Category Archives: Creativity

Ideas, thoughts, ‘Aha!’ moments

Confronting the “Turn Back” Critic

QUNN’S NOTE: This is Day 7 of  a 7-day Write Yourself Whole journaling class to discover your Inner Heroes and name them. It’s free, but if you want to donate something because you like that idea, there is a donate button on my website.

Previous posts in this series:  Day 1: Getting Started details here.
Day 2: Distort and Shrink Inner Critic.
Day 3: Perfectionist Inner Critic.
Day 4: You Are Not Enough Inner Critic. 
Day 5: The Story Inner Critic.
Day 6: The Danger Everywhere Inner Critic.

The Scene:  Your Inner Critic has a lot of company among your friends and family. If you are like most people, you will recognize this Inner Critic quickly.

Change-the-way-you-look-at-things-smYou have decided to make a change. Eat more healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, stop gossiping. The work is hard, and slow, but it’s paying off. You are feeling better and your friends and family are noticing the change. The next thing that happens surprises you.

The Tactic:  Your friends and family begin to give you Change-back signals. “You were more fun when you weren’t so picky about what you ate,” they’ll say. “Let’s go for coffee and a cinnamon roll, you can go back on your diet tomorrow.” Or, “Don’t be such a goody-goody, we aren’t gossiping, you know it’s the truth.”

It’s hard to stick to your plans when your family or friends ask you to change back to the way you were. When you change, you automatically require your friends and family to change. You are different and you behave differently toward them. You also want to be treated in the new way you are working on. But your family and friends don’t want to make the same effort.  So they try to get you to change back.

Your Inner Critic loves this. Your Inner Critic shows you how much more fun it Judgement20would be to go back. To have your friends back the way it was. To have your family approve of you again. It’s tempting.

Write Yourself Whole Journaling Prompts:
1. Write down the decision you made to change. Add a list of the steps you took to make the change work. Spend 3 minutes writing how proud you are of your achievements.

2. Think of some things to say to show your family how important your changes are to you. (3 minutes). Listen carefully to their answers. If they aren’t supportive, you are learning a lot about them. You already know about yourself.

3. What did it take for you to change? That’s the name of your Inner Hero. It might be a simple name like “Steadfast” or “Certain.” Or you might want to make it more complex, like “One who stands strong in the face of opposition.” Or, if you are more casual, “One who knows poop from pearls. And chooses pearls.”

Moving Ahead:  Switch-Back messages are easy to spot. It’s a bit harder to not to feel alone when you get the messages to “come back to the way you were.” Remember your goal. Look at how you reached it. The people who don’t want to help you are not as strong. They are afraid of change. You have already changed.

You may lose some friends, but the ones you keep will be the worthwhile friends. Once you know who they are, support their change, too.

—Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and writer. She knows it is hard to make change work and how lonely that can be. But not as lonely as not changing. Quinn is a writer, trainer, creativity coach and author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

 

 

Confronting the “Danger Everywhere” Critic

QUNN’S NOTE: This is Day 6 of  a 7-day Write Yourself Whole journaling class to discover your Inner Heroes and name them. It’s free, but if you want to donate something because you like that idea, there is a donate button on my website. You can read Day 1: Getting Started details here.   Day 2: Distort and Shrink Inner Critic.  Day 3: Perfectionist Inner Critic.    Day 4: You Are Not Enough Inner Critic.  Day 5: The Story Inner Critic.

After today, the next post will be on Saturday, September 20.  I normally don’t post on Fridays, so you can use tomorrow as a catch-up day.

The Scene: You need to make a decision–not a life-or-death decision, but something you care about. You are not positive of your next step. You make a “pro” and “con” list, but it’s not conclusive.

So you ask your friends for help. What do they suggest? Your friends are happysigndangrspsbl to help. But as each suggestion is put to you, your Inner Critic bats it aside. You speak as if you were the Inner Critic. “That won’t work, I’ve tried that before.” “That won’t work, it will take too much time.” “That won’t work, I can’t do that kind of work.” “That won’t work, either, I don’t know how.”

The Tactic: Your Inner Critic shows you danger everywhere, and you blow off your friends’ suggestions because all you can see is the dark and fearful side of every choice. Part of you knows that there can’t be all that danger, but it’s fun having your friends make all those suggestions. You take no action because everything looks scary. The Inner Critic has frozen you in place.

Write Yourself Whole Journaling Prompts:
1. Think of a recent decision you made that required consideration What fears did you notice? Which ones were real concerns? Take a look at the fears and see which ones are inflated that you are accepting.

2. Who feeds your fear? Write a poem about feeding fear. It doesn’t have to be long. Just choose your words carefully. You might find it easier than you think.

cloaked-in-danger3. Your Inner Hero supplies words that help. A new vocabulary will arm you with strength. Think of a name for your Inner Hero. A short one like “Strength” or “Purpose.” Or consider your Inner Hero a muse and think of it as “One who writes Truth, even if it is hard to hear.”

Moving Ahead:  When you reject help, answers to questions,  solutions to problems, you can’t grow. You refuse growth. But you don’t see your refusal, it feels more like you are checking in on your growth. It’s like pulling up a seedling every hour to check on growth. Set some limits on your fears. When you notice old fears surfacing, ask if you want to make time for them. How much you want your life to be limited. The more walls and fences we build, the more your freedom is limited.

—Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and writer. She knows it is hard to choose freedom and have a large world to grow into. Quinn is a writer, trainer, creativity coach and author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

 

 

Confronting the “Story” Critic

QUNN’S NOTE: This is Day 5 of  a 7-day Write Yourself Whole journaling class to discover your Inner Heroes and name them. It’s free, but if you want to donate something because you like that idea, there is a donate button on my website. You can read Day 1 Getting Started details here.   Day 2–Distort and Shrink Inner Critic.  Day 3–Perfectionist Inner Critic.    Day 4: You Are Not Enough Inner Critic.

The Scene: Everyone has a “story.” Your story is the belief you build your life around. “I’m the organized one.” “I was always the class clown.” Sometimes the story it stuck onto something that happened in the past. “Of course I can’t trust anyone. My father abandoned the family by drinking.”

Stories can be interesting, tragic, bold, brave, or amazing. What makes them tragic is our own belief that other people’s decisions still guide our life.

Paqui_highlightHere’s what that sounds like: “Well, no wonder I can’t ever get to work on time. My Dad was so undependable, it is all I know.” Or, “You can’t blame me for not getting this book started, I’m a perfectionist from birth, and we have trouble getting started.”

The Tactic: When your story begins to run your life, when you make other people bear the burden for your own shortcomings, your life runs off the tracks. Your Inner Critic is quick to help you find blame with others. This is tricky, as your Inner Critic often directs blame that isn’t yours to you. So when you don’t take control of your life, because of others, it feels natural.

Write Yourself Whole Journaling Prompts:

1. What is your Story? This is rarely a fast answer. Spend some time making lists of how you see yourself. Look for big, sweeping explanations that pin the past to the future.

landoflongago2. What part of the story is holding you back? How do you blame yourself for this? How do you blame others? Your Inner Critic will help you with both of those answers. This is also tricky. Your Inner Critic is not always wrong. Watch for two part sentences with logic flaws. “You can’t blame me for not getting this book started, I”m a perfectionist from birth,” is an example. So is the same sentence with someone else “turning you into a perfectionist.”

Even if you are a perfectionist now, you can become a recovering perfectionist. See who you are blaming for your story.

3. Re-write your story with the ending you want. It’s OK to want (and write) a happy ending. Look at the characteristics you need. Those characteristics are the ones your Inner Hero (and you) have. Maybe you are “Discernment” or “Positive Attitude.” Or maybe it’s more complex, like, “One who does not let me confuse the past with the present.” Or, “One who is authentic, even if that means losing friends.”

Moving  Ahead:  Your Story may have been started in your past, but you get to write the ending you want. Your authentic self is not who you are right now, it is your best self, which may need some dusting off and a quick rinse. Take a look at the way you want your story to end. Call on your Inner Hero to boost you up when you begin to slip into old ways.

—Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and writer. She knows it is hard to re-write your story. But you are the only one who can. Quinn is a writer, trainer, creativity coach and author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

 

 

Confronting the “You Are Not Enough” Critic

QUNN’S NOTE: This is Day 4 of  a 7-day Write Yourself Whole journaling class to discover your Inner Heroes and name them. It’s free, but if you want to donate something because you like that idea, there is a donate button on my website. You can read Day 1 Getting Started details here.   Day 2–Distort and Shrink Inner CriticDay 3–Perfectionist Inner Critic.

