Monday, May 23, 2022

Who Says Your Pain is Required for Wonderful Writing?

In the creative professions, mental illness and depression can be celebrated and even venerated as an unavoidable way to access our muses. The romantic vision of the tortured artist is one we’ve all seen. The man or woman dressed all in black, pining for their lost love or just mad at the world, channeling their pain into their art. One of our most celebrated artists, Van Gogh, spent time in a mental institution and cut off an ear while painting his most gorgeous visions. Hemingway famously quipped, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

But I am here to tell you, your pain is not required to express your art, and the depression and grief that invades you as a result of suffering can block your creativity. Yep. That cruelty to yourself actually keeps your muse away.

The belief that your pain and suffering is necessary to express your art is, at best, wrong-headed. Shifting your mindset to embrace the idea that you can express yourself creatively with a joyful attitude and contented, balanced life is my mission as a creativity coach.

But sometimes the depression and pain can’t be avoided.

I live with a low-grade depression that some days takes me out of play even now when I’ve learned what I have to do to deal with it. But it’s nothing compared to what others struggle with. My depression can be managed by setting aside one day a week to rest and rebuild my energy. If things get a little too heavy, volunteering usually sets me on my hopeful and contented path again.

Chronic and clinical depression needs more support than that.

Way back when I volunteered for a hospice organization (which is a great way to put your own problems into perspective), our continuing education included a talk from an expert in depression who discussed suicide. After all, suicide among those with terminal illnesses is more common than in the general population.

The thing that stuck in my mind from this talk was the fact that suicide was the terminal end of depression.

Depression is an illness, like the illnesses we saw every day at the hospice house. And that, if someone’s life ended in suicide, we could reassure their family that this act didn’t reflect on them or their actions, but that it was the illness wrenching control away from their loved one just like a tumor taking over a vital organ.

Little enough comfort for the bereaved, for certain, but something that carried forward with me.

Now, this does not mean that every person struggling with clinical depression will commit suicide. Depression is not a terminal illness. But it does mean that we need to treat it with the seriousness that we use for any chronic illness.

And that means that, just like we need to go to the doctor for physical pain, we need to get appropriate treatment from a trained professional for our mental health.

Now, I am not a trained therapist. I am a creativity coach, writer, and former hospice volunteer who carries the wisdom of a certain age and experience. You need a fully trained and accredited therapist to support you with your mental health—and that’s not going to be me.

But I am here to tell you, you are not required to suffer from mental health issues because you are a creative being. Suffering is not necessary to bring out the beauty in your work.

The only thing your creative work needs to come alive is you.

So reject this romantic fantasy of the tortured artist, and get the help you need to support your mental health.

If you don’t know where to start, click here to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

And if you need someone to hold your hand while you make the call, reach out to family, friends, or me. I’ll stand by you as you negotiate the necessary systems and encourage you in your search, guiding as I am able and stepping aside when appropriate.

The only thing that IS required by your art is YOU. Only you can bring your art into the world.

And I know I’m not the only person who would love to see it.




LA (as in tra-la-la) Bourgeois uses Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching tools™ to break down resistance, procrastination, and overwhelm while gently encouraging you with humor and heart. Are you ready to embrace joy as you pursue your creative goals? Discover more at her website, labourgeois.biz


Monday, May 16, 2022

Poke A Hole In Your Bucket

 


What? You're not staring at a bucket? Bucket. Barrel. Same thing. Both can hold water. Some are just bigger than the other. One is wood. One can be wood. So guess they are not that different after all. Or maybe they are different to just be different. Either way, we won't go debating the bucket and barrel scandal today. Unless of course you want to debate that. Have at it if you like. Oh! I guess barrels roll better than buckets. I got one. Point for me.

What? The points don't matter? Hmmm. That may be copyrighted. Better not say that all too loud. 

Anyway, time to forget the old song of a hole in your bucket and not fix it. If your bucket doesn't have a hole then make one. I obviously don't mean this literally. Unless you are hard up for a shower. Maybe then you may want to put a hole in a bucket and dangle it over your head. There is a case for literal. Point for me.

If only the stupid points mattered. Guess everything shouldn't be made up. Guess I should get on with it. Guess I should stop saying guess. Or maybe I should say I guess and not use so many guesses and Is. Looking at that one could make Is is. Oh, how things can go.

Have I broken rules? The mold? The mould? Not that nasty mold that can poison you. The other mold. Or mould. I used both. That is bad. I'm here where they use mold, but I'm using mould. Oh the shame. Next I'll be saying neighbour and not neighbor. Meh. Tomato. Tamato. 

Can you see my big hole yet? Do I need to put my foot through it to make it bigger? Not sure how you can do that with a non-literal hole, but I guess you can imagine it up. Unless you can't. If that is the case then you really need a hole. Maybe two. Okay. Foot now going through hole.

Rule is to do this. This is the ONLY way. You will never make it unless you do THIS! Never use lots of !!!!!!. Do this. Do that. Don't do that. Don't do this. This is your bucket. This is your barrel. This is all you get. Roll with it. Or walk with it if it is a bucket. One may get hard on the arms and the other the back. Stick with it though. Don't color outside the lines. Colour within them. What!!!!!!!!!!!!! You failed. You'll never make it. It's color. Not colour. No. It's colour. Not color. 

Ummm. Potato. Patato?

Can you see my hole now? I bet you can. 

Don't get pigeon holed by a rule or some advice. Don't even get pigeon holed by me. If you like the rules you go by then stick to them. If you don't then kick them to the curb. I know. Another idiom. Oh the horror.

