Inside Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities in Stockholm, Sweden

3 Simple Ways to Brainstorm Amazing Ideas

Last week I delved into the topic of where ideas come from — and also why that’s not the question we should be asking. Instead, it’s more about the three things we need to help our ideas flourish: time, space, and attention.

First, let’s assume you have all three: the time to create, the physical and mental space with which to work, and enough of your undivided attention. Where do you go from there? How can you be sure you have the right idea?

This week, give yourself the time, space, and focus for a brainstorming session. For this one, grab a notebook and a pen, or open the notes app on your phone or a blank document on your computer.

Here are three different brain games you can play to uncover your next big idea:

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Sign reading the creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why ‘Where Do Ideas Come From?’ Is the Wrong Question to Ask

A couple of years ago, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. It was one of those books that I saw recommended to creatives all the time but for whatever reason ignored. I finally caved and bought it when I was in Austin on a business trip, awaiting my flight home at the airport. I quickly understood why it’s so widely praised. It gave me a fresh understanding of my own creative process and helped me examine my motivations for making things.

One passage in particular stood out to me, on the nature of ideas. Gilbert writes:

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How to Have Your Most Creative Year Ever

As the year winds down, I’m reflecting on how 2019 shaped up. The verdict? I can safely say that this was my most creative year yet.

To name a few things: I painted nearly a dozen pictures, completed an art journal, drew silly comic strips, published an article on LinkedIn, sent colorful postcards to friends and family, added new decorations to my home, rebranded my business, and wrote the majority of a novel. With that kind of momentum to end the decade, I’m excited to see what the next ten years will bring.

So what did I do differently in 2019? For one, I made my creativity a priority. My overarching goal for 2019 was to create as much as possible whenever possible. I also took several different approaches to help me create consistently. (It’s true — consistency really is key!)

Are you resolving to get creative in 2020? Here are five methods that helped me create more in 2019. I promise they’ll help you make something amazing this year and beyond.

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a stack of books on writing

Back to School: 5 Lessons Content Marketers Can Learn from Teachers

In 2014, I made the leap from an academic career to one in content marketing. This shift followed five years of teaching college composition courses and working as a writing tutor. After doing some freelance copywriting for an agency, I was offered a full-time, in-house position and said goodbye to academia. (For now!)

English 101 may not sound like the place to learn about content creation. Yet I realized years later that that’s precisely what I did. So much of content marketing is about educating an audience. That’s not so different from being in the classroom.

As the 2019 – 2020 academic year begins, marketers can approach their work with a “back-to-school” mentality, too. The five lessons below are what my teaching experience taught me about content marketing — and why all content marketers should think of themselves as teachers.

Read the rest on LinkedIn

 

Laguz with The Star and The Moon

Norse Runes for Tarot Readers: Connecting the Cards to the Elder Futhark

I’ve long been interested in learning Norse runes, but I didn’t begin exploring them until a few months ago.  Simply put: they seemed intimidating.

As I began to research their interpretations, the meanings reminded me of tarot cards, with which I’m more familiar. These, too, had once seemed impossible to learn. But ever since I had found ways to make personal connections with the cards, I have been able to understand them more clearly.

The tarot correspondences are my own and have helped me in my study of runes. In fact, I’ve found that they are a lot more approachable than I’d initially thought. If this system helps you, feel free to switch the cards around as you see fit. Continue reading “Norse Runes for Tarot Readers: Connecting the Cards to the Elder Futhark”

Woods outside of Woodstock, NY

Just Out of View

Happy new year! I intend to post short stories to my blog when the mood strikes. This is the first in a series of magical realms, strange creatures, and unsettling situations.

(All photos used in this post are my own.)


Annie was five years old when she discovered she could make objects disappear into thin air.

One late summer afternoon, Annie sat on the living room floor with her Mama. Her grandmother smiled down at her from the couch.

“Show me what you can do, Annie,” Gramma said.

Annie picked up the penny in front of her. A dark stain covered the face of the copper coin. She had found this one, like the other three she’d vanished, between the couch cushions. Annie placed the penny between her index and middle fingers and flicked her wrist.

The penny disappeared from sight. Continue reading “Just Out of View”

the view from the summit of Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, NY

5 Ways to Set Yearly Goals (and See Results)

For about a decade now, I’ve set goals for myself at the beginning of each year. Ambition has no expiration date, of course, but I’ve found that yearly goals are a good timeframe if I really want to get things done.

Getting my master’s degree, following my chosen career path, learning how to read tarot, traveling to retreats on my own, vacationing in Sweden, and starting a business were all things that happened for me because I set out to accomplish them. And sure, these aren’t earth-shattering things, but we can’t learn and grow from our experiences without planting those initial seeds.

Yet in order to make things happen for myself, I’ve found that I first need to be in the right mindset. In the past, I’ve struggled with depression, had a one-time dream career fizzle, and dealt with unemployment.

Story time: I used to work as an adjunct lecturer at a couple of local colleges. Honestly, I loved working with students, but the pay was very low and the workload was heavy. As a part-time employee with no benefits or job security, I didn’t feel respected, and some semesters the work just wasn’t available.

I didn’t think there was much I could do with my degree, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing. I thought teaching was my only option–and the one I wanted most of all–even if it did mean a very unsteady paycheck.

Today, I work as a content marketer. I’ve also began my business as a freelance writer, editor, and consultant (and for a time as a tarot reader, too). And I’m working toward publishing my own fiction writing.

What changed? I stopped trying to pursue something that no longer brought me happiness.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Set Yearly Goals (and See Results)”
Inside a Filofax with sticky notes and postcards and fortunes

40 Things to Do Before I Turn 40

This July, I celebrated my 32nd birthday. Although I’ve set my annual goals each January for years, I sometimes find it challenging to focus on the long term.

The last time I remember coming up with as much as a five-year plan was, perhaps oddly, in the middle of a job interview many years ago. I was fresh out of college and in need of work to begin paying back all those student loans. I snagged an interview at a call center for a payroll and benefits company – something I was, as a creative, not so enthused about!

Pro tip: when an employer asks you where you see yourself in five years, the answer they’re usually looking for is something along the lines of “Working for your company” or “Moving up the ladder in your industry.” The answer I gave during this interview was nothing of the sort.

“In five years,” I’d said, thinking big, “I’d like to have my master’s degree in English, and I want to teach college-level writing classes.”

It probably goes without saying that I did not get that job.

Continue reading “40 Things to Do Before I Turn 40”