Weekly Blog 10/7/19: Where Have I Been?

Hi all,

It’s been a little while, but I’ve got a (rare) few minutes to sit down and write a blog. Carving out time for this blog has been a little bit beyond me lately, and I even considered deleting the blog portion of this site and converting it to just being a portfolio and glorified contact form…but honestly, I didn’t want to give up blogging – even if I feel like I don’t have time for it lately. I really enjoy the blogging process. So yeah. Not going anywhere.

I’ve also been largely on hiatus from my YouTube, and I just posted a video explaining that I’m kind of returning to it: I’m going to start posting videos again, but kind of on a “whenever” basis rather than having a strict upload schedule. And there will be less videos than in the early part of this year (I used to do 3 a week), but more than the two a month I’ve done the past couple of months.

So why am I struggling to find time? Well…two things. One, I’m working full time now, and I’ve learned that it’s called full time for a reason. (Spoiler: It’s because it fills up all your time.) I absolutely adore my job and my company, and it has changed my life in the best way. But it doesn’t come without a cost, and that cost is a lot of my previously-free time.

Two, I’m running an entirely new side project: Taylor Johnson Dolls, which has a website, a YouTube channel, and an Instagram, all focused on my work in doll customization and sewing.

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One of my fashion dolls, an Ever After High Ashlynn Ella, in a flannel shirt by me.

I actually have been into dolls for years and years, and recently tumbled back into active presence in the hobby. I’m thrilled to be back to it, and while it does take up a lot of time, I felt that I really do need a hobby! A genuine hobby, to me, is an avocation that is enjoyed without a clear plan or goals or things to accomplish in terms of growth or publicity or acclaim; it’s just for the sheer joy of it. Doll customizing and doll-clothes sewing are two things that I love as hobbies, and are also two things that, for me, do not have an end goal or any grand scheme attached to them. It’s literally just a thing I do for fun.

So, if you’re interested, or just curious, head over to taylorjohnsondolls.com for more. I also have free patterns over there for those who are similarly inclined.

As for art…while I haven’t had much time lately for art beyond what I do at work, I still haven’t been able to resist the siren song of Inktober. I really enjoyed my other participation, back in 2017, and while it’s probably not wise to do so, I’m doing a series of simple ink pieces on 9×12″ paper for this year too. I may watercolor some or all of them after this month is over, but I am certainly not taking on the project of doing a PAINTING every day when I can barely manage an ink piece!

I had said that I was going to post a few YouTube videos this month, documenting Inktober, and I have filmed all of my ink work so far, but I don’t know whether that’s an appropriate use of my spare moments. I don’t know if I can – temporally or mentally – afford to do that as well.

If it comes down to it, I’ll drop some things. Sanity and safety come first, followed closely by my day job. But for now, I’m hoping I can manage all of this, if only I choose my battles and am mindful of my time management.

That said, I really need to get back to work. Thank you for reading and for being here on this artistic journey with me.

Wishing you the best, as always!
-Taylor

Weekly Blog 3-25-19 | Life Changes, Tarot Challenges, and a Kitten!

Hey guys! Taylor here. I’m sorry for not posting last week, I was preparing for a sort of last-minute business trip. I was actually in LA – here are a few photos:

It was crazy and good and awesome and I’m really really excited, and absolutely cannot tell you anything, about what I’m working on. (Darn!) All I can tell you is, my life is changing in ways I never thought possible – and I am about to be VERY busy.

But. I can tell about you what I’m working on personally:

My Tarot deck: Yes, the Millennial Mystic Tarot is moving ahead. I’m finalizing some design details and then will be sending it off to the printers this week. Reviewers, watch your email accounts for updates! I will be emailing each of you a tracking number when I ship your sample deck.

A Tarot challenge: The #AprilFoolsJourney on Instagram is a 30-day challenge that walks you through the Tarot and offers divination prompts for each day. The actual list of prompts is in the following images (feel free to save, refer to, and/or share):

A kitten: I rescued a kitten from a tree. It was a really surreal experience – I’ve rarely held kittens (I always had adult cats as pets) and this one is TEENY, maybe 9 weeks old. We are searching for her original family and are hopeful that we can locate them soon. The poor thing was being bullied by three bluejays and a crow, so we have humorously nicknamed her Birdie.

Well, that’s about all I have time to write before heading off to work. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please do feel free to head over to the Etsy shop, or subscribe to this blog. Thank you to everyone who’s been reading along!

