Hearts & Things

2016: Creativity

I LOVE creativity. I love creating things! The previous year, one of my favorite months was June, where I had license to go all out at Hobby Lobby and just make things. So this year, instead of just one month, I decided to dedicate a whole year to pursuits of creativity. Ultimately, it's just an extension of my general inclination towards artsy things, but this year's theme really brought me into focus on specific projects/mediums that I'd been wanting to try. :)

January: Songwriting

Focus: writing original songs.

My motto for each month this year was: “you just need one”. So each month, I’d fulfill my goal if I created at least one thing that fit the theme. Some months were harder than others (ie November, in which my goal was to finish one novel).

January wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I had written songs before, so this was more a chance for me to add to my repertoire and strengthen my songwriting abilities. I did write a song-- multiple in fact! This was a nice springboard to continue a habit to write more songs. And, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that songs get easier to write, once you have a few completed ones under your belt. (Still takes work to make something that you actually like, but hey-- progress is progress!)

February: Video-Making

Focus: make at least one video using iMovie.

This month was daunting for me. I’d never made a video before (it was actually one of my month projects the previous year, but that month didn’t go so well). I really wanted to make one ever since my friend showed me a video that her friend made: a little montage of moments from a trip. It was so simple and so beautiful and so artistic, that I wanted to make one too. But I had absolutely no idea how. Plus, it seemed like a lot of effort that wouldn’t necessarily look good in the end (for me, at least).

Even with all those doubts, I told myself I’d make a video, no matter how horribly crafted it was. I had a lot of ideas kicking around in my head, which overwhelmed me a bit, but eventually I made a video that was more personally-geared, rather than artistically-inclined. My best friend was moving to Nicaragua for the Peace Corps in a month, so I decided to create a surprise video for her featuring a bunch of her friends wishing her well and saying goodbye.

This was tricky not only because I had to make a video, but also because I had to reach a lot of her friends in secret, asking them to send in a clip of themselves saying goodbye to my friend. It took a lot of coordination, and a lot of hours on the computer, but ultimately I strung together an 8-minute feels-filled goodbye video, set to Jason Mraz and Five For Fighting. Yay!

March: Drawing

Focus: doodling, sketching, drawing more.

I’m secretly very jealous of anyone who even remotely has the ability to draw. I wish I could, too. But alas, I can only doodle and make poor copies of other people’s images.

So for March, I just set out to essentially doodle my way through the month. They weren’t big, expansive drawing masterpieces, but the goal was to draw something in my little sketchbook every day. Technically, I hit my goal of “at least one” drawing on the first day, but it was fun and easy enough to continue throughout the month. In another life, maybe I’d be a designer or an actual artist, ‘cause this type of art is truly such a joy.

April: Stories

Focus: try my hand at story telling.
- Short stories
- Picture books
- Tall tales

I’m not sure where this desire came from, but for a long time now I’ve wanted to write a children’s book. Compounded with my love of reading books in general (and subsequently wanting to write as beautifully as my author idols do), I chose to use this month as a time to write stories. Short stories, children’s stories, tall tales, novel excerpts—any of those. It’s fun to get lost in another world, especially one that you create yourself! Good way to flex creativity muscles and practice writing.

May: Journaling

Focus: reflect on life through journal entries.
- Blogging

After reading The Artist’s Way, I really sunk into the value of stream-of-conscious journaling. Also, I’d been discovering more and more of my friends' personal blogs (you guys are awesome!!), and I was feeling inspired by their ability to reflect on their lives and share that with the world.

Not that I wanted to share my own thoughts publicly, but I did want to get into the habit of writing about the thoughts in my head to detangle the chaos in there. This was a really successful month—this is a habit I still keep up to this day.

June: World-Building

Focus: crafting new worlds from scratch.
- Mythology
- Religion
- Magic systems
- Characters
- Economic and political structure

This year, I’d read several novels that reached out of the pages and sunk their claws into my eyes. Like, in a good way. Well, maybe not good—I became obsessed with a couple fantasy pieces, and I desperately wanted to write my own. As a baby step toward this, I dedicated June to letting my imagination run wild. I came up with different worlds, and different stories and characters to populate them, along with magic systems, mythical gods, political structures, and general plots. This was sooo much fun. Maybe one day I’ll actually publish a novel, we’ll see.

July: Synesthesia and Music

Focus: paint the colors and images I see when I hear music.

Ooh, this was probably my favorite month project of the year. I have a couple different forms of synesthesia, one of which is seeing visuals with music. This month was me trying my hand at painting my musical synesthesia! Which, I should note, was really hard because a) I am not an amazing painter, and b) it’s hard to capture a dynamic experience going on in my head accurately, even if I could paint well. It’s kindaa like when you’re trying to describe a dream to someone, but with only a paintbrush and acrylic.

See my paintings here.

August: Rapping

Focus: practice freestyling.

This month was a little bit embarrassing. I am not a rapper, nor was I ever destined to be one. But there’s something about the art that draws me in, and I find myself wishing I could spit lyrics as clever and as powerful as the giants I hear on the radio.

So this month was dedicated to me inching my way into freestyling. The goal was to try to replicate/cover rap songs/artists that I liked, along with trying to improv or write my own lines. THIS WAS VERY DIFFICULT. And I ended up sounding very, very stupid, especially when I was whispering words to myself late at night in front of the computer, because I was self-conscious and afraid someone would overhear me.

One day, I’ll get better at this. But likely, not anytime soon.

September: GarageBand

Focus: play around with GarageBand.
- Learn how to record music
- Learn how to put tracks together
- Learn how to edit

This was my foray into trying to record music. I am terrible at it. I wish I knew more about it (and had better equipment…). But anyway, this month I just messed around with recording vocals + instruments on GarageBand and pretended like I knew how to mix tracks. (Spoiler: I don’t.) Still, it was a fun way for me to expand on my songwriting and singing skills!

October: Typography

Focus: typography, calligraphy, lettering.

This was a fun month! I’ve always thought calligraphy/lettering/typography was really pretty, so I wanted to try my hand at it. The goal was to write something in calligraphy every day. I realized it takes a lot more practice and a lot more skill/equipment to produce pretty calligraphy than I had the capacity for at the moment. Still, it was fun writing flowery things in flowery font. :)

November: NaNoWriMo

Focus: write a complete novel (50,000 words) in a month.

Oh, goodness. This was a tough one. A really tough one. I (stupidly) decided to do NaNoWriMo this year on top of being really busy/stressed, and it was a real struggle. But! I was too stubborn to quit, and I ended up “winning” (aka finishing) at the end of month. That was super exciting! I got a personalized certificate and everything!

I liked that the emphasis of this writing challenge was not on quality of writing, but rather to show that you can finish a novel. That you can be motivated by a deadline to simply write, and write a lot. Never mind how awful the sentences were, never mind how poor the character development was, or how the plot was slowly strangling itself to death by boredom and confusion and pacing problems. NaNoWriMo was a really valuable kick, because often I’m paralyzed by dreams of perfection, and then I end up not doing anything at all.

Because of this, maybe I’ll end up writing an actually readable novel later in my life. Heh. Stay tuned.

December: Haikus

Focus: write one poem (haiku) every day.

This was a success! I decided on haikus to give me more structure, instead of freeform poetry, and it was a fun challenge to come up with lines with so few/short syllables.

See below:

12/1/16: "First Draft"
Typewriter writers
Oh, the fear and the thrill to
Write and not look back

12/2/16: "Fight & Flight"
Ever the fighter
The one who flies without wings
Up, up, and away

12/3/16: "December"
Christmas lights and shine
Holiday spirit up high
Good cheer everywhere

12/4/16: "Growth"
We grow up, too soon
We grow, stretching to the moon
We grow up, we do

12/5/16: "Exhaustion"
Dizzy, tired, down
Trying to stay grounded, but
This is what it is

12/6/16: "Wondering"
Is there more than this?
Is there more than what we see?
In questions, answers?

12/7/16: "Seams"
Afraid to open
Anywhere where it matters
Seize hold and pull hard

12/8/16: "Because"
Because where's the fun
In perfection, he asks me
I have no answer

12/9/16: "Words"
A poem, haiku
Limerick rhyme schemes trying
To be something more

12/10/16: "You"
With music comes joy
With dance comes laughter and grace
With you-- everything

12/11/16: "Missing"
Addicted to a
Memory-- sepia, gold
Addicted to you

12/12/16: "Waves"
Will you miss the sound
Of the ocean? I look out
Watch them wave goodbye

12/13/16: "Whispers"
Sliding across the
Way, like whispers in the sea
Softly, sweetly so

12/14/16: "Fire"
Crimson and silver
Light up the night like fire
Blossoming colors

12/15/16: "Run"
Where you running to?
Or, better yet, the question:
Where you running from?

12/16/16: "Autumn"
Leaves falling gently
Spinning as they fly on down
Dancers in the air

12/17/16: "Stand"
When I see my fears
Demons lurking in my shadows
Be brave, you say, brave

12/18/16: "Unquiet"
An unquiet mind
Disasters unfolding and
Fires erupting

12/19/16: "Morning"
Wait for morning come
When the sun rises east, and
The birds gently call

12/20/16: "Journey"
I have no idea
Where I'm going, but come
Along for the ride?

12/21/16: "Breathe"
I'm holding my breath
Like I'm waiting for something
But waiting for what?

12/22/16: "Home"
Mountains standing tall
Waving from the horizon
To welcome me home

12/23/16: "Fever"
Head throbbing with pain
Heart pounding relentlessly
Slow, please, slow it down

12/24/16: "Memories"
Memories fade like
Autumn days, slipping swiftly
Deep into the night

12/25/16: "Christmas"
Merry, oh Merry
Christmas, and wishing to all
A Happy New Year

12/26/16: "Sad"
Sadness comes in waves
Gently at first, then as a
Flood, monstrosity

12/27/16: "Small"
It's the little things
That make you smile through the haze
Of unhappy thoughts

12/28/16: "Ash"
You are a poem
Patiently waiting to be
Born from the ashes

12/29/16: "Cities"
London, Paris, Rome
Cities, they come and they go
Dancing in the night

12/30/16: "Strong"
I can, and I will
I am stronger than the doubts
Of my enemies

12/31/16: "Happiness"
This is happiness
Memories in a bottle
Piled high with love