Five Ways to Build Creativity into your Daily Life

Life is busy. We have bills to pay. Wouldn’t it be great if we could infuse our daily lives with shots of creativity? Wouldn’t that be amazing? It IS possible and the best news ever is that it pays to start slow and build on good habits you are already doing.

Before we get Started: Some evening prep work can pay off in spades.

Set yourself a glass of water by your bedside (I use a mug with a lid because two kids, two dogs, a cat, and a gecko). Also is anyone else clumsy in the morning? No need to add shattered water glasses to your morning.

Habit One: Waking up. 

(What a great habit! You’re off to an amazing start! Confetti!)

Let’s add a good stretch before crawling out of bed. Even the thought of a leisurely stretch sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I have ‘waking up’ as the first habit because mornings are a freaking miracle. A MIRACLE. Do you know how many people go to sleep and never wake up? You don’t? Really? Okay cool because I looked it up. About one in eight people or about 41 million Americans will die in their sleep. It makes sense, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping. So if you are alive and blinking, count your lucky stars my friend.

Habit Two: Feet on the floor. 

You are really kicking butt at this waking up thing! First thought? Water. Drink some water. Feet on floor – water in body. Excellent. You may need go to the water closet to get rid of some water first. Your organs will thank you. 

Try this for three days – if you made it – celebrate! Confetti! A latte from Starbucks! We’re not writing yet – you’re easing into things here. Carry on with your day.

Habit Three: Grab a cup of hot tea or coffee. 

Whatever makes you happy in the morning. I splurge on Yogi tea first and switch to coffee at mid-morning otherwise I’m as jumpy as a squirrel on meth. If you have a coffee pot with a timer, set that up for right before you wake up. Basically, how can you make things easy for yourself? The best is if you’re living with a morning person and you can ask THEM to make the coffee for you. To find, interview and/or date a morning person to live with, please see my article from 2012,  HOW TO FIND THE WORM FOR YOU. 

Habit Four: Write down your Routine

Writing down your routine gets you one step closer to keeping it. What days do you want to wake up early and write? Don’t say all of them – that’s crazy talk for people like Stephen King. Start with two. (Tuesdays and Thursdays work great for building new habits). Find a cozy corner to write in that is already set up with all the things you love. Your favorite candle, plant, a place to put your mug, a warm blanket. This should feel like a date with yourself, because it is.

NOTE: Not everyone can get on the morning routine train and that is TOTALLY OKAY. Why are you feeling guilty? That’s ridiculous. This is your life. Maybe after dinner is done is the perfect time – maybe after the kids are in bed is that sweet spot for you. Experiment with different times of day to see which one works best – maybe Thursday nights and Monday afternoons is your jam – maybe it’s Saturday afternoons and Sunday nights. Stay flexible and ask yourself, how can I make space for creativity in my life?

Habit Five: Accountability 

Accountability isn’t just for budgets and exercise programs. It isn’t required to have a buddy do this with you but it does make it easier (and more fun!). Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find anyone – if you start the habit and let people know you’re doing it someone will join you I can guarantee it.

Photo by Daria Obymaha on Pexels.com

Angela Yeh is an East Coast Canadian native that lives and works in the great state of Texas. Angela is a black belt wanna-be who loves to garden, write about magic, and eat cake. She lives with her husband, two lovely human children, and three cranky fur babies. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@thatpluckygirl).

Writers Never Quit

“Many paths lead to the same destination; it doesn’t matter how you get there.”

I’m sitting here feeling shame because although I have been busy writing blogs for other people and working on my next novel (I just finished the messy first draft – VICTORY DANCE!) I realized I haven’t written a blog post in over a year.

I have fallen off the blog horse.

The horse has gone on without me, probably to greener, more reliable pastures. I pour some hot water onto my YOGI tea bag and the little quote on the paper tab twirls before me. I grab it with my thumb and forefinger to stop the spin and read it. The quote is what I’ve written above and I have to laugh. Well, yes.

I’m pretty sure this blog is not my path. But, it does get me writing and it does get me thinking, and it does make me feel like I am helping some beginner writer somewhere maybe hold on a little longer.

There are so many paths to being a successful writer, the world cannot contain them all.

There are so many ways to become a successful author – and you just need to find one. For me, the first step was to start calling myself a writer. Do you write? Good. You’re a writer. You don’t need to be published or famous. A writer writes. Period.