All the best,
Taylor

Weekly Blog 3-11-19 | Dealing With The End of a Big Project and Post-Project Blues!

(IMAGE: A pile of watercolor paintings (actually the actual paintings from the Millennial Mystic Tarot), face down, with the date shown in the corner of each. The dates range from August 2018 to February 2019.)

Hey guys, it’s Taylor!

(But you knew that.)

I’d like to talk a little bit today about how to come off of a long-term (months or a year plus) project, how to practice self-care in the wake of an overwhelming amount of work, and dealing with what I like to call “project postpartum.”

Since I referenced a type of depression there, though, I have to preface this blog post with the following disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I am not a counselor, I am not a therapist, and neither this post nor any other part of this blog is intended to treat, manage, or cure any psychiatric illness. I’m just sharing my own experience, in the hopes that hearing from a peer will help someone to help themself.

Clear? Good. Liability is a funny thing.

Anyway, I’m just finishing up my Millennial Mystic Tarot and getting ready to send it off to the printers, and while I am super excited and happy to have finished it, I’ve definitely got a case of what I call “project postpartum.” Though it’s certainly not as severe as postpartum depression – which is a real illness and should be respectfully treated as such! – I do get sort of “end-of-project blues,” the way we get post-holiday blues.

I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but here in the US, most people have some kind of holiday – Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, etc – in late December, and it’s followed by some of the worst weather we get all year. Days are short (winter solstice = shortest day/longest night, after all). Weather is overcast, cold, and snow/rain/sleet are common in many places, so you can’t really go outside to get sunshine even when it IS daytime. And you’ve just had this months-long buildup to your holiday of choice, and then…nothing. Nothing to celebrate, nothing to buy, and nothing to do except weep over the ruins of your finances, if you participate in gift-giving.

As I write this, it’s March, so we’re mostly out of the woods with the winter blues – but I’m experiencing some definite post-project blues. I find I often don’t know what to do with myself when I’ve just finished a huge project. Most times, I expect to feel some huge feelings, like pride, accomplishment, or just being happy about the project being done…but setting up those expectations makes it all the more empty when I just feel tired after the project is complete. In addition, I am so damn tired that I can feel down, sometimes severely, just from lack of energy. And with many projects, I’m stressing about how it’ll be received.

In the end, adding it all up, what I’ve got amounts to emptiness, disappointment, exhaustion, and stress. Great recipe for feeling low.

“So what do I do?” you might ask. “Sure, I get project postpartum, but how do I deal with it?”

Beyond the basic suggestions of “get plenty of sleep, eat properly, stat hydrated, take your meds, and don’t get MORE exhausted,” I have some suggestions and actionables on the more mental side, so keep reading. I’m bullet-pointing them in no particular order, so that you can pick and choose what appeals to you, or try them all – I’m leaving that in your hands.

  • Congratulate yourself, with help if possible. Throw a little party, or a big one. Get a couple of supportive friends together and make it very clear that this party is to honor your project’s completion. If your project has an online following (think webcomics and other online works), celebrate with its fans. Or just take yourself out to dinner or a movie or whatever YOU like to do to celebrate.
  • Recount what you’ve learned. This is a great way to honor the project’s effects on your life: Get some paper and write down everything this project taught you. Get creative with this: Did the project teach you time management? Did you start any new habits due to this project? Did you gain skills? Did you forge relationships, professional or personal? Is it going to be a great portfolio piece? Or did you maybe learn some of your limitations or weak spots? Be grateful for what you’ve learned, regardless.
  • Self-critique (not criticize) the work. Especially if it’s an artistic and/or creative project, look over what you have and critique it in a balanced way. Don’t be too vicious but also don’t be too self-indulgent. Look at it from an outside perspective, as much as possible. Think about what aspects you want to continue and bring along to future projects, and which things you’d like to avoid in the future.
  • Publish or present the work in some way. If it’s not already, show your work in some public way, online or off. Is there a coffee shop that might show your work for a week? Is there a company where you can self-publish a few copies of your work? Does your project have/need/deserve a website? Could you share it with friends on your Facebook or Instagram? What about sharing copies with a few supportive people in your offline friend group? Sometimes this helps to feel like the project is “really done” and helps boost your morale.
  • Post your feelings somewhere. Be it a private group on Facebook for people who do the kind of work you do, or your private blog, or a one-off YouTube video to share with friends, sometimes honoring the project (as well as your exhaustion and mixed feelings) can be therapeutic.
  • Mourn the process of working on this project. This might be a weird one, and it’s not for everyone, and I’m not suggesting you go into mourning – just do some work to deal with the fact that you don’t get to work on this thing anymore, this project that has been a huge part of your life for possibly years. Honor the sadness you may feel, if that’s something that’s coming up for your. Thank the project for being part of your life.

