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How I Boosted Meaningful Productivity Through These Rituals

Turntable

Daily rituals fascinate me.

Is there a secret to this creative energy bubbling up in writers, poets, artists, and musicians? Would my waking up earlier, staying up later, or drinking lattes with the perfect amount of froth propel my creative energy into overdrive? I can’t say for sure but I have discovered how a few (nine to be exact) wisely-placed rituals lead my day well. This is especially true on the days dedicated to writing, which have radically increased while finishing up my first e-book scheduled for release in April. {I’m excited to share more about that subject in a few weeks!}

Alarm clocks

9 Rituals That Boosts Creativity & Productivity

 

  • Wake up early. Now that Brian has an hour commute we’re waking up by 5:45 am. Even on weekends, I prefer to wake up early. Part of this, I’m convinced, is genetic. But I’m thankful I’ve always been an early riser. For me, embracing the feel of a full day is exhilarating. Add a cup of hot coffee to the mix, and the day is officially underway.
  • Cue the praise music. After breakfast, the TV goes off and the music comes on. I listen to three different channels on Pandora:  Brandon Gilliam {our son}, Aaron Keyes, and Bethel Music. I crank up the music for 15-20 minutes, sing, raise my arms toward heaven, and worship. Zephaniah 3:17 says the Lord sings over us. I love singing to Him in return.
  • A Conversation. The music stays on, but now it lays low. I read through the Bible chapter-by-chapter, keeping my small hardbound steno close by. Speaking, listening, praying⎯all lay the foundation for a glorifying kind of day. At least, that’s my prayer.
  • Get dressed/ready. Now that we live twenty minutes from civilization I don’t “go to town” nearly as much as I once did. It can be semi-tempting to leave on the pajamas and leave off the makeup. But I’ve recently come to see that, at least for me, getting ready helps me to view my writing as work/ministry⎯not a hobby. So I get dressed, comb my hair, and swipe on a little color — sometimes more, sometimes less. {Both grandmothers loved their lipstick. I suppose this is genetic, too.}
  • Switch the Pandora channel to George Winston. This simple swapping of stations triggers my mind that it’s time to shift to writing mode. I don’t play this station any time except when I write.
  • Sit at the desk, not the couch. Another trigger to prompt my brain that it’s time to work, not play.
  • Mute the phone and shut down Facebook. I still check both but only at set times.
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to join me in the process. He doesn’t require an invitation but it reminds me that He is with me, for me. That we are in this together.
  • Pour a cup of Paris tea. I reserve this treat for the afternoon, and it’s my way of winding down.

Paris Tea from HarneyI pretty much stumbled upon most of these rituals or at least their order, but when the creative process began clicking, there was no turning back. Tweaking my schedule has increased my productivity two-fold.

Your goals and the steps you choose to attain those goals will probably look different than mine {especially if you’re not an early riser *wink*} and that’s perfectly fine. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than one of my favorite finds, Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. It’s a peek into the minds of brilliant artists of all types. Their idiosyncracies make mine look mildly boring, and it’s a lovely feeling, I must say.

How about you? Do you have some type of ritual that helps you to be more creative and productive? Please share!

 

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When Music Recalls a Fall Memory

by Cathy Baker 

There I was, tapping away at the keys, listening to Pandora play quietly in the background, when in a flash, I found myself standing on green linoleum floors in the middle school choir room practicing “For the Beauty of the Earth” for our Thanksgiving production.

As the song played, my fingertips refused to budge as memories flooded the space. I closed my eyes, longing to soak in those simple times from way back when, if only for a few moments.

Music has a way of instantaneously transporting us to another time and place, wouldn’t you agree? 

Hearing a song that ushered in the Fall season to a long ago middle-schooler caused me to pause and give thanks for this land I love, and to my heavenly Father, maker of heaven of earth.  

Is there a particular song that prompts a spirit of gratitude in your heart, perhaps from way back when?

How I Blog in Five Easy Steps

by Cathy Baker 

Greetings! Today, I’m sharing how I bring a blog post to fruition, as well as what I’m learning along the way. Some parts of the process are more fun than others, but make no mistake—churning out regularly scheduled blog posts each week is hard work. But it’s worth it. Here goes!

It all begins with coffee and complementary music. I write upstairs by the window but it’s muggy hot in the summer. This fall, I hope to blog from the bench seats in Buttercup, our ’63 Shasta Airflyte camper. Wherever I go, Pandora music follows. Nothing boosts my writing power like George Winston’s station. Did I mention it’s free?

What I’m learning: Writing/blogging in the same spot on a consistent basis alerts the brain that it’s time to stop playing and get to work. I’m also learning that Starbucks Cold Brew provides a swifter kick to my energy level than a latte. Go figure. 



Brainstorm. I try to remain aware of how God might prompt a thought or idea. I also plan regular brainstorming sessions with Dee Dee Parker, my go-to stormer. A tiny Moleskin journal (with pen) is tucked in my front purse pocket to fetch promptings, random thoughts, and obscure words. Also, I’m beginning to use Evernote, along with the notes app on my iPhone. 

What I’m learning: I need to consolidate my ideas to two places max. Having them scattered in too many places breeds frustration. 


Peck away anyway. Sometimes an idea comes quickly and fiercely (love those!) but most take their own sweet time. I type anyway. More often than not, once I begin the process of pecking away at the keys, the idea begins to unfold in unexpected and delightful ways. Also—and yes, this is crazy—unless I use the Trebuchet font while working on a post, the idea tends to cross its arms, pout, and storm off. Silly fonts.

What I’m learning: Mentor and friend, Edie Melson, has advised many of us for years (I’m a slow learner) to first type everything in Word and then upload it to Blogger or WordPress. This prevents the loss of our masterpiece if something goes wonky on the site. {While typing the final few words in this post, my delete button became stuck, erasing all the words one-by-one. Um, Lesson learned.}

Spend quality time titling and formatting the post. I kid no one. I’m no Lori Roeleveld when it comes to titling blog posts. I do, however, try to allow plenty of time for developing the right title. For me, “right” would be pithy and SEO friendly, with a hint of panache. See below. 

What I’m learning: I stink at titling. I continue to study online and I’m also learning the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

 
Check grammar, photos, and links. Then do it again. I usually save the photo search for last as I enjoy it the most. I currently use some of my own photos but plan to increase that exponentially in the coming months. For now, I pull from Can Stock Photo (buy credits at minimal cost), Pixabay, and other free sites. I’m always looking to promote others via linking in my posts and including them in the Labels section.

What I’m learning: No post is to be published until I’ve read it aloud at least once. Much is learned when reading our work aloud.

When you consider the above quote, what ONE word best describes your idea of a GREAT blog?

The Fragrance of Love: Pandora

by Cathy Baker

I LOVE Pandora.

Yes, this is an instance where the word “love” is used a bit frivolously but we don’t have a month o’ likeness, so here goes.

Do you listen to music while writing, doing crafts, reading, etc?

There are moments I crave silence but when I hibernate upstairs in my writing nook you can be sure Pandora is playing on my laptop.

My go-to writing music is George Winston’s channel. It’s purely instrumental—perfect for writing. The last thing I need is lyrics competing for my attention.

Get Into The (Writing) Groove: The Absolute Best Pandora Stations for Writers by Script Chix offers some great options for those in search of a channel.

Pandora is free, but with that comes occasional ad disruptions. You have the option to pay double digits and hear music ad-free, but I have no problem hitting the mute button. I’d rather save my few extra bucks for coffee.

So, I’m curious. Do you listen to music while writing or performing other tasks? If so, what’s your favorite station? 

“Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that
startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dreamy Writing Spots

One could rephrase a familiar bumper sticker—”Pen’s don’t write poems; poets do”—but the pen or pencil or typewriter may have a large role than just recording the writer’s inspirations; it may foster, encourage, or stimulate creativity by its feel or its familiarity.
Try writing in a different place than usual—a kitchen, a porch, an attic or basement, a diner, an airport, a library, a vacant stadium. -John Drury, Creating Poetry

Do you have a particular pen, ritual or perfect perch responsible for kick-starting your creativity? 

I admit it — I do. Fountain pens, owl-shaped coffee mugs, Pandora music, and comfy writing spots often invite my muse to join in the dance.

One of my favorite Pinterest boards is entitled “Dreamy Writing Spots”. It’s teeming with unique places to write—nooks, crannies, closets, and wide-open spaces. My most recent add is Pier 1 Imports Daisy Outdoor Swingasan™. 

It’s not in my budget, so when I say dreamy, I mean dreamy…but couldn’t you picture yourself curled up in this delightful daisy cave? 

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