Daily verse with purpose: Marge Piercy

Margie Piercy

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3 secrets to turn your fear of rejection into a mastery of productivity

plath

Work that is rejected: one of the writer’s worst nightmares. It simply happens that we sometimes put hours, weeks, months and even years into our writing, but it keeps being rejected all over again. And very soon there is a background ‘cheering’ voice: “I completely suck! I should quit writing, there is no use. I’m just losing my time!”

And what to do then? Should we quit writing all together? Just sit in the corner and complain over our bad luck? Or is there something we can do to turn that process and experience into something positive and productive? Looking from psychological point of you, expert John Amodeo, PhD claims:

On a cognitive level, we may be afraid that rejection confirms our worst fear — perhaps that we’re unlovable, or that we’re destined to be alone, or that we have little worth or value. When these fear-based thoughts keep spinning in our mind, we may become agitated, anxious, or depressed.

A big part of our fear of rejection may be our fear of experiencing hurt and pain. Our aversion to unpleasant experiences prompts behaviors that don’t serve us.

Being human, we long to be accepted and wanted. It hurts to be rejected and to experience loss”

Further more, accepting that feeling of failure that is true for us can have a completely counter effect on our whole being, driving us away from what we are passionate about, what keeps us alive. It negatively impacts our health, our relationships and our life in general. How to turn all that experience into an opportunity to grow?

  1. Acknowledge your fear of rejection

Once we acknowledge that there is a fear residing within us, that our work at this time maybe is not at its best-this is actually a first step to combat fear in positive way. By accepting that this fear doesn’t serve us, opens the door for us to move through that fear and explore what’s on the other side. By having that more gentle, kind and less criticizing relationship with our feelings that appear as a result of rejection,  we can “reset” our creative self more quickly and seize the opportunity hidden within our fear.

  1. It’s a part of the process that every writer has to go through.

Nobody is born as an excellent writer. Every writer has to work on their writing craft, refining their style, improving and editing every word they write. It takes time, courage and a lot of effort –  it’s simply a continuous work in progress.

Joshua F. Millburn in his essay How to improve your writing: 3 tips says that if your want to improve your writing: ”Sit in the chair.” Sounds to easy?

These four words changed my life. For a long time, I was an aspiring writer—which meant I didn’t write much. Sure, I aspired daily, but I didn’t make writing a priority. Instead, I spent time passively parked in front of glowing screens: watching TV, perusing Facebook, checking email. I didn’t become a writer until I developed a writing habit. People don’t learn how to write via osmosis; it takes work. So forget word count or page count—focus instead on sitting in the chair distraction-free, writing for at least an hour a day. Do this for a month and you will improve more than you thought possible.

  1. By embracing your rejection graciously, you are already improving your writing.

Once we become grateful for our experiences, we are more able to let go. It gives us clarity and our willingness to learn and put additional effort comes to forefront. Give back yourself permission to enjoy writing. It fuels our persistence to improve ourselves, not only in writing. No matter how many rejection letters pile up, you can use them to improve your skills. And not only will you improve skills, you readiness to write under certain conditions will improve: time you need to write something with a deadline; you get better acquainted with the writing market and that will shorten your time you need to do the research. You become familiar with your fear and with ease you recognize possible mistakes you can mitigate on time.

With each rejection you learn how to be better – as the quality of your writing improves, so does your efficiency.

How do you deal with rejection? Does it impact your writing? Please, share your experience in the comments below.


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Getting into the flow (creativity exercise)

csikszentmihalyi-mihaly

Probably you can recall that there were moments in your life when time seemed to stop, everything around you just froze and you were riding this wave of creativity where everything was possible; you felt like you can accomplish anything, you were so immersed in what you were doing that all of your senses were focused and sharpened on that one particular activity, and your body excluded everything else? Fun and exciting in the same time, right?

And today it might seem harder to achieve that creative bliss we are all looking for, since we are so distracted and interrupted with everything going on around us. In this TED talk Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, explains that our nervous system is incapable of processing more than 110 bits of information per second. If you’re listening to someone talking, you need to process about 60 bits of information per second in order to understand what they’re saying.

He further points out that when you are doing something with high focus, your mind don’t have enough room to process other information concerning how you feel, bodily functions or other needs. Creative people often call this as the entering the state of flow and like nothing else except what they are creating exists.

chart-state-of-flow-300x233

“The flow” graph.

So how can you enter the ‘flow’? Can it be practiced? How can we use it to improve our creative skills?

As you can see on the above graph, the state of flow is dependable on the level of skills you use and the level of challenge you pursue. The higher the challenge and the more skills we need to engage, the better chance we have for entering the sate of flow.

During his research dr Dr. Csikszentmihalyi  and his team have evaluated many people on this topic and they managed to derive  few crucial points that describe how it feels to enter the state of flow:

  1. There is complete focus and determination;
  2. There is an overwhelming joy and excitement;
  3. There is an inner knowing that task can be delivered;
  4. All worrisome thoughts disappear and they are replaced with clarity and motivation on what needs to be done;
  5. The self-awareness is concentrated on the present moment.

It’s interesting to note that this research was performed on the topic of happiness and what makes people happy. Simple answer came out to be: being creative and enjoying it as much as possible.

So how can we use these key findings and apply them to our writing? How can we practice entering the state of flow?

Here are few suggestions:

  1. Pick an enjoyable, yet challenging activity with clearly defined goal.

Since we are talking about writing you can chose to write a poem that has certain amount of words, poetic form that is new to you, story on the topic you need to do further research and inquiries – something that goes beyond your ordinary writing practice. Remember that here you need to be fully engaged and use your skills. The challenge you pick can also help you enhance your capabilities, so don’t be afraid to go overboard of your usual writing. Play with words and dictionaries, learn foreign phrases – all that helps you become more creative and inventive in writing.

  1. Remove distractions as much as you can.

Once you enter that creative flow, if something interrupts you, the harder is to go back in and continue. So clear your desk, turn off your phone and concentrate on the task at hand.

  1. Let go of any past experiences that might influence your expectations and results of the activity.

Mastering that flow mindset takes time and practice so be gentle towards yourself and monitor your emotional response. You are in control of your attitudes so if you get too excited (angry, anxious, worried), calm down and try to regain your steady levels of energy: being sluggish and bored is also a sign that you fell of the ‘flow wagon’.

  1. To spice things up – give your self a time frame:

to work on a poem, a story, a chapter, an article in a continual interval – for example 30 minutes, and give all you’ve got. Focus on your writing and you’ll see how time will past in split second.

  1. Make it a regular habit.

Getting into the flow and enjoying the activity that brings desired results takes practice, so make it a part of your daily routine. Schedule your ‘ time flow’ every day and commit to it. Not only are you working on your creativity and skills, but you are improving your mood and bringing more happiness into your life. After all, isn’t that what we all are looking for? It’s worth a try.

Results of NaPoWriMo experiment

The April month is over so is the napowrimo. I successfully went through, publishing every day a poem, along with all scheduled posts. Most of the poems were result of free-writing so I won’t go into the quality of writing, but there are other benefits that I noticed as a result of this frequent scheduled poetry scribble.

1.During the month I felt much more emotionally stable.

On a few occasions I had some difficult situations and even though I didn’t channel my stress through poetry, the actual act of writing was a great tool for me to divert my thoughts into something creative instead to rewind in my head something that is already in the past. It turned out to be a great mindfulness tool for me.

2. It made me productive in other areas as well.

When you do something you like, it really can fuel you with beautiful energy and gives you drive to get involved in other tasks. My working hours were joyes and filled with vigor to accomplish as much as I can.

3. I came up with ideas much easier.

Even though I didn’t use poetry as a brainstorming tool, I noticed I came up with new ideas with ease, without any struggle and doubt. It felt quite natural just to follow already ignited thoughts and that was the half of job done.

If you were participant in the NaPoWriMo, how that impacted your daily routine? Please share your experience and insights in the comments below.


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It takes only 10 minutes (exercise)

woodyhayes

While you are studying at a Faculty, many of the courses you encounter (obligatory) you don’t like or you don’t recognize at that particular time you do really need certain knowledge and skills they offer. And on the other hand, there are  subjects you simply adore and you are always excited about.

When you are young and full of energy you simply don’t want to waste your time on something you don’t like when there is bunch of other stuff you’d rather do. So I made a little pact with myself that everyday, at least for 10 minutes I will do seminars and projects that I’m excited about. Every day, consistently! Why I did this and how it helped me? It helped me in two ways:

  1. Since I had to devote my time also to courses I didn’t like that much, by doing what I liked for at least 10 minutes a day, I made sure I wasn’t behind with what I really wanted to learn;
  2. By doing what I liked, the good feeling generated made it easier for me to do things I didn’t like that much.

At the end, I managed to graduate a year before anticipated time.

These principles we can also apply to our creative projects and make ourselves more productive and exited about what we are doing.

Now, here is a little exercise I have for you today:

  1. Make an agreement with yourself that you will work on a project you are passionate about, every day for at least 10 minutes. It can be in the morning, your lunch break or evening – it doesn’t matter. The key word here is consistency.
  2. Decide on which project you will work tomorrow. If you are a writer, choose a poem, story or essay you are excited about and that you are eager to finish. Skip those “I must do this one, but I hate it”! That feeling of resistance only leads to more procrastination and that is something we want to avoid. Choose a project that brings smile on your face and that you simply love.
  3. Tomorrow, at your convenient time, set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes and work on your favorite project. Don’t pay attention to the quality of your work. The progress you make each day while working on what you love will generate such good feelings that it will make much easer for you to jump-start the project you were postponing and avoiding.
  4. When the time’s up, stop! Even if you would like to continue working, stop and leave yourself a reminder where to continue tomorrow.
  5. Tomorrow, repeat your newly established routine.
  6. After a couple of days you might consider prolonging your working time intervals and see how it goes. If it doesn’t and it makes you nervous and worried you won’t have time for things “I must do”, then just stick to those 10 minutes. It’s important for us to have fun while we are creating.
  7. If you skip some of the days, it’s Ok. Continue the next day where you previously stopped.

I hope you find this exercise fun and applicable to your creative routine. By being persistent it can eventually help you enjoy more your creativity and writing.


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Conquer your next creative adventure in 5 easy steps

Erich-Fromm

If you have many diverse interests like me, you know how is sometimes hard to stick just to one thing you are doing and it’s so easy to get distracted when something new or more attractive appears. There are certain practices you can employ in order to stay on track with your project: meaning you will finish your project – not postpone it for “some better days”.

Step 1: Sign a ‘contract’ with yourself

First what you want to do is to make a pact with your self that you will try to follow your creative endeavor till the end. You might not be satisfied with the results, but everything we do has a room for improvement so we want to step back from unreachable perfectionism that doesn’t serve us and give our best to finish the project. Try to think from the end, what is it that you would like to achieve? Think also of your reasons for doing this project – you can even write them down and put them where you will read them often as a reminder. They will give you inspiration to deliver your project on time and fuel your passion along the way.

Step 2: Give your project a place to live and breathe

As you need time, you need space where you can get comfy and cozy while enjoying your creativity. It’s of great importance to stage your environment for creativity and allow it to freely come to you, in undisturbed and relaxed space. By secluding that little corner where you can work, it is going to be much easier for you to continue your work, follow up where you previously stopped if you don’t have to move your books, ketches or tools in order to do  something else. Your project needs place where to live, breathe and be nourished.

Step 3: Define your achievable goals

Here, you want according to your busy life and routine to set some realistic goals, like time frame in which you would like to finish the project; some milestones maybe you would like to achieve. Keep in mind that as you begin to work, like for example on your new novel, you probably won’t be delighted with your first draft – there will be many trials and errors before you tap into  your creative flow and you become satisfied with the end result.

Step 4: Give your project a structure

This is highly linked to a previous step – if your creative adventure is in writing, try to write a synopsis of that initial idea, give it some structure that you can refine along the way and adapt as new ideas and developments come into play. Having that line you want to follow will make sure you don’t drift away from initial idea and get lost in your own creativity.

Step 5: Try to avoid other people mistakes

As you prepare for work, my final advice is to research you creative topic and see what other people have done or are doing. Not because something similar already exists, but we can avoid many pitfalls from gaining wisdom from other people experiences; something may or may not work for us – as long as we are informed and gather information is going to be much easier to make some choices and decisions when it comes to our creative projects.

The last thing I can say is: enjoy creating 🙂


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You are never too late to get creative and fully enjoy it

dylan_profile

Most people think that time is our most valuable asset – and in a sense it is. Once is gone, it is irreversible. We can’t make for a lost time, if something so vague and abstract can be lost at all.

Recently I turned 40. When I entered my thirties I felt excited, invigorated about the things that were ahead of me, what I can and will do. But of course not everything always goes the way we plan it and wish. Something similar happened to me in the last couple of years which I described in this post. My life was somehow always on the rush until my health warned me to slow down and pay attention to things I probably have neglected – which also meant that I needed to rearrange my plans and re-prioritize. My 40th birthday made me think about those things again. It felt overwhelming like being stuck ‘in the middle’: you are not old, but hey you entered your 5th decade and that must be something 🙂 So thoughts about how I spent my last couple of years, have I missed something, am I too late for something … began to creep in my mind again. And I must admit I was never fond of birthdays. Especially mine. As born on 31st December is like..how to describe it..it never felt like my day or special day, particularly in my childhood years. Everyone was always too busy with preparation for New Year’s Eve, my friends were busy and I with my birthday was just “lingering” there, not feeling like it belonged to me.

So this birthday turned out too be a little bit heavy too, but then I decided to write a poem about it. It’s something that my subconsciousness just expelled out of my mind and is interesting in what it resulted: You can read it bellow:

I dreaded my 40th birthday.

That was the day I truly wished there was a time machine

to reverse this number or at least

erase that rounded chubby space

behind the wall of four.

 

To undo all those wasted tears,

not even spilled, just dried in the corner of my eyes;

to count not years, but smiles that flooded my face

each time his touch, in slow pace traveled across my spine.

 

to collect less of strange, signed and approved confessions

that I can, may, want and know

and to dance more wrapped in the smoke

of my momentary desires

and just swing from one digit to another.

 

to admit I am good enough,

to accept this short breathing experience is only mine,

that what ever I do it will be fine.

 

to decide just to live, in spite of all

imposed societal thrills…

 

That was the day – time,

conveniently invented unit of remorse

stopped to weigh my loss

stopped to count

stopped.

After writing and reading it, I felt amazingly better. It’s like passing through a gate or reaching some sort of threshold realization that can be summarized in 4 little words:  It’s never too late … to get creative, to do what you love, in a way you want to do it. You can be sidetracked, have obstacles, but unless you say it’s late, it isn’t. You can count your time the way you like it and you are old the way you feel inside – not by the numbers in your birth certificate.

With this post I want to encourage you that in what ever phase of your life you are, you can start with what ever your heart desires: to learn, to write, to teach, to play sports, to travel, to get creative…Your phase of life might influence how and where you do it, but the essence is still there, you can do it if you wish for it. You are never late and never old.


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Charge your day with creative daily routine (creativity exercise)

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There are those days, especially in winter (when most of the days are short and dark) that you think “I just don’t feel like doing anything creatively today – there’s too much other stuff I need to do”. And what happens is that you don’t feel like doing anything at all! Hence, if we set the right intention for the day and start our morning routine in meaningful way, which can influence the tone even for the weak ahead, it’s a worth of try to do something in the morning that can boost your creativity and get your productive flow running.

For me is to have a fruit bowl in the morning, followed by a half an hour yoga session. I never skip breakfast, but sometimes I’m just too lazy (I admit! 🙂 ) to get on my yoga mat and start stretching, but even in those mornings I try to convince myself how good I will feel afterwords – energetic and motivated.

Because, if we don’t do what helps us to start our day right, then whole day can be a waste of time and energy.

This exercise I’m suggesting will help you figure out what’s important to you and how to incorporate that in your productive day:

  1. Describe how looks like your typical morning: what you do, how you do it; estimate the time between getting up and starting your work day (half an hour, hour, two hours?). Write everything: how you feel, what you do, what you like about it, what you don’t like about it. Write it in a form of free writing or you can write a poem – it doesn’t matter: just get it out what’s on your mind.
  2. Now, turn the page and try to remember how looked like the morning of your exquisitely productive day: what did you do, how did you feel, what was essential for that productive day – write everything down.
  3. Compare: is there anything missing in your typical morning routine comparing to one of the extremely productive day? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you need extra help around the house errands? Do you skip your workout? Notice that one key element and think of ways to incorporate more of that in your typical mornings. Don’t try to change everything, just one thing – start small and see how that affects your productivity.

By being mindful about your morning routine and applying small changes can help us get those small increments in our productivity that can turn our day from boring to fabulous – give it a try.

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4 simple tips on how to use procrastination productively

procrastination

There is always some period of the year, like the holiday season or when we plan/go on a vacation and at that moment simply too much is happening in our lives: work, family, home chores… and we do feel overwhelmed, tired, lack of inspiration and ideas. Yet projects need to be finished, house cleaned, meals cooked…

I have found that in times when too much is going on in my life, my creativity is not on the top of its strengths: I have actually notice that I begin to put off things, postpone for later when ‘I have more time’ and ext. It’s something I call saturation point and procrastination just seems an easy way out. This can also happen when you lack clarity about your project or you might have too many ideas and have problem decision making. So, instead of forcing yourself to do anything, take your time to procrastinate productively – by distancing yourself from the task at hand and finding a perspective you need.

My first tip is to meditate and relax.

When you start to feel anxious about too much things to do or lost in your creative project take 15-20 minutes to relax, deep breathe and meditate, find inner peace; center yourself around your initial idea. What do you want to accomplish? What’s the purpose of the things you are doing? What’s the priority and what can wait?

This will help you regain the confidence you need in your work and you might come up with new ideas how to accomplish your tasks – it’s a great way to get your focus back.

Journaling.

Journaling is also something I like to do – it’s like having a conversation with myself. Putting all of your thoughts, ideas, doubts, frustrations on paper can have not only creative but healing power as well. There are numerous ways how you can use journaling and free writing techniques at your advantage, but really any type of writing can help you unstuck and move forward.

Talk to a friend.

If you have a good friend or a family member that can understand and support you – it’s a good idea to have a chat – open up and look at the situation from someone else’s point of view. Maybe you are missing out on something – listening to different opinions can actually be a creativity booster.

Go outside.

Take a walk. Be present and watch how life effortlessly unfolds: nature is one of the best creativity teachers, inexhaustible source of inspiration and it’s one of the most productive ways to use your procrastination time.

 

What would you like to read on “Business in Rhyme”?

This blog has been existing almost 6 months and it’s turning into a great community.But of course, no matter how much it gives me space to learn and share my experience – it’s not only about me. So here I created a simple poll that gives you the opportunity to vote which topic of your interest you would like to read more or know about more. You can add your own answers as well. Poetry will stay the central focus of the blog, but I’m interested to see your opinion in which direction this influence of poetry we can further explore.

We are soon approaching New Year and there are some additional novelties that will enrich Business in Rhyme and make it more interactive. I hope you’ll find them attractive as well.

For now, thanks for taking time to vote.

Maja