The theme here, of course, is closure – because honestly that’s usually what I most need at the end of a project. Not in that I have trouble with going back and “fixing” parts, but because I don’t usually actually feel that excited about finishing a project. And that’s okay. But I still want and deserve to have some closure, and the joy that comes with really feeling, deep down, that the project is complete.

So, I hope some of these tips will help you. If any of them do, or if you just identified with the feelings expressed, let me know in the comments! And if you need to talk to someone further about this, feel free to reach out to me via the contact form. If you’d like to support my whole operation and the content I create, please head over to my Etsy shop – there are all kinds of things, from art to Tarot readings, that you can purchase to help support me.

With that being said…until next time.

-Taylor

Self-Care For Creatives in the Month of Love

Hey all! It is February and I’m back!

I realize it’s been a couple weeks since my last blog, and I do apologize for that. I was on a business trip and it’s taken me longer to bounce back from the jet lag and altitude sickness than I expected…So, apologies. But honestly, it was worth it – check out where I went….

That’s right, Park City, Utah – for Sundance Film Festival, through work. It was an incredible experience and I am SO grateful. However, it was exhausting. I am anything but fit, and actually rather overweight and out of shape, so combine jet lag with that and being at 7,000 feet, and you get one very exhausted Taylor.

But I’m back now and settled and ready to get back to the blogging. I actually do have a specific topic today – I’m talking about self-care and self-love in the “month of love.” In the Western world especially, we celebrate love and Valentine’s Day in February, and it’s generally focused on romantic love, partner-love, soulmate love, things like that. I feel, however, that it can be a great opportunity to celebrate and invest in the most important relationship any of us will ever have in this life: our relationship with our own self.

It’s difficult, in our world today, to feel love for ourselves. Even when we focus in on it, it’s a challenge to love our whole self, or even any part of it. We are constantly told that we’re not good enough. And I don’t just mean the billboards telling us that we are too short, too fat, too dark, too whatever – I mean the pressure on us to “live up to the standards” for financial wellbeing, career path, academic achievement, possessions, and so on.

  • Massive student debt? We’re told we should have worked our way through college (despite the fact that no college kid can get a job that will fully pay tuition semester by semester).
  • Not in our dream career? We’re told that we shouldn’t be settling for a retail job. (The phrase “didn’t you get a degree in _____, though?” comes to mind.)
  • Didn’t make it through college? We are immediately questioned about our academic performance. (Never mind that some of us couldn’t afford it or don’t have the stability, health, or temperament for college. It’s truly not for everyone.)
  • Don’t have a car? People just stare and laugh. (I’ve taken the bus for the past seven years and it works fine for me for now, thanks.)

It’s sad, really, that we are, all of us, all ages and generations, so insecure that we have to trash people for the paths their lives have taken. But what can we do it?

Know thyself. And then love thyself anyway.

It’s not easy. It’s a big task. But it can start small: Spend a dollar more to get the body wash you actually like. Pull that one really comfy, soft T-shirt out of the closet, and wear it when you’re at home (or, hell, out and about). Replace some of your super-processed candy bar snacks with fruit. (I’m not being judgemental – this is just one thing that really helps me feel like I’m properly caring for myself.)

Then try bigger things. Treat yo self. Take yourself on a micro-vacation to a local park or lake. Sit with your favorite book, even if you’ve read it a hundred times, and read. Spend a little time every day journaling. Be gentle with yourself when you screw up at work. Clean up your act when appropriate, but don’t join the crowd of people who will beat you up about it. “The world is going to be hard enough on you; they don’t need you to volunteer to help with the task.”

In the past years, I’ve worked my way up to daring to do really big things for myself – daring to have a long-term relationship, learning to travel on my own, getting my dental repairs done, and, perhaps most dramatically, shifting into a more risky but incredibly more rewarding career as an artist.