Do you find any of the rules or advice you've gotten have not been good for your style? Have you ever tried to go against the rules? Did you make a hole in your bucket yet? Or barrel? Anything to add on holes? I may have said it a bunch. At least I didn't put an "An" after poke in the title. That could have gone in a whole other direction. Maybe my bucket then would be the butt of a joke. Wouldn't want to put my poor barrel's butt on the line. Not sure the clothespins could hold it. 

I think my bucket officially has no bottom to it. Is it even a bucket then? Maybe we should ask the barrel. Anyway, keep poking those holes and only plugging the leaky ones. You know. That ones that want you to write a story that goes and and and and and and and and or and and and and and and or and.

The and!

Monday, May 9, 2022

Tailoring a Writing Space to Suit Your Needs

Welcome to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog.

 I am honored to be here today to discuss one of the most important spaces in your home: your WRITING space. As many of you know, I have been an interior designer for over three decades and a writer for over eleven years. As creative people, we writers need a writing space that will calm, comfort, inspire, and motivate us to WRITE. 

Since I started writing, I have created five very different writing spaces depending on my current living situation. Not everyone has a guest room, office, or spare room they could call their own, especially those with children or single people in limited space. Like many of you, I wrote my first novel on the kitchen table, which is not the most comfortable way to write. So today, I would like to suggest functional and creative alternatives. 



A writing space needs to be personal to YOU. Not only should it have the usual writing tablets, journal, printing paper, pens, pencils, etc. Why not add family photos, plants, treasures from your travels, or any item that means something to you. So, when you glance at said item during a writing block, it will transport you to a happier place, and may free up your stressed mind.
 

After completing the first novel, I decided to transform a large walk-in closet that had once been the hall into a master bedroom suite. It was walled off from my space when the building went condo decades before I bought my unit. I first started by taking off the door and then added shelves. I was able to put three rows of shelving. It created a cozy feeling while adding much- -needed storage space for all my books! After slipping in meaningful and decorative items in-between the books, it turned this closet into a visually appealing and very functional writing space. With my laptop open, the printer under the desk, and a comfy chair, I was ready to write my next novel, which I did. Now, of course, not everyone has a large closet available, but in this situation, I still used this space to store all my treasured books, journals, and art paper/supplies (placing them in decorative boxes). ORGANIZING is key to creating any functional space. 

Eventually, it was time for an upgrade. Since I had an enormous living room, It was time to redesign the

space. Creating two rooms from one large room is never easy, BUT, with the proper planning and design, it can add the additional room you need and add big $$$$ to your real estate. There were five windows: three on one wall, two on the other. With a natural break between the two large windows, it was easy to put up a wall. Adding a French pocket door kept the space open, so that light could filter through the other windows and into the much smaller living space. The cost was about five thousand dollars, BUT, when I sold the condo, it addedthirty thousand because of an additional room. Money well spent, and it gave me several years of writing bliss.

 Writing space number three was not your traditional writing space. Since this condo was only 625 sq. ft, I didn’t have room for an actual area, so I wrote my third novel on my living room sofa and terrace. The condo featured many Harry Potter signed prints which inspired me, but I

still needed more shelf space for my treasured books and other pieces. I designed a ceiling-to-floor bookshelf on the side of my fireplace. It was an odd corner bump-out, and filling in this space gave me the added storage I needed. Since many of us use laptops, a writer can truly write anywhere as long as you have the proper storage and light. This built-in cost a mere $400.00! 

Luckily my next space had an extra bedroom which, of course, I turned into a writing retreat. Adding a daybed was essential for late evenings when I needed a good stretch out or chose to write using my laptop table…another MUST. I do most of my writing lying on the couch or in bed; it’s more comfortable for me as I get older and creakier. LOL. I found a lovely antique armoire that I turned into an amazing storage closet for all my art supplies, extra books, etc. Many can be bought at thrift stores or on Facebook Marketplace for under $200.00. Once these gems cost thousands, but now anyone can afford one.

Currently, I have many writing nooks which I genuinely enjoy, but my favorite is the one I created in my entry. The focal piece is a gorgeous antique drop-leaf writing desk with glass-enclosed cubbies for books. As the sun streams through my eastern windows, this space is perfect for my morning muse and coffee! I added a recessed bookshelf on the landing to showcase my classic leather books. An entry can be so much more than just a way in and out. Why not create a distinctive and unique writing nook in yours.



 



Time to review the FIVE must-haves: 

1.      Something treasured (art, photographs, sculptures, first edition books, your pet)

2.      Something inspirational (the view from your window- Plant a tree..I did! Perhaps a flower box bursting with spring flowers, a bird feeder, or your published work proudly displayed…the possibilities are endless)

3.      Books (add bookshelves for more!)

4.      Writing essentials (computer, pens, paper, journal, etc.)

5.      Something living besides yourself (lol) (Plants, flowers, a goldfish, a cat tree, or your pup’s bed- having living things around you breathes life into your writing). 

I hope this article helps to create your dream writing space. Remember, no matter how small your area, you can create something functional, inspirational, and beautiful! 

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Michael Di Gesu believes CREATIVITY is a terrible thing to waste. As a Renaissance man, creativity is his life; it starts and ends his day: art, music, and literature are his past, present, and future. With a talent to weave atmospheric and descriptive prose into his writing, he helps other authors do the same.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.gesu    (for some odd reason, FB cut off my Di from my last name)