Posts tagged ‘Judy Clement Wall’

2016, March 4

Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices

I’m so happy to share with you today a guest post by Judy Clement Wall. We published her article, Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices, on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running, but since it closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.
Hope you enjoy these tips as much as I have!

~~~

Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices

Feeling stuck? Try these tips for moving past the occasional (inevitable) bout of writers

1. Go on an adventure (and take notes).

Last month, I went on a 4-day road trip – 1265 miles to drop my son off at college. I was an emotional wreck, as moms saying goodbye to their children often are, but I knew the trip would provide a lot of writing material, so every night, before I went to bed, I made a list of all the interesting things I could remember from the day. When I got home, I had four pages of notes, a lot of them things I wouldn’t have remembered if I’d waited until I got home to start writing. So far, from those notes, I’ve written a piece for Huffington Post, an essay for a literary collection, and a blog

Even if you can’t afford to take four days off and drive, take a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon and go somewhere you’ve never been before. Be observant. Talk to strangers. Watch scenes unfold and then imagine them differently.

2. Shamelessly eavesdrop.

I’ve taken to eavesdropping in coffee shops. It amazes me the stories I can invent over the span of an unsuspecting victim’s cup of coffee. And really, sometimes you don’t even have to work that hard. Once I listened to the first date of a couple who’d met on Match.com. When I got up to leave, he was telling her about his ex-wife’s cat’s urinary tract infection. I wanted to rescue her, grab her hand on my way out and make a break for it. In the story version of that date, I’d have done it.

3. Close your laptop (or whatever you write in).

Most of the time, it’s best to keep your butt in the chair and hammer something out, even if it’s ugly. You can make it pretty later, and it’s better to get something (anything!) down, than give up. That’s how the hard work gets done.

But there are times when sheer, dogged determination isn’t enough to break through the block, and trying to pound through it only leaves you feeling defeated. At those times, go live your life. Plant something, take a friend to lunch, wrestle with your dog. Sometimes when you’re truly empty, there’s nothing to do but go out and fill the well.

4. Wonder about weird stuff.

Recently I was on a hike with a friend, and we were talking about a news story he’d read a few years ago. The story was about a plane crash that killed many people. My friend said that when they listened to the cockpit recording later, it was clear that the pilot and copilot had been fighting over a flight attendant they were both involved

I asked my friend if both men were single, and he said he didn’t know. I said, “Imagine if one of them wasn’t, and his widow hears after his death that not only was he having an affair, he killed a lot of people while fighting over his mistress.”

My friend said, “no one but you would ever wonder about that,” but writers wonder about weird things.

5. Read outside your genre.

I only recently started doing this. I read and write literary fiction and nonfiction, but in 2012 I decided to read at least one book (or manuscript) each year that I wouldn’t normally choose. Reading outside my comfort zone puts me in a less analytical, more easily surprised frame of mind, which is right where I want to be when I sit down to do my own work.

6. Doodle.

The definition of “doodle” is “scribble aimlessly.” How great is that? When you’re stuck, do a little aimless scribbling. Let your mind go. Think of it as recess, then come back to your work-in-progress when you feel refreshed.

7. Use social media as a muse.

Social media is not just for platform building. There are some smart fascinating, funny, talented people on the internet. Follow them. Not the ones who talk only about their impressive word counts or latest book signing, but the ones who make you laugh aloud (or gasp, or blush) with their irreverent updates and observations.

I even have a special suggestion for flash fiction writers. Meg Pokrass writes and teaches flash fiction. Her work has been published all over the place and has been nominated many times for the Pushcart Prize anthology. I follow her on Facebook because her updates are wild, funny, piercing works of flash fiction in themselves, and she often posts several in a day. Inspiration at your Facebook-y fingertips.