But honestly, it started small. It started with body wash. It started with soft T-shirts. And before that, it started with deciding maybe I was worth good things. Maybe I deserved body wash and T-shirts and vacations and love. It wasn’t certain; I was not sure at all that i deserved anything good. I just was willing to consider that maybe, maybe I deserved better.

I started low. When I started my self-care journey, people had to teach me that you ought to shower every day (my parents had taught me, of course, but I had forgotten). I was lucky to have people around me to teach me. Since I know many of you don’t, here are 12 small ways to take care of yourself, that are actually good ideas:

  1. Drink 3 bottles of water a day.
  2. Brush your teeth regularly.
  3. Take a shower every day.
  4. Journal often. Yes, it’s worth your time, even if you’re not a writer, even if you never read them again.
  5. Wear what you like. I mean it. Screw the haters.
  6. Listen to music that makes you feel like you can rule the world. A few of my songs are “Jump” by Van Halen, “Shooting Star” by Owl City, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, “I Love It” by Icona Pop, and “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
  7. Read a few good books on the creative life. I’m personally a big fan of “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron.
  8. Take selfies. You don’t have to post them. They’re for your, not the public.
  9. Do your creative work. Are you secretly a writer? Write. Are you secretly an artist? Make art. Again, you don’t have to share it with the world. It’s for you.
  10. Celebrate your birthday, or some other day that is special to you and which allows you and those close to you to celebrate the fact that you’re here in this world. It is definitely worth celebrating.
  11. Be gentle with yourself when you’re sick. Pushing yourself past the edge doesn’t help anyone. I know it’s not always possible to get out of work and such, especially when you have low income, but at least minimize the other extra stuff while you’re ill.
  12. A final note about more serious and/or specific health stuff: Make whatever health adjustments are appropriate for you (and okay with your doctors). For some of us, that means diet and exercise. For others, it means definitely NOT diet and exercise. And for some, it’s more about reconstructive work, or gender transition, or mental health management, or even reconciliation with parts of our bodies with which we have complicated relationships (hello to my fellow assault survivors – Me Too). Heck, for some of us, it’s just getting back to yoga, therapy, or support groups. Or going for the first time.

Sometimes self-care is difficult. I know for sure that I fight some days just to treat my body and myself with the very base level of respect that I deserve. The important thing is not whether I manage that every day. The important thing is that I try, and I believe I do deserve it.

Like anything worthwhile, self-care takes work. It is difficult but not complicated.

I love the old movie, Field of Dreams, that coined the phrase “If you build it, they will come.” The protagonist in that movie was given a task that seemed absurd, seemed illogical, seemed like a waste of energy. Who was going to use that baseball field? What magic was going to happen?

Well, go see the movie. And then remember that if you build the framework for self-respect and self-care, the self-love will follow.

It all starts with a belief that maybe the magic can happen.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today. Thank you for reading this (very long) blog post, and thank you for being part of my little world here.

Go forth and love yourself.

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 1/14/19 | Stick With It: How To Stay Focused When Doing Long-Term Creative Works

So, I’m one of Those People. You know – the creative people who, even amongst the world of creative people, are pretty spacey, pretty all-over-the-place, and keep on starting new projects even though they  are currently writing a novel, designing three comic books, running a blog, selling on Etsy, and oh-by-the-way also majoring in fashion design at the local college.

One of Those. Yep, that’s me.

My dreams, though, are mostly long-term projects. I do comics, I’m illustrating a Tarot deck, and I’d love to draw graphic novels at some point. I love to tell stories and I intend to do more comics, comic series, and card decks.

The issue is that jumping from project to project like I tend to is pretty much the opposite of what I need to do in order to make these long-term projects work.

So how do I do it? I’ve published comic books, I’m most of the way through my debut fully-illustrated divination deck – but if my temperament is that of a typical flighty Gemini, how do I manage to do these big projects anyway?


The following are my tactics for dealing with that very issue.

Keep it steady. Most big projects are not a sprint – they’re a marathon. Meaning that through the course of it, you’re going to get bored, you’re going to get distracted, you’re gonna want to quit. That’s natural and normal and fine. What’s not fine is when you let boredom, distraction, or disillusionment drag you off your marathon course.

The success of a big project is centered less in doing “good” work, than in doing steady, consistent work. When it comes to comics and graphic novels, for example, the people who successfully complete them are not the people who can draw the best, the prettiest, the most accurate drawings – it’s the people who can churn out a page a day, or more, for months on end.