The Scene:  Maybe you’ve saved a little money for something important. Maybe you have a chance for a new job, found the right car or something you really want. Whatever it is, someone or something special has come into your life, and the relationship feels fresh and special.

Glass-half-full-webYour inner critic shows up, maybe along with your parents, a disapproving sibling, or your boss and looks at the great chance and says “Do you really think you can make this work? You? Sure, maybe for a while, but in the long run, you just don’t have what it takes.” Often they mention someone else who is more likely to be successful,  or would be their first choice.

What was certain just a few minutes ago is now wavering, like a heat mirage in the desert. You aren’t sure. Maybe you are not enough or don’t have enough to make this work. And certainly not to make it a big success. You were just fooling yourself.

The Tactic: The inner critic’s favorite attacks are lack and fear. “You aren’t enough,” “You don’t have what it takes,” “You aren’t strong [or smart or experienced] enough.” Whatever the task needs, you just fall short.

And in less than 10 minutes, you are pretty sure they are right. You were sure,im-not-enough but now you aren’t. Maybe this isn’t for you. You are the black sheep of your family anyway, right?

Write Yourself Whole Journal Prompts:
1. Who tells you that you are not enough? Be specific–who was the first person to give you that idea? Who did it most recently? Did the words feel the same? Did it feel familiar? Write about this for one minute)

2. How do you know you are not enough? Be specific. No shrugs, no thinking someone else is better. No thinking “everyone knows. . .” Be specific about what you are not. Is this thing you are not crucial to your continued growth? Is it true? Is it always true or just this time? (If it’s just this time, it needs a lot more examination. You may be fooling yourself.) (One minute).

3. If you had even a short feeling of pride or joy in your original thought of success, go back to that feeling. Write down what you felt. Connect it to what you know about yourself.  You may need a few minutes to remember what you know about yourself, because you might be overwhelmed with fear of your own success. Give the feeling of pride or success a name. It might be something like “Trust” or “Intuition,” or it might be more complex like, “One who knows when to call on her skills.”

Moving Ahead. Read the following passage and write your reactions in your journal:  You have skills and talents that you must admit to and embrace to become a whole person. Skills have a responsibility, and you might be afraid to admit them. Maybe they need practice, but it’s unlikely you would deliberately choose to do something way out of your range. Practice finding the crack in your imagination that trips you up. That spot where “This is great! I can do this!” turns to “Maybe X would be the better person to do this.” Explore that spot. Do you need more practice? Courage? Encouragement? Discover what you need and how to invite it into your life.

 —Quinn McDonald knows it is hard to believe in yourself and knows if you don’t, no one else will. Quinn is a writer, trainer, creativity coach and author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

Gallery

Confront Your “Perfectionist” Inner Critic

This gallery contains 2 photos.

QUNN’S NOTE: This is Day 3 of  a 7-day Write Yourself Whole journaling class to discover your Inner Heroes and name them. It’s free, but if you want to donate something because you like that idea, there is a donate … Continue reading

Gallery

Confronting Your “Distort and Shrink” Inner Critic

This gallery contains 2 photos.

QUNN’S NOTE: This is Day 2 of  a 7-day Write Yourself Whole journaling class to discover your inner heroes and name them. It’s free, but if you want to donate something because you like that idea, there is a donate … Continue reading

Discovering Your Inner Heroes

Starting today on this blog,  you are invited to go on a week-long adventure HorizonCollageto discover some of your inner heroes.   The class is called Writing Yourself Whole, because it is a deep-writing journaling class. There are six inner heroes you are going to discover, and you’ll do it by facing the inner critics you know so well.

For new readers, “Inner critic” is the negative self-talk we use to beat ourselves up about our shortcomings or skills we don’t have. Often we are scared of the skills we do have, and fear they are not enough. The inner critic is always about what we feel we don’t have enough of (lack) and someone taking our ideas or mistreating us because of our creativity (attack.)

Some inner critics are ones you may not have thought were destructive to your creativity. Sometimes inner critics show up in people we know, people we work with or in our family.  The negative self talk we use on ourselves is much more easily heard from someone else. They are being “helpful” or “fixing” us in someway. We don’t know how to handle it because they keep telling us that they have our best interests at heart or that some idea they are proposing are “industry standards,” and we don’t quite measure up.

We will learn about inner heroes through knowledge of our inner critics. It’s easier to discover where our bravery grows if we have the inner critic leads us to the places we need to be brave.

The course will appear on this blog, for the next six days. Here is what you will need if you want to participate in Write Yourself Whole:

  • Something to write in. You can use a journal, or write on a series of index cards, to keep the inner heroes separate and in front of you.
  • This is not an art journal course. You can turn it into one, if you prefer. But I created it to open your heart through deep writing.
  • You’ll need a timer–a mechanical one or one on your phone, or an app.
  • A pen or pencil of any sort that you really like writing with. This is important. It has to be comfortable.

That’s it. Choose a time that works for you and get ready to write regularly (about the same time each day) for a week. You don’t need to post your answers on this blog. Keep them in a journal, where you will be able to use them in the future. Your inner critic doesn’t go away.

The class is pay-as-you-want. You don’t have to pay a thing. If you want to contribute, you might want to work through the first two days before you decide to contribute. That way, experience will help decide value. If you want to pay, you can use the buttons on my website.  WordPress. com blogs (like this one) can’t use pay buttons, so you will need to use the button on the website.  And only if you want.

Reach tomorrow’s class by clicking on the right-facing arrow above the blog post, or go here:  http://wp.me/p2H1i-3Iz

There are benefits to some of the contributing.

Contribute $30, and you will receive six postcards. (Two each of three different collage postcards). The collages are of a raven, a pear, and a tree, all done in type. You can see the collages here.

Contribute $50, and you will receive a copy of my book,  The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

Contribute $75 and you will receive both my DVDs “Art Journals Unbound”–ways to gather and keep your free-standing journal pages–and “Monsoon Papers,” making the beautiful, color-saturated papers that became my signature style.

Or, you can donate any amount you want. But again, only if you find value.  Go to the classes page and scroll down to the “donate” button.

–Quinn McDonald is a blogger, writer, and a certified creativity coach. She has a whole group of Inner Heroes, developed through confronting her own Inner Critics. She is the author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal.

Too Much Explaining

If you grew up and had a classical education, you didn’t learn how to do a job, you learned how to think. You were introduced to a lot of ideas, people, concepts, books, and philosophies. You weren’t told which were “right” (in some ways, they all were), you learned how to have an opinion and discuss it. There, I’ve said it.

ulyss1_1703249c_2236465cSometimes, when I’m teaching, I realize that classical education is not only old-fashioned, it’s frowned upon. So, a checklist: simplify vocabulary and most of all, simplify references to ideas, people, and philosophies.

Me [to class]: OK, time for a 15-minute break. Be back at 10:15 or we’ll be here till the rosy-fingered dawn appears tomorrow. [Immediately regrets reference to Homer's Odyssey.]

Student: Is that, like, a song lyric?

Me: Sort of. It’s from a Greek epic poem.

Student: Say what?

Me: [Feeling lost about how much to explain.] It’s one of the long poems from ancient Greece. About a man who leaves home to fight in a war and takes a long, interesting road trip back.

Student: Oh. Who wrote it?

Me: Homer.

Student: [Looking puzzled.]  Simpson?HO_Close_display-1

Me: [Tries not to break down crying.]

I just don’t know when to shut up explaining myself and my now, too-long-ago references that make sense to me, but not to anyone who was born in the last 30 years. OK, 40 years, maybe 45.

ENHS2089T-mamie-eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower, wife of the 34th President of the U.S.

To a beautician: My bangs are waaaay too long. I’d like something more Natalie Wood but not Mamie Eisenhower.

Beautician: I think I heard of Natalie Wood is, but who is Mamie Eisenhower?

Me: The wife of Dwight Eisenhower.

Beautician: [crickets]

Me: The 34th President of the United State.

Beautician: Oh. Was she, like, famous? For her hair?

And once more, I’m stuck. How much do I explain? How do I not feel like I just fell out from the pages of a yellowed history book? It got worse.

936full-natalie-wood

Natalie Wood, movie star. Married to Robert. . . never mind.

Me: Mamie Eisenhower was the First Lady right before Jackie Kennedy.

Beautician: [crickets]

Me: Jackie O?

Beautician: Wasn’t  Jackie O. a famous model–like for sunglasses?

Me: She was beautiful and she wore sunglasses, but she was married to Jack Kennedy. After he was assassinated. . . [slowly starting to cut short the explanation], she married a rich guy in Greece.

Beautician: [Saves the day] So how do you want your bangs?

Next checklist:  Can’t afford a face lift, but can update all references to people, places and things prior to 1990.

—Quinn McDonald is determined not to sound as old as she looks.

 

 

 

 

Beyond Art Journaling

Nothing against art journaling. I still love it. But I need a break from it. So many people have piled on so many products, paints, stamps, stencils, embossers, hole-punchers that I got dizzy and had to sit down.

A page of William Blake's Commonplace Journal

A page of William Blake’s Commonplace Journal

I’m back to using my Commonplace Journal. The one that holds all the facts, ideas, quotes that pile up in my days. It’s so comfortable, like a pair of shoes that are soft and still can be worn to a teaching gig. My Commonplace Journal doesn’t demand painted pages, drying time, or planning. It holds whatever shows up. For me, that includes meaning-making.

Two deep loves for journaling (for me) is watching time pass on a big scale and nature. This time of year (fall for the Northern hemisphere) the days begin to get noticeably shorter. For Arizona, it is a huge relief, as the sun simply doesn’t pack the punch to crisp your skin in five minutes. The pool starts to get cool again. By the end of September, you will need hot water when you shower (in summer, the water comes hot out of the cold water tap.

Because my memory is keyed to weather, its hard for me to remember what happens when. It was easier on the East Coast–my memories were tied to cool weather or a coat I had on. Or mud season and black flies. But here, there is a giant blue bowl of sky above us 322 days a year, so I have to keep track of what happened, and when.

Calendar at the beginning of the month, pencil boxes still in place. Not much filled in.

Calendar at the beginning of the month, pencil boxes still in place. Not much filled in.

In the Commonplace Journal, I draw a rough outline for the month on a page that starts the month. I use a pencil to do this. Then I use a pen and box in days in which something is caught. On the first and last days of the month, I notice the length of the day.  In September, the day of the Harvest (full) Moon, the autumnal equinox, and the progress of my plants. Maybe I add sketches, maybe not. Depends on what happens.

At the end of the month, I add color (if I want) and erase the lines on days that I didn’t fill in.

Feb. 2010, complete with what i noticed around the yard.

Feb. 2010, complete with what i noticed around the yard.

Keeping this calendar doesn’t replace writing, I do that, too. But it shows at a glance what happened outside for that month. It’s great for gardeners, nature lovers, and hikers.

You can, of course, track anything. Birthdays, school milestones, heights of your kids, grandkids or how long you walked the dog.

Calendars keep track of items we want to remember but not use up brain power remembering. A simple, hand-drawn calendar is an excellent journal page.

-Quinn McDonald keeps journaling in ways that make meaning, whatever they are.

 

 

Inner Hero Blog Class Starts Sept. 13

We all need inner heroes. Not all of us know how to find them. We are far more familiar with our inner critics. I want to help people find their inner heroes, even though it is not always easy. The class is about Writing Yourself Whole, gathering up the parts that don’t fit, that may be broken and finding a way to get to your strength through your journal.

Starting on this coming Saturday, I’ll be teaching a week-long class on this blog. YehudaBergQuoteIt’s about finding yourself in your inner hero, claiming your strength, knowing when you run off the rails by listening to your inner critic and all the people who mimic him. Naming your inner heroes help make them real, usable.

Each day you will be introduced to an inner critic you are probably familiar with.  Some you may recognize, some are facing you daily at work or at home, in your family or friends. You’ll then be given several prompts to use in your journal. The prompts will help you explore different ways to climb over the obstructions that block happiness, satisfaction, and contentment.

This is not an art journaling class. It’s a bone-deep writing class. You can make it into an art journaling class if you want, but this time, it’s about the writing. The connection to yourself and your strength. Through your fears and doubts. Doing some hard writing, deep writing.

The class is free. Some people will want to pay anyway. Some will find value and want to account for that. I am leaving it up to you–if you want to pay, you can. If you want to take the class for free, you are welcome to it. Here is the link to my site that allows you to donate any amount or get a gift for donating certain amounts. Again, the class is free; you don’t have to pay unless you want to.

(If, for any reason the buttons don’t work, please contact me at QuinnCreative [at] Yahoo [dot] com. They have been cranky today.)

I’m hoping that you will want to take the class and that it will help you find out the wonderful parts of you that are your inner heroes.

--Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and the author of The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal