The story behind “Reclaim Your Creative Soul”

Last week, I was honored to speak to a group of people from my church about Reclaim Your Creative Soul, the book I published earlier this year about making more time for creativity. I began by telling them about my journey toward that book, and then I shared a quick rundown of the necessary steps to varying types of organization—both body, mind, and the space around them—so that their craft can be a priority.

This book is very personal to me. It shares many of the things I’ve come to know in my journey as a writer. I lay out the details of my writing practice, and the different ways I’ve created order in certain areas of my life to free me from distraction and allow me to focus on my craft. But more than that, it shares the spiritual journey I took toward actually writing this book. I’d like to share that with you here.

In August of 2015, I reached my breaking point. My writing was suffering because I felt like I had no creativity left in the tank. My eating habits were out of control, which resulted in weight gain, lack of energy, and a feeling of gross worthlessness. I felt overextended at my job, which was eating away at me even when I wasn’t on the clock. The successful writing career I thought I was going to have was nowhere to be seen. I actually felt like my desire to be a writer was a curse, because everything I wanted was so out of reach, and I was sure I’d be chained to being a 9-5 worker for the rest of my life.

That August, I reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like this huge weight on my chest was consuming me. I knew if I didn’t do anything about it, I was going to go off the deep end. Something needed to change, I just didn’t know HOW. So I did the only thing I could think of doing. I took a day off from everything to focus solely on the three areas of my life that were consuming me the most: my career, my health, and my creativity.

I called this day my “soul retreat.”

During that day, I spent time with God, addressing each area that plagued me and seeking answers on what I could be doing better. I not only came away with these answers, I also received a better understanding of who I was, my worth as God’s creation, and my purpose as a creative person. I gained clarity I was unable to reach before. Most of all, I learned how to breathe again.

(I explain what happened in full detail in my book, and also in an earlier entry of this blog)

At the time, I didn’t know I was going to write this book. But the seeds began to sprout on the day I took my soul retreat. A few months later, I began laying out the bones of Reclaim Your Creative Soul: The Secrets to Organizing Your Life to Make Room for Your Craft. At face value, it was my answer to those around me who wondered how I was able to write books while holding a full-time job, raising a family, and everything else that kept me so busy. But more than that, it was a love letter to myself and those who needed to hear this message: The two biggest obstacles between you and what feeds your soul is fear and a feeling of unworthiness. More than following my guidelines toward structure and organization, my hope is that readers will began to believe they are worthy of contributing their creativity to the world, and that the world NEEDS this creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, the struggle I felt in August is not something that just magically went away . I still reach moments of overwhelm and an inability to focus. Right now, as I’ve rearranged my life to include college courses, I can feel that same weight bearing down on me. But whenever I feel this way, it’s when I know I need to pause and reevaluate where I’m at, where I’m going, and what I need to do to get there. And because of this book, I have a reminder on what needs to happen so that I can keep going.

If you are in a place where your creative life feels out of reach, I encourage you to pick up Reclaim Your Creative Soul and start working the steps toward creative freedom. Writing this book changed my life. I hope reading it changes yours.

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Just published ~ Reclaim Your Creative Soul

3 years ago this month (March 16, 2013, to be exact), I published my very first book. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had big visions of everything I would do with the millions I would be raking in.

Obviously, I am still working on reaching millionaire status. I did, however, accomplish my #1 goal in life—I wrote and published a book.

Today, I have published my 7th book. And I did it while holding a full-time job, raising a family, volunteering with my church and my writing group, and still having a life.

I’m not saying this to brag. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my accomplishments. But more than that, I am adamant that if I can write 7 books in 3 years while carrying on a full-time life, so can you.

Many people have asked how I am able to write books while living such a busy life. I keep hearing, “I hope I can do that someday.”

Why not make someday TODAY?

In Reclaim Your Creative Soul, I share the secrets to adding creativity back into your life, even if you feel more than busy. If you wish you had the time for your art, then know that I wrote this book for you. And because I don’t want anything to stand in your way of reading this book, I am offering a discounted price TODAY ONLY.

Kindle is 99 cents.

Print is $10.95.

Purchase your copy at bit.ly/creativesoulbook.

Thank you! And I’m so excited to hear about all the creative things you’re about to accomplish!

The countdown is on for release day!

Last August, I felt like the walls were caving in on me. I was busier than I had ever been, work was crazy hectic, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. There were days when I’d be driving to work, and the temptation to miss my exit and keep driving was overwhelming. I needed an escape. I wanted to hide. I wished that time would just stop so I could catch up.

What I really needed was a day of rest, a break from all the hectic parts of my life so that I could refocus and figure out where I was going in my life.

I ended up taking a personal soul retreat, which I wrote about here. The result was life-changing. Not only did I come away from this experience with sense of peace and a lot of clarity, I also found the inspiration for a much-needed book I had been wanting to write for a while.

reclaim tableOn Tuesday, March 15, Reclaim Your Creative Soul will be released to the world. In it, I share tips and secrets to creating order to the ordinary parts of life so that artists can find more time for creativity. My hope is that people who lead busy lives — whether full-time employees, parents, or just busy people in general — will find the inspiration they need to place a priority on their creative life, without taking away from the mandatory parts of their life. Basically, I was writing to those artists, writers, and other creative people who can’t quit their day job or their families, but still want to feel fulfilled by their art. I want to help eliminate the excuses leading to why there’s no time for art, and promote empowerment that yes, you can be an artist while leading a full, productive life.

You can pre-order it today, but it’s better to wait until March 15th when I will be offering special pricing for both Print and Kindle.

Before I sign off, I had to brag about the fact that Reclaim Your Creative Soul was mentioned in our local newspaper, the Press Democrat, today. Check it out!

reclaim newspaper.jpg

I know I work there, but that really only makes it harder to be covered in the newspaper. So to have my book mentioned is pretty cool. 🙂

Final note – the beginning of this article mentions the Sonoma County Local Author Showcase. If you’re local to Sonoma County, I invite you to head on over to the Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library on April 2. I’ll be there, as well a bunch of other extremely talented local authors. If you go, make sure you stop by my table and say hi!

The messy blending of a … story

About a week or so ago I announced that I believed I was done with the rough draft of Prelude to Forever, the story of how Rachel and John met and fell in love before A Symphony of Cicadas. Having planned on this book being a novelette, I was satisfied with the shorter length, and the place I would leave off at. I hand-wrote the whole rough draft of the book, and have been spending the time since that announcement retyping everything I wrote. It’s been an arduous process, though somewhat satisfying as I am able to edit as I go, creating a much cleaner version of what I’ve been writing. And the story is evolving slightly, adding a few interesting layers to characters and their situations.

Of course, a few details I’d planned have changed too. In doing so, I have opened the door to continuing the story beyond what I have already written – meaning this might be more of a full-length novel than a novelette. The original story was just going to focus on John and Rachel’s romance. But now I am expanding to what it’s like to blend a family – all the messy and awkward parts of it.

Thing is, this is a scary thing to write about, mostly because it hits so close to home. When I had first planned on writing this story, the family blending was the biggest reason why. But slowly I started to phase that part out. I see now it’s because writing about it would make me have to face things in my own home that were uncomfortable or unpleasant.

I see step-families all around me, and some of them act as if blending their family was the most natural thing in the world. The others act as if their stepchildren were spawn of the devil. Our family is somewhere in the middle, where things are neither terrible or all that great. There are some days where it feels like our family is just cruising along, and everything is going like clockwork. And there are other days when we’ve never felt more disjointed. Both my husband and I have a mental list going on how much better the other person’s child would have been if we’d raised them with our opposite ideals. Our children have a mental list of why their stepparent is weird and unapproachable. And the list of inequities on all sides is a mile long.

And then there are the little surprises, like the other day when my teenage stepson greeted me with a heartfelt hug when I came home from work – the second or third hug we’ve shared in the six-and-a-half years we’ve known each other…and it made me so happy I did all his chores for him.

Today I was listening to a podcast on writing, and the subject was about the creative process. The point in it was to put energy towards the things you’re excited about. If a project is draining you, it might be time to set it down and walk away. It may be the wrong project.

Listening to this, I realized how draining this story is to me right now. And all day long I’ve been mulling over whether it’s time to set this down and start on something new. It’s tempting – there’s one project I’ve placed on the back burner that I’m itching to dive into. But I’ve also realized that I’m struggling with this story because it’s edging a place in my own life that’s difficult to write about. As I get closer to that part of the story, the temptation to walk away from the book grows.

So for now, I’m sticking with the story. I’m not sure how many people will actually be affected whether I write this story or not, but I realize I need to at least try. There still might come a day when I decide I need to put this down for my own sanity. But for now, I’m going to let Rachel, John, Joey, and Sam share their story through me, and maybe even offer a few answers towards my own messy family.