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📚 The Creative Habit 📝

A little advice from one of my favorite artists on something all artists struggle with: Creative Block


As we move further into warmer months and picnics, hiking, and outdoor dining make their 2022 debut, it a challenge to keep our creative lives thriving as much as our social lives are. 


"Writer's Block," or "Creator's Block," as I'd like to call it for our non-writing creators (I see you, dancers, musicians, and visual artists!), is a natural & normal process in our creative lives. 


I personally suffered from creator's block last year, while I was struggling to keep up with work & grad school. I found I was so busy making deadlines and thinking analytically that even when I sat down to write, the tank was always running on  empty. 


A close friend of mine and a creator here at Carolina Muse (see Volume I, Issues I & II), Aravind Vinayakan, listened to my plight and suggested some pretty life-altering advice to get me back into the swing of creating. 


He suggested that every morning, before I look at my phone, have my cup of coffee, or even go to the bathroom, I should roll over, grab my pencil & notebook, and write for 5 minutes non-stop. 


He said that I should just write without thinking, look outside my window, make observations about my room, write down my dream. In doing so, he said, you will leave those expectations that you need to write the most eloquent poem the world has ever seen (he knows me so well), and you will establish a "creative habit." 


He then suggested that in addition to writing every morning, I should read Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. This book is life-changing.  Twyla Tharp, if you don't know, is an incredibly prolific choreographer & dancer. 


Click the photo above (or here) to buy your own copy from a local, independent Greensboro, NC bookstore, Scuppernong Books!


Her book focuses on thinking of creativity as a muscle just like your quads or your biceps- your creative juices need to get regular exercise so they can strengthen and become more constant in your life. 


I love her writing style, and she does not limit creativity to our concept of the arts, like dance, music, writing, or visual art. She includes examples from all sorts of disciplines, including sales, medicine, and gardening. 


She provides simple exercises and extremely understandable idioms to help you keep a creative habit with your work. 


Since reading her book and taking Aravind's advice, I get so giddy that something that once felt like a chore, like something I hadn't done in a while and should, comes as easily to me as breathing. No longer do I just write in the mornings: I write all throughout the day, keeping a pen & notebook in my bag at all times, because ideas come to me much easier now than ever since I made creativity a daily habit. 


So, because I am so passionate about the lessons I have learned this year, I reached out to some of our very own Carolina Muse creators from our recent issue to see if they have any creative habits they'd like to share with y'all!

Poet Grace Simar says: 

"I am someone who definitely struggles with routine, but I think creating habits is so important when it comes to fostering creativity, and therefore I make sure that I always carry a pocket-sized notebook and a pen on me so that whenever something comes up or I notice something, I can immediately jot it down and return to it later to continue my writing. I think it's a great way to stay inspired by your surroundings." Take a look at her work in our latest issue.

Short story writer Isabella Mason outlines her creative routine: 

- "I try to write daily, but it doesn't always happen. When I do write, though, I tend to write for 30 minutes to an hour. This allows me to really dig deep without getting burnt out.

- I always, always listen to music while I write. Some of my current favorite artists to listen to while I write are MF DOOM, Denzel Curry, Nujabes, and Prince Daddy & the Hyena.

- I try to write by hand first, and then type when I feel ready. I always find that I'm more creative when writing by hand, so I try to get thoughts on paper before I get them on my computer.

- Some more ritualisms include having a separate notebook for journaling and creative writing. It helps to keep my thoughts about what is artistic and what is venting separated." Isabella's piece is in II.II.  Also, check out this MF Doom song to listen to some of Isabella's inspiration!

Dancer (and our new dancer editor!) Kelsie Jayne writes:

"I view creativity as a muscle.  It should be exercised regularly and I find it best to "change up the workouts" for myself.  While I might not do one specific kind of creative habit every day, I make sure to connect to my creativity one way or another and to prioritize setting time to do that.  While my profession is dance, improvising in an interesting space is a great way to connect that directly relates to what I do. I've learned that for me, I become more productive in my creativity when I choose to do something that is actually unrelated.  For example, I love crafting, artistic wood burning, drawing, journaling, experiencing somebody else's form of art, reading a book, etc...  Really anything that makes the mind use its imagination and imagery!  My other rule for myself is to not force it.  If I am not feeling creative in one area one day, I take a step back and allow my mind to rest.  It will come eventually!  There is just no need to treat your creativity like a chore when it should be a gift that deserves to be appreciated." Take a look at Kelsie's work in our latest Carolina Muse mag.

Poet Vasiliki Gkoulgkountina explains:

"I think the main focus of my creative habits is getting into a very comfortable and secluded place, where I allow myself to feel entirely grounded and connected to the space around me. This can vary a lot for me, but it typically looks like sitting at my desk, lighting my favorite candle, and watching the sky change as I write poetry. It feels very intimate and rewarding to watch the words pour out as the world around me continues to move and shift. I also travel to my hometown in Greece every summer, so it has become ritualistic to soak up the new landscapes there and let it fuel my poetry. I've also come to feel very inspired by art, so I try to actively seek out new pieces and exhibitions and find sources of creativity there." Check out Vasiliki's work in our latest issue.

Artist Sarah Mandell says:

"My creative habits depend on the day of the week, whether I’m working from home running my small handmade business Once Again Sam or working my other job as an interior designer. However, regardless of which career hat I’m wearing, every single day begins with at least 30-60 minutes of creative time which I use for needle felting projects while I’m finishing my Earle Gray tea. I also save some needle felting work to do at the end of the day, an hour or two before turning in, as a way to wind down before bed. These two blocks of time for creating are a priority no matter the day of the week, and on some days, it’s the only time I have available to create, but on other days it’s just the start and the end, with a lot more creating in between. 

I work in many mediums, but my focus is jewelry and fiber art. Several techniques are messy, some require specialized equipment which is loud (like a tufting gun or laser cutter), so the needle felting is my one thing that is quiet, can be done in dim lighting, and is very calming, so it’s the perfect thing to do in the early hours of the day when I’m still waking up and last thing before going to sleep." Here are some of Sarah's work, and check out this link to see her business, Once Again Sam!

And as always,  I should let you know that since our last newsletter, there are a few news updates to keep an eye out for:

  • Check out our newest issue!

  • Our next issue's deadline is May 31st! Submit your work here!

  • Don't forget, we have the our fun STICKERS, designed in-house!

    • Purchase one for $3, and each additional sticker is just $1! 

NC Events 🌺

  • Enjoy some sweet strawberries & good tunes at the Strawberry Jammin' in Sanford, NC festival, May 6-7. 

  • On May 23, catch Newton's 5th Annual Foothills Folk Art Festival in Newton, NC from 10am- 4pm→ this folk festival features a variety of contemporary folk artists- whose work will be for sale-as well as live music, food trucks, and more! 

SC Events 🌸

  • Visit the North Charleston Arts Fest, May 4-May 8 in Charleston, SC →The free 2-day main event includes "40 performances, art and photo exhibits, hands-on children's activities, art and fine craft booths, food, and more."

  • Come to Greenville, SC for their annual ARTISPHERE event, May 6-8 → Enjoy this incredible arts festival, where "100 artists from across the nation show everything from abstract paintings and photographs to 3D media, live music, art performances, and much more."



from our team

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Amanda Conover


Oscar Flores-Montero


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