~~~

BioPic2More about the author:

Judy Clement Wall’s short stories, essays, reviews and interviews have been published in numerous literary print journals and websites, including Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Used Furniture Review, Kind Over Matter, and Smith Magazine. You can read more of her work at JudyClementWall.com

2016, January 12

The Flos

I’ve admired Judy Clement Wall’s ability to doodle for as long as she’s been at it. Her art is beautiful, and ever since I saw her first creation, I wanted to try doodling.
Yet somehow, I almost always put it off. Sometimes I doodled, but not nearly as often as I would’ve liked to. And when I did, I was never happy with the output. My self-portrait from last week for example, looks nothing like me…

Last week, I saw an e-book on Amazon that looked interesting, so I added it to my shelf and started reading immediately. It’s called “DOODLE ART HANDBOOK: The Non-Artist’s Guide in Creative Drawing”, and even though I’m only 20% done with it, I like it.
I like that it inspired me to print out some coloring pages, and color again. (Like when I first printed out and colored some of j’s coloring pages.) I also printed out some doodle-art pocket calendars to color.
And I like that this book inspired me to actually start doodling myself.

It’s hard for me to let go and just doodle. I think that is because I like structure, rules and on any given day I am stressed (usually for time).
But after I washed my hair this week and while waiting for it to dry, I turned off my laptop, made a cup of tea, put my phone on silent, opened the book to read the instructions and started doodling. I tried to quiet my conscious mind. I doodled. And I did so in a really pretty notebook my friend Janel sent me like 5 or so years ago and which I kept putting off using in the hopes of someday getting into drawing.

doodling notebook

The first doodle I tried is the Flos, and find that it’s a simple creation which looks really wonderful when complete. It was fun following the pattern that I started, and had a rush of creativity as the blank page slowly filled in.
Halfway through the page, I switched to larger lines of the same pattern. It felt bold!
Once I finished the doodle, I went over it again and added further details which now make it look so much more complicated than it truly was to draw.
Below is my doodle, in case you were wondering. Next up? Petals! ;)

the flos

I am happy with my doodle, and less stressed. It’s as close as I could get to meditating. I like it.

2016, January 6

No Auditioning & Drawing a self-portrait

The assignments for the last two weeks in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly were to not audition for love, and to draw a self-portrait (or seven).

I have a natural tendency toward putting myself last and people-pleasing, so during the week of no auditioning it was quite hard to actually follow up on the assignment. It would’ve been so much easier to just go where I was told, do what was expected of me no questions asked and caring for everyone around me first before “getting” to myself.

Truth is, I know I have the choice of saying “No” to things, that I should act on my own priorities and values.
So I aksed myself “what are the most important things to me?” question and took it from there. I stalled when I could, and said I needed to think about things/favors when that was the case. I thought about how stressful it would be for me to undertake said favor, how much pressure I would feel. I considered if it was worth it, and if I actually had the time to do it or what I would need to give up in order to free time for that specific thing.
I also tried something new to me and gave myself a kind of time limit, like “I’m only free for this during 9 am to 11 am.” for example, I said “No” with conviction, and also did my best to not give excuses – which is always a temptation for me as I want people to understand my reasoning (but it usually backfires because it gives people wiggle room to try and help me find time, resources, etc. for what they ask of me).
I’m convinced I’m a good path, and will do my best to continue doing these things instead of auditioning for love.

As for the self-portrait? Well, I drew it this morning since I took last week off from my blog without any notice – we went on a short trip with the BF and I wanted to focus on just the two of us and sight-seeing.

draw a self-portrait

How was your holiday season? Did you manage not auditioning for love? How tough was it? Are you a natural people-pleaser, too? Did you draw a self-portrait? I’d love to see it, if so!

PS: If you’re interested in giving this a go in 2016, you can buy the 52-52 guide in the shop.

2015, December 23

Love the one you’re with

In the year of loving ourselves fearlessly, last week we were to love the one we’re with. j mentions this in the 52-52 guide thinking of encounters with people who choose to get their real-life discussions interrupted and pay more attention to their phone rather than the person they’re with. I dislike that, too. The Huffington Post has some great articles on the subject of technology overload.

So last week, I paid even more attention to not checking my phone (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) when I was with people.
On the one hand, it wasn’t too hard – at work I had a lot to do and didn’t go out to lunch, and by the time I finished work I was already exhausted. Even more so by the time we got home, past 10 pm every night so I didn’t really get the chance to think about wanting to do anything but love the one I was with.

On the other hand though it dawned on me that it’s not necessarily only when people check their phones while with someone that they don’t pay true attention to that person in their real, physical world. You could be e-mailing your friend who doesn’t reply. Or trying to share your good news over a Skype chat with someone who’s upset and can only focus on that instead of your good news. Or you could be trying to have a conversation with someone who is not listening to you only wanting to talk about themselves.
I think the latter hurts more than one simply checking their phone during your date.

 

The assignment for Week 51 is No Auditioning. In j’s words, “There are things you should do for love, like: be fearless, trust, get vulnerable, forgive […] but you should never have to audition for love, this week… or ever.”

The assignment for Week 52 is to Draw a Self-Portrait. “Don’t worry, this isn’t an artistic thing (necessarily), it’s more of a “what do you want to capture about you and your life RIGHT NOW” thing. It doesn’t matter if the portrait looks like you, or even if it looks like a person. Here’s what I wish for you.
1) That you are able to let go of any notion of good or bad, or right or wrong here; that, instead, you are able to dance with yourself, capture the you that maybe only you know.
2) That you draw yourself lovingly. Even if your picture is about what scares or frustrates you, draw it as a friend would – with compassion, with tenderness.”

How was your week? Did you love the one you were with? Do you think people around you are distracted by their phones? Or are they just plain uninterested?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, December 15

Going on an adventure

The assignment for last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to go on an adventure. Truth be told, I couldn’t go on just any adventure, because I stayed home in bed with a cold for four out of five days of the week, but on Saturday, I went to a Christmas Concert.

I went over to my mom’s place and helped her with some cleaning, took some lovely #25DayBookmas photos (since 99% of my books live there), we had lunch together, and then headed downtown. Somehow I haven’t seen Union Square in the evening yet as it’s all lit up, so we went by there and had a leisurely stroll through the Santa’s Village handmade fair looking at all the cute presents on display. From there, we headed to church for the Christmas Concert.

I’ve mentioned this concert before in a travel article I wrote about Christmastime here in my city. Each year I try to attend my old high school’s Christmas concert. The concert is held at the Downtown Reformed Church about a week before Christmas.

The church has recently been renovated, so the whole experience and concert was even more magical than in previous years. It was packed, just as always, and my mom and I managed to squeeze into a seat (both of us in the same seat, yes). After about twenty minutes though, we gave our seat to an older woman and remained standing for the rest of the concert.
It was on the longer side, they had a short performance by the middle school choir, the main performance by the high school choir, and a short performance by the former alumni choir who also performed a few carols together with the high school choir.

It was such a wonderful evening! A true, magical adventure. I took some pics and videos, go see on Instagram, as they’re currently at the top of my feed.

The assignment for Week 50 is to Love the One You’re With. I have to share what j says about this, as it’s something that drives me nuts, too.
“True confessions: It makes me crazy when people I’m with interrupt our conversation to engage with their cell phones. One of the reasons that I don’t have a smart phone is because I think it might turn me into someone who does that. Honestly, I don’t want to be that plugged in. I don’t want to make anyone else feel the way I’ve felt sitting across from someone in the wake of their decision that whatever is happening on their phone is more important than… well… me.
Because, don’t kid yourself. That’s the decision you’ve made when you answer your phone, or text, or check your email-Twitter-Facebook-stock-stats while someone sits across from you, waiting for you to get back to them.
This week, if it’s not an emergency, don’t do it. Pay attention to the people in your real, physical world. Watch. Listen. Choose, consciously, to love the one you’re with. They’ve showed up, after all. The least you can do is show up too.”

