Paper and Pen and Presence

Happy New Year!

The end of one year and beginning of another is my favorite time. It’s a time for reflection and celebration. A time for honoring what once was and embracing what is to come. And, it’s a time when I feel ever-present in what this moment is right now.

As most of you know who have followed my journey, my first five years out of college were filled with a series of big transitions – moves across the country to new cities, numerous career changes, getting engaged and married. My life was in constant flux, and I rarely felt grounded in anything. Yet during those years, I made some big decisions for myself as a writer. I launched this blog, I began freelancing, and I started putting myself and my writing out into the world in a way I’d never done before.

In 2017, all the pieces of my life felt like they fell into place for the first time since I left my home state of Georgia back in 2011. I established a home with my husband in New York City and finally had the time and energy to focus on refining my business. I bid farewell to ARTicles of Clothing and debuted Grey Ghost – the first step toward developing my business in the direction I’m most passionate about and claiming my identity not only as a writer but also as an entrepreneur. Yes, re-branding my business and unveiling Grey Ghost was a big step, but it was just the first one.

After taking my content marketing business to the next level, it was time for step two: re-focusing my time and energy on my creative writing and my goal of publishing a book of fiction.

My fellow writers and artists know you have to commit wholeheartedly to a routine to compose a body of work. It requires unwavering dedication and undisturbed concentration. It requires writing each and every day. It requires making space, physically and mentally. So, I spent a month time-tracking and getting really honest about how I used each moment of my week personally and professionally. And, the number one, nonessential thing that drained my physical and mental energy every day was social media.

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been more quiet than usual on social media for the past couple months. That’s because I decided to do a test-run of limiting my time on social media to once a week.

So, while I dedicate 2018 to beginning to write my book, I’ll be taking my writing offline, taking a hiatus from this blog, and continuing to log in to social media only once a week.

If you’d like to get in touch, reach out via email – I look forward to staying connected with you!

 

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The Next Chapter

This is where it all started. Before I left my job and committed my life and career to my true passion and calling, I launched this blog. It was the first step toward reclaiming my identity as a writer.

As my business grew, my attention here dwindled. For the past three years, I put my clients first. And last fall, I stopped writing on this blog entirely.

My first five years out of college were filled with a series of big transitions – moves across the country to new cities, numerous career changes, getting engaged and married. My life was in constant flux, and I rarely felt grounded in anything.

This year is the first time since I left my home state of Georgia back in 2011 that I finally feel like I’ve planted my roots. I’ve established a home in New York City, and I’ve focused my time and energy on refining my business.

Today, I’m bidding farewell to ARTicles of Clothing and launching my new brand, Grey Ghost. Now that I’ve taken my content marketing business to the next level, it’s time to return to this important place where my journey as a professional writer began.

I’m passionate about my work as a content marketer. I love connecting with people, becoming immersed in their businesses and their industries, and showing them how to use language to create a voice for their brands and to build lasting connections in the digital space.

But in my heart, I’m a creative writer, a poet, and a storyteller. My ultimate desire is to publish a book of fiction, to be an author, to share my words, my creative potential, my narrative.

My new focus is on the next chapter of this blog and moving towards that goal, starting with a collection of what I’ve been writing over the past year.

Creative Habit: Honor the Process

I started this series in August 2015 on the founding principles of Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit.

            “The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more.”

I fully believe that creativity is not just something you simply wait around for, hoping it will come. It’s not something that strikes you out of thin air. It’s not a stroke of magic. Creativity is something you work for, tirelessly, day in and day out. But in this belief, I fear I’ve lost track of the fact that the routine is not a part of creativity itself but a part of the creative process.

Creativity has been and always will be a process. In today’s world – a world that’s obsessed with results and a world that tells you only have value and worth when you’re producing creative output – it’s no wonder that creatives are losing sight of the beauty and possibility and joy in the process.

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For about six months now, I’ve been cultivating something – I’ve been deep in the creative process. In the spring, my objective was to achieve the end product by this fall. In the summer, my goal shifted, and I set out to complete the process by the end of the year. Now, it’s mid-October, and I can clearly see and feel – I know – the process isn’t over yet.

No, I’m not waiting for a lightning bolt of inspiration. I’m simply honoring the creative process and allowing myself to be present in the somewhat uncomfortable flux that comes before you reach that pivotal moment when you release a creative project into the world.