There is a lot of talk about defining what success means to you, and for the most part, I feel like rolling my eyes and chasing that butterfly out the window. But, there is some truth to this. Think of it as climbing a mountain and at the top is that thing you’ve always wanted. What if you get there, and you realize what you ACTUALLY wanted is up that other hill? I mean, no worries you can start climbing that other hill, and maybe that’s your path. I’d rather just figure out what it is I actually want and then climb that hill.

There are a lot of writers who make their bread and butter by ghostwriting, freelancing, editing, copywriting, or coaching other writers. I’m not knocking it – if that’s your jam go for it. It means you get to stay creative and your day job is working with and for writers. How awesome is that? But it is a business and one you need to build. Like I said, so many paths to being a successful writer, or authorpreneur!

Seriously, I am not knocking it – I work for diymfa.com and I love, love, love it. I get to work for and with writers from all over the world. Unless you are financially independent (always a worthy goal) you’re going to need to pay the bills. For a list of authors who also worked full or part-time, click here: The Day Jobs of 10 Famous Writers

Success, to me, means finding a job that pays the bills while allowing me the freedom to create and to be there for my kids when they get off school. That’s the dream. That’s success for me. If I end up making enough on the books to pay the bills – great – but I won’t put that pressure on myself or my creativity. I want the joy – that feeling of flow when I write and I want that forever. I will follow that ‘time-has-no-meaning’ feeling until I croak and you know why? Because real writers never quit.

What are you doing still here? Go write something amazing. (Or write rubbish – but keep writing).


Angela Yeh is an East Coast Canadian native that lives and works in the great state of Texas. Angela is a black belt wanna-be who loves to garden, write about magic, and eat cake. If you’d like to check out her first published novel, A Phoenix Rises, she will send you cookies (not cake – she’s already eaten the cake). She lives with her husband, two lovely human children, and three cranky fur babies. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram or on her website.

Inspiration is for Waiters

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I recently heard a writer friend ask another writer friend what she did to get ‘inspired’ to write. The question threw me off guard. Who are these writers who wait for inspiration? In my experience inspiration only happens once I’m warmed up and that only happens when I sit down to write on a consistent basis.

The Secret is Consistency

The secret to finishing a book or a writing project is not a terrifically held secret. The secret is…consistency. As it is the ‘secret’ to success in any endeavor. You make a daily or weekly habit of writing. Not researching, not editing, not staring out the window (although there is a lot of all those things that happen). Not outlining or planning or vision boarding or plotting or structuring your three acts. These can happen at any time.

What you need is a dedicated time that you set aside just to write. Even if it’s noodling in your journal or free writing about that cat you saw in the window you walked by. Taking the time to prioritize your writing over all the other demands in your life will serve you well. Will this make you an instant best seller? Maybe. It will make you a finisher of projects and that is one step closer to authorship.

Angela’s Writing Habit – Better than Wheat Grass

My writing habit needs to be in the morning, before the kids wake up, or at night, after they’re in bed. I can’t write while distracted. It’s not just harder, it’s frustrating to be constantly pulled away from the thought and then I’m being not just a half-assed writer but an inattentive mom and both feel bad.

Writing should be all good. I had to experiment a few different times and days, and I found the best time for me is 5am, five days a week. I don’t recommend this for everyone but for me, with two young kids who are often awake by 6am for the day, and two part time jobs, this is what works. And I carry that satisfied, I admit it, smug-I-got-stuff-done attitude all day. Try it – the feeling is better than eating wheat grass for breakfast and recycling all your plastics.

A Sacred Space

Try making your writing time a sacred meeting with yourself. Light a candle, listen to your favorite music, it isn’t a ‘have-to’, it’s a ‘can’t wait to wake up and do this for myself’ thing.

Everyone who knows me knows I am not with the self-discipline. The only reason I’m not 600 pounds overweight is because my stomach is a delicate flower. Cake is my nemesis. And I love, love, love to sleep. Sleep is my favorite. So what pulls me out of bed and into the chair isn’t sheer will power. It’s that I know I’m going to enjoy this calm, quiet time to indulge in creating something all to myself. It’s my ‘me’ time. Writing isn’t a choice with me it’s a need, and I’ve learned to incorporate it into my life like all the other self-care things I do. It’s okay to need these things girls (and guys).

So, sorry for the dramatic title. But don’t wait for inspiration okay? You’ll be like skeleton guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the arrow of time through your heart. It’s never too late to start writing but life is better if you just give into it now. Right now. Off you get!

“If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” Dan Poynter

Agents are Human

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I recently read an email from an anxious writer about whether or not we have to grab the agents attention in the first 500 words. Honestly I think that is probably a good buffer of about 250 words – and we need to remember that agents are human.

Sometimes as writers we get locked into adversarial thinking. Us against the thousands of submissions agents receive, and us against the high wall of the agents attention span. It can feel like it isn’t fair, or it’s too hard.

An agent’s day job is pitching the manuscripts they’ve already accepted to editors, to publishing houses, to be an advocate for their author throughout the process. When they’ve spent eight hours doing that, then they go home and start on the ‘slush’ pile. That’s right. They’re reading new submissions in their off time.

Do you know what I’m doing in my off time? Well it depends – when I’m done making dinner, packing lunches, ensuring homework and baths get done, and my two young children don’t destroy each other over the Mouse Trap game (someone needs to pick the yellow mouse! You can’t both use red!) I’m catching up on my reading, doing yoga (Adriene I love you) or if it’s a bad day, bingeing the next fantasy series on Netflix and eating ice cream after the kiddos are tucked in bed.

I assume agents don’t take the job then move to a deserted island in the pacific ocean. I assume they also have spouses, loved ones, some have young children, pets, maybe sick parents, possibly an addiction to amazon shopping, you know….they’re human.

So if it seems hard, or that good, slow moving literature can’t catch a break these days – maybe you’re right. Society in general is more distracted and our attention spans aren’t the greatest in the best of times.

But don’t let that dissuade you from trying, and remember it isn’t a fight, or a contest, it’s a marathon, and they WANT to find a good story to advocate for. Good stories are why they got into the literary business in the first place. It isn’t ‘us’ against ‘them’ it’s us against ourselves. Learn something every day. Don’t stop until you know it all. (So, never). And keep at it.

Denzel Washington once said, “If you hang around the barber shop, eventually you’re going to get a hair cut.” And if your novel or poem is the next Hemingway or Morrison, that will shine through.

Now go forth and write a lot, and when you’re ready, submit with grace. They’re waiting for the next great work of art to rock their world.

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Three Ways to Ease Back into the Writing Life

A few years ago my daughter was about three years old and I was home with my second, a bouncing (literally) baby boy. Life couldn’t have been better. I had everything I wanted. A loyal husband, enough money to pay the bills, and now two beautiful, healthy babies.

What more did I need? Besides sleep and to finish a hot mug of tea in one go?

I will tell you – and every writer out there published or not, ‘official’ or not will agree. There was something missing. I was journaling, sure, and reading books on kindle while Benji nursed. But I needed something more. A challenge, a project, that harpy siren-call to write would not let me rest.

Honestly at this point I thought, well, if I haven’t published anything by now it must not be meant to be, or, it’s too hard. It’s too hard to work for hours on a project that may never see the light of day, or worse, gets out there and people hate it. Gulp! Easier to just give up.

But then…and if you’ve read this far you know what I’m talking about…that restless urging to write would not let me be.

I say, give in to it. We cannot control the outcome of where our words will go or who will see them but the journey into ourselves that happens when we write is transformative and infinitely, inherently valuable all on it’s own. Creative writing will change your life. It has a way of drawing the poisons out and laying them on the page in font so bold you cannot deny the truth of it.

Here are three ways to jumpstart your writing journey:

  1. Writing Prompts. Hate them or love them they will get you writing. Here is a free ‘writer igniter’ writing prompt app from diymfa.com –https://diymfa.com/writer-igniter
  2. Schedule it in – and prioritize it. Block it off as important an appointment as a job interview or a much needed massage. Then tinker with the details. Try early morning, try after everyone else is in bed, try the middle of the afternoon. Tally up the moments it all worked and repeat.
  3. Treat it both like a sacred, holy moment and a fun play-date where you get to explore without editing that wide open space that is your inner world and the human condition all at once.
  4. This one is a bonus – write what excites you. Is it vampire-love in a post apocalyptic fantasy world where humans are almost extinct? Is it about a wild woman who throws off the constraints of contemporary life and transforms into a bird at night, hunting and flying free? Write what gets you excited to sit your butt in the chair and write. It’s as easy and as hard as that.

Lastly – as you all know I work for diymfa.com and I read hundreds of emails from beginner writers about their number one problems in getting their writing habits back on track. This week I received a sad email from a man who was told that getting published was like getting struck by lightening, twice.

I will tell you what I told him. If you stand in an open field in the middle of a rain storm long enough, you’re gonna get hit.

So whether publishing is your goal, or writing for writing’s sake – now is the time to get back into it. What are you reading this for? Go to it!

Oh and hey, email me your success stories, I wanna hear them! (yehthewriter@gmail.com)

It’s A Writer’s Life for Me!

“Writing is a craft, and storytelling is an art, and together they form this nebulous interstice where it’s just clowns juggling medium-sized cats and those cats are juggling little cat-sized chainsaws and the whole place is on fire and did I mention the “place” is actually a blimp and it’s drifting swiftly toward a flickering lighthouse operated by orphans?” Chuck Wendig

Isn’t that quote super fun? Doesn’t it make you feel like a rockstar for putting words to the page? It should. We put squiggly black lines on a white background and people download that into their brains. We create whole worlds and universes, characters we love and love to hate. Writers are weird, wonderful, amazing, MAGIC people.

If you haven’t stopped to appreciate that wild, wonderful, where-does-it-come-from urge to create, I suggest you do so now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay now I want us to put some consistency behind the magic. Consistency is the vehicle that will drive your magic to it’s final destination, in printed (or e-printed form) and into the hands of someone who will be just lit from within, just set ablaze by the words you’ve written.

We are here to change the world – and to do that we need to develop the habit of writing. We need to honor that muse and show up regularly.

Gabriela Pereira at DIYMFA.com is the one that showed me how to do this and it is called iteration.

Iteration: the chance to play around with both the time of day and the set-up of your writing habit. Do you work better in the morning before the kids get up, or at night after they’re in bed? Is there a time during the day, right before lunch, that you usually can commit to a bit of time? How much time can you consistently manage and how much is too overwhelming?​


Keep playing around with when and where and how much until you find the ‘heck, yeah’ moments and commit to those. Then life changes again and you get to ‘play around’ again!

 

How to be a Writer

Rumi tells us there is ‘a light seed grain inside. You fill it with yourself, or it dies.’

This is the writing life in a nutshell. You may do it for the dream of helping someone, for the dream of being someone’s favorite author. You may do it for the money (nothing wrong with this but it cannot sustain you in this endeavor if that is your only reason.) There are much, much easier ways to make money my friends.

No, the real pull of the writing life is the act of exploring that vortex of creativity inside yourself you can access no other way. Writing, like dreaming, “sometimes tells us what we are not ready to hear.” (Pat Schneider via Jane Yolen ‘Take Joy‘ – a book for writers’.)

There is no better tool to peel back the layers of your own psyche than the act of pulling words from the ether of your own soul and marching them into single file onto the page.

In fact, the harder you run from the issues you’re struggling with the more relentlessly they will show up in your work. So. If you don’t want to evolve, if you don’t want to grow – don’t write. Not one word. Because if you do it will smack you upside the head as subtle as a careening dump truck no matter how far away from reality you stray in your writing projects.

So don’t be a writer to change the world or help people or make money. Be a writer to change yourself, to push into the unknown, to delve deep into the unexplored darkness, dredge up the monsters most people are afraid to look at. That’s the sweet spot. You’ll know it when you reach it. No one has to read it but you need to write it.

I’ll finish up with sharing my firm conviction that there is no word wasted when you write. Each letter stacks and builds on the other. If you have a desire to write – you need to write. There is only one you in the entire universe that ever was or ever will be and if you don’t write it, no one will.

Now go forth and write y’all!

Writers With Day Jobs

Imposter syndrome is a real thing. It is so real, it’s been named. And we don’t have to explain what it means, do we, because if you write, you have struggled with this.

Let me be the first to assure you, dear writer, that you are not alone. Working on the customer service desk at DIYMFA.com I have received hundreds of emails from people struggling with the confidence to put pen to paper. I thought I was alone but it turns out, this feeling of being ‘not really a writer’ is a common one.

There are three main reasons I can see for this. 1) Our society is built on the premise that success means money. 2) Our society is built on the premise that success means fame. 3) Our society needs to chill.

Let me show you ten famous authors with day jobs. From the New York Library blog:

Roald Dahl, famous children’s author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among many others, was a war time fight pilot and a spy for the British army intelligence. Talk about wearing more than one hat. Did you know that Author Conan Doyle was a successful physician?

So what were you saying about not feeling successful because you need a day job? If Roald Dahl can be a spy and a fighter pilot and a children’s book author, surely we can work at Starbucks and write the next influential sci-fi.

It’s okay not to make enough money not to live in a gorgeous mansion and travel in a private jet. It’s also okay if you want these things. I, myself, was not built for poverty. I like fuzzy slippers and flannel sheets and $8 latte’s. I’m sorry, but I do. I tell everyone I work to support my writing habit and it’s true. But it doesn’t mean I can’t also enjoy my day job. And my latte’s. Writers suffering in poverty for their art is so 19th century am I right?

So embrace your day job (or jobs) pay your bills, live your life, and if you’re also a mom like me, you write in the margins.

I leave you with this book that I read and re-read a few times and that inspired me to take the first step to re-start my adult writing journey: Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by Nicole Gulotta.

As always here is a link to Gabriela Pereira’s book DIY MFA – Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community. that helped me write ‘A Dragon Rises’ draft zero in six months.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Being Useful

I mean, is there any better feeling? I’ve got some useful websites for beginner writers and an online writing conference to share details about.

Just found this awesome app called the Hemmingway app: and it does exactly what you think it does – highlight text that is clunky or wordy or too confusing. Where has this been all my life? Only issue is that it isn’t integrated into the Word docs like Grammerly – you need to copy and paste into it if you’ve already got a word doc on the go. If you’re starting fresh have at it!

Thesaurus Online: I do have a hard copy thesaurus, a couple actually and of course there is google but this is online and free, and is giving me more reliable results faster. (Also I often write early in the morning so turning on a light might wake up the littles).

My boss at DIY MFA.com and champion of writers everywhere is offering an online summit of sci-fi and fantasy author panel – sign-up is free but only for the next few days. Interviews will drop Nov 30th and replays will be available for seven days after as long as you’ve registered.

Six days until the conference starts!

You can sign up here: Writer Igniter Sci-Fi/Fantasy Summit.

Lastly – no reason for this meme but I have seen it a few times and it makes me smile:

Why Am I Doing This?

Someone asked me recently what this blog was for. I thought I knew the answer to that until I was asked directly. This blog started as a way to communicate what I’ve been doing in Texas to my friends and family back home in Canada.

Time saver: I’m still doing yoga and hanging with my dogs and my kids:

The longer I have been here the farther away from that original impulse I’ve gotten. Plus – who does blogs anymore am I right?

So I think I’m going to pivot, right here, right now, and dedicate the rest of my articles on this blog to be of some use to my community in general and society as a whole. (“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.” – Albert Einstein)

Here we go, everybody, what I’ve learned this week:

If you run around putting out fires and handling ‘urgent’ issues you never have time for the important things. Like working out three times a week, like yoga or meditation or prayer. If you want a healthy, fulfilled life – you’ve got to plan for it.

Also, if you haven’t found Yoga with Adriene where have you been hiding? Free 20-30 minutes yoga sessions on Youtube. This 30 day yoga challenge will have you feeling back on top in no time. I’m currently doing my second round of this challenge and it’s made a big difference for me. (And Duke.)

Flu shots are good. I got mine last night and although I’ve heard the stats too (30% effective at times) if you do still get the flu – your body is like, oh, cool, no we’ve seen this it’s all good everyone, and you don’t get it as bad. Make sense. Flu shot = less severe illness or none at all. I had my kids watch me get mine so when they get theirs next week they’re not as anxious.

The fiction book I love right now:

The book of two ways by Jodi Picoult (Be prepared to laugh, then cry, then laugh again.) Quantum Mechanics, two plane crashes, a messy love story, an ancient Egyptian tomb? Sign me up please.

This episode on Brené Brown’s new podcast ‘Unlocking Us’ – who led me to my new favorite non-fiction book that is currently blowing my mind:

Burnout – the Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Did you know you can’t control your emotions. (Whaaaat? I’ve been stuffing those down or years, of course you can!)

No. You’ve been IGNORING them, but they are there, hanging out, waiting to be able to finish the cycle. For my children’s sake – I need to figure this stuff out, am I right? Adulting…if it were easy there would be no need for Amazon and ice cream.

So that’s my blog entry for today – hopefully some of this was useful to you.

If you’d like to read more of what I’m writing, you can click on this link here to learn all about how poetry can save the world. And the latest poetry expresso I’m reading right now.

If you’ve had enough of me, but are totally into poetry, this is a really cool article by a writer at diymfa.com Identifying Themes in the Poetry we Read by Sara Letourneau

Is there a topic or book or podcast you’d like to hear more of? If so, drop me a line at angelathewriter@hotmail.com.