for the Creatives

4 steps to the creative process

  1. It starts with an idea. A spark. Inspiration. Like attending a creative arts conference or a lego art exhibit. That was my summer. 

  2. Then it’s about building in the routine. Not daily necessarily, just consistently. This year, I have a friend building her writing routine alongside me, you might remember her from the prior blogpost: Jenn. 

  3. And always, it’s about growth. Learning from those ahead of you. I want to use the gifts I’ve been given well – I don’t want to take the responsibility and the trust lightly. I always want to tell the best story I can and get it in front of those who will truly connect with it. 

    That’s why this year I’m investing in the Created to Thrive mentoring program of Matt Tommey’s. I’ll be studying and improving every week, and hopefully you’ll get to see it. 

And amidst all that, and amidst “regular life” stuff of chores and errands and dayjob and family and friends…there’s the 4th step: rest. When I really get going, that’s the piece that I can let go too easily. 

9 months. No, I don’t mean to birth a baby or a book. 9 months to recover from birthing a book. On October 23, “I Know You Like a Murder” will be 1 years old. A couple months of post-publication work, then the beginning of this year I was burnt out. I had no bookish goals for the year because I didn’t want to push myself again.

But I can now say it takes 9 months to bounce back and try to spend every waking moment working on writers life again. This time, I’m trying to build in rest better. Friends are helping me gauge when I’m slacking and when I’m resting. Next time I proceed more carefully, find rest throughout the process, and bounce back quicker.

What’s your best tip to building rest into your hectic life? Comment below and teach me your secrets. And which step of the creative process are you working on? 

for the Creatives

Not everyone has the time all the time

Saying “I don’t have the time” is most of the time and for most people an excuse, not an actuality. It’s simply a matter of reprioritizing.

But, that is not true for everyone. That is not true all of the time.

You have to be honest with yourself for yourself: Is saying “I don’t have the time” right now an excuse or a legitimate reason? I have to ask myself this question semi-regularly. Only you can decide.

But I’m learning one thing: Time to create is a privilege. When I have it, I try to honor it. I try to proceed with grace and gratitude for the moments and space that I have. I don’t always succeed.

And there are legitimate times where we don’t have the time and the space to create. I try to honor that too. To not guilt-trip or push. I don’t always succeed.

I try to be honest with where I’m at each moment. I don’t always succeed. It’s a process. It’s this attempt at that elusive thing called “balance”. And it’s okay to not get it right all the time. At least, so I remind myself. And today is a day that I wanted to remind myself, and I thought maybe I’d remind you too while I’m at it.

for the Creatives

How to do ALL THE THINGS as a multi-creative

I write stories and blogposts, and I teach, and I have dayjob and family and friends and I should probably try to live healthy like go to the gym and prep veggies, oh and Marie Kondoing my life is pretty important right now, plus I travel a lot to see my Wisconsin Guy (I mean, my only guy, but he’s also my Wisconsin Guy), plus there’s church and there’s serving my community, and let’s not forget Netflix. Phew, I’m wiped! Oh, and I need sleep! Yes, sleep. ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzzz.

In maintaining my writerly entrepreneurial life, I have book writing, blogging, social media updates, email newsletter, patron updates, book signings and events, writers groups, teaching classes, #DelilahTales updates about my mannequin’s life because why not, artistic fashion resale, directing the literary arts section of a Christian creative arts conference, and of course a dayjob to make this all possible.

And, in case ya didn’t notice from above, I’m not even the most multi-creative human out there. Some of y’all out there write and dance and paint and act and and all the things. Some of y’all have kids. Some of y’all have 3 jobs. Let’s be real: Some of y’all are busier than me.

But in juggling all the things, I’ve learned a few tips I thought I’d pass along. If you feel like you’re bombing your resolutions, it’s okay. Let’s reset. Let’s take another month to figure it out, and I won’t tell anybody. 

In a previous post I gave a micro-step about picking which ball you’ll keep in the air, but there’s a whole process to go deeper into re-evaluating each piece of your life and getting a few steps closer to doing the things that you’re actually wanting to do with the time you have.

Here’s my step by step process to prioritizing. I did it back when I got serious about my writing, and routinely I’ve re-evaluated and adjusted from there. It might help you.

