Keep jot notes. Ideas make your writing richer.

Why Keeping an Idea Journal of Some Sort Makes Sense

During a recent purging of my studio-office, I stumbled upon binders and a journal in which I’d been keeping ideas for writing projects, big and small. I thought I’d share a few of them with you

         guy selling Nintendo Play Stations from his van (this idea scrawled on a Post-it note)

         people who nailed or tied their shoes to a tree in a vacant lot off Winchester Drive, Waterloo 

~ newspaper clipping from Aug, 5 2010 Waterloo Region Record

         a sheep farmer that makes visitors dip their shoes into bleach before entering her farm (observation)

       Working title ~ ‘7 Hours’: premise ~ a school girl dies in a horrific collision when a delivery van slams into the Teens and Tots vehicle that just picked her up from school ~ each chapter focuses on POV of each of her noteworthy classmates / parents / teachers

         Keady Market near Owen Sound: a kitten’s thoughts before being sold at auction to the highest bidder, a child in a wheelchair 

         same market: lady with tea-cup dog in her bra

         two year prison term for knifing spouse (about a woman in KW who tortured her spouse and held her half-sister hostage) August 26, 2009

         prompt: write a list ~ places I don’t go anymore

         prompt: write a story titled ~ ‘Do you have to do that?’

         write about the thing in a drawer with the most colour

         write about my father’s hands; turn him into a fictional character with a new name

         describe a best friend at age 11

         -hazards of hoarding can be deadly (November 28, 2009) Waterloo Region Record (first line of article: ‘For years, no one on Crest Drive paid much attention to the little white house with pink trim.’ How can you not be intrigued by this topic???)

 I won’t be throwing these out. While I am not sure that any of these ideas resonate with me now (well, maybe the hoarding idea), the ideas/articles resonated then, and rereading them helps me to understand where I was as a writer and person, and where I am now.

 I encourage all writers, people starting out and those with a writing habit, to make jot-notes, to collect ideas, to keep an e-file, whatever works for them. Ideas, rich ideas, are what make writing believable, interesting, and authentic.

Not convinced? Read 10 Reasons to Keep a Journal

Did you know that I write a monthly newsletter about creativity (visual art/writing)? If you haven’t already done so, sign up here: monthly newsletter


Need some inspiration for your writing. Check this out.

Writing Ideas Abound!

Writing ideas do abound. I’m serious. You can find snippets to explore everywhere. This link gives you piles of ideas. I particularly love the one about using your family in your writing. I wrote an amazing creative nonfiction piece a few years ago about Cory having head lice and connected Cory’s experience to my father’s journey with lung/brain cancer.
Obituaries are terrific places to get juicy characterization. I did not know this Chesley woman but after reading her obituary, I wish I had. This is an exceptionally rich obituary. So crack open your local daily or weekly newspaper, or search online for obituaries.
This link will take/link you to loads of other places with tons of ideas and topics. If you find your source of ideas has dried up, you WILL find something to inspire your next writing project via the provided link.
Write to a timer. Click clock to obtain image source.
This idea is more about writing to a timer or word count. Something I do every morning is write for fifteen minutes. Sometimes there is a phrase or sentence that will spring off into something else, something I can delve into more deeply. Others write to a word count: 750 words. Then they stop. Later, they reread and see if anything they wrote might actually lead somewhere.
Pictures can spark writing ideas. 
By reading this quote and examining this image, you might receive inspiration.
I love this link. Michelle mentions Facebook among other places as idea generators. I’ve used Facebook. Sometimes there is a joke that jumps into your newsfeed or some random feel-good story that wants to inject itself into your stream of consciousness. Why not explore it further in your writing?
Another great place for ideas is a CBC Radio 1 one hour weekly show called Out in the Open where the host explores ‘out there’ stories with regular people. I have written crazy stories inspired by this show: one example is a story about a widower who develops a relationship with a blow-up doll, much to the chagrin of his daughter.
Last but not least, here is a link to ‘Unusual Places’ to find story ideas. One of my favourites is Classified Ads. They are in newspapers, magazines, and of course, online. Personal ads can be particularly juicy places to help you develop an idea.
Use the comment form on my website to let me know how you made out. I’d love to update people in a future newsletter.

Do You Feel Inspired by Quotable Quotes? Then You’re in the Right Place.


Happy New Year, Friends!

To celebrate the onset of 2019 (can you believe it? It’s 2019!!!), I am sharing a bunch of quotable quotes that bring me joy and inspiration. I have embedded the quotes in my art work to add some punch and interest to the words. I love pairing art/photography and words, and I hope you do, too. If you wish, please share one of your favourite quotes here. I’d be thrilled to share your quotes in a future newsletter.
















Painterly Cindy and More Blogs about How to Make a Quick and Easy Collage Painting that will Appeal to a Child or Adult Alike

Ever wanted to create a quick and easy collage piece whose sensibilities might appeal to a child (a grandchild, niece, nephew, your own child)
or an adult?

Sometimes we want to create something simple yet interesting as a gift for someone. In my case, I set the bar high. I made a bunch of wall-art for our first grandchild, Kai, so now I feel compelled to continue the tradition. That’s okay. I have nothing but time on my hands, right? 

In this piece, I started with a blank canvas. I used a 10×10 inch stretched canvas. I painted the canvas with something called white GESSO. I thinned the GESSO with water as I painted (used a spray bottle). I used two coats of GESSO to create a nice white surface.

      Lovely blank piece of stretched canvas. So much potential. 

When dry, I stamped muted colours of acrylic paint all over the place. I used a small SEA SPONGE to paint over alphabet and shape stencils. I let that dry.

Did I mention that the day on which I was painting we were experiencing pouring rain? Cats and dogs, in fact.   

Some people say, “Yuck, rain.”

I say, “Hurrah!”

I painted the edges of the canvas with black ACRYLIC paint at this point. I usually do this step at the end. I know I have to repeat this edge painting step at the end of the project. Silly me!

I used GOLDEN BUFF MEDIUM (Acrylic) to cover the stencilled canvas.

       For reasons unknown to me, this iimage doesn’t look very buff here but I included the image because it’s important to see the process.

The really fun part: I used images from a discarded adult colouring book to create a still life piece. With a pair of ultra sharp scissors I cut out ‘shapes’ like a bowl, some butterflies I found in the colouring book, an apple or apricot shape, a banana shape and a bunch of grapes. I did not draw before I cut. Repeat! I did not draw before I cut. I also found some words in the book that I liked and snipped them out, too. I used GEL MEDIUM (an acrylic product) to glue the back of the shapes and words to my canvas. I added GEL MEDIUM over these items, too. I smoothed using the edge of a used gift card. I let everything dry.

I actually love how it looks just like this. It has a Zentangle feel.

I used ACRYLIC PAINT MARKERS and PAINTERS markers to add colour and more dimension. I also outlined some objects here and there as well as some words. Then I used an ACRYLIC PAINT MARKER to create the illusion of the bowl sitting on the table (yellow colour).

      It is looking pretty cool here but it’s missing some pop!

For this next part I scribbled (yup) some charcoal here and there to give an illusion of shadows. Them I smeared it all up and covered it all with acrylic medium to ‘fix’ the charcoal in place. Otherwise the charcoal would smear if anyone touched it. So much to learn, right?

Then I let the piece sit for a week. Yup. Just like I do with my writing. I let things sit and after a week, I see what else might be needed. Can you guess what I added to the painting? 

      I added a few scribbles on the bowl and white dots on the butterflies. That’s about it. It might not be done yet but I like it just how it is and I hope my newest grandchild (a granddaughter) will, too.


It never hurts my feelings if you share my blog and / or newsletter with friends. In fact, I’d like that very, very much. CM




Are You a Late Bloomer, too?

In my October newsletter, we were discussing how I feel like a late bloomer sometimes, that I arrived at fulfilling my creative mojo at such a late age. And sometimes, just sometimes, that feels a little daunting!

Here is the rest of that article:

Something new for me is digital designing (see above). It is like painting using a mouse. I love these new challenges, even though I AM a bit old to be doing so much learning and experimenting. Or am I?

Intrigued by the concept of being a late-bloomer, I studied others who arrived at making art later in their lives. Take Bill Traylor. He was broke and homeless at the ripe old age of 85! To pass the time, he made art and displayed it on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama. Another artist who wanted to support Bill’s creative expression bought Bill better art tools. Bill Traylor made 1000 + pieces in his life and many are on display to this day. To learn more follow this link: Bill and his art.

This short article (by Marcia Smalley) about awakening your inner artist later in life emphasizes many points but the one that resonated with me is the idea of Beginner’s Mind. Allowing our creativity to take hold means there are no rules. Imagine! Just letting yourself do whatever you want with a few bottles of paint or a box of smelly markers. Sounds fun! What are your experiences? Perhaps write about them via the CONTACT ME page.



September Brings up the Topic of Vision and the Arts (Visual, Writing and Otherwise)

In June 2018 I experienced floaters in my eye. This resulted in me having to have emergency laser surgery on a tear in my retina. There is a history of detached retinas on the maternal side of my family.

As you would expect…

The inner artist came out in full force during this ‘brush with lost eyesight’ experience. First, I wrote a fictional account about the experience. Somehow through using the fictional story telling lens rather than memoir writing techniques, I could more honestly integrate the emotional response of my ‘character.’ There was greater clarity in the writing rather than pouring my own emotions into a retell. Secondly, I researched visual artists and authors who are blind and still manage to create (visual art, writing).

Here are some of what I wanted to share with you.

Esref Armagan was born with non-functioning eyes. He is a Turkish-born visual artist whose work is simply amazing. He starts his paintings by using a Braille stylus to etch the outline of his sketches. Then he uses his fingers and oil paint to apply colour. He doesn’t want his colours to smudge so he allows the paints to completely dry between applications. He apparently receives no assistance from others during the process. He requires complete silence in order to paint. To learn more go here.

Art by EsrefArmagan  ~  Image source click here.

Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer ~ A prolific writer and thinker, this writer’s vision deteriorated in the latter part of his life. His mother, who lived until age 99, became his personal secretary, recording his thoughts and ideas. Learn more here.

Arthur Ellis is a UK painter. In 2006 he fell ill to Bacterial Meningitis. This disease caused him to lose his eyesight, as well as most of his hearing and balance. He continues to create albeit using different materials and techniques. Via this link to learn more. At the site you can view his pre sight loss (lots of portraiture work) and post sight loss work. I was most fascinated by his visual journal where he demonstrates ‘how he does it.’

Jean Little, Guelph Ontario ~ I learned about Jean Little when our children were in elementary school. They often borrowed her novels from the school library. Jean is a prolific writer. Blind since birth, she uses a talking computer to create her stories. Jean enrolled in regular classes in elementary and secondary school and has a university degree in English Language and Literature. She has a seeing eye dog, Honey. Learn more about Jean here.

Jean Little

Image source click here.

Do you have a special affinity to an artist (visual, musical, dance) and/or writer who is faced with physical/mental challenges? If so, please add a comment to the comment page on my website.


Painterly Cindy or More Talks about the Merits of Longhand Creative Writing

I love to create while writing longhand.

While I have not conducted clinical research on myself or anyone else for that matter, I believe that the act of pushing a pen on paper keeps me sharp. I believe this with such conviction that I write with a pen on paper every single day during a timed (15 minute) session. I don’t especially care what I write about. I don’t usually have a plan of what to write but I do it regardless. And, usually by the end of 15 minutes, I have written a few sentences that actually make sense.

What my longhand looks like. Yikes! Yup. I can read it.
When Stephen King writes about his characters, he does it longhand. James Patterson, apparently, writes his entire novels with a pen. For many of us, pushing a pen (or pencil) on paper feels good. There is a sense of space, of creativity, of genuineness. If writing is a consequence of dreaming and thinking, then the process of putting ideas to paper seems more natural than clicking the keys of a keyboard.

Let’s go back to that idea of keyboarding or the earlier term I used in my monthly newsletter, keypunching. There is a nosy rhythm to tapping keyboard keys, a boring, mind-numbing sound as my fingers pound the letters, stringing letters into words, words into phrases, phrases into sentences, sentences into paragraphs. I’m boring you, right? When I compose sentences on paper, I draw arrows, rectangles, stars and circles all over my work. I can visualize exactly where I wrote a certain idea. I can see it in my dreams. I make fewer errors of ideas, spelling or grammar when I write longhand. Further, I don’t have to deal with the dreaded auto-correct feature.

Ah, the tools of the trade.


Does it mean extra work? Sure. Eventually I have to transcribe my scribbles onto my iPad or computer but that is part of the process, of slowing things down, of creating something organic and real. When one of our children attended what used to be called grade 13 in our local rural high school, she enrolled in a course called Writer’s Craft. I wish there had been such a course while I was a high school student. The idea of pen and notepad evokes an idea of craft, doesn’t it?


When I write longhand, I have the ability to shut the world out, to let my thoughts flow through the movement of the writing tool on the page. The process of doing this feels like the fluid ink is keeping me company. There is a deep uninterrupted connection from my brain to the paper. I never have to face a blank computer screen, the little cursor with its never-ending blinking. Writing longhand brings me pleasure. I can sit in a corner of my favourite coffee shop. No one cares what I’m up to. I could be writing out my shopping list for all they care. Likely, they don’t care. And that’s fine by me.

NOTE: At least when writing longhand, I’m not distracted by other tasks, like repairing my website or adding pictures to my Instagram account.

Check out these ideas by Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. (below)

‘I’ve worked this way for as long as I can remember. The Rhodia [pen] allows me to move around at will, as if on a computer, so that if I get stuck, I can just scoot over and start something new elsewhere. But because I’m still writing on the same page, I can always reference what I’ve abandoned, in case I want to crib from it a sentence or a thought. And if I have a random thought, I can jot it down somewhere else and then come back to it — and there’s room for that.

Writing longhand allows me to sit and think without a screen blinking at me. I need that. The long blank page reminds me that I’m not likely to write an entire novel in a day, so why not just calm down and concentrate on the sentences. Why not try to make the sentences — a few of which I can finish in a day — as good as they can be?’

The only drawback to writing longhand is its secret strength. It slows me down.’


Looks so clinical, doesn’t it?



Writing longhand allows me other perks:
~ no interruptions from Twitter, email and Facebook
~ I can write absolutely anywhere. I don’t need to remember to bring or charge my device. If I have a pen or pencil plus paper, I’m golden.
~ there is something inherently creative about making shapes on paper, even if they are letters rather than doodles or doodles rather than letters.
~ the act of slowing down allows me to juice up the ideas
~ there is something very sensual about the scritch-scratch of the writing tool on the paper
~ I’m a leftie and my handwriting leaves something to be desired. I am forced to get the next word down and not go back and reread what I’ve written. Longhand forces me to forge ahead.

What do you think about longhand writing? Do you take part in longhand or do you prefer a keyboard? And why? Answer by writing a comment on my comment page on this website.

I recommend that you read this short article on the benefits of Slow Writing.

Want to get my monthly newsletter? Click here to become a subscriber.


Happy Canada Day ~ What am I Speaking about here? Why China, of course!

Travel can inspire the arts. Yup. I’m sure of it.

How can you see these sights and not be inspired? (Photos by John Matthews, spouse)

If you have read one of the earlier newsletters about China, you know I go silly over Giant Pandas. Wouldn’t you? The pandas resulted in me creating a t-shirt design featuring Mandarin characters, bamboo and giant pandas. I also created a cool design for a kimono.

Scorpion on the stick, anyone. Can’t you see that image going into one of my stories? Or piggy dumplings?!?!


Don’t know if I’ll ever paint a picture of John and me in a rickshaw, but you never know? I certainly have been including more red in my paintings as a result of this trip.


This farmer makes part of his living showing tourists how to pop rice. For sure this image will appear in my writing.


To support my argument on why travel can support creativity and the arts, check out these two short articles for more reasons:


Big Think