February 20, 2018
Note From Rochelle
When life dishes out dark, dreary days or difficult writing assignments, we need to find ways to cope. Author Ann Angel has interviewed writers and artists and created a beautiful post to help all of us care for ourselves and keep making art.
Let’s Send Love Letters to the World
Self-care tips for
Writers, Artists and Other Sensitive Folks
By Ann Angel
January arrived darkly cold, followed by a snowy and gray February for members of my novel writing class. One of my students commented that, if you pay attention to the world, to the reality that our environment is in danger of destruction, humanity could be racing toward extinction, and people just can’t get along if their values or views differ, creative energy is simply sucked right out of us. Clearly my students were downhearted and looking for a way to bring the early light of spring into their creative lives. I’m aware they weren’t the only ones.
Let’s face it, creative and sensitive people can fall into true depression and find ourselves focusing only on the sad and hopeless. So I asked friends, “When you’re feeling hopeless, scared, or blocked, what do you do to find creative inspiration and hope?”
They responded with some great ideas. Simple daily rituals help many shift their focus back to creative pursuits:
+Get out in nature as much as possible.
+Eat a cookie.
+Put on some music.
+Write it out.
Others provided specific examples for fighting that hopeless feeling. Writer and visual artist Marsha Rosenzweig Pincus, wrote, “I make things, beautiful things with my hands that I give to people I love.”
Writer Michelle Shelby Mahan wrote, “I felt continually blocked as a writer throughout the 25 years I gave to the craft. Then someone put a paintbrush in my hand. I accepted the familiar yet foreign object and began to paint. This change of expressing myself allowed me to see my life as moving, not just forward but in its totality…. Letting go is not easy but possible by accepting ourselves and our work, by accepting circumstances that bring light to us, often unexpectedly!”
A similar experience with changing up her creative tools and experience helped Wisconsin writer Georgia Beaverson. “Last year, I began to sketch again. Sometimes a different creative activity removes writing roadblocks. But I think it’s equally true that a block can be helpful because it’s the work’s way of telling you something needs changing.”
Taking care of energy through emotional healing works for some. Sheri Sinykin said, “Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) has helped my anxiety, hopelessness, and the need to feel centered” (www.thetappingsolution.com). “My creativity lately manifests in painting, not writing. Just completed a watercolor to honor my sister’s life, which is fading fast.”
Focusing on the soul helps quite a few creatives. Katie McGrath said she turns to God. Heather Lee Schroeder takes a break from the news, and “I do some sitting meditation with my mala beads. I do as many cycles with the beads and as much deep breathing as it takes to come down off the cliff. And then I spend some time with family, not thinking about anything related to creativity. That usually will unblock the channels.”
It’s possible that Harold Underdown, creator of The Purple Crayon and Kids’ Book Revisions websites and children’s book editor at Charlesbridge Publishing, is aware of the emotional lift Facebook friends experience when following his frequent chained tire updates. He spreads humor through his series of photographs about the daily experiences and burgeoning friendships of a wheel chained to a sidewalk signpost. Surely this lightens our view of the world. Take a look:
Poet Cristina Raskopf Norcross spends the dark days of January and February setting the world on fire with Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day, scheduled for February 20th this year.
Her amazing idea has spiraled and grown in a variety of ways with artists and writers creating pop up art and poetry events that touch the saddest spirit with joy.
Last year, at her urging to celebrate the day, poets at Mount Mary University decorated a wire sculpture poetree with ribbons and placards of poetry that colored a corner of the world with the abundance of a spring day.
This year the plan is to create a flash mob of sorts with poetry starters posted on chalk and white board in classrooms and an invitation to each individual to illustrate or complete the poems. It doesn’t matter if the outreach is individual or to a group, brainstorming ideas for this day can lead to all kinds of creative light and energy.
The more we look for creative spirit, the more we’ll find new ways of turning on the light and spreading creative joy. For instance, a recent Milwaukee Magazine story of Milwaukee filmmaker Cristina Costantini, winner of The Sundance Festival Favorite Award for her documentary Science Fair, provided a heartwarming story of teens competing in science fairs. A producer and journalist with Fusion Cable, Costantini has been nominated for many awards including two Emmy nods for documentaries on human trafficking (Pimp: A Journey To the Center of the Sex Trade), and Fentenyl overdoses (Truth: Death By Fentanyl). Her mother Cathy, was quoted in the article explaining her daughter’s motivation. “[S]he needed a break from all the terrible sadness of those documentaries. She was a science fair kid in high school and always wanted to write a love letter to that world that changed her.”
Perhaps that’s the best suggestion for climbing out of these dark days and finding some creative hope—let’s write love letters to the world.
About the Author. Ann Angel loves the world of young adults and writes both fiction and nonfiction for this group. She is the author of the 2011 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award winner Janis Joplin, Rise Up Singing among many other biographies. Her most recent biography, for younger audiences, is Adopted Like Me, My Book of Adopted Heroes (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013). Previously, she served as contributing editor for the anthology Such a Pretty Face, Short Stories About Beauty. A graduate of Vermont College’s MFA in writing for children and young adults, Ann teaches creative writing and literature at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee where she lives with her family. She was drawn to her most recent anthology Things I’ll Never Say because she believes that the secret self is often the true self. You can contact Ann through her web site: www.annangelwriter.com.