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Veronica Varlow
  -  How To Tuesdays   -  The Secret Six Tips on How To Get Your Creative Mojo Rising

The snow is dusting the streets of Brooklyn…..

Photo by Brooklyn Prints

Photo by Brooklyn Prints

I have been wearing pants and boots for two weeks straight.

And I’m starting to feel like a trapped flower below ground that is just trying to push her way through to Springtime.

Scratching and clawing.

It is so easy to get in that stuck spot…especially creatively.

No matter what your creative drug of choice is:  Music, Writing, Dancing, Art, Storytelling, Performing – in the warmth of this coffeehouse, I’ve cooked up six tips to get that creative spark sizzling.

1.  Let Yourself Wander.  Mix it up.  Get out.  Adventure.  Whether you end up waking up in a seaside motel 3 hours from home or you just move into the next room to work – changing your surroundings will give you a dose of a much needed change in perspective.

When you find yourself in doubt walking through the Pits of Self Loathing and the Land of Stuck – throw your shoes on and walk around the block.  I just read a chapter in Nikki Sixx’s book, where he’s in the middle of a depressed day, but makes himself get out of his hotel room and there in the elevator is a button that sparks his creativity to run back to his room and write an entire song.   Look for the signs.

The elevator button that inspired a song.

The elevator button that inspired a song.

2. Purge the Demons. We’ve all got noise in our heads. Wild thoughts that are occupying valuable space in our brains. Things that can be turned into art.

Years ago, Julia Cameron suggested in The Artist’s Way, a practice called “Morning Pages” – where you roll out of bed and write three pages. Even if you write “I have no idea what to write” over and over. It might start that way, but somewhere in the mix, you discover the gold buried under your subconscious.  But here’s the problem, I’d keep that up for about a week and be really good about it, and then life would get in the way and I’d stop.

Enter 750 Words – a little site that got me back into writing 2 years ago. Basically 3 pages of writing equals 750 words. You log in and the bottom right hand corner keeps your word count, and once you’ve finished your 750 words for the day – there’s this cool little statistics chart that shows your mindset for the day, your frequently used words, what the weather was that day, your total count… it’s pretty badass. And you earn badges for how many days you did in a row…. I just got back on it and here’s my cute badges:
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I’m a show off.

3.  Power in Numbers.  You know that old saying, “Two heads are better than one?”  Yep.  Completely true.  There is almost nothing that beats the creative high of a full-on brain storm.  That moment when brilliant ideas are flowing, that moment the old blues men call “In the Pocket.”  I’ve had a bunch of great brain-storming moments with friends lately – with Emilie in the back lounge of the bus talking until 6am about her screenplay ideas, with Kim talking about Kickstarting ideas for Revolver, with Kitty talking about our workshop this weekend, with Contessa bouncing ideas off each other for writing,  and with Gala brainstorming about blogs and books.  This is us in the snow yesterday:

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Every single one of those brain storming sessions with my friends helped me discover something new. Sometimes things can get so jumbled and a good friend can give you new eyes and perspective to stir up so many gorgeous possibilities!

4.  Press Play.  Build your own soundtrack around your art.   Let the music move your mood.  When I’m creating new burlesque numbers or trying to work in new moves, I love to put on a playlist of old dirty blues, it sets that slow and sultry mood and the dance practically creates itself.  The other night, I lit candles all over the apartment and took Contessa’s advice in her Wanderlust Blog about listening to international music stations.  I adore the sound of French – so I rocked it out to this station for awhile and then I also hit this station as it was playing French blues for a little while and then French opera.  It changed the mood of the apartment and also my writing.

I also adore Pandora.  My favorite channel is “Bessie Smith”.  All of a sudden, you’ll transported to the scratchy record sounds of the late 1920s with soul.  Voices of ghosts from almost 100 years ago will come out of the speakers to bring your creative mindset to a whole other level!  It’s a mood.  Right now, I’m listening to Iggy Pop’s Search and Destroy because I’ve got to hustle with this post if I’m going to get this up and get to the dentist on time.  Iggy Pop is making me type with a fury this afternoon!

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5.  Dress the Part.  Look, People.  I’ve been playing dress-up since I was old enough to stand on my own.  I was pulling on my Mom’s white go-go boots and stomping around the house with flair at 5.  It’s no secret that I love playing with clothes and accessories to create a mood or a character.  I do it almost every night on stage.  So why not in everyday life?

Three nights ago, I felt stuck.  I’ve been writing like a madman for my book proposal due date of April 10th.  And I needed some juice in my words.  Some spice in my language.  I decided to hit a new local up-all-night coffeehouse and I dressed the part – of a writer, of course.

In my fantasy world, what do I look like as a writer?  I pulled on a classic black beret that would have made Dorothy Parker drool, my faux leather pants, my black fitted button down shirt and a tie.  I went crazy on my smudgy black eyeliner because this writer is moody, hon-nay.   I set up my journal and my laptop and ordered a double latte with extra nutmeg.  Boom!  Me pretending to play “writer” for the night got me into a different creative space – just by changing my clothes a bit and using imagination like when I was 5.  I was outlining my chapters and naming them when the girl sitting next to me at the bar, peered over my shoulder and said, “Oh, you’re working on a book?”

“Yep,” I answered.  “I’m a writer.”

And I meant it. 

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5.  Call on the Muses.  What would Joan Jett do?  When all else fails – call on your Circle of Seven. Now that’s a badass gang of inspiration for a lifetime!

Know that right now – at this very moment, there’s millions of us out there on the creativity roller coaster – looking for inspiration, struggling, pushing through and over-coming, catching a high of good ideas, feeling a rush of genius…just imagine us all out there together somehow…connected in this wild adventure of a creative life.

I’m here. Even if it’s just me and you.

Imagine me taking up a corner spot on the bar at Starbucks, listening to Iggy Pop’s Search and Destroy on repeat blaring through my earbuds, madly typing this entry to communicate with you like I promised.

And it feels so good.

Even if I am 15 minutes late to my dentist…..

Live wild, you creative fucking superstar. See you Thursday.

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