5 Ways to Spark Creativity

Creativity. It’s so incredibly important to me as a writer. As a child, it came to me very naturally. Most children like to create – it doesn’t matter if it’s making a mud pie or building a block tower – those are forms of creating. As children, we have hours to devote to our imagination, to create, to explore the world around us.

But life happens. And we grow up. And most of us become a lot more logical and focused and busy. And being logical and focused and busy can be good, but losing creativity isn’t. Creativity is important to everyone, not just the artists, although of course, we use different types of creativity from each other.

There are some people (like me) whose imagination hasn’t faded as I grow older – which is really good because I’m a writer and need an imagination that works well. But! That doesn’t mean my creativity is always functioning well. Do you know what’s cool, though? I’ve found ways to spark my creativity. To make the creative part of my brain work even when I’ve fallen into a rut of un-inspired-ness.

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  1. Start work in a clean environment. As a kid my room was a huge mess about 93% of the time. Nowadays I keep my office/bedroom swept, neat, and put in order. I have friends who tease me about how I rush around putting everything away before I sit down to write or read, and it’s true. Having clutter around makes my brain feel cluttered and I can’t focus.
  2. Find one of the creative arts to inspire you. For me, it’s listening to music. There’s nothing like listening to a beautiful piece of piano music to kick my brain into gear and help the writing begin flowing from my fingers. (Movie soundtracks are the best for this.) But hey! If music doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. Read a great book. Look at a breathtaking watercolor. Invest in a detailed drawing and gaze at everything the artist did to make it come alive.
  3. Do something that is creative. My most creative place other than in my office is when I’m in the kitchen. It’s so much fun to make new foods and see what herbs and spices throw my tastebuds into a flurry of delight. Generally, if I’m not feeling creative and I go and work in the kitchen for a while, my mind recalibrates and I’m back in my muse.
  4. Go on a long walk or run. Y’all. This works wonders. Other forms of exercise might work as well, but I generally opt for a walk/run. Listening to inspiring music while walking only makes it better. And, although a treadmill does work, being out in the fresh air helps so much more.
  5. Find some little kids and play with them, or if you don’t want to play with them, just watch them play. I hang out with my best friend’s little girl sometimes and her creativity and imagination make me happy. If you don’t have any little kids in your life, then find an artist – musician, painter, even a cook – and spend some time studying how they go about their work. It is truly inspiring.

What are some ways you spark your creativity?

Perks of Audiobooks

A delightfully happy Thursday morning to you, folks! Today I have a vlog about one of the great discoveries of 2017. Okay… Well, maybe not. But, for me, audiobooks were a 2017 “discovery.” And me oh my how wonderful they are!

And, y’all should totally answer the question for me: Do you count audiobooks as books you’ve “read” (on Goodreads or however you keep track of your books)? Or how do you define them?

Have a fantastic day!

Writing Buddies, Instagram Stories, and Peach Tea

I would say good morning, but I have a feeling I’m slightly late for that. 😉 My life isn’t completely on schedule at the moment, and I’m totally fine with that. Right now I’m at my best friend’s house, hanging out with her little girl and getting a fantastic amount of writing work done. (If you don’t count the break we just took to watch something together. #Memories)

Generally, I like to think of myself as someone who’s whimsical and make spur of the moment decisions, and yet whenever I come over here and have tea, it’s always the Perfect Peach tea. Seriously, y’all. You should try it, it’s amazing and makes hours of editing so much better.

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Speaking of trying new things though, I have been trying something new – Instagram stories. I started them a few days ago and it’s a fun way to capture my work on writing. If y’all would like to follow along you can do so at lydia_reads.

Editing is going well, and I’m slightly above my goal, which is pretty cool. (Granted, I have given myself low goals with editing this month because I have so much other stuff going on.) I’m thankful for what I’ve been able to learn and accomplish with writing in the past few months. Always learning, always growing, always making changes.

January 2018 in Review

What I focused on in January:

  1. Getting into the groove of a fantastic new year
  2. Writing and Coffee Shop Work
  3. Family and friends time (and, unfortunately, being sick)
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Reading Update

Fiction: 12
Nonfiction: 1
Book Reviews: 10
Audio Books: 2

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 4
New States or Countries: None

