Never Done THIS Before - Challenge Update

You might remember in March when I started talking about stretching my creativity by doing things that took me away from my normal activities and outside my comfort zone. I called this my “Never done THIS before” challenge and asked you all to join me. A few of you replied that you were going to try to put some new things into your schedule, and I promised to check back in to let you know how I was doing.

What kicked off this thinking for me was attending a modern dance show at Winona State University in February. I was intrigued by the collaboration of arts and the inspiration we can get for our own creativite endeavors. This led me to the creation of the NDTB-Challenge that I presented in here

In March, I took a different kind of class called Museum as Muse at the Chazen Museum of Art on the UW-Madison campus. It was meant to kick-start your writing creativity in a whole new way. I know that what I learned in this class might help all writers. 

April was a biggie! Along with my husband, I traveled to a part of Spain I've never visited before, Andalusia. I really focused on using my Spanish exclusively on the entire trip and fared quite well. I even managed to have an argument with a waiter in Spanish, so I know I am improving. (LOL) You can read all about that experience here

But in May and June I felt creative boosts were a little elusive for me. I was doing a ton of stuff—I just wasn’t going out of my way to find new creative opportunities. What I didn’t realize (until I made this list) was that I was fueling my creativity the WHOLE time. See if you agree.

Here’s what I was doing for the past few weeks:

  1. My latest novel Circle of Nine: Sacred Treasures was the Runner Up in the Young Adult category for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and also short listed for the grand prize. So YAY!
  2. I outlined (gasp!) the next installment of my middle-grade adventure series—shunning my ‘panster’ ways. This is already paying off as I find my writing path more clearly defined. I might turn into a firm believer of outlining . . . we’ll see.
  3. I was integrally involved in three different nonprofit events/efforts that included a donation drive for an orphanage in Guatemala and the resulting shipping container packing, an appraisal day fundraiser for our local historical society, and handling some of the logistics and all of the publicity for our local children’s theatre production of Peter Pan. PHEW! I’ve done things like this in the past—just not three at once before!
  4. I spent time developing my Lost Lake Press author-assistance business by reconfiguring my Pinterest boards and learning how to effectively write the alternate image text on my blogs images to make the Pinterest links more easily searchable. (This also makes me realize there’s a whole host of things to learn about social media and so many resources to help guide you. If you’re interested in configuring your Pinterest page to better suit your needs, just let me know. I can help!)
  5. I created a School & Library Visit Flyer and reached out to public librarians in Wisconsin offering my services as a speaker. . . and booked two events already!
  6. And, I finally taught myself how to create affiliate links for my books by becoming an Amazon Partner . . . Yes, I know I’m late to the game in the affiliate link business, but better late than never, right?? (I’m going to write more on this topic in my month-end Writers’ Forum. If you’re not subscribed to get that, you can do so here.)

All of these things I had NEVER done before . . . but they weren’t tagged as part of my challenge in advance. Of course, I couldn’t KNOW that I was going to win a book award. Writing an outline was a tactical decision for approaching my next project rather than a “let’s try something new” moment. I didn’t set out to try to handle three nonprofit projects at once, they all landed in the same month rather accidentally and I’d already committed to assisting with them all. I have known for months that I needed to market my workshops and author talks to libraries, but I finally got off my butt and did it with good initial results. And finally, I am almost always working to learn more about the ins and outs of social media and indie publishing tools—so while helpful, these aren’t particularly earth-shattering new experiences.

New Experiences (Big or Small) Can Fuel Your Creativity BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER . . . THESE ALL WERE NEW EXPERIENCES! I don’t want you to only focus on big things to help fuel creativity. Big events like travel and conferences cannot happen every single month. My point all along was to step out of your comfort zone in whatever way you can.

SMALL THINGS MATTER AND CAN STRETCH YOUR CREATIVITY JUST AS MUCH ! And what seems like a big concept can be made to fit your resources and schedule. For instance, here's something I want to share that you might adapt for yourself! Fellow writer Jess Witkins writes about how she fueled her creativity in a new way while at the week-long Write by the Lake workshop by adapting her stories to different genres. Don’t miss her excellent post!

What activities do I have planned for the rest of the summer that I’ve never done before?

I am designing costumes to wear to the Irish Fests I’ll be attending in August . . . check out my event calendar for specifics. (That is most definitely stepping out of my comfort zone, but I decided to have some fun with my attire.) I might even be making some jewelry as a bonus for those who buy a complete set of my books at these events. As I am not particularly crafty—we’ll see how big of a challenge this might be for me.

I am committed to completing my work-in-progress by the end of the summer . . . whether that means Labor Day or the end of real summer later in September remains up in the air. LOL This is fast writing for me and I typically am not able to do this. We’ll see if I can stick to my ambitious writing schedule.

I am entertaining the idea of some changes/additions to aid the marketing for a completed middle-grade novel. (This may impact the ambitious writing schedule for my WIP.)

I am pursuing some nonfiction companion projects for my middle-grade adventure series. (This is a big leap for this fiction girl!)

And just for fun—I might take on an art project or two at our local Workshop that holds cool classes like cement leaf casting. 

What “Never Did THIS Before” activities might you be planning for July and August?

Don’t be shy—you just might inspire someone else!

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