I’m not sure about slow, but steady definitely wins the race.

Focus on the finish line. We often daydream about our work, either consciously or unconsciously, and while we can’t control what our mind drifts to, we usually have at least some control over what we dwell on. So when you’re doing one project and find yourself dreaming about working on or starting another, don’t dwell on it – bring your focus back to the idea of working on, or finishing, your current project. Imagine its beauty, its significance, even theoretical success, if that’s what it takes to keep your focus on what you’re doing now.

This can be tricky, and please, don’t beat yourself up for getting distracted with other new ideas. And don’t disregard them – just don’t abandon your current project to jump to another! Take notes, make some rudimentary sketches, get your ideas down…and then save them for later. You can focus on them in the future, but for right now, your current project takes precedence.

As frustrating as it is, letting the future take care of the future projects and sticking to one or two in the moment is usually the best way to go.

Maintain your motivation – whatever that means. I know this seems incredibly obvious, but feeding your muse, feeding your motivation, is essential – no matter what that means! If what really inspires you is listening to My Chemical Romance and lip-syncing in your room, then do that. If what inspires you is drinking incredibly fancy specific tea and burning specific incense, do that. If you’re inspired by new art materials, treat yourself (within reason and budget) to a couple new things.

Try not to judge yourself when you’re doing your “refill the inspiration” activities. Try not to let others judge you, either. (Both are very difficult at times.) I personally am super inspired by watching (actually, listening to) YouTube videos of people doing art, in the background, while I paint; this means that I watch literally hours of YouTube every day, but I try not to judge myself or let anyone give me a hard time about my constant YouTubing.

Because in the end, this is YOUR art and YOUR inspiration. As long as you’re not harming yourself or anyone else, nobody else gets a vote on how you foster your inspiration.

Be accountable. Accountability has been an extremely helpful way for me to get myself to get the work done. I have daily check-boxes in my bullet journal that keep me on track for various tasks, like “work day job,” “paint a Tarot card,” “work on comics.” Deadlines as well as daily work  times have allowed even a Gemini like me to stick with these projects that sometimes last upwards of a year.

Accountability can take many forms. Sometimes it means checking in with a friend or partner regularly and having them ask you, “Did you work on x today?” Other times it’s just a bullet journal where you are held accountable to yourself. And still others use social media, and an upload schedule, to make sure they “at least make something.

Love the work itself. They say the people who are successful are not the ones who most love the art form or the ideas they’re working with – it’s the people who learn to love (or at least deal with) the everyday grind. It really doesn’t matter how much you want to be an artist, if you can’t tolerate daily painting and sketching, promoting yourself, re-doing work, and all the other practicalities of being an artist day to day.

That’s all I’ve got. I hope that some of it helps you. If you have any questions or comments, please do feel free to leave them down below.

And until next time, I hope you’re having a really excellent day – and I’ll talk you again very, very soon!

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 1/7/19: 7 Ways To Get (And Stay) In Creative Flow

Hey guys! Today I thought I’d talk a bit about the concept of flow, and share the techniques that help me get into flow and keep it going.

 

So what is flow, though? It’s hard to define, but like many things, “I can’t define it but I know when I’m there.” Flow is a state of being in which one is able to work (usually in an artistic way, such as drawing or painting, but not always) in a steady, productive, focused, and creative manner, without excessive breaks, distraction, or procrastination.

For me, being in flow is accompanied by a low-grade euphoria of “I’m doing it. I’m getting work done and creating things. Yes. YES!” I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of neurotransmitter rush, sort of like runner’s high. I also tend to lose track of time – for hours – while in flow, which is an unfortunate side effect, but is a small price to pay for the enjoyment and productivity of flow.

It’s taken literal years for me to figure out how to get into flow and how to stay there, so I wanted to share some tips-and-tricks so that maybe it won’t take 15 years of trial and error for YOU to get there. 🙂


1. Self Care and Basic Health

I know. You don’t want to hear it. But for me at least, I can tell you that if I don’t take basic care of my body, I CANNOT get into flow. I don’t mean that I’m in perfect health – HAH, far from it – but I have to be experiencing a basic level of acceptable wellness, or my sluggishness and general “blah” feeling gets in the way. Regular light exercise, scheduling adequate sleep time, and most of all eating healthy has become, for me, the baseline that allows me to build flow on top.