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Goals

  1. Edit 7,000 words {YES – plus more}
  2. Prep for Junior Church {YES}
  3. Dorcas’s Wedding {YES}
  4. Car Title Work {YES}
  5. Money-ish Work (figuring some things out) {YES}
  6. Four vlogs {YES}
  7. Walk 20 miles {YES}
  8. Eat Paleo 20 days (my version) {YES}
  9. Bed by 10:30 10 times {YES}
  10. Research Scrivener 2 hours {YES}
  11. Weekly Goals {YES}
  12. Bathroom cleaned once a week {NO – 3/4}
  13. Blog by 9:30 10 times {YES}
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What I’ve Been Learning
That I need to do my monthly reviews right at the end/beginning of months because I easily lose track of what happened during what months. 😉
I spent a lot of time in January just working at getting into a new rhythm of life – it’s a new semester at the college near where I work, and so, therefore, I have a new schedule. It’s a new year for everyone, and so I’ve completed some goals, and have a new list to start out with.
Oh, and speaking of goals. I’ve been continuing my life-long discovery of how to use goals to the best of my advantage. I want goals to be a tool that helps me do and become what I’m supposed to be, but that doesn’t hold me captive to unrealistic expectations. That means that sometimes when my circumstances change, I need to change my goals. Other goals end up being unworthwhile because of how life happens, and yet other goals are too lofty to complete in the time frame I’ve assigned them.
If you’ll notice above I was able to complete all of my goals for the month of January – and yet it wasn’t like that happened easily. Instead (lowly though they may be), I had to break the goals into weekly, and sometimes daily, portions to make sure I accomplished them on time. That’s how I want my goals to be – a challenge, but still attainable. One of the biggest things I’ve realized about goals is they work SO MUCH BETTER when I have an accountability partner. My cousin and I had been goal partners several years ago, but over time it fizzled out. Recently I asked her if she was interested in doing it again, and after thinking it over for a few weeks, she agreed. Even though we don’t have a ton of communication at the same time (it’s mostly over text), knowing that I’m going to have to give her updates REALLY keeps me on track.
In January I also spent a couple of hours researching Scrivener. It’s amazing to me how much easier it is to learn something when I actually sit down and read what I’m supposed to, instead of just stumbling around trying to figure it out on my own.
I’m teaching Junior Church for the months of February, March, and April, so I spent a fair amount of time in January researching what and how I wanted to teach. It was good for me to think through what I wanted the kids to learn and how I wanted to present it.
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Other

As mentioned at the beginning, I was sadly sick for a fair amount of January. I had a horrible cold/flu that took me down for a few days and then kept reappearing in a lighter form. I even had to miss a day of work, which was a total first for me. (Working around food while being really sick didn’t seem like an incredibly fair thing to do, besides, I could barely keep my eyes open and it’s a 45-minute drive.)

I also ended up missing a day or two of work due to icy roads. Living fairly far out in the country is wonderful, but roads that are gravel and up and down and all around don’t always mesh well with snow and ice. One day I slid right into a tree on my way to work (thankfully I was going slow and didn’t have much damage), so decided it was probably best to just go home. (I still had miles of icy back roads to traverse before I got to main roads.) The next day it took me nearly 45 extra minutes to get to work, but I really didn’t want to miss another day of work. That night I stayed at my sister’s house because she lives closer to town, and getting to work the next day was much easier.

Near the middle of the month, I went to PA for the wedding of a good friend. It was fun and I got to hang out and help set everything up. I also got to be a bridal table server, which is an honor and made me quite happy.

The last half of the month was filled with company and hanging out with people, and nearly always feeling behind (but in a good way) as I tried to balance work and family and other life-ish things.

January was wonderful and sped by and I can hardly believe it’s already nearly the middle of February. Who knew 2018 would go by so fast?

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Fangirling

It’s true that I might have a habit of fangirling over things that aren’t generally considered fangirlable – for instance, apparently fangirling is supposed to be reserved for thing such as movies, music, books, etc…. But I’ve learned how to take it to a whole new level and fangirl about all sorts of delightful things in life.

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For instance, recently I’ve been fangirling about…

Winter – Do y’all see that beauty in the picture above? Around here life is a shimmering, glowing, breathtaking (for more than one reason) winter wonderland. On my way to work yesterday I kept wanting to stop on the back roads to gaze at the amazingness of it all. (Of course, I didn’t because the roads were very icy and so I crawled along at my slow ol’ pace and had good traction.)

Piano Music – Goodness, folks. Nothing inspires me like piano music. It makes me want to hug the world and sit down to write a book and make a complicated meal for my family and clean the house and live life more fully. And sometimes it makes me want to write a blog post. (This is what I’m listening to right now.)

Filming Unboxing videos – I would ask if there’s anything more fun in life, but in reality, I know there is (like living in a tipi for a year or going on a road trip to Alaska). When it all comes down to it, though, opening book packages in front of the camera and then watching my reactions to see how well they actually portrayed how I felt, is so much fun. That may or may not be the reason I order books sometimes. And it also may or may not be the reason I was late for writing a review recently. (Hey! I didn’t realize how long I’d had the book package waiting to open it…)

Goals, Sticky Notes, Check Marks, and Colorful Pens – Can we do a little happy dance at seeing all those delightful things mentioned in one sentence? My desk is my happy place and it’s abundantly stocked with all the above. My weekly and monthly goals consist of a lot of things that I know I HAVE to do, as well as things that I really should do. Some are big, but I also add a bunch of little things on to the list, simply so I can check them off because the mere thought of checking things off a list is enough to get me out of bed. (Posting by 9:30 in the morning? Check. Get to bed by 10:30 at night? Check. Work at the coffee shop four days this week? Check.) It also helps that all my goals are written in colorful, rotating colors. #WinAllTheWay

The White Chocolate Craisin Cookies at Work – I work at a coffee shop, if y’all didn’t know, and my boss lets me make new recipes sometimes. Some of them are flops and never see the light of day. And then there are those^. Yes, the most delicious, chewy, delightful, and mouth-watering cookies in the history of ever. And yes, I might tell each and every customer about them with wide, excited gestures.

And speaking of work, although my list of fangirling could go on and on, I’ve got to go, so bye for now, folks!

What are some things you fangirl over?

Unique Author Interview Questions Part Two {Vlog}

Happy Thursday, folks! I filmed this vlog a few weeks ago, which ended up working out really well because then I got sick and I didn’t even feel like reading (gasp!) but editing vlogs is always fun. So, I had a delightful time doing extra edits on the vlog since I didn’t have time restrictions because I didn’t feel up to doing anything else, anyway…

Thankfully I’m all better now, but I hope you have as good a time watching it as I had editing it. Enjoy!

One of My Most Anticipated Reads of the Year – A Light on the Hill {Book Review and Happiness}

A Light On The Hill

by Connilyn Cossette

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • 336 Pages

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Back Cover Blurb:

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

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Why I Choose This Book:

Folks. Miss Connilyn’s writing is amazing. Goodness, y’all. Her Biblical fiction has drawn me in from the very first page every single time. When her last trilogy ended I was really sad because I REALLY wanted there to be a fourth book that featured one of the characters from the third book in the trilogy. Therefore, when I saw she had another series going, I jumped at the chance to be one of the earlier reviewers. I decided to go into the book totally blind – not even allowing myself to read the back cover before diving in. (And when you see the blurb floating around on the internet it’s hard to resist!)

You can watch me unboxing the book here

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What I Thought:

I may or may not have squealed and grabbed the arm of the person next to me out of pure joy when I read the first paragraph and realized that ALOTH (A Light on the Hill) featured the exact character I wanted. Moriyah was just a girl of 13 in the last book of Miss Connilyn’s, but now she’s all grown up and a far cry from the confident person I remember from her youth.

The writing is beautiful – the descriptions whisked me away into the Promise Land and plopped me there with such force I didn’t want to leave. I’ve traveled a lot in life, but this book makes me want to travel even more. Reading about walking through the vineyards was the next best thing to actually doing it, but now that I’ve read the book, I want to go and experience it for myself. The details of all the Middle Eastern food were so delightful and made me so hungry for it that I made my family stuffed grape leaves, lentil soup, and za’atar bread for supper one night. It was delicious and made Moriyah’s world come alive so much more to me.

As far as the storyline itself goes, I enjoyed it. There were twists and turns and things I hadn’t expected. (Going into the book blind really helped with that.) Previously I’d read there were some pretty great plot twists in the book, but when I asked a friend of mine who was reading the book, she just kinda shrugged the question off. Therefore, when I got to the major plot twist, I was mind-blown. As in, I went and found people who I knew wouldn’t be reading the book and sat down and told them all about it because I had to share it with someone. It was amazing and unexpected, and at first, I couldn’t hardly imagine it had actually really happened.

For some reason, I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second. I’m not sure why that is, except there was a little more romance in the second half, and sometimes that annoys me slightly. (In all books – not just this one.) The first half of the book was a five-star read, which for me is VERY unusual, and the second half mellowed the book down to four stars. I have a feeling though that most people would enjoy the second half just as much as the first.

Now I can’t hardly wait for the next book in the series. Miss Connilyn’s books always make the Bible feel more alive to me, and this book was no exception. Her research is fantastic and makes me want to do researching of my own. Her details are superb and craft style remarkable.

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Conclusion:

Y’all, I have a feeling I should probably end this review before I write an entire book myself. Overall it was a clean book. At the same time though, there are mentions of the various Canaanite cities that were still around during the book of Joshua and the immorality that went on in them, temple prostitutes (never going into detail), and a small amount of violence. There’s also a fair amount of time when an unmarried man and woman travel alone together – it’s out of necessity and nothing happens, but I do wish that wasn’t as common of an element in books like this…

Stay tuned, y’all, for an author interview coming up later on this month!

Rating:

I’m giving The Light On the Hill 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who has ever read Biblical fiction – or if you haven’t read it and have thought about giving it a try.

*The author gave me a book so I could review it, but I would have found or bought a copy somewhere if she hadn’t 😉

*All of the picture quotes I got off of Miss Connilyn’s Facebook page.