When I began to make a regular writing routine, but didn’t have time for it, I did the following:

  1. Made a list of priorities, which included all the things I want to be the focus of my life for the time. This can include activities and abstract concepts: community, faith, writing, blogging, etc.
  2. Made a separate list of obligations, the things I don’t want to be the focus of my life but I have to give some time to. This also includes activities and abstract concepts: health (nutrition and gym), rest days, dayjob, sleep, etc.
  3. Goal of the above: diminish as much time as possible for obligations – for instance from my life, don’t work overtime if possible, don’t set some ridiculous gym goal, choose quicker healthy foods rather than hours of meal prep, have one rest day a week but not lounging for weeks on end, etc.  – and add the priorities to calendar wherever possible, organize life around those things.
  4. Made a separate list that detailed every single thing I spend my time doing currently. Included sleep, gym, meal prep, movie watching, reading, writers group, church small group, church services, work, writing, watching tv shows with a couple friends, babysitting, etc.
  5. Removed everything from my calendar that was part of that last list but not on the other lists. I noticed one small group I attended was not a community to me, but the other was, so I dropped the one that did not factor into my priority of “community”. I stopped babysitting. Cut the TV show watching with friends mostly, and prioritized writerly relationship meetings that help achieve my writing priority.
  6. Anything that came up to add to my calendar, I weighed on this scale: Is this in line with my priorities? Yes, then add it. Is this more under obligation? Okay, I’ll add it if I need to allot time to this still. Is this neither? Nope, can’t do it, I’m busy.

Notes:

  • This will fluctuate with time. Going through this process isn’t thinking “For the rest of my life, where does this fall?” It’s “Right now, where does this fall? For this season, what do I want my life to look like?” Maybe decluttering is priority because Marie Kondo and spring cleaning vibes. But then, you declutter, congratulations by the way, and suddenly you want music and sleep to be your top priority instead. This isn’t set in stone for all time. So ask yourself, for the next year or 6 months or 3 months, what you want it to look like.
  • The “obligation” category isn’t a bad section. You can even enjoy obligations very much (three cheers for sleep!). Obligations are still very much important and given regular time, just not extra. It’s important I go to the gym, spend time with family, sleep, attend my church, serve my community, work, write…but it’s all a question of which things I will allot time and not give extra time to (obligation), and which ones I need to fill my calendar as full as I can with because they’re my focus (priority).
  • For you: Which creative pursuits are an obligation? Which creative pursuits are a priority? Either way is fine. What about family? friends? health? cleaning your house? netflix? reading? gaming? travel? What about all your other activities? It’s all up to you. There’s no wrong list, it’s just personal to your life goals, aspirations, desires, etc.

Final step, I promise:

With the list of priorities and what gets what time, you want those priorities in order. What’s your top priority if you had to lose everything but one? What’s your second priority? And so on down the list. Once you do that, fit them each into your calendar on a regular basis in accordance with your prioritization, but you always know what drops first if you can’t hit it and you always know what gets any extra time you carve out.

So is your top priority theater? Novel? Blogging? Give your top priority the most of your focus/time/energy. Give a little time to the others. Maybe some will be every day, some every week, and some only every month. Who knows. But don’t focus so much on juggling all your lower priorities that you don’t give the time to your top priority.

It’s okay to want a lot of things, and you’ll figure out what works for you balance-wise with time.

You don’t have to do ALL THE THINGS. At least not all at once. Choose a couple for now. Add some in when you have room, take some off when you don’t. Most importantly, cut down as much “obligation” time as you can and throw it all at your “priorities” list. Something beautiful will come of it.

New top secret content for you!

If you like my detailed analytical posts like this one, it’s becoming a new perk for my most raving fans. From now on, these will be top secret content you can receive one of two ways:

  1. An abridged version of any new post is sent to those who receive my posts by email. You can sign up for free at the very bottom of my webpage. 
  2. The all-access pass for the archives and any future exclusive posts is available to paying patrons for just $2/mo. You can sign up at Patreon.com/AmyLSauder

The only question is, which will you choose?

for the Creatives

Tip for Creating: Don’t make it perfect

At first: 
Don’t make it perfect. 
  • Make it wild.
  • Make it experimental. 
  • Make it fun.  
  • Make it imaginative.
  • Make it risky.
  • Make it yours. 
Perfect can come later. For now, just make it. 

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Hey yo, I post creative & dreamerly tips like this on my Patreon. If ya need a burst of inspiration, a kick in the pants, or practical tips for achieving your creative dreams, check it out 🙂 

 

for the Creatives

Creative coaching for just $2/month

My Patreon is for two types of people.

1. Do you believe in my dream?

If you’ve been following me awhile, maybe you’ve bought in wholeheartedly to what I’m doing. Maybe when you say you believe in me, you actually believe in me.

If that’s you: Do you believe in my dream, like that my work is worth more than a box of mac n cheese? You can invest in that dream. Buy me mac n cheese & I’ll mail you an autographed copy of the Cast of Characters for my book.

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Then once I’m a big deal, you sell it on ebay for even more $$$ & we laugh at the scoffers who’d rather have mac n cheese now than fortune later (although really, who can blame them…)

 

2. More importantly, do you believe in your own dream?

Do you need motivation & tips to get your dream moving forward? Good news! I now offer creative coaching for just $2/month (coincidentally, enough for me to buy a box of mac n cheese.) You can see what other clients have to say about my creative coaching, then hop over to my Patreon and invest a little bit in your dream.

Psst… I’ll tell you a secret since you’re my people: For now, you can sign up & trial run, then back out before the 1st if you don’t think it’s worth the mac n cheese you’re missing out on.

Central IL

Ignite Peoria & 500 wishes

Ignite Peoria is a creative arts event in my city. It’s happened a few years now, but this was my first year attending.

Of course I had to dress creatively for the event, and had to get a picture of my fun outfit:

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It’s not quite like most creative arts fairs where you attend and look at artists booths and buy so many beautiful things. It has that aspect, but it’s more interactive.  There’s speakers and performances. My friend Kim and I enjoyed learning about whips – and of course discussed how to implement that into our stories 🙂

I don’t actually know how many people attended and hung wishes on the tree, but about 1000 were “Interested” in the event on Facebook, and about 500 clicked “Attending” on the Facebook event. So I figure 500 is a good estimate.

As you entered the event, there was a breathtaking display with a Wishing Tree and tables and tables of trinkets to create a visual representation of your hopes and dreams:

 

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Kim and I created our trinkets and hung them, but the end result of so many Peoria wishes was stunning:

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All in all, we had a blast and can’t wait til next year. We met some great people and had a great time exploring so many of the art forms:

 

Oh, and of course there was this gorgeous floral backdrop, and Kim insisted “We have to get a picture of the back of your head there!” She knows my brand, and let that be a branding lesson for you all 😉 haha

 

for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives, Stories

Stories on why we create

Creativity isn’t finite. The more you give, the more you have. That’s a philosophy I want to live by, and Ksenia does too.

Ksenia Anske sends cards with personalized stories to her readers. So when she sent one for my writers’ group, I volunteered to facilitate our writers prompt and had everyone write her a story back.

Ksenia

Because stories are meant to be shared, and a writer can only hide their stories for so long before some need to spill out, even if it’s in short form 🙂

And now we’re going to share those stories with you, stories to encourage you to create.

Jenn

“With this final bit of paper and fragment of graphite I beg of you to continue on what I can do no longer. I brought their gruesome reign into the world and now with these last meager strokes I must pass the mantle onto another. They came from my mind you see, in murderous retribution. The misshapen wolf-child led the way howling in agony that I had abandoned him. My mind had pulled the sparks of his essence together but I had trapped him there. But he escaped, and he brought the millions of forgotten characters with him. The creatures control my mind, and have managed to get a link to every human brain. If I stop writing (I haven’t much longer now) without another to take my place the world ends. Pick up your pen. Go.” – by Jenn Wieland

Kim

“There once was a woman who decided to try writing. At first she was thrilled and excited, but then she met the rejection monster who gnawed at her amazing manuscript.

The brave writer stabbed the dreaded monster with her mighty pen. The monster shrieked and died at her feet. The amazing writer skinned the beast and made a cloak that she wore in the frigid winter.

The amazing writer walked proudly down the published road with her rejection coat wrapped around her shoulders.” – by Kim Kouski

Andy

“Once upon a time a young girl named Ksenia yearned to be an author, a writer. Over the years she succeeded but oh, she grew so weary and discouraged. Then one night she had a dream. She seemed transported into fairyland, with castles and dragons, knights – and a blight – a blasted desert where nothing lived. She asked a handsome knight, ‘Why? Why is fairyland blighted?’ He said sadly, ‘Those are the regions of fairyland where our goddess Ksenia has never written about.’ The end.” – by Andy Zach

Yasmeen

“Once upon a time, there lived a sixteen-year-old girl who found a book buried beneath a pile of ruins… The girl had never seen a real book before, let alone written words and paper. This book had a red toy train on the cover.