 

2. Organization and Scheduling

Another one nobody wants to hear or accept – but organization and regular work schedules have helped me form a framework in which I can really get into flow. Although I work from home (even for my day job), I have found that I really need to have scheduled “work hours” during which I work on certain projects. I usually spend a few minutes each morning just looking over what I need to do and figuring out what I’ll work on that day, and then work in one- to two-hour blocks on each project. This allows me not only to make sure that I get a good amount of work done on each project, but reinforces, in my subconscious mind, what my schedule is and when I need to be in “work mode.”

 

3. Preparation and Planning

This is less about planning out plots and storylines and more about being prepared to work logistically: Is the laptop charged? If not, is there a plug available for it? Do I have enough of that one paint that I was running out of? Did I clean those brushes yesterday, or are they still covered in Phthalo Blue? Do I have the paper I need in order to draw those next few comic pages? Did I order more G-pen nibs? I find it extremely helpful to keep a running shopping list of supplies and materials to replace, writing them down as I notice them running low; that way, at the end of the week (or, in my case, when a coupon comes up for the art store), I can do one shopping run on the weekend, rather than having to run out at 9:45am to replace something when I have to work at 10.

 

4. Environmental Management

Make your workplace a place you want to be. I realize this isn’t possible, but don’t assume I mean you have to lease a penthouse suite as your studio and have expensive aromatherapy oils and state-of-the-art ergonomic beanbag chairs. Really, I’m talking about the little things. Play music you really enjoy. Burn candles or incense that are appealing to you (but please be careful and use dishes/incense burners so that you don’t burn anything down while you’re in flow!). If you’re less a music person and prefer to have something slightly distracting, play a podcast, reruns of a TV show you’ve seen (new episodes not recommended, as you’ll focus on them more than your work), or even an ambient noise. YouTube has plenty of ambient noise mixes, and you can use them to place yourself anywhere from a trendy Pacific-Northwest Starbucks to the Gryffindor common room at Hogwarts. (I am not making this up.) My favorite is a mix by Magical Forest called “Library Study Session,” and it sounds like just that – and is extremely helpful in getting me to focus and feel like I’m ready for flow to happen.

 

5. Just Do It

The best way to get something done is to start doing it. Even if you start small, start. Even if you’re writing random lines instead of a novel, write. Even if you’re drawing in a sketchbook rather than painting your incredible mural, draw. Even if you are messing around with chords on guitar rather than composing a symphony…okay, you get the idea. You will never get into flow with your work if you never work. “The easiest way to guarantee you won’t succeed is to never try.” It’s tempting to wait until everything is perfect, but to be perfectly honest, it never will be – and it doesn’t need to be for you to create your work. If your goal is to be able to “flow” your work for 6 hours straight, start with 60 minutes. Or 16. Or 6. Flow, like anything, takes practice to be able to do consistently, and there is no way around that practice.

 

6. Mindfulness: Bring It Back To Center

One of the most devious ways our brains keep us from creating our great works is distraction. And the worst part of distraction is that, quite often, it happens not only without our approval, but without our knowledge. Have you ever found yourself surfing through social media and realized it’s been 2 hours since work started and you’ve done nothing but…you aren’t even sure what? Been there. It’s frustrating, but the best thing to do is to put down the phone or close the browser and get back to work. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t overanalyze it, don’t waste time being morose or self-pitying. Just bring your attention back to your actual work and get back to it.

In meditation, it can take years of practice to “quiet the monkey mind” and be able to just sit and not get distracted with trains of thought – and creativity and flow are, in a way, meditative practices. So do your best not to get too frustrated if, even after reading this article and even trying for a while, you can’t seem to focus or get into flow. Beating ourselves up only wastes time and energy and makes us mentally associate work with feeling guilty, which makes us avoid it even more. Don’t waste your time kicking yourself. Breathe, shift your attention, and do the next work task you can find.

 

7. Feed The Inspiration

We all have muses, I believe – even if that muse is an amorphous cloud of ideas we draw from, rather than a beautiful damsel for whom we would lasso the sun and the moon and the stars – and those muses need offerings if we are to expect them to provide us with ideas. For me, my inspiration, my muse, seems to like the stuff I liked when I was a teenager – when I was really “coming into my own” creatively – so when I need to get inspired, I tend to listen to goth and alt-rock albums from the mid-late 2000’s, watch horror movies from the same era, and read a lot (and I mean a LOT) of manga. Even if what I’m making is not dark, horrific, or anime-styled, this stuff inspires me.