How was your week? Did you go on an adventure? Do you usually follow your heart and go out on your own for adventures? Or do you need a little push from family or friends to get out of your comfort zone or your daily routine?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, December 8

Start a Best-Thing Journal

Last week in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly the assignment was to start a Best-Thing Journal. So, at the end of each day, I wrote one sentence that answers the question, “What was the best thing about today?” Here’s my week, in answers:

  1. Monday – Received breakfast in bed (and also coffee, and lunch, and tea, and chocolate.)
  2. Tuesday – Spent the evening cuddling with the BF, watching our current series.
  3. Wednesday – Slept in for a bit and woke up to kitty kisses.
  4. Thursday – Found a good Secret Santa gift.
  5. Friday – Had a great time at the firm’s X-Mas Party (tried a new cocktail I never had before, Blueberry Highlife).
  6. Saturday – Had french fries for lunch, with Fajita seasoning.
  7. Sunday – Went on a road trip to visit the Corvin Castle in Hunedoara, just the two of us.

The assignment for Week 49 is to Go on an Adventure. j defines it as:
“…little adventures lead to bigger ones, and big adventures lead to new understandings, expanded horizons, accelerated upward trajectories. Evolution is all about change. It’s about leaving behind what doesn’t serve you and reaching bravely for what does. It’s not easy, but the key to personal evolution is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This week, go on an adventure. Rename your discomfort “the thrill of discovery”.”

How was your week? Did you start a best-thing journal? What do you have on it? If you haven’t written one yet, it’s not too late – not much time has passed since last Monday! Feel free to write your list below in the comments section, I’d love to see what the best things in your every day were last week!

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2015, December 2

Be openly magnificent

Last week’s assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Be Openly Magnificent.
Now, I don’t know if all I did this past week falls under the ‘magnificent’ category, but I did do my best to live my life to the fullest without trying to fit in and please everyone else. I guess I just needed the reminder to do so, because it somehow seemed easier this week. (Oh, and I wore red. I just needed to mention it here.)

One of the best moments of my week was when a friend from work said “You are so sweet with your passions” when I was telling her that I needed to stop by the post office today and mail the handmade Christmas cards I made/wrote for friends over the weekend.

On another note, I’d like to share an idea with you. I saw this last evening on Instagram, and thought is was such a cute idea! I’ll have to see how exactly I make it work, given 99% of my books are at mom’s place, but I wanna play!

25daybookmas

Here’s what Jenny Bravo says about it:
“During the month of December, Blots & Plots is hosting #25DayBookmas on Instagram and we want YOU to share your book photos!
How to play:
1. Screenshot the above photo + share to your own Instagram account.
2. Follow the prompts daily! I’ll be sharing my photos here, and I can’t wait to see yours.
3. Upload your photos based on the prompt + tag 
#25DayBookmas! {Add other tags to up the awareness.} #tags
That’s it! Pretty easy, right? Don’t forget to share this challenge with your friends + get your photos ready! Bring on the holiday spirit! #bookstagram#igreads @blotsandplots

The assignment for Week 48 is to Start a Best-Thing Journal. Like j says:
“This week, at the end of each day, write one sentence that answers the question, “What was the best thing about today?” Even the shittiest days contain nuggets of good – the guy who held the door open for you, the seven straight green lights, the unexpected email from a friend. This week, focus on the good best stuff.”

I actually started doing something similar several months ago, but then stopped mid-“project”.
Let’s see if I can go back and pick up the habit again. It’d be interesting to read a year’s worth of best things, if only I keep to jotting them down at the end of each day.

How was your week? Were you openly magnificent? Did you sing out loud, take a different path, or buy something others wouldn’t approve of? Did it come easily to be yourself and live life the way you really want to, or did you need reminders along the way?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

%d bloggers like this: