Creativity When It Hurts

I woke up last Monday morning and thought I was going to pass out right there.  Oh lord… I am so not getting out of bed this morning!  

I’d managed to miss the worst of the flu epidemic that had raced through LA – but whatever I’d caught was clearly not going to play nice with me.  The war was on. 

Ugh.  Can I please just crawl back in bed, only to emerge when I want to have a chicken soup and Gilmore Girls marathon for the day?  

Sadly, that’s not the way the world works. 

This is what my desk looked like for 4 days:

So how can you be creative when it hurts? 

As much as we artists would love to live in a world where creativity just falls from the heavens at random intervals, the truth is sometimes creativity is on a schedule.  I have deadlines to hit. 

Sometimes – you gotta just suck it up and keep going.  With a full year’s supply of cough drops and Pressed Juice.  (Have I talked about Pressed yet?  It’s the world’s most pricey juice, but I am in love.  Grapefruit mint?  Spiced almond milk?  Come on now!  I need to invest in a juicer.  But that’s another blog for another time. Where was I?) 

One of the many secrets of creativity is that it comes in bursts.  

I’ve woken up  having dreamed my next pilot teaser.  My record for first draft of a pilot is 7 hours.  The story was just there.  It ended up being one of two pilots that got me signed with my manager.  YES!  I completely live for those moments!  But you know what?   Those are two of a handful of times that has happened to me.  Ever.  

The rest of the time, creativity is work.

I read, absorb, imagine, dream.  For hours and hours and hours.  Sometimes I love it.  Sometimes I want to throw my computer out a window.  I can work for an entire day and come up with nothing.  I can work for an hour, smooshed in between meetings, and come up with an entire storyline that gets written in the next two days.   

As a creative artist – everything you do informs everything you write.  You just have to keep doing it, day in and day out.  I always joke that I need to write all the bad stuff first – just as a way of getting it all on the page so I can get to the good stuff I’m going to keep. 

Creativity is an investment.  

I don’t always want to spend a Saturday sitting at the coffee shop working through yet another script.  Sometimes I want to just go to the beach with friends instead!  But the truth is – if I don’t practice good creativity habits now, I will totally break down later.  But a couple hours traded in for an awesome idea or line or future script idea?  Totally worth it. 

And at the end of the day – I love writing so very much that I can’t imagine doing anything else.  It’s not always easy or fun.  But it’s my heart and the thing that I love to do most of all.  

So – what am I trying to say? 

I think – at the end of the day – this is just a reminder to all you creative types out there.  Keep going.  Keep writing and singing and acting and dreaming.  Invest in your art. Even when you’re sick, even when it hurts, even when you’ve barely slept for a week because you’re staying up all night to get through everything. 

Do it.  

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Holly Lovell

My friend Holly released her EP yesterday!  

Yeah, she’s kind of amazing.  🙂  

It’s so fun to see everything come back around full circle like this.  I knew Holly through her parents – the amazing Tim & Donna – who were a big part of my life when I was growing up and (very slowly) coming into my own in those super awkward teen years, running around doing my own music and being a part of 13th Hour.  

And now, I’ve listened to Holly’s music from afar for the past few years (seriously, Holly would post a new concert clip on YouTube and my Facebook feed would be: Twelve friends have posted this video in the last hour… Thirteen… Fourteen...)   We connected in Denver over Christmas, and it’s always so great to have fellow artists and creative types reminding you that you’re not alone in all of the craziness… You totally help push each other forward.  (This also reminds me!  I need to tell you about the book The Crowd, The Critic and The Muse… another blog for another time…) 

And now I can share Holly’s music with you!   Yay!  

For everything – you can check it out here ——>  Holly Lovell

xo

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Not Alone in LA


I’ll say it. Living in Los Angeles has a reputation for being really difficult.  Some people think LA and imagine a city where you’re surrounded by a bunch of mean girls who are out to end you and steal all your friends and dates and drinks.  And their shoes are always going to be better.  Always.  (The part about the shoes may be true.)

And some people – going off of that whole idea – look at me like I’m a bonkers crazy girl.  How on earth can you live in a city like that? 


This is part of why:

lavendar light

Boom.  Unfiltered and everything.  That’s a point and snap photo of my beautiful city in the lavender light of sunset.

That is why I live here. 

For starters, anyway. 75* in February?  Come on! What’s not to love?

See, it turns out LA isn’t always that kind of evil backstabby sort of city.  But it totally depends on you.

When you’re kind and generous and creative and awesome, you’re going to attract other people who are kind and generous and creative and awesome.  You attract the same kind of vibes you put out, if that makes sense.   It’s true that not everyone is shiny and brilliant and lovely all the time.

But you kill those suckers with kindness. 

It’s just a good thing to do.  But it also saves your mental and emotional capacity for things you actually want to be talking about  and spending your time on.  And would you rather be known as the person who fought back and was equally as nasty?  Or would you rather be the person who gets the reputation for being unfailingly kind?  (Ps – “kind” does not equal “doormat”.  Just saying.)

And seriously – you just have to get over yourself.  Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking about you.  People are people – and no one can survive on their own.  See, whether or not they’d actually admit it – people really do want friends.  They want community.  They want a safe space where they can be themselves and not get destroyed for it.

We all want to know that we’re not alone. 

The other morning – I was out running.  It was super early and COLD.  (38* actually.  That’s like Los Angeles’ version of subzero.  I felt like I should be all bundled up in an Eskimo suit to go running.  As a side note, I’ve totally lost my Colorado girl edge.)   Now, I’m just getting into running, and everyone else in my neighborhood who runs is totally awesome at it.  These are the people who take off for their “morning jog” at a faster clip than I could even sprint.  I watch them running and picture them dashing through a ‘short run’ of 20 miles while I’m praying I can make it to 3.  Sigh. They’re awesome.

But I was running and being all super-judgy towards my own lack of running skills.  And another runner coming the other way gave me a wave and a head nod.  Hello, fellow runner. 

And suddenly, I felt awesome.  Like I had been let into this secret society of runners. Like  I had my member card all the sudden.  Like I was now allowed to run alongside.  That’s Lynn. She’s one of ours. 

That’s the kind of city I live in.  That’s the kind of people I’m surrounded by.  Those are the people I want in my life.  The people I need in my life. 


It’s true that LA can be an ugly place.  I watch it unfold every day.  But for those of you who are wondering – we’re just people here too. We live our lives and go to work and the grocery store.  We need other people.

So – my fellow LA people:  you’re not alone.  We’re all out here, wanting connection just as much as you do.

Say hello. 

I promise I’ll say hello right back. 

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Death to Perfectionism

Some thoughts I’ve been pondering lately… and I just wanted to share.

Like so many other things in life, art is a total high-wire act.

It’s this crazy mix of trying to find new and fresh ways into these absolutely universal stories of love, pain, life, death, healing and utter brokenness. And you have to tell stories in a way that people connect with.  New and comfortable, new then comfortable.  You have to leap into that newness and not be afraid to make mistakes.  

Death to perfectionism! 

See, perfectionism tends to be the death of a writer… I have to be able to write 10 crappy versions of something before I get to something I really want to share.  I have to trust that today is not forever, and that this draft doesn’t always have to be permanent.  I will always have things to learn.  My words can always be improved.

That’s just part of the adventure.   

And I am a hardcore perfectionist.  

Nobody wants to be friends with someone who’s a perfectionist all the time. Nobody wants to create with someone who believes to the very core of their soul that they are 100% right all the time. That means there is no room for error or change or mistakes. And if you think you’re perfect, you’re probably never going to accept imperfections in other people either.

Hello, worst friend ever.

But being a writer requires you to believe in the words you’re saying and the stories you’re telling, and being willing to fight for them to the ends of the earth. You have to be confident and concrete in every thing you put to paper.

This is the story I’m trying to tell. This is the heart behind my words. This is the final word, at least in this moment.

And yet, you have to be willing to toss it all out at a moment’s notice. You have to believe that something else you could come up with tomorrow might be better than today. It means living on a razor’s edge of “I am not perfect. My words are not perfect” and being willing to fully and completely admit that to everyone you come in contact with.

But on the other awesome side – you get to live in a world where tomorrow’s words will be better. You’ll learn more, live more, experience more – and tomorrow, you’ll wake up a better artist.

Perfectionism will kill that awesome side of the razor’s edge.

If you’re already perfect, what does tomorrow bring?

I am a perfectionist to the extreme. I’m a firstborn with a wild aversion to ever making mistakes. What if I screw something up and that single mistake ends up becoming the only thing people remember about me? I shudder to think.

But my life is so so much better when I stare down this battle head on. I’m a young writer, not even 10 years out of high school. I have so much to learn every single day. But life seems more doable when I admit that I can’t do it all. The projects I’m writing today are light years better than what I was writing 5 years ago. Maybe in another 5 years, my stories will be even better!j

And in the meantime, I’m growing as a writer and artist, (hopefully) becoming a better one every day.  

And I get to have adventures, living with amazingly talented people who inspire me and push me forward.  I am seriously the luckiest girl in the world.  But it’s only when I admit I don’t know it all that I can actually learn anything from these brilliant artists who surround me. 

Death to perfectionism.  It will be the end of us all! 

Take risks… be alive and crazy… dream bigger.  

I know I’m certainly trying. 

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Matthew Mayfield

I haven’t done this in a while, but I thought I’d share a song I’m completely obsessed with.  

This is Matthew Mayfield’s “Take What I Can Get,” and I seriously can’t stop listening. 

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Inauguration Day 2013!

                            Inauguration 2013!

The country and the world stopped this morning to watch the Inauguration. 

And regardless of what side of the aisle you fall on – left, right, middle, nowhere – I still think it’s amazing to live in a country like this one.  Freedom has not been free, and I’m spending a lot of time today thinking about that and being ever so grateful for it.  

The country’s in a hell of a mess right now, but just for today… I love getting to focus on the good while reminding ourselves that today is not forever. Maybe we can actually make a difference.  It’s going to be a long, slow climb uphill… 

But the journey will be ever so worth it. 

Happy Inauguration Day, sweet friends!  

xo

Lynn 

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Go Right. And Left At the Same Time.

So. One of two things is happening here.  Either I’ve been pondering this whole idea of a set purpose in my life and so I naturally notice quotes and lyrics that have to do with this,  or God and the universe are trying to tell me something… 

Very, very loudly.  

I’m a writer, a creative professional of sorts.  And stories, by their very nature are slippery and easily changeable, especially in the early drafts when you’re trying to nail this nebulous thing of yours down on paper.  Maybe it’s going to be good, maybe it’s going to be the worst thing you’ve ever written.  But the point is that you can’t actually know until you sit down to write it. 

It’s the adventure and the terror of writing – to know where you’re going, with singular focus and determination,  but be flexible about getting there.  The road may lead away from where you originally thought it might go. And you just follow along. 

Yeah, I know that totally sounds like I’m saying Go right. And left at the same time.

Welcome to humanity.

But… I thought I’d share wise words from two very different sources and see what you think: 

‎”Continually restate to yourself what the purpose of your life is.”

-Oswald Chambers

and…

But, oh Lord, we pay the price

With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice

Ah yeah, you pay your fare

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

– George Harrison

image

imageLife. Stories.  It’s all the same thing, really.  

If you don’t have a really solid core, you’re going to get swamped by life and immediately overwhelmed.  And then your life is going to be a giant mess of too many choices and not nearly enough direction or action. The world’s full of a million choices a day.  Regular Coca-Cola?  Diet? Cherry Coke Zero? (Death soda, just my thoughts.)  What’s my major going to be?  Which job to take?  Grad school? Get married?  Where should we live? How many kids?  What’s my career going to look like?  What should I have for dinner? 

What’s going to be important for me? 

It’s kind of ridiculous that we live in a world where the sheer number of choices could doom us to immobility if we let them.  I’ve definitely been there before. 

But you know what?  Writing brings the exact same problem to light.

Late last year, I wrote a feature script (L’Enchanteur!  You know you’re interested!)  And I thought it was going to be a certain kind of story.  A boy meets girl and they fall in love sort of story.  But the deeper I got into the story, the more I had to realize – Maybe that girl isn’t going to fall in love with that boy.  Maybe he’s going to make stupid decisions or she’s going to meet someone else.  And, even though it felt like cutting off my own arm, I had to let go of where I thought the story was going to go.  

But in that case, the point I was trying to get across wasn’t revealed through the exact storyline I was telling.  I was writing a vast world that could get boiled down to a single sentence – True sacrificial love brings life.  That idea never wavered.  But maybe my girl didn’t end up with the boy.  Maybe the true story came when the boy chooses to go a different way. 

I never would have written it like that in a million years.  But there it was.  I went left and right at the same time.  

But if I would have lost that core idea – Sacrificial love brings life – I would have lost my story completely.  It would have turned into something else I didn’t intend to write – and not in a good way.  The heart and passion behind the story would have faltered and fallen apart in that ugly way that haunts the dreams of storytellers.  

It would have become a lie.  

Life is kind of like that.  

People look at me like I’m a bit crazy.  You work how many hours a day???  You do what for a living?   I’ve made a lot of life decisions that don’t always make a lot of sense from the outset.  I’ve gone on wild adventures in my career – in traveling – with friends. (My friends are my heroes, by the way!)  I’ve interviewed for jobs and started them the next day.  Right now I’m at the beginning of a show – so I know what my daily life will look like through September.  But beyond that?  It’s a huge mystery.  To someone else – my life could look like the most unplanned, crazy thing anyone could possibly do.  (And there’s a very strong argument to be made that my life is exactly that.)  

But at the end of the day, every choice I make comes out of an unshakeable core place:  

I love Luke.  I am created to tell stories.  I am created to sing. With everyone I am lucky enough to meet and live my life with, I hope my life reflects that there is hope and life and a safe place for them.  Everyone is welcome in my living room.  

I don’t need to know more beyond that.  It makes my life a beautiful adventure I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  I’m still figuring it out every day as I go along.  Sometimes I make stupid choices that don’t line up with my core.  (If you’ve somehow read my blog and think I have it all figured out… um, let me just fix that accidental impression.  I don’t.)

Figure out your center, unshakeable heart’s core.  In life and in your art.  Find people in your life who are going to love you and walk with you and remind you every single day of your core – and hold you to it. 

                                                                image

Look at your core heart as something you carry with you, clasped in your hand at every turn.  You carry it along with you. 

And then it doesn’t really matter if you go left or right, does it?   

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A New Year’s Walk into Adventure…

colorado cold

Let’s just talk for a minute about how cold 17 degrees is.  

Now, I know there are some of you reading who are thinking 17 degrees?  That’s nothing!  Let me really tell you just how much I’d love for it to be 17 degrees outside, because right now I’m staring at a thermometer that’s reading -20.  17 degrees is positively balmy.

True.  

New Year’s Day, I went for a walk when it was 17 degrees outside, and it was completely lovely!  

My mom thought I was completely insane, actually.  Before I left, she was following me around her house in that awesome mom-way of hers.  Do you need another coat?  Are you sure I can’t drive you to breakfast?  I have a hat. Would you like gloves?  My mom is the best. 

I definitely took the gloves and promised to wear my scarves so my lungs didn’t freeze. (Which they can, apparently. Who knew?)  

But it was cold and crisp, and the air was so still.  

I grew up right there.  I’ve driven down that road thousands of times.  But I’d never seen it like that before.

 It was a brand new thing. 

Every year, I have a word for the year.  2012 was a year of LIFE.  2013 is the year of ADVENTURE.  I have no idea what’s coming around the corner, but I think this is going to be the year where everything changes.  

I want to have beautiful and crazy adventures.  Big ones.  Tiny ones. Writing new stories. Traveling to new countries.  A walk down a childhood road.  Learning to get over myself and be better at loving the amazing people around me. 

2013. 

What does your year look like?  What are your hopes and dreams and plans?  What adventures are you going to have?  I really want to know!  

Because we’re all headed off into a new year…

Somewhere we’ve never, ever been… 

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Halfway Out of the Dark — Merry Christmas, Sweet Friends!

There’s something in the air this time of year.  

Twinkly lights edging every window, a puff of cold air whispering Hope and Go get some hot chocolate, rather than the horrific Why on God’s green earth is it this freaking cold? that somehow visits in January and February.

I love that every year ends with celebrations.

christmas flowers

Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve. Sometimes we’re celebrating a really beautiful time.  It turns out the Mayans were wrong, and 2012 was actually the best year we’ve ever had!   Other times we’re celebrating the end of a year from hell, and thank God it’s over. 2013 is going to be better.  It has to be.  There’s nowhere to go but up. 

And every year begins with a celebration.  2013 arrives, and the ball in New York City drops in perfect time with the atomic clock, and the world celebrates the beginning of a new year.  A fresh start.  A chance to begin again, a chance to undo some of last year’s damage, a chance to step into something new and beautiful.  christmas!

Winter covers over both the celebrations of the ends and the beginnings.  Every December 22nd, we arrive at the shortest day of the year.  For the last six months, the darkness has been ever creeping.  But now, (in the forever-brilliant words of Steven Moffat)…

We’re halfway out of the dark.

We’re moving forward into the light.  God has not abandoned us, even in our darkest moments.  He’s whispering our names, pointing us in the right direction, reminding us that there is hope and peace if only we’ll look, if only we’ll accept the absurdity that we are all broken yet somehow still loved. Still being pursued.  Still being accepted.

To my sweet friends, family, and friends I have yet to meet (aka my unknown readers), I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  May 2013 be a year of life and joy for you.  May you find exactly what you’re looking for in your very deepest heart of hearts.  May friends and family fill your daily lives, and may peace somehow surprise you with its perfection.

May 2013 bring beautiful adventures your way…

Thank you for coming along on this new journey with me.  I am ever so grateful.

xoxo
Lynn

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Patches on my Heart

Today, I miss South Africa.

I miss waking up in Alli’s living room, making coffee and scones and then heading out into this big, expansive world that I had absolutely no paradigm for.  I miss laughing with one of my dearest friends, finally having time to get into all of the nitty-gritty conversations of life that only come out after six hour conversations about everything else in the world.

patches on my heart

There was no rush there, for anything.  There was a rhythm and constancy to life while I was there that I miss in LA.  There was peace.  It was stunnningly beautiful so much of the time.  All my Facebook friends saw 300 photos that looked quite a lot like this one. —————->

There was also so much brokenness everywhere.  There are no pictures of those moments, because I wanted nothing more than to actually be present in those moments.  I wanted to honor the people I was meeting without pausing for a Kodak moment.  Even the thought of that just sends a shiver down my spine. So far, I’ve steered clear of talking a lot about those moments that didn’t come with photos, mostly because I’m stuck in this horrible place of not having the words to fully talk about what I lived for those few weeks.  (Side note – eleven days on the ground in South Africa is nowhere near long enough.)

And as a writer, finally coming to a place where I don’t have the words was really difficult.  People wanted to hear the snippets of the trip, not the full-fledged, soul-swallowing stories.

There are some things you just can’t condense.

It’s like water.  You can’t reduce the water any more unless you boil it, but then you’re stuck trying to grab onto vapor that’s just not there.  The real stories just aren’t there unless you’re willing to grab hold of the water that’s almost boiling, but not quite.

Ask me about these stories.  These are the ones I want to tell you.

Because those are the stories that are clinging to my heart – like extra patches I sewed on with a sharp needle and thread.  They became a part of me, and they’ll never leave.  And I’m still bleeding from every place the thread went in.

I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

south african flowerI just have no idea how to honor the stories these lovely and wonderful people shared with me.  I have no idea how to wrap my head around death and laughter and pain and bright blue waves lapping at the base of a mountain and crying my eyes out and peace all in the same day.  How do you reconcile beauty and pain all together, almost all at once?

I still live in that moment every day. I feel more grounded and more real having been in those moments.  They fill my life with a deeper center, a deeper love for the people I’m surrounded by.

And I feel so inadequate in the meantime.  

When I write about my time there, I don’t mean to be vague.  I really don’t. You’re welcome to ask me anything you’d like.  I just don’t have the proper words yet to put it all out there into the great wide world.

 

But one day I will… 

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