I suspect it has something to do with my inner child (inner teenager?) and the incredible, intense, almost volatile creativity she had. Although less consistent in my work and less skilled than I am now, that teenager was incredibly creative and prolific and just loved coming up with ideas. She was in love with art, the process of making art, and the idea of being an artist, and so she is what I tap into when I really need to get myself creating.

My point is this: Try to pin down the time (or place, or mood) in your life when/where you felt most creative, and feed your creativity on things that connect you with that time/place/mood. If you’ve ever been in flow, try to recall where you were, what you were listening to, what you were watching around that time…If nothing else, it’ll be a blast of nostalgia – and with any luck, it could tip you over into flow.

That’s my top 7 tips, but I have a bonus one that is more important than any of the others: PLEASE don’t destroy your health with your work, or mistake overburdening yourself for flow. If you are unwilling to pause, even to eat or sleep, that’s not flow, that’s overwork – and it’s going to result in burnout, not prolific creativity. Ideally, anxiety, anger, and stress are NOT part of flow (at least, they’re not its main results), and long-term, these things can literally shorten your lifespan as well as your quality of life.

And, if you find yourself unable to stop working, even when you want to or know you need to, or if you are skipping consecutive days of sleep, please talk to a trusted person (doctor, therapist, friend) as soon as possible. These can be signs of mental health issues, but if addressed promptly and properly, they can definitely be treated. (I just mention this because I have a mood disorder that, on occasion, takes over my creativity and makes me work for days straight. It’s not healthy for me to do that, but these days I’m able to balance pretty well and get into flow rather than hypomania.)

Finally I’d like to personally wish you good luck in your creative journey, whatever that may look like, and offer that if you ever need advice on creativity or getting into flow, I’m here. Drop me a line! My contact form is here and you can contact me there any time.

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to my Etsy shop and  check out what I’ve got for sale there. And for more of my thoughts on art and more, here’s my YouTube channel. Maybe you’ll find yourself listening to me ramble about art while you get yourself into a good creative flow. 🙂

All the best,

Taylor

Weekly Blog 12/17/18 | Comic Scripting, Multitasking Projects, and Day Job Breakthroughs (That I Can’t Talk About)

Hello everyone!

I’m very excited to be coming back to you with good news from my corner of the world: I’m doing much better mentally, after that crazy week of creating tons of art and projects, and am evening out my mood. My paper planning system is helping hugely in this; I’m able to not only track my mood and be aware of where my brain is, but it helps me also to manage my daily habits and do enough self-care but also enough work that I can sleep at night. So, things are pretty good.

I’ve been scripting comics – actual drawing quite often triggers my hypomania (bipolar symptom), but scripting is not a problem. I’m working on My Life On The Sidelines, the next installment being chapter 1, but also Beauty For Ashes, a more grown-up manga about a sort of antihero vigilante who protects women from assault, but has a lot of secrets of his own. The script for Chapter 1 is complete and I’m hoping to release that chapter as a little home-printed comic in spring 2019.

I’m managing a lot of projects right now, and I have to say it’s a bit difficult to work on them all and make progress! My day job takes precedence of course, but then it seems that the Millennial Mystic Tarot, the Hekate Oracle, my poetry, My Life On The Sidelines, and Beauty For Ashes are all tied for second place. It’s really hard to prioritize when you have one clear priority but really haven’t prioritized beyond that. It is fine to have a bottom line – at the end of the day, I HAVE to have done my day job work – but it’s also important to prioritize the littler things.

I don’t know exactly how I’m going to manage that. But I will. 🙂

Finally, I have made a major breakthrough at work…and can tell you absolutely nothing about it. Like, really, my hands are tied here. I would love to describe the process to you, especially the “EUREKA!” moment I had last Tuesday night – but I can’t. It is all proprietary, and in essence, my company owns the technological advancement I made. That’s okay, though. I intend to stay with them a while yet.

I’m off to work now. Wishing you all the best, and hoping you have a great day.

-Taylor

Image for this week’s blog: Joey Belle, a male but somewhat feminine character with bright blue eyes and messy, badly trimmed blonde hair. The image is a portrait, shoulders up, of Joey smirking confidently.