5 Ways to Support Your Creativity

The weight of political divisions, racial injustice, gender or ability discrimination, and natural disasters can be overwhelming. Particularly in 2020. Choose your meme, but many express dismay about the ongoing issues. And many creatives feel the impact of these important issues in a way that diminishes their creativity. Do you have a creative support network? Maybe it needs some reinforcement. Here are 5 ways to support your creativity with a support network.

A lit light bulb plugging itself is sort of what the 5 ways to support your creativity do for you.

Supportive Peeps


You need mentors. People who are more advanced in their craft, who can share their experiences. Mentors come in many forms. They can be one-on-one in person, but they can also be teachers in your creative classes, a memoir, or in how-to books. You may find a mentor in your genre related creative organization. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) has one such program.


Image of four writer friends, Peeps, Rob, Lynette, Bill, and Shandra

Peers who understand problems, frustration, and successes are vital. They be in person or classmates, critique partners, co-authors, or online friends. You can use twitter chat, forums, zoom, and writer groups online or on your favorite social media site. Make certain you choose peers who give more positive interactions than negative. And that you dish out more positive than negative.


Your mentees are important for two reasons. One, so you can give back. That effort not only helps fulfill a need we all have, it also helps you. It reminds you of how far you’ve come. You solidify techniques and skills when you try to explain or teach them. Where do you get mentees? You can teach a class, write a how-to article or book, engage with critique partners who aren’t at your skill level, or join a mentoring program like the one from SFWA.

Refill the Well

By the well, I mean you—spiritually, creatively, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Creativity needs a source from which to draw. Make certain you give yourself the opportunity to have those sources all the time. (Okay, within the 5 ways to support your creativity are an additional 5 ways.)


image of zen stack of flat rocks in the middle of a sand raked in a circle, a spiritual  refill is just one of the 5 ways to support your creativity

No, not religion. (Not that I’m saying religion is bad.) There are many interpretations of spirituality. Replenish your inner self. Use meditation, prayer, sit or walk in nature, read spiritual or religious guidance and inspiration, read poetry, or listen to music. You’ll know you’ve used the best source of spirituality for you when you feel rested and at peace afterwards.


There are many, many ways to refill your creativity. Visit museums (even online), read books you enjoy, learn or practice a different creative outlet (music, art, writing, gardening, etc), have an inspiration stash… Pinterest, Instagram, make a physical scrapbook, make a mood board, or change to a different media (if you use computer, try pen & paper, if you normally use pen & paper, try dictation, try crayons, if you normally do paper sculpture try clay, etc.) You may have other ways.


a black and white illustration of a man riding a bike--one of several ways to recharge physically listed in the 5 ways to support your creativity

There are several ways you should refill your physical well or wellness. Creatives rarely like this recommendation. But it’s important to get enough exercise and rest. If you are physically stronger, you will be more creative.

Set your workstation up for the best ergonomics. Mayo Clinic has some recommendations with illustrations of good office ergonomics.

Set a timer so you take regular breaks. Calisthenics can work, if that’s your thing. But exercise can also mean take your dog for a walk, dance, play tag with your kids, ride horses or motorbikes, or simple stretches in your office.


Bright green letters on dark green background states believe in what you do

Creatives are often emotional beings. Your emotional state affects your creativity. Prepare for those days when the emotional thunderclouds come. Create your own book of encouragements (book reviews, quotations that encourage you, copies or photos of your work, or letters you’ve written to encourage yourself.)

Friends who understand your creative work and are supportive are priceless.

Find examples that inspire you. A certain book writer used to keep a horribly written book on her desk because if that that author got published so could she.

Keep a journal of positives. Re-read them on those not-so-positive days.

Watch a short video for a refresher on being childlike.


Refueling yourself mentally is perhaps the easiest of these tasks. You can learn new skills, language, or information. If one part of your craft is suddenly difficult — take a fresh approach. For example, if you normally write on the computer, try dictation or handwriting or drawing. Read a how-to, practice single parts of your craft—nonstop writing, doodling, copying masters, flash fiction, making the same stroke, etc.

Creative Space

an artists desk crowded with pens and pencil and brushes and sculptures and books--a designated work space is one of 5 ways to support your creativity

Give yourself and your creativity the gift of a dedicated space. Use part of a room, a whole room, a closet, a she/he/they shed, or go to a favorite shop or library. Your space can be portable or temporary. The setting up of your space will be the wake up call your brain needs to be creative.

Not only do you need a regular place to work, you need the right tools. Pick out tools you need and that you’ll love to use. If you can’t afford the tool you want at the moment, make an inspiration board to keep you motivated and working toward acquiring that tool.

Layout your space in a way that’s not only ergonomic but pleasing. Surround yourself with what you love AND your best work. Inspire yourself. Again, it might not be affordable to do it all at once—but aim for it.

Minimize the Negative

 Minimize the things, events, or people that drain or kill your creative energy. If you must have contact, try to schedule contact with the negative for a time at the end of your creative day.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Here are six ways to set yourself up for success. Yes, there really are more than 5 ways to support your creativity.

1. Attitude—know yourself and have a positive attitude

2. Routine—schedule your creative time during the time of day you are most creative.

3. Comfort—Get a good chair meant for the job you’re doing.

4. Light—Have light for the job you need to do. Daylight bulbs and computer glasses may help.

5. Minimal distractions—This is highly individual. Do what will help you focus.

6. Music, nature sounds, or silence—Again, a highly individual choice. Try out different things. Journal how that music or sound or absence of sound worked for you. Finally, choose what works. Sometimes we have to choose second best, that’s okay. Choose whatever will support your creativity.

Support Your Creativity

There are endless ways to inspire yourself and support your creative endeavors. You may find there will be times when you need more or less support from any of the 5 ways to support your creativity mentioned here. Do you have a good support network for your creativity? If you use something not listed here, please share with us in the comments.

Your Grade at the End of the Day

We’ve all had those days when no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get anything done. If you had to grade your success that day, what would you think? What would be your grade at the end of the day?

Cartoon of a man showing thumbs down--one way you might grade yourself at the end of the day

Never Enough

 Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

-Henry Ford

Some days, particularly during the pandemic, you simply don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done. You’re exhausted and frustrated and defeated. It’s too much. If you had to grade your performance, your grade at the end of the day would be a failing one.

Sound familiar? Step back a moment. Let’s rethink that.

Perfect or Victim

Perhaps you’ve fallen victim to the perfect trap. Having high standards, lofty goals, and always wanting to do your best are splendid things. They can help you become and do the best you can. But perfectionism is a two-edge sword: a desire to do well and fear of the consequences of not doing well.

According to Psychology Today, critical perfectionism manifests itself as inwardly focused perfectionists and outwardly focused perfectionists. Inwardly focused perfectionist beat themselves up for every mistake or failure. Outwardly focused perfectionists bully or berate those around them for their mistakes or failures. The emotional fallout of both creates anger, depression, and victimizing.

Improve Your Grade

Despite what appears to be perfect lives on the screen, perfect is unattainable. So quit setting yourself (and others) up for failure.

Stop comparing yourself. Remember, you don’t see what goes on behind the photo on the screen. Although there are things you may have in common, no one else has your life. Not even your spouse or children.

Stop Bullying

The negative self-critical form of perfectionism hurts you. It allows you to self-bully. to beat up yourself for what you didn’t do. The negative outward perfectionism hurts you and others. You beat up on everyone because they can’t measure up. You live in disappointment and anger. Stop the bullying, self or others.

At the end of the day, list what you did. All the things you did. Compliment yourself on the things you accomplished—no matter how small.

Stop Self-sabotage 

Stop being unrealistic on what you can achieve. Give yourself permission to be realistic. 

Make a list of all the things that need you want to accomplish. But don’t try to get all of them done in one day. Decide which ones you will realistically have time to do.

Identify Success

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

Change your focus. What is really important to you? Is it money? Your to-do lists? Or your relationship? Grade yourself on those things.

What two or three things accomplishedwould be success at the end of your day? Celebrate those successes! Yes, even celebrate that you got up and got through the day.

Embrace Failure

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

-Michael Jordan

Sometimes you’ll fail. It might be out of your control: you’re not feeling well, your child/spouse/parent is ill, or a pandemic comes along and changes your life. Be patient with yourself and others. Some skills, some tasks take time. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. You’ll fail. And like Michael Jordan, that’s why you’ll succeed. 

Be Kind to Yourself

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

-Alice Walker

Most especially, be kind to yourself and those around you. You have the power to see yourself as successful, no matter how many failures or mistakes you make.

drawing of a paper and pen, paper has an A+ grade

So make your grade at the end of the day the one you deserve. Give yourself an A for all you do.

What Flavor of Success Do You Want

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines success as “favorable or desired outcome.” That’s like trying to eat a large designer cake in one bite. There are as many interpretations of that as there are people on the planet. And there are traps within personal definitions of success—traps where you give the responsibility away to others. As a result, it’s hard to pin down what success means to you. If you don’t define success for yourself in a realistic way, you may inadvertently say no to success. Think of success in simpler terms. What flavor of success do you want?

Photo of a designer cake with flowers, butterflies, and bows. Define what flavor of success you want for each job.

What does it look like? How do you measure success? Is success a book published, a book sold, a certain number of books sold, a certain amount of money earned? All the usual definitions may leave you unsatisfied. Why? Because most of those things are not in your control.

What You Can’t Control

You can’t control readers Not how many you get nor how they respond to your book. Even when you do mega-research on your genre, you have no control over a single reader. 

You can’t control sales. Certain marketing maneuvers will increase the possibility of sales, but you cannot control the number of sales you get in a day, a week, or a lifetime.

Winning awards or gaining best seller stickers aren’t in your control (or you shouldn’t be able to control those things.)

What You Control

As a writer, you can control how much time you dedicate to learning and plying your craft. You can control the number of words you write, the skill with which you write, and how you publish a book. (Fortunately, there are more options for publishing your book today than ever before.)

You can even control (within the limits of your fiscal abilities) how much advertising you do.

Best of all, you control your definition of success.

How Do You Define Success?

Your definition depends upon why you write. And your why won’t be the reason any other writer writes.

Joanna Penn, of the Creative Penn fame, has an excellent blog post and podcast on what makes a good definition.

Better yet, is the recent post on SFWA’s website, Story Cake by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley. In her post she admits to having different definitions of success for different pieces of writing. She compares the success of a story (or novel) to the success of baking a cake. That cake brings delight and enjoyment to a small group of family and friends.

Thing of your success in terms of a slice of cake--who will enjoy it. what flavor of success do you or they want?

Give Yourself Permission

Allow yourself to enjoy small successes–no matter what “job” you’re doing. Give yourself permission to celebrate the mixing of the ingredients, the baking, the icing and decoration, and in delivering the confection to a single person. Take pleasure in that smile from the person who ate a slice of your strawberry cake. 

Think about each story or job as a different recipe. What flavor of success do you want for that story, that job? Give yourself permission to enjoy all the flavors of success.

Who Does Your Greatest Success Look Like?

Who does your greatest success look like? Is it someone who has accomplished things, fame, made lots of money? Or are there other criteria you use to measure success?

It’s good to have goals for a day, a week, a month but what are your goals for your lifetime? Do you know who you want to be? 

If you read my post Inspiration on Location you know I discovered a unique institution. I researched the State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded near Lynchburg, Virginia. Synchronicity struck again. First, I learned about Carrie Buck (more on her later). Then I learned about the history of eugenics in the United States of America. Yes, you read that right. Eugenics, here. During my research, I learned about Better Baby contests. The competitions were part of a movement ’scientific motherhood’ to reduce infant mortality. 

This is the question I’ve pondered recently. During my reflections, I decided to look at female authors who have attained a level of success. I started with the Best Novelists of All Time on Ranker then went to the Best Selling Fiction Authors list on Wikipedia.

Best Female Novelists of All Time (adapted from Ranker)

  1. Virginia Wolfe, an English writer 
  2. Agatha Christie, DBE, an English novelist, short story writer, and playwright
  3. Jane Austen, an English novelist 
  4. George Eliot,  an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator
  5. Mary Shelley, an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer
  6. Charlotte Brontë, an English novelist and poet
  7. Flannery O’Connor, an American writer and essayist
  8. Daphne du Maurier, DBE, an English author and playwright
  9. J. K. Rowling, OBE FRSL, a British novelist
  10. Emily Brontë, an English novelist and poet 
  11. Margaret Atwood, CC OOnt FRSC is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature
  12. Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights
  13. Margaret Mitchell, an American author and journalist
  14. Shirley Jackson, an American author
  15. Willa Cather, an American author
  16. Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer
  17. Toni Morrison, an American novelist, editor, and professor and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature
  18. Anne Brontë, an English novelist and poet
  19. Doris Lessing, a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
  20. Alice Munro, a Canadian author
  21. S. E. Hinton, an American writer winner of the inaugural Margaret Edwards Award
  22. Elizabeth Gaskell, a British novelist and short story writer
  23. Marguerite Yourcenar, a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist and winner of the Prix Femina and the Erasmus Prize
  24. Lois Lowry, an Newbery Medal award winning American writer
  25. Patricia Highsmith, an American novelist and short story writer
  26. Elizabeth Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer
  27. Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, a 19th-century German poet, author, and composer
  28. Anne Tyler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and literary critic
  29. Dodie Smith, an English novelist and playwright
  30. E. Annie Proulx, an American journalist and author
  31. Diana Gabaldon, an American author
  32. Suzanne Collins, an American television writer and novelist
  33. Shirley Hazzard, an Australian author of fiction and non-fiction
  34. Ayn Rand, a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter
  35. Martina Cole, a British crime writer, businesswoman and occasional television presenter
  36. Elizabeth von Arnim, an Australian-born British novelist
  37. Karin Boye, a Swedish poet and novelist
  38. Linda Lael Miller, an American author of contemporary and historical romance novels
  39. Debra Webb, an American author of romantic suspense novels

Best Selling Female Authors (by # books sold)

  1. Agatha Christie
  2. Barbara Cartland
  3. Danielle Steel
  4. Enid Blyton
  5. J. K. Rowling
  6. Corín Tellado
  7. Jackie Collins
  8. Nora Roberts
  9. Janet Dailey
  10. Stan and Jan Berenstain
  11. Rumiko Takahashi
  12. Ann M. Martin
  13. Beatrix Potter
  14. Astrid Lindgren
  15. Debbie Macomber
  16. EL James
  17. Catherine Cookson
  18. Stephenie Meyer
  19. Anne Rice
  20. Judith Krantz
  21. Eleanor Hibbert
  22. Denise Robins
  23. Anne Golon
  24. Mary Higgins Clark
  25. Penny Jordan
  26. Patricia Cornwell

Who Does Your Greatest Success Look Like?

Do you have a success hero? Over the next few posts, I’ll explore the successes of these authors and those of the top science fiction and fantasy authors. We’ll discuss lessons we can take from them. Do any of these authors look like your greatest success hero? Are there women in other fields you consider your success hero?

A Very Small Heart with a Lot of Gratitude

It’s a holiday week here in the U.S. Thanksgiving is coming! Some Americans believe Thanksgiving is celebrated to remember the Pilgrims or Plymouth Rock, or simply to stuff a turkey and oneself. Being small, being human and getting caught up in things we think we should do, we often forget what’s important. Gratitude is what it’s all about.

What Thanksgiving is About

Thanksgiving isn’t about Pilgrims, or a rock, or a turkey.  It’s not just about Americans.  In Korea, the harvest and thanksgiving celebration, Ch’usok, is in October. It’s called Thai Pongal in India, and it’s the Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria. Where ever you are, whenever and however you celebrate, be glad that this day (or one like it) comes around every year. It’s a reminder to give thanks, to enrich your life with gratitude.

How can we look at our world and not see miracles?

Sunset with gratitude quote by Albert Einstein

How can we look at each other and not see that at heart we’re the same?
Photo of child laughing, with quote Be grateful for those who make you happy from Proust

How can we be grateful for all the misery and strife in the world?

I hope and pray that peace and plenty prevail, but in the meantime, here’s a bit of advice from someone who saw plenty of strife in her short lifetime:

Quote from Anne Frank about the beauty that remains over a photo of a peace rose

How can we forget what true success is?
Photo of mountain peek with Danny Thomas quote

(Photo credits: sunset by Matthew Stinar; child laughing by cheriejoyful; peace rose by Vicky TH; Mt Holdsworth by Brenda Anderson)

Someone Who Does for Others

I’d like to introduce you to someone who lives by this philosophy, Louise Behiel. By her own description, Louise is ‘busier than a one-handed wallpaper hanger.” She is the manager of Interpretation and Translation for the Health Authority in Alberta, Canada, has a private practice as a psychotherapist, is a grandmother, mother, and writes romance novels. Read about how she juggles these parts of her life here.  Whew!  Just thinking about all she does exhausts me!  Yet, with all she has to do, Louise is one of my most constant supporters, and I know she takes the time out of her very busy schedule to support many others. She gives of herself, her time. There is no more precious gift. Thank you, Louise. To help me thank her, please join the conversation on her blog, you won’t regret it.  And read her novels, Family Ties, and Family Lies.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart,it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Louise isn’t the only person whose support has meant so much to me. My cup overflows with gratitude to my family, my friends, and each and every one of you who read this blog. I deeply grateful that you feel the words I write are worth your most precious gift to me, your time.  Thank you.

If your heart is full, please share a moment of gratitude in the comments below.  

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!