Step Back and See the Big Picture

I was having a conversation with a friend who was expressing concern about some of the things he’d done, earlier in life. Things he regretted deeply. These actions were causing him to suffer, mentally and emotionally – in the present moment, many years later.

Another friend expressed her intense rage and sorrow about the state of our planet. While it’s not something she can control, she wonders how she can pursue her personal happiness when so many beings are starving, dying, and even burning.

This got me thinking about the journey I’ve been on, one of cultivating happiness and following my bliss. As a lifelong empath, I’m certainly aware of the suffering in the world.  How am I able to nurture my joy when others are in pain?

My faith has been a big factor in this. I would describe myself as a practical mystic. When I talk about faith, it’s not some abstract, outdated concept from an ancient book (as much as I adore books).

In order to be useful, faith has to involve practice and be woven into the fabric of daily life. 

One of the things that helps me when I lose hope is stepping back and seeing the big picture.

Not a planet-wide view, although that can be beautiful. I’m talking about a soul-level, cosmic big picture.

In the vast scheme of things, where everything exists as energy and is part of the greater whole, we are okay. Everything, and everyone, is okay. Better than okay, actually.

Death is not a final ending, but a transformation. Science and spirituality both tell us this, although science has yet to catch up with some of the truths of the Universe.

On the biggest-picture level, we live in a safe Universe. This bird’s eye view can help to anchor us when personal or global suffering (or anything in between) runs rampant.

Try it. When the pain gets to be too much for you – whether it’s physical or emotional pain – take a look around. Resolve to see the blessings that are abundant in your life.

Listen inward, to the voice of wisdom in your heart. Ask your questions. Get quiet and hear the answers.

Go outside on a clear night and look up at the stars.

Think about the tiny piece of the divine that is you – not in a negative, woe-is-me-because-I’m-so-insignificant way. Rather, experience the freedom that your part in the greater whole can bring. Know that no matter what happens, to you or another, we are all part of the Divine, of All That Is.

We are each loved and cherished as an essential part of that whole. Soak it in. In the big picture, all is well. 

This doesn’t mean that you won’t help others, work for change, or stand up for what you believe in. On the contrary, this practical mysticism will give you the energy to keep moving forward, and to find your bliss as you participate fully in the world you’re blessed to stand on, here and now. May it be so.

Starcat’s Favorites: Focusing on the Good Stuff

Winter is hard. Am I right? It’s cold and dark and not all that inspiring. But I find that focusing on the good stuff in life makes it much more fun.

Here’s a recent list: Celebrating my daughter’s 21st birthday with her in Santa Fe, New Mexico – we went to MeowWolf, which I highly recommend.

Savoring the new season of Grace & Frankie.

So many good books to read! I’m currently loving Lev Grossman’s Magicians series.

My cozy warm home. Loving family and friends. Cat snuggles.

Dappled sunshine on the snow, reflecting through the fir trees in the backyard.

Helping book clients channel their inspiration onto the page.

Soup and biscuits. Tea dates with inspiring women friends. And much more! Life is good.

Speaking of focusing on the good stuff, here’s an awesome illustrated list of good news from 2019. Go, sea turtles!

A good friend introduced me to ThriftBooks on my birthday this past fall. I love it! They have a best books of 2019 post, as well as a best sci-fi and fantasy list for the past decade. More good books to devour!

Do you remember Bunnicula, the story of a vampire bunny? It’s apparently an enduring classic now…

I’ve decided that less is more for 2020, particularly in terms of my career. I’m taking inspired action, rather than trying to do All The Things. This also involves embracing imperfection and allowing the mess. Creativity isn’t linear! (As I’m reminding myself regularly).

One of my best friends shared this lovely article about one of my favorite goddesses, Yemaya.

Here’s a post by Pema Chodron about the Buddhist practice of tonglen.

Enjoy your favorite winter activities!

Getting Out of Your Own Way

I’ve been having some “aha” moments and mini-epiphanies as we make our way into 2020. They hit me in a powerful way that’s already helping me grow.

Yet when I look at these messages from spirit, they seem remarkably simple. They are things I either knew already (intellectually, anyway), or probably should have known.

That doesn’t make them any less profound.

My new realizations came to me during a couple of different workshops focused on setting goals and planning for the year to come.

One can be summed up as, “Less is more. Don’t try to do ALL THE THINGS. Do fewer things in a more focused way.” Um, duh. But it feels so huge to give myself permission to do this!

The other, shared by a wise woman who led us on a goal-setting meditation, is to set goals that reflect values and feelings you want to have, and then do things each day that allow you to feel that way NOW. This will bring your success into your present moment, thus drawing your goals to you. I feel like I’d heard this before, but it was powerfully brought home to me by the feelings of confidence and leadership that I experienced during my visioning process.

If I knew these things already, then why are they affecting me so profoundly now? I think it’s because we tend to get in our own way.

Our old patterns and habits of being take over. We run on auto-pilot more often than we might care to admit.

When we do the deep inner work of clearing those old patterns, it creates space in the psyche. It leaves room for new growth. The lessons that come in at this auspicious point might be super simple, but we have the inner space for them, now.

I’ve been doing that work of clearing old patterns for more than a year now. As I’ve de-cluttered my physical spaces, I’ve done the same to my inner sanctum.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that these seemingly simple realizations are creating a huge impact. I made space for them.

How can you do the same? Some of the ways I’ve been creating inner space include:

De-cluttering my home. It might not seem connected on the surface, but by purging and organizing our physical possessions, we’re changing our energy field. I’ve done a lot of this throughout the past year, and there’s still more to do. But it’s already having a positive effect.

Doing Shadow Work. This involves taking a close look at what’s not working in your life, and then figuring out why. When there’s a situation in your life that you’re don’t want, acknowledge that there is actually part of you that does want this. Shine the light on old beliefs, fears, and doubts that cause you to hold yourself back. Shadow work is too complex to summarize here, but check out this article if you want to learn more.

Journaling. Part of my own work with my Shadow involves regular journaling. I take time to shine the light on that part of me that wants to sabotage my success or hold me back. I dialogue with her on the page. Most often, our Shadow self just wants to be seen and heard. They want to keep us safe.

Doing LOA practices. Changing old beliefs that no longer serve you takes some focus. It’s a matter of cultivating a focus on what you do want, as well as releasing what you no longer need. I’ve been using various Law of Attraction (LOA) processes each day, to raise my energy vibration and focus on my big dreams. Jeannette Maw’s Good Vibe blog has a lot more about this, if you’re curious.

Meditation. Having a daily spiritual practice is an integral part of my life. Meditation is such a powerful way to create space between your inner spirit and the monkey mind. It makes it possible to quickly notice when you’ve gotten sucked into an old and unhelpful pattern.

Getting out of your own way and making space for personal growth takes some dedication. It requires time to regularly look within. It demands that you be willing to see the negative things as well as the positive.

It takes work – but the benefits are well worth it.

Pick something simple that takes just 10 minutes or so each day, and get started. When you create space in your psyche, those epiphanies will start flooding in, making your life simpler and more joyful.

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2019

Hey fellow bookworms! I’m super excited to share my ten favorite books that I read this past year. As always, please note that these aren’t necessarily books that came out in 2019, just ones that I encountered and very much enjoyed.

There were a bunch of others that were awesome, too, but didn’t make the top ten. If you want an expanded list, send me a note! I’m happy to share.

Without further ado, here are my favorites:

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. This is book two in the Winternight trilogy, and I normally wouldn’t do that to you. But hey, this hardly ever happens – book 2 was even better than book 1 (which I also enjoyed)! I savored this book. I love the way I was drawn fully into the faery-tale-like story and the author’s amazing descriptions of magick and myth. I haven’t even read book 3 yet, though it’s on my to-read shelf for this winter. The Girl in the Tower is a delicious treat.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman. A dear friend recommended the TV series The Magicians to me a few years ago, when it first came out. It took me a while to start watching it, but then I was enthralled. Even better, I discovered that it was based on a series of books. I read this first one and it was (of course) even better than the show. Again, it’s part of a trilogy (a theme of this year’s list, apparently). I have the next two lined up to read soon. If you like magic, read this.

Get Clients Now! by C.J. Hayden. One of my biz sisters brought this book to my attention, and it’s changed things for me in a powerful way. The book is a 28-day program for increasing your business, and I confess that I haven’t made it through the full program either time I’ve attempted it so far. Even so, it’s had a huge effect on how I do things in my business. The main thing being that it’s okay to follow up with people who express their interest in what you do. I know, duh. But it’s more than just that. It’s a system. If you run a business where you work with clients, check this one out.

Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. Yes, another series. I know. But wait – for fantasy fans, this is a must-read. I received the first book, The Way of Kings, unexpectedly, as a prize from having donated to the annual fundraiser that author Patrick Rothfuss runs. The world-building in this series is AMAZING. It’s a truly unique fantasy world, which is actually fairly uncommon. The tale is epic. The characters are fascinating. So good. I’ve read the 3 that are out already and I can’t wait for the next one.

It’s Not Your Money: How to Live Fully From Divine Abundance by Tosha Silver. If you’re looking to upgrade your prosperity, this book will rock your world. It’s helped me look at abundance in a whole new way.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This novel is a wild ride. I’m not even sure what genre it is. Kind of a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and magical realism. I think. It’s got that element of dreamlike flow that I love to read. It will immerse you in a strange and captivating world, and spit you out at the end with a slightly new perspective on life.

Becoming by Michelle Obama. Even though many people have given up on the word and think it means you hate men (which I don’t), I still proudly call myself a feminist. First Lady Michelle Obama is one of my heroines, and her book is a delightfully thoughtful journey through her life. She talks about sexism and racism in a way that puts modern life into context and showcases the progress we’ve made, even though we still have a long way to go. She inspires me to continue to be the best version of myself that I can, and brings hope to our collective awakening.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. This is book 1 of the Gentleman Bastards series – yep, I did it again. But it’s such a good read! Like Sanderson, Lynch brings a fresh take to the fantasy genre. You’ll devour it.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. This is a contemporary fantasy classic. I’m not sure how I missed it, but I’m glad I read it this year. It has music and faeries and magick and romance and more. I want to write like this.

The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life’s Perfection by Michael Singer. This book was recommended to me by two completely different sources within a week’s time. So I read it. Wow! Given the work I’ve been doing with surrender and going with the flow, the timing was ideal. This is the author’s amazing life story, and he built his entire world on faith and intuition. If you’re interested in spiritual growth, this one will expand your mind.

I have to also note that this year I re-read Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I very rarely re-read anything, because there are so many other books to enjoy. But this one was well worth the time. I absorbed it in a completely different way than I did when I first read it, in my early 30s. If you haven’t read it, or if you read it many years ago, I highly recommend it.

Leave a comment and share some of your favorite books that you’ve read lately. All bookworms need more books on their to-read list, right?!

My 2020 Vision

This has been an unusual holiday season, for a variety of reasons. Not bad, just different. A bit more chaotic and scattered. A lot of letting go and allowing things to unfold as they will. Which is part of the lesson.

I think of myself as a recovering control freak, and sometimes the recovery goes better than others. I get too attached sometimes, and think that my actions and to-do lists are a lot more important than they really are.

This has been a season of releasing, of valuing the things that truly matter, and of being easier on myself.

My Word of the Year for 2019 was EASE, and I think I’ve integrated it on a deeper level than ever before.

For New Year’s, BlackLion and I decided to do a Star Wars movie marathon. It was a stretch for this Virgo to just relax into two days of no to-do lists. I know, lame. I did clean the kitchen in between movies, I confess. But it’s been good for me to take actual time off from business and writing. That’s something I’ve been learning to do more of this past year, rather than just working harder and harder and forcing things.

I didn’t have the success in business in 2019 that I’d hoped for – but I didn’t give up. I’ve been focusing on building community, refining my offerings, and connecting with people who align with what I do.

My ego mind wants to think that I’m not getting anywhere, because of the numbers in my business account (or lack thereof), but that’s not the whole picture.

I’m consciously building a business that will lovingly support and sustain my clients as well as myself and my family. I have big plans for philanthropic giving that will help the oceans and the Earth. I want my clients’ books (and my books) to have a huge impact, and to help with the expansion of human consciousness. I don’t work nonstop and survive on stress and caffeine. I pause and realign as needed. I offer long-term support and transformational experiences.

Building a business this way takes time and nurturing. I’m learning SO much along the way. I have the support I need. My current affirmation for business is “I surrender to my inevitable success.”

While I’m not quite there yet with the financial side of things, my creative process and personal life are thriving. I’m so thankful.

Writing has been going well, and I have a new book coming out soon that I’ve co-authored with BlackLion. The kids both have exciting things happening this year (a new home for my son, a wedding for my daughter). The elders are doing pretty well, too (though part of my financial goals are to be able to help them more in that regard). I’m blessed with amazing relationships with my beloveds, family members, and friends. I have some fun travel plans coming up this year. In terms of physical health, I’ve made some positive changes and those are going super well so far.

The word I’ve chosen for this year – well, it’s chosen me, I think – is SOVEREIGN. It came from some work my biz coach has been doing with us, about choosing sovereignty over success, because it’s more comprehensive and is about how you feel when you’re in this mode.

The image I get when I think of being sovereign is of being the Queen of my own inner and outer landscape. Not in a fussy, dictatorial, messing-with-the-cursed-hows sense. Rather, my Queen self is a benevolent observer, aligned with the Divine and nurturing her subjects (i.e. the other parts of me, and my life).

If this doesn’t make sense, it’s not you. I’m still figuring out how my new word will play out this year. I’ll share more as I wrap my mind and heart around it. Maybe images will help. Here’s my vision board for 2020. I love the feel of it!

I’d love to hear about your process and how you’re moving forward into the new year. Comment here or send me a message. Happy New Year!

Starcat’s Favorites: My Family

I am SO blessed to have an amazing family (of birth and choice, both).

This weekend, a bunch of us are helping my son and his girlfriend move into the house they just bought. Not only are we schlepping boxes and cleaning the old apartment, but Quester has been over at the new place almost every day this month, prepping and then laying the new hardwood floors.

Family members and friends have steamed off wallpaper, painted, and more, all on a very tight timeline, at the holidays.

The thing is, we’re happy to help. That’s how we roll in this wonderful community.

Even with all the extra craziness, our holiday celebrations have been quite merry. No one ended up in the hospital this year – yeah, that’s a thing, sometimes, with us – yet there were some challenges.

We all miss my daughter and her fiancee, who are still in Colorado. Money is tight for some, and flowing better for others. Time is crunched.

Not everything comes together perfectly.

But we always have fun together. I’m so thankful that we’re there for each other. It is a powerful blessing, one that I try not to take for granted.

Here are a few links for your holiday weekend:

Here’s one of the end-of-year things I’ll be doing this week, when I’m not helping the kids with their move: filling out this workbook.

Still in celebration mode? Here are some fun and uplifting things to do. The Literary Goddess circle? I’m in.

Winter holidays are perfect for some warming foods. I’ve been getting into trying vegan recipes. I’ve been vegetarian for years, and lately my body is not very tolerant of dairy, so…  I made this yummy tomato soup recipe and we loved it. Here are some I haven’t tried yet, plus one for buffalo cauliflower bites, which we enjoyed at a restaurant in Denver last fall.

Looking for some good books to read? Here are Leonie Dawson’s picks. I’ll post my own 2019 favorites soon.

How to make the shift from scarcity to abundance.

Have an excellent weekend!

Winter Solstice: Nourishing Your Spark

Winter Solstice is a time of paradox. It’s the turning point, where the light returns and the days begin to grow longer once more. It’s also the official start of winter, ushering in the coldest, most snowy months of the year.

This is the height of the winter holiday frenzy, and in less than two weeks, the tree will be hauled outside, all of the faerie lights will be packed away, and the parade of cookies will be over. Here in Maine, spring is but a faint glimmer on the horizon.

Celebrating the winter holidays with family and friends is certainly fun, but my favorite part of Winter Solstice, and the weeks to follow, is turning inward.

True hibernation isn’t an option, but cozying up in your creative cave makes a lot of sense.

Here are some ways to nourish the spark of light within you, which will then begin to burn brighter and brighter as the sun returns.

Playing. What does “play” mean to you? What activities light you up and allow you to relax? There’s no need to be productive in every waking moment – in fact, it’s not good for you to try. Sure, wintertime play is different from summer; my love of being in the water in warm weather will have to wait a bit. Find your favorite winter leisure activities and do them, whether it’s cross-country skiing or knitting by the fire.

Studying. Life-long learning keeps your mind healthy. Research a Goddess or mythos you’re curious about. Take an online course. Learn how to make something. Watch how-to videos on YouTube. What have you been wanting to try? Make a list, and then pick one thing to study this season.

Dreaming. Pay more attention to what you dream at night. Write down your most significant dreams and work with them. If you can’t recall your dreams, then make time to daydream, and notice what images and feelings come up. Explore the symbols, places, and creatures that populate your imagination.

Releasing. Before we move fully into the waxing time of the year, perhaps during the waning moon, let go of something that no longer serves you. It might be a habit, an attitude, or some clutter in your home. Releasing that which you no longer need makes space for new energy as the sun begins to strengthen.

Visioning. What are you called to do in the coming year? How will you be of service to your community? What work are you meant to contribute to the world? What do you long to create? When you’re curled up on these long winter evenings, write some of your ideas in your journal. Listen within, and see what your heart says. Sometimes we get stuck in thinking we have to do things the way we’ve always done them. There’s always a fresh new start available to you. All it takes is listening inward to see what your soul is calling you toward. Once you know that, you can begin to take the inspired actions that will put things in motion.

This Winter Solstice – or after the winter holiday festivities have ended – make time and space for yourself and your inner world.

The world outside will wait. As the snow falls softly over the land, curl up in your favorite cozy spot and nurture your creative soul. Embrace the present moment. Dream like the trees.

Blessed Be.

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

You probably see a lot of female thought-leaders on their blogs and Facebook posts proclaiming that good self-care is non-negotiable.

Actually, I agree with them.

However, there’s a big disconnect between those of us writing about self-care and the reality of the daily lives of the readers.

So many people – women, especially – who read these articles are suffering from not taking time to care for themselves.

How about you? See if this sounds familiar: grabbing a moment to read an article about why self-care is important actually is your self-care for the week. You always have too much to do. At the end of the day you collapse into bed, knowing that it starts all over again in just a few short hours.

Self-care? Yeah, right.

You’re too busy. You have a job or career, a partner, kids or parents who need your attention and care, a household to run, community events to participate in, bills to pay.

The list goes on – just like your endless to-do list. Beyond getting in a hot shower and maybe a workout, when do you really have time for the exquisite pastel self-care that you see in the Instagram posts?

Aside from the time constraints, we often have a mindset that doesn’t allow for taking pleasure in self-care. We’ve been taught by our culture that our main purpose in life is to serve others.

It’s just what we do.

We take care of people, we are in charge of our homes and keeping them running smoothly, we seek to please those around us.

Our need to be seen as capable at tending to our lives is strong. We always want to look like we have our shit together, even when we don’t.

When we take time for ourselves, we feel guilty. We worry that we’re not being true to our kids or our partner or our boss. It makes us feel icky and selfish and worried that people are watching us and thinking that very thing.

We feel so unworthy of this gift of time and attention.

This is a terrible way to live. Perhaps it’s a first-world problem.

If we have food to eat and a roof over our heads, we should be grateful, right?

And yet there is that yearning for more – can you feel it?

You long for a grander purpose, feeling that deep connection to the wellspring of love and creativity that you sense at the center of things.

Of course you have moments of deep meaning, sprinkled throughout a lifetime. A declaration of love, the birth of a child, that vacation at the seaside, looking up at the starry sky.

These moments seem rare and precious. Yet your heart calls you back toward fuller presence, over and over. Your heart wants more – and if you don’t listen, things tend to fall apart.

Self-care means listening to that quiet voice that wants to you to just stop.

Stop moving, just for a moment. Let go of thinking about what’s next on your list. Stop worrying about proving your worth, checking all the boxes, being the perfect parent or employee or partner or entrepreneur.

Cease and desist, and just listen within. What do you really need, on a profound level? Listen to your intuition, and then follow its yearnings.

This is self-care.

Caring for yourself is not a selfish act. You, too, need to be cared for – and not by some Prince Charming or Fairy Godmother.

By you. For you. And for everyone whose life you touch.

Self-care gets you in touch with the Divine source at your very center. It’s not selfish, because the Divine is part of all of us. This deep wisdom is what powers the entire cosmos. Vast cosmic love is where we came from.

Tuning in to these feelings of love and belonging is what self-care is all about.

Now make it a practice. Set aside regular time – yes, time, your most precious resource – to listen to and follow your innermost desires.

If you don’t, things will sooner or later spin out of control.

This is because your conscious ego self was never in control to begin with. Working with your inner wisdom makes life less of a struggle and more of a flow.

That’s why those of use who have already created time for regular self-care are crowing about it from the rafters.

Not to make you feel bad for what you don’t yet have, but to coax you to tune in deep and feel better, and to enable you to tend to your deepest desires.

To encourage you to use your passions in service to yourself, your loved ones, your community, and the entire Universe.

The world needs you, in your fullest presence and deepest connection. We need you, dear one, to release your resistance and guilt and find time to just be. To listen and act on what you hear and recharge your sacred energies.

Not just once, but on a regular basis. Please, heed the call.

This post is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Follow the Ebb & Flow: The Law of Attraction and the Tides of Life by Nikki Starcat Shields and Brent BlackLion Nelson

Stop Fitting In

I spent the first half of my life trying to “fit in” with other people’s ways of being.

If you’re still doing that, I’m here to tell you: it’s not worth it.

Please, stop. It’s a waste of your time, your energy, and your precious unique soul.

It’s much more worthwhile to explore what make YOU tick – your preferences, joys, desires, passions, and strengths. Sure, it’s helpful to understand your weaknesses and gaps, too, but only in a way that allows you to overcome or work around them.

The world doesn’t need more cookie-cutter people who follow the trends and get in line with what’s generally acceptable. We can all see where that’s gotten us as a society.

You came here to experience life on the physical plane and to learn interesting and fun things. Yes, fun.

If you aspire to expanding your creativity and/or spirituality (which I imagine you do, since you’re reading this), it’s especially key to follow your own heart rather than trying to be like someone else.

I know, I know, you have years of programming and even genetic coding that contradicts my advice. Wanting to fit in comes from the fear of being abandoned and alone. But it’s easier than ever, with the internet at your fingertips, to find your particular tribe of like-minded people.

Not ones that you need to be like, but those who get you, and love you for who you are. Those whose interests and philosophies align with yours in interesting ways. When you find people like that, cherish them.

It’s also essential to cherish yourself. Do the inner work that allows you to love yourself for who you truly are.

Cultivating love for yourself is an ongoing practice. As you grow and change, update your ideas about who you are. It’s healthy to release things that were once part of your identity, and to embrace new skills, talents, and preferences.

We sometimes get stuck in a rut, thinking we’ll always be exactly the same. In life, change is the only constant. When you hold lightly to your concepts of self, you create space for authentic personal growth. Yep – you don’t even have to fit in with yourself!

Dear creative soul, fitting in is a cop-out. You are an amazing being of light and shadow. You co-create your experience each and every day. You live in a way that is endlessly fascinating, when you open to fully expressing your authenticity.

Reclaim your energy from worrying about how others see you. Use that energy to write your book, paint your mural, direct your show, run your business, dance your dance, start that non-profit, run that D&D game, hike that mountain, knit sweaters for trees, raise your family to be their own unique selves – you get the idea.

Whatever lights you up, no matter how unusual or weird it may seem, go for it. Be you. We need you and your unique contributions.

Creativity Tips for When You’re Not In the Groove

Before I started writing this post, I got up from my computer. I work from home, in the corner of my dining room, and I needed a change of scenery, so I went upstairs to my bedroom to lie down.

I played MahJong on my Kindle. I read a few pages of a book on writing. My cat came to lie on me and purr. I daydreamed a bit, and mused about what I wanted to say to you. 

When I felt like I was done with lying down, I came downstairs. I put in a load of laundry and rinsed some dishes to put in the dishwasher. As I took care of these ordinary household tasks, ideas were simmering in the back of my mind.

None of these things look like writing. But they are an integral part of the process.

You can’t force creativity. It’s messy. It takes its time.

Your creative flow doesn’t adhere to your left-brain timeline of when to do things – whether the deadline is self-created or imposed from an outside source. Being in the creative zone is a blend of many different factors. It’s annoying, but you can’t really count on it.

Plus, there are a lot of things that can throw a monkey wrench in the process. Including intangible woo-woo stuff that might come out of nowhere…

Have you noticed that the past few weeks seemed to be particularly hard? It’s not just me. I’ve spoken with a lot of people who’ve felt it. I think it was the double whammy of  the dark of the moon and dark part of year. It felt really soul-crushing. 

Even so, I was able to finish NaNoWriMo, write blog posts, and do a bunch of other creative work.

But how? Here’s what I do to keep writing – or doing anything creative that’s a priority – in times that feel super challenging.

  1. Pause. Take a mental break, like I did today. Take a brisk walk, do that chore, or read a book. If your time is limited, set a timer. Just having a few minutes to get your mind off what you’re working on often helps.
  2. Be consistent. Keep showing up for your creative work. Sometimes you’ll get a lot done, and other times you won’t. That doesn’t matter. You still need to set aside time and show up prepared to work on your project.
  3. Shift your focus. I suggest having more than one writing project going at a time. Sometimes when my writing on a particular book or topic isn’t working, I switch to a different project. It might mean editing instead of writing, if your creative mojo isn’t flowing.
  4. Play. Approach your creative work with a childlike wonder, rather than an adult expectation of productivity. Try a writing prompt or game. If you get stuck, switch perspectives or jump to a different part of the book. Creative flow is more likely to happen when you’re in a playful, curious mindset.
  5. Nurture yourself. If you notice you’re struggling, rather than just pushing through, ask yourself what you need. Are you drinking enough water? Did you have a nourishing lunch? Punishing yourself won’t make you more productive in the long run. Take care of your needs, and you’ll have more bandwidth for creativity.

What about you? What do you do when the going gets rough? How do you stay in the creative flow?