Now to Actually Do the Work

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I ranted, the other day, about how we all need to get to work and stop copying each other. We need to sit down and make our art OURS. And today, I’m going to give you the ways I get down to business and actually get the work done.

I want to preface this by saying that I am still fighting, every single day, to be true to myself, to find myself, to understand who that person is and to identify the parts of me that are going into my work. I also struggle, constantly with not feeling like who I am is enough to create something that will change the world, be meaningful or even just be beautiful enough to touch one person’s life.

So without further ado, here’s my list of tasks.

Firstly. This. What I am doing right now is part of my work. I write. I’ve spent my whole life writing. I’m not sure when my first journals were from, but I do have a stash of journals that go back as far as 1998 and range from Lisa Frank diaries with pink pages and one sentence, misspelled blurbs about England to black journals filled with gel pen stories of boys (which is completely embarrassing) to the modern day questions I have now about life, politics, children, and work. I’ve had a goals journal and an intentions journal and a morning journal and a journal where I lay out what I am grateful for every morning. I currently journal every thought and feeling I have about everything. And then, everyday, I take the time to write this blog and put it out into the world. This is the scariest thing I do everyday, and I deal with a three year old an a 3 month old everyday, so that tells you something. Putting writing out into the world makes me more accountable for doing the writing, and it also allows me to share a piece of myself with all of you, which in turn, helps me to learn more about myself and feel like I’m contributing to your life at the same time.

Second. I keep my 35 mm camera on my desk or dresser or kitchen counter top loaded with whatever film I have all the time. If it’s not that camera, it’s my digital or my iPhone. I always keep a camera close. I take pictures of my patio flowers, my daughter, my son, the sky, more sky, the sky at different angles and times of day, cooking, my husband, the way my daughter’s pink Nijntje bunny looks on my daughter’s bed. I take pictures of anything that catches my eye. The textures, the light, the way flower petals look as they fall on the table, my parents, my sister, the pool at my parents’ house. I urge anyone and everyone to do this, even if you’re not a photographer. Actually, everything on this list is something anyone, any creative can do. So let’s start thinking about that while you read this. You can go back to the first item and read it from a new point of view now or just keep chugging on.

Third. I make playlists. Any song that speaks to me, any song that triggers me goes on that playlist. I might listen to that song a million times in a row or I might listen to the whole playlist. These songs get me motivated, they get me moving, they get me writing, they get me seeing. If I can put a soundtrack to my daily tasks, I see them differently. I see the world differently. You can read more about that in my post about the soundtrack of life.

Fourth. Watch movies. But don’t just put them on and scroll through Instagram. I see you. I’ve been there. No. Seriously watch movies. Pay attention to them. Pay attention to the costumes, the colors of the costumes, the fabrics, the hair and makeup. Pay attention to the period. Do the costumes fit here? What artistic licenses did the designer take? Do you like the differences? Do you get inspired by this? Pay attention to the colors, the lighting, the way they use these elements to tell the story, the music, the camera use. Sometimes the camera moves slowly and gracefully through a frame, and sometimes you can see the way they allow the camera to feel like you’re walking with the characters. It’s a little bumpy, handheld, raw. It’s not a mistake. It’s genius. Watch with such attention, then write down your observations, and then have a roaring discussion about it with your partner/friends/kids/family until they are sick of you. Just kidding on that last bit unless you actually have someone who likes to argue about movies. And if you don’t, you can always come argue with me.

Oh and by the way, watch movies YOU like. Don’t get this idea that you have to watch certain movies because other people tell you to. If you don’t like old movies, don’t watch Casablanca, and if you’d rather watch anything that has Will Ferrell in it, watch that instead. That will give you more insight into your own inner artist than finding someone else’s list. I personally try to watch a wide range of movies to get new perspectives, but I cannot watch horror. I just can’t. And, old movies? It’s got to be really interesting or really beautiful for me to spend my time on it

Here are just a few beautiful films and short series I’ve loved recently:

The Great & Catherine the Great

12 Years a Slave (I know I’m late to this one. Very late)


Little Fires Everywhere

How to Train your Dragon (all of them)

Frozen 2 (the colors are insane in this movie as well as the music)

The Witcher (I thought I wasn’t going to be into it, but my husband is a huge fan of the games and books, so I gave it a try, and the music was incredible as well as this whole world and story).

Season 8 of Game of Thrones. Go ahead and start the arguing on this one now.

The Queen’s Gambit

Eddie the Eagle


There are so many more. These are just the ones that came to my mind.

Fifth. Find things that inspire you in your own life. Write down bits of your life, little moments that have stuck with you and moved you. They can be good, they can be bad, but these moments define you. They make you have a different world view than other people. They can pull from your heritage, be stories your parents told you. Some moments for me include the birth of my two kids, the moment I came home from the hospital after having Henry and hugged Sofie tighter than ever, sobbing and wishing her sitter would leave so I could have this moment more privately without crying in front of someone outside of my family. One oddly vivid moment I have is so undeniably mundane, that I wonder why it sticks in my head, but it’s a moment in my old CR-V, driving to the mall in Texas with my sister. We were listening to Radiohead( which always makes me emotional), and we were having a discussion about the future that was making me feel rather depressed and uncomfortable. I remember wanting to go back in time.

Sixth. Get inspired by the art that speaks to you not the art you think you’re supposed to love. Athletics count. I love ballet, painting, music, other forms of dance, the Olympics, fashion. Choose and then start figuring out what about these things gets under your skin.

Seventh. Have a ritual, a routine. Make each thing you do matter, make each thing you do a priority, and do it all with pride. Work out or make dinner or have water with lemon in it or watch the morning news (maybe not this because this stresses me out but to each his own). Do it all with purpose and pride.

Eighth. Read everything.

Ninth. Find other ways to inspire yourself and find who you are. Make it a part of everyday, and find what you need to do to say what you need to say with your art. I believe everyone has something to say, we just have to do the work to say it rather than taking the short cuts and trying to say what someone else has to say.

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