Creative Prompt: Holding Court

I saw this chair sitting under a street light the other night while I was on my way home from a dinner out with Mr Magpie. There was something about the way it was placed that made me stop and take a photo while he marched off, oblivious that I had paused for a moment.

Sometimes I see things like this and get the eerie feeling that I have glimpsed something of an unseen world. There is the added mystery of things that happen after dark. Secret meetings in the soupy glow of a street lamp.

When I saw this I felt like perhaps minutes before, and unknown someone had been sitting, holding court with their unknown followers. Who do you think that little group were? What were they talking about?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these so please do link to blog posts or comment below.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

When you finally hit export on a film you’ve been working on for seven years…

As some readers of this blog will know I’ve been working on a part animated documentary for quite some time now. Today I finally pressed export.

More to follow on when and where it will be available to view, once I work out the details.

It feels good Magpies.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here.

I’ve started using a planner and I really like it

This post contains quite a few affiliate links to things I have found helpful. If you buy any of these things using these links Amazon will send me a small amount of money as a referral fee. But there’s no pressure on anyone to do that, I just wanted to write about a few things that I personally have found helpful.

Over the last year and a bit I’ve been engaged in an ‘on again, off again’ project to try to become more organised. I wouldn’t claim to be a particularly organised person, mostly because in the past I had plenty of spare time and was able to waste quite a lot of it without feeling too bad. That isn’t to say that I was actually productive, but I did do some things, so I guess I didn’t notice how unproductive I was when I had acres of time to waste.

Now I have a toddler things are very different, and I want to make the most of the little time I do have and complete some artistic things in it. In the last year I made a lot of effort to make sure I sat down to do something everytime I had a patch of time (and wasn’t in desperate need of a nap), and for a while felt quite productive. I think just establishing the habit in the first place was helpful at the start. But over time I began to realise that while I was doing things, I still didn’t seem to be able to actually finishing projects.

So then I went off and listened to some of those productivity podcasts and read some books about productivity systems. While most of them were helpful, they seemed to be aimed at people who did a different kind of work, the kind of work that can easily be split up into discrete tasks. In contrast I find that with a lot of my creative work, particularly my writing, how I would split it up into tasks like that is often a bit unclear. Then I stumbled across the book ‘From Chaos to Creativity’ by Jessie L Kwak (affiliate link) which is a book about productivity and creativity written by someone who is a working writer and who understands the sometimes nebulous nature of creative work. Personally, this is the book on productivity that made sense to me (indeed I’m planning on re-reading it this year), but after a good start I will say I have struggled to implement some of the advice that I thought was most helpful about actually planning work.

In January last year someone reccomended a planner that was specifically designed for writers and creatives by Audrey Ann Hughey. So I bought the 2021 version of the planner at the beginning of 2021, but am so disorganised that didn’t start using it until January 2022, and have been revising the dates as I go. In the past I have been one of those people who were very skeptical of planners, and a few years ago would probably have dismissed it. I think I was quite attached to the idea of creativity being this organic, fluid process that needed as few boundaries as possible, and the idea that you would actually plan that was difficult for me. This just goes to show how sometimes the stories we tell ourselves about the things we want to do can get in the way of actually doing the things we want to do.

For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I feel differently this year. There are things I want not only to work on, but to actually finish, and when I finish those things I want to actually get them to an audience. So I have picked up that planner and really tried to engage with it, and so far I’m finding it has made a real difference to my creative work.

What I really liked about the 2021 Author’s Planner (the 2022 version is available here, and an undated version is available here – affiliate links) is that it has sections that are designed to help you think about different aspects of your work, including (but not limited to); what your big picture ambitions are; how you want to use social media; what your expenses and income are; what your general plan is; and sections that give you more granular space to plan what you are going to do over the next year, three months, month and coming week.

I’ve been using the planner for about two weeks and I have already finished something! This week I’ve submitted a short story to a magazine. I had stopped working on it when there wasn’t a huge amount of work left to do (which seems to be the point at which I abandon a lot of projects). At the beginning of the year I set myself the focus of submitting that story in January, and by the end of the first week I had done that.

As we are only a few weeks into January, it remains to be seen if I can manage to be organised enough to continue using the planner, or if I fall of the productivity wagon again. But I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You could consider a one off donation instead. I would really appreciate it.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Curiosity, creativity and an encounter with an oven

Just before Christmas I was out in the morning doing the nursery run, when I spotted this oven and stopped to take a photo. I liked the way that it was peaking out from behind the tree. I was thinking to myself I wonder who left that there? Why leave it there, although the poor thing has probably been fly tipped and is destined for the dump.

On my way back from my encounter with the oven my mind followed a tangled strand of thought into the area of curiosity and creativty. At the moment I don’t have a huge amount of time to spend on my creative projects, most of my time is spent either working on the day job, or looking after Toddler Magpie. Sometimes this is frustrating, but I am not sorry. Time spent with him has been it’s own eduction is creativity.

That morning I was thinking about how if you are a toddler, expressing curiosity and giving something a try, even when you can’t really do it yet, is cause for celebration and encouragment from people around them. Somehow by the time we reach adulthood, for many of us this exact same process has earned us ridicule and sometimes even rejection. I began to wonder if the fear of being seen to get something wrong, or to not to already know the answer, stifles the natural curious instincts we are born with in many adults. Maybe adulthood trains it out of us, as we are busy struggling through other things?

During this last year and a bit of creative prompts (for all the links see this post) I have found myself re-claiming that sense of curiosity. Perhaps I am now known locally as that eccentric lady with a pram who stops to take photos of rubbish. I think I can take that. These days I’m too busy asking myself questions that often lead to other ideas and other creative projects.

I wonder who?

I wonder what?

I wonder why?

I wonder how?

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you are interested in the process of creativity and want to get a copy of my free short book of creative prompts, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You could consider a one off donation instead. I would really appreciate it.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Creative Prompt: A key on the pavement

It’s getting close to the end of the year and I have been trying to spot some more festive creative prompts for the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately I’ve not actually come across many that I like yet. However, while I was out and about yesterday I did spot this key on the pavement in the lunchtime sunlight.

I was particularly drawn to this little key because of the rust on it. When I look at it I get the sense that it may have been lost for some time, dropped somewhere cold and damp a while ago, only to return to the light now, for reasons unknown. It brings to mind the opening sequences of those adventure movies I used to watch as a child, where some kind of object like a treasure map, or indeed an old rusty key, falls into the hands of a gang of children, who then decide to set off on their adventures.

This key is a bit more modern looking, but they mystery of what it may be the key to still stands. What kind of lock do you think this key opens? A bike lock? A security box? A burried box of treasure?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You could consider a one off donation instead. I would really appreciate it.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£15.00
£2.00
£5.00
£15.00
£5.00
£10.00
£20.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Creative Prompt (neighbourhood intrigue series #1): Love Note

One of the things I find myself doing when I’m out and about is puzzling about things that I see that seem a bit odd, or intriguing. For creatives I think there can be great benefits in trying to practice a kind of mindful curiosity where ever you are, no matter how mundane or suburban that place may seem. Seeing a hint of something when you will only ever know part, or indeed nothing of the actual situation can give a creative mind free reign to invent something new.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to publish a collection of creative prompts that are based on some of the tiny neighbourhood intrigues that I have noticed over the last few months.

I saw this note on the pavement in the street outside my house. I didn’t open it or read what was inside as I felt this would be an invasion of privacy, and so I do not know who it was for, or what is said. But I was very taken with the little hand drawn heart on the folded flap. Someone had taken care when making this note.

It made me wonder how it ended up on the pavement, looking like it has been casually discarded. Had it been dropped by mistake, or thrown away? Who had written the note? What does it say? Did the person it was written for ever read it? What did they say?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You may want to consider a one off donation instead.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

How do you feel about your old art? Reviewing old work and a Redbubble revamp

Do you ever think back about your old work and feel dissatisfied? Like it just wasn’t your best work and you don’t really want people seeing it?

I’ve had a collection of pieces of my work on Redbubble for several years now but was really struggling to feel any enthusiasm about promoting them at all. More than a few weeks ago now I decided to go back and have a look and try to figure out if the work was really as bad as I felt it was, or if there was something else going on.

When I opened up my account and started looking through the work I realised that I actually quite liked a lot of the individual pieces, but that it didn’t feel like it hung together as a collection very well. In the years since I started using Redbubble’s print on demand service to sell things with my art on they’ve done a lot of work to the interface, and it’s now a lot easier to go in and experiment with things like the size or arrangement of work on a particular object, or to change the background. They’ve also released a bunch of new products (like backpacks!), and I simply had not been keeping track.

So I’ve begun to experiment with changing the background on related pieces so that they ‘fit’ together a bit better, and making the same design available on different colours. I am not sure if people will like these new versions any better, but I am certainly happier. For example the design above looks so much better on a dark background than it did on the paler one that I had it on before, and now kind of fits much better with the pink version – have a look at the backpack below.

The upshot is that, while I’ve not quite finished revamping my collection, I am feeling much better at promoting my works now. I’ve even been pushing some of my designs on twitter this month as we draw close to halloween. Like this one.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Creative Prompt: Offerings #3

I saw these coins while I was on the way to taking my son to nursery. Someone had left them on a bollard on a traffic island in the middle of a busy road. I managed to get this photo on the way back. It’s not the best photograph. The traffic island is quite narrow, and I didn’t want to hang around with the pram as it was a bit of a precarious position to stand in.

But I did want to get the photograph because it sparked an idea for me. Someone had left coins in the middle of a crossing, reminding me of the many myths of the crossings people needed to make from this life into the underworld. For example in Greek mythology the soul of a person would need to pay the ferry man Charon a coin for passage across the River Styx.

The sight of these coins at the crossing made me wonder. What could the person who left these be paying passage for?

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You could consider a one off donation instead. I would really appreciate it.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Creative Prompt: Offerings #2

I saw these jugs early in one morning, while I was taking Baby Magpie off to nursery. I stopped to take the picture on the way home, and by the evening they were gone. In my post last week I wrote about the offerings members of my local community make to each other. When I saw these jugs I felt that this could be an offering of a different kind. I remember my aunt making wine in jugs like these when I was a child, and have watched the bubbles rise and collect in the top of the jug as various kinds of fruit fermented.

For me these jugs felt much more like an offering of a mystical or spiritual kind. Perhaps these jugs held an offering of wine for the local street gods who reside over our community, or an offering of mead to the ancient spirits of the land that lies below the streets tarmacked pavements. It makes me wonder what those street gods, or those ancient spirits may be like, and what they may think of us.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You could consider a one off donation instead. I would really appreciate it.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Creative Prompt: Offerings #1

In the area we live in there is a tradition of people leaving things they no longer need outside of their houses, on the pavement, in the hope that they will find new homes. Baby Magpie and I were walking to the swimming pool when we saw these twin chests of draws, and the tantalisingly open bag of toys on the top. We stopped for a moment to pick a toy and then went on our way, leaving the rest for some other lucky soul.

I like the spirit behind this tradition, in which people offer things to each other in a relatively anonymous way. Of course it is a convenient way to get rid of things, but there is also a generosity to it. The person offering the gift cannot always know who will receive it, friend or foe.

It feels like a silent form of communication within a community. ‘I no longer need this thing, but maybe you do. We would like for this object, which has been useful to us, to be useful to someone else now. We will not waste its potential and send it to landfill.’ It stands in contrast to the silence communications of the fly tippers (of which unfortunately we also have a strong local tradition), which feels much more to me to be ‘we don’t need this junk anymore, someone else can deal with it.’

When I see these objects I sometimes wonder if they may be the start of a story, or a relationship between two people. Perhaps someone else, seeing that bag of toys, would have lingered long enough to meet the person who made this offering as they dashed to the shops, and said hello.

I’m not a huge fan of creative exercises, so it’s not my habit to tell people what to do with these prompts. There are lots of options – a scene, some flash fiction, a short story, an idea for a short film or a physical piece of art. If you do have a go with this one and would like to drop the result in the comments please do so. I would be very interested to see what people make of these.

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you like these prompts and want to get a copy of a free short book of them I wrote, and to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Like my work but none of the above options appeal? You could consider a one off donation instead. I would really appreciate it.

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£2.00
£5.00
£10.00
£5.00
£10.00
£15.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly