workshop at some point, but in the mean time I want to leave you with a series that highlights the main points and ideas from the workshop. This workshop was designed for writers, but it can be applied to any creative or business process. I’ll give you one small chunk to focus on each week to keep the momentum going for whatever project you are focused on for the New Year.

Make Mental Space

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

Our minds are often so cluttered with thoughts, ideas, tasks, responsibilities, drama and worries that little space is left for creativity. For most of us, the mental noise begins before we even wake up. We begin to go over our to-do list, we mull over things that happened the day before, we think about everything that has to be done and how little time we have to make it all happen. Whether it is a business plan, a workout plan, a recipe or a book, we must find a way to clear our mental space to be able to create.

Deep Restorative Breathing

Clearing you mind may be as simple as taking a series of deep restorative breaths. Breathe in deeply for a slow count of four through your nose and breathe out of your mouth deeply for a slow count of four. I recommend at least four of these deep breaths, but do as many as you need. Go ahead…try it now...

How did that feel?


Those deep breaths can lead to another common practice which is meditation. This is one that I have yet to master, because I find it extremely challenging to sit still.  There are many books, blogs and even classes on how to meditate, but the simple definition is the practice of concentrated focus. This focus can be on your breathing, a sound, an object or visualization. It can be used to contemplate or reflect. While meditating, be mindful not to let the millions of thoughts flood your brain again, that is why it is important to choose a focus.


“Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” – Julia Cameron

Another practice similar to meditation is prayer. Ask for forgiveness, give gratitude, as for what you want or need including the mental clarity and inspiration to be able to create. After the prayer, take a moment of time in still silence. We often pray and then keep it moving instead of waiting and listening for guidance, direction and instruction.


In the book, The Artist’s Way, the author, Julia Cameron suggests that we write what she calls Morning Pages every day. These are three pages written in a journal or notebook about any and everything that is on our minds. These writings are not meant to be creative or profound (though they may end up that way), they are just meant to take all of the stuff that is in our minds and put it on the page to clear that space for creativity.

This week I challenge you to try one or all of these methods to make mental space for that which you desire to create. Next week we will explore how you can spark or ignite that creativity once the space has been made.