Books were only something people have heard about – a distant memory for few. And here it is… the last book in existence wedged between her fingers. ‘Our race can be saved!’ the girl thought. ‘Finally our world will not be mute and the curse will be broken.'” – by Yasmeen

Amy

“As the dancer danced, flowers popped up around her toes and danced with her. They danced the words – the flowers and her – until a flower castle appeared. The dancer danced the word “wing”, and up sprouted the wings and lifted the word dancer to the tippy top. ‘I will make my home here,’ she danced.” – by Amy L Sauder – uhh, me 🙂

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So that’s the stories. Now go out and make your own creations! And then share it with the world, give it away in some form somewhere 🙂 Pass on Ksenia’s enchantment <3

(Psst! If you want to know more about Ksenia who started this story card thing for me, you can see her website, social media, and read about all the ways I want to be like her when I writerly grow up.) 

 

for the Writers

10 writing experiments to avoid

My friend was going to do a writing experiment, but was worried I as her writing coach wouldn’t approve. So I sent her a comprehensive list of all the experiments I disapprove of. If you’re thinking of experimenting with your writing, here’s a cautionary look at what experiments to avoid.

  •  Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you refuse to write until 5 years have passed.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you only write when inspired.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you never write again.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you only research your novel but never write.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you talk about your idea but never write.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you always say you’ll write “someday.”
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you’ll write when you retire.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you open up Facebook instead of write.
  • Oh no, you’re doing an experiment where you binge on movies and books and then talk about how you could write better, but you don’t actually ever write it to write better.
  • Oh no, you’re doing a writing experiment that somehow keeps you from writing entirely.

If you get any idea from this list, know that if you have a writing experiment in mind, I probably wholeheartedly embrace it! In fact, I think the best stories come from being innovative, playing with words, and experimenting.

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If you’re looking for permission to think outside the box, the building, the rules of story, the world of writing, consider this your invitation. Dabble all you want. Just keep writing 🙂

Fashion, My Creative Projects

Superhero divas need a cape

Unless you’re in the Incredibles of course 🙂

When my sister said it was superhero day for my Lil Niece (world, meet niece 1 of 3), it was way past halloween and she was just going to drop by the store and look for a cape the night before. Of course they don’t have a pink batman cape readily available year-round.

Auntie to the rescue! …see, some superheroes don’t wear capes 🙂 hehe.

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We found the following quite quickly:

  • shimmery pink cloth
  • a batman birthday card with a huge batman symbol to stencil
  • fabric glue (I’m not much of a seamstress)
  • black fabric paint

Then it was just a night of cutting, gluing the seams, and painting the batman symbol. Now Lil Niece is off to the rescue!

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She didn’t win for best costume because some girl wore a cop costume and said her daddy was her superhero (yeah, sweet, cheesy, and heroic, but not superheroism…mehh…) Still Lil Niece won life with a determined mama, creative auntie, and rockin’ diva cape!  She swooped around the house to save the day and loved her cape. And I have leftover material to make a matching one for Baby Niece when she gets older. Squeal! 🙂

I love finding a creative solution in everyday life. I’m no seamstress, I’m no painter, but it doesn’t turn out bad if you try.

 

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Fashion, My Creative Projects

My Christmas tree guards the gifts

I don’t need an Elf on a Shelf. My Christmas tree is my own gift guard, and she makes less of a mess. Meet Delilah. You can see her adventures (or misadventures) on my facebook and twitter under #DelilahTales. delilahtree

 

Delilah’s Christmas tree outfit didn’t just happen. Last year I had a test case (that turned out gorgeous!) and wrote a post on how you can make your own Christmas tree dress form too. This year, Delilah decorated herself, as you can see by the string of lights in her hand. (Yes, this is my cop-out – since it’s not the fanciest tree yet, she gets the credit 😉 ).

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Maybe next year I’ll get better and have it more elegant. Maybe next year I’ll find some way to make the skirt cover all her legs to be more tree-like. But for now, I’m so proud of my tree. Talk about a conversation piece! 🙂

If you want your own conversation piece, maybe see how I made mine and get started on your own. Then comment and let me know what you came up with!

Already have a creative tree? Why don’t you share in the comments? I’d love to see other creative holiday decor!

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