You can make a creative routine. You can practice creativity every day. You can work on your craft every spare moment. You can explore other creative mediums and fill yourself with creative inspiration whenever possible. But you can’t force the creative process, nor should you. In fact, you should savor it, linger in it, and enjoy it.

This month, challenge yourself to honor your creative process. Slow down. Appreciate the journey. Stop measuring yourself and pressuring yourself. Don’t just sit and wait for creativity to fall into your lap, but don’t rush your creative process.

Creative Habit: Allow

It has officially been a month since I lasted published on this blog. I’d like to say this was intentional or a result of writer’s block. I’d like to say I have an amazing story to tell about a great adventure I took over the past thirty-plus days.

The truth is, it has been one of the most strange and unusual summers. There have been a lot of unexpected personal and professional opportunities and obligations that have come my way. The truth this, this month-long hiatus wasn’t intentional at all, it crept up on me quite suddenly when I flipped the calendar page to August, and I thought to myself, where did the time go?

One thing I can share about the past thirty days is that, although I’ve not been channeling my creativity into this blog, I’ve made time for it elsewhere – in dance, in poetry, in a much needed weekend retreat. And now that I finally have time to come back here, to this space, I realize that it’s time for another Creative Habit Challenge.

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I’ve learned a lot over the past month, but one of the most important things – the thing I’d like to share with you – is to allow.

Life is not a content calendar with carefully scheduled blog and social media posts. Life is much bigger and better than that, more unpredictable than that, more exciting than that. So allow yourself to live when life comes at you.

Allow creativity to flow in the means you’re given. It doesn’t have to be on the blog you’ve built for three years or the YouTube channel you’ve grown from the ground up. Sure, don’t abandon your commitment to those things, don’t forgo the countless amounts of time, energy, and effort you’ve poured into them, but, at the same time, don’t let these things hold you back from something more.

Allow yourself to let go of one item on your to-do list, to make room for something else. Allow yourself to do this without explanation, rationalization, judgement, or guilt. Allow yourself to embrace the wild uncertainties of life. Allow yourself to indulge in a new opportunity. Allow yourself to be present in whatever is happening in your life right at this very moment.

Above all, allow yourself to release whatever is holding you back from being creative. Do this with mindfulness – don’t up and flee your city, get fired from your job, lose your partner, get evicted from your apartment, and scare your loved ones – but just allow yourself to let go and live. Allow yourself to let creativity in.

Creative Habit: Cultivate Community

The creative process can be inherently introspective and isolating. In previous posts, I’ve even talked about intentionally making the creative process private in order to allow you to really connect deep within yourself and avoid external judgement or comparison. I believe that the creative process is a highly personal cycle and that there is value in keeping it intimate and internally focused. However, I also believe that cultivating a creative community can benefit both the creative process and the creator.

As the old saying goes, opposites attract. I find that creatives are often drawn to non-creatives. By nature, creatives can tend to be more abstract and intuitive. Building close relationships with more logical and rational beings helps to maintain balance in creative life and keep creative ideas grounded. It’s great for creatives to be well-rounded and have a more analytical perspective throughout the creative process – they can benefit from a non-creative community of loving friends and family, but this is only a part of the puzzle. It’s essential that creatives also have a community of more like-minded individuals to support them.

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Creativity is subjective. Period. It goes without saying that subjectivity is something more logical, rational beings have a hard time wrapping their minds around. Creativity rarely has a tangible motive or result. Whether creativity is an inherent part of you or something that fulfills you and fuels you, the most concrete outcome of creativity is contentedness. Without a community that includes other creatives, you may never fully believe that is reason enough to be creative.

Start today, right now. If you feel like you don’t have anyone else creative in your life to be part of your community and support system, start here. I’m here to tell you that being creative solely to feel content and fulfilled is enough. When you feel whole and complete, you’re able to give the most to your job, your loved ones, and your life. If creativity is what makes you your best, most authentic self, embrace it, accept it, and never let it slip away.

For this month’s AOC Blog Creative Habit Challenge, focus on cultivating your creative community. Connect with your creative friends, co-workers, Facebook groups, meetups – whatever and whoever it may be. Perhaps you’ve thought about developing your own creative community and this is the push you need to get started. Maybe you’re feeling disconnected from other creatives and don’t know where to start. I invite you to connect with me – I constantly crave more creatives in my life!