This month, The Writing Barn is thrilled to feature Carin Channing, writer, doodler, meditator, WB regular and more as we talk about her book, 365 Days of Doodling: Discovering the Joys of Being Creative Every Day.
And don’t forget to come to The Writing Barn, Wednesday May 25th, 7:30 – 9:00, for our monthly Words & Wine Wednesday, where Carin herself will be participating in a discussion panel about her latest novel, as well as signing copies of her book which will be sold at The Barn on consignment from Book People.
She will be joined by Austin’s own Type Writer Rodeo, they will be writing improvised poems for attendees, and taking part in the Q&A panel. There will be wine, cheese, and great conversation. Stop by and keep supporting local Austin Talent.
Austin Author Spotlight Interview with Carin Channing
365 Days of Doodling (Discovering the Joys of Being Creative Every Day) is a collection of 365+ introspective, fun and relaxing prompts for making simple, spontaneous pictures.
I think it’s important to mention that I just got into doodling about five years ago. Prior to that, I assumed I couldn’t draw, so I didn’t. But I was invited to do a 30 Day Doodle Challenge (a doodle a day, no other rules), and I found the liberation in it right away. When it doesn’t have to look good, we’re all free to be expressed. And you can’t argue with a doodle!
I was inspired by a few years of doodling with everyone I met who was willing to play. I taught classes , and I knew the value of doodling with introspective prompts – especially when we do it together – but I wanted to go beyond my circle of acquaintances. I started my Doodling with Strangers project a little over a year ago, and that was what really sparked this project.
I found that almost everyone who was willing to play experienced some sort of relief and relaxation in the moment. I have been involved in lots of therapeutic modalities (I’m a licensed therapist), and many of them are brilliant, but they haven’t all been accessible to most people. With doodling, I broke out of my local field and into something that everyone can access. Even if they deny it, everyone can make a stick figure. Trust me.
When do you know your book is finally finished and ready to go into the world?
We had a time limit we were working with: Christmas. This book became available on Amazon on December 11. So even though there are small bits and pieces we might edit further if we had the time, my publisher and I kept reminding each other that “finished beats perfect,” and we just went for it.
I learned a process from a TED Talk by B.J. Fogg (this reminds me, I need to send him a thank you book!) that helped me create the habit for writing the prompts each day. For 365 Days… I wrote right after I got in bed at night. For the upcoming kids’ book, I made the prompts in the morning, right after writing my Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way).
As far as getting the other pages of the books written, I have a lot more resistance to that. Somehow the introductory pages feel more risky and personal than simply making up prompts.
I’m thankful for Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art for distinguishing “resistance” for me and helping me recognize it, work around it, and get down to writing (when I eventually do). Sometimes it feels like I have to really force myself, which goes against my natural-flow-preferred-way-of-being.
What are you currently reading?
I have three books going at once right now: Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George is the fourth in a series of kids’ books. I love to read fantasy and books that are not limited by “grown up” sensibilities.
States of Mind by Brad Herzog is an inspiring non-fiction book about a guy who traveled the country visiting towns with names like Comfort, Joy and Bliss. I first read this book many years ago, and I got it from the library to re-inspire my longing for the meandering road trip. And The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, for obvious reasons!
Right now, I’m doing a few 30 Day Challenges, along with doing my own book’s daily doodles: 30 days of “Gratidoodles,” prompted by a list I saw on-line. Today’s will be to doodle a food I’m grateful for.
Meanwhile, I’m also doing 30 days of writing prompts, also from a list I came across on-line. I have opted to write a poem each day, sparked by the prompts. I love them because they get me writing about other things besides the same old malarkey that runs around in my head and comes out in my typical wistful poems.
These practices all help tune me in to what’s around me and what’s in my life every day. I also write prompts from my own experiences too. Since I wrote 365 Days… right before bed, I ended up with a lot of prompts about nighttime.
These practices also give me a chance to work on something creative just for myself, while I’m working on my next book too. If I don’t do something like that, I start getting in this head space of resentment that I have to “work,” and it gives me some creative satisfaction and balance.
Do you have any advice for budding authors? We feature a post on our site called Rejecting Rejection, where authors discuss their reactions to past rejected works. How do you, as an author, deal with rejection? How do you combat that voice in your head that says, “you can’t do that.”
I would tell budding authors that, although it can be hard and really intense in some ways, it’s also not that hard to bring a book into the world. There are lots of people who know how to do the things we don’t know how to do, so partnering up with them is key (like the publishing parts).
I wholeheartedly recommend the types of exercises I’ve mentioned above: Morning Pages, daily doodling, doing creatively stimulating and sloughing-off type projects, leaving room for the deeper layers of genius to come through. Also take Artist Dates (from The Artist’s Way). With so much creative output, it is imperative that we fill up our creative wells. That’s part of why I like to read kids’ books. I like watching documentaries about artists, too, and going to places I haven’t been before. Anything to keep the creative well full and flowing.
As far as that voice goes, I refer back to Ann Lamott’s advice to write a “shitty first draft.” Maybe the voice is still there saying I can’t do it, but I’ve done something.
How long have you lived in the Austin area and how has Austin inspired your writing?
I’ve lived in Austin for 10 years. This town has definitely supported the doodling mission. I don’t know how the rest of the country or world will respond when I take it beyond here. In the more personal things I write, Austin shows up in any way that moves me in the moment.
Book People and Half Price Books have been very helpful as I’m having my own book on their shelves for the first time. I’m really grateful.
I have to give a shoutout to Juiceland, especially the Burnet Rd. location. I have done tons of stranger doodles there, and now they have one of my doodle books out for customers to play with while waiting for their drinks. The pictures are so awesome!
And I’m at Bouldin Creek Cafe on the patio writing these answers! I came here today for a change of pace, as being at home and trying to get stuff done just wasn’t working. Any place to mix up the energy a bit is good for me. Especially if there’s lots of good food there. And I take lots of long walks in whatever neighborhood I’m hanging out in at the moment. Trees inspire me!
If the readers of this haven’t checked out The Writing Barn for some major creative inspiration, it’s time. I made a book there (How Dare You Make a Book) when I had a month-long retreat there a few years ago. Every time I go, even for a few days or a few hour workshop, I come out prolifically.
Carin Channing is a hands-on authority in rest and creativity encouragement. Her passion is helping everyone access these areas, not as hobbies but as necessities to living a life of inspiration, vision, and happiness. With a background in mental health therapy, Carin works with individuals, families, workplaces, and wider communities. She envisions bringing simple, introspective creativity to every person on the planet. She is the author of the book “365 Days of Doodling (Discovering the Joys of Being Creative Every Day)” (2015, Intentional Publishing). Forthcoming books include a tale of what happened when she intentionally trusted rest for a year and another primer, “Self-Loving 101.” Always a writer, and a musician on the side, Carin discovered her love for doodling in her early 40s. Since then, she has taught resting and doodling to people all over the world and in 2015, she began doodling with strangers in Austin, Texas, where she lives, rests, and makes things. See her Doodling with Strangers videos at youtube.com/doodlingwithstrangersfun. Connect further, find out about classes, and be encouraged by visiting www.doodleoutreach.com. Share your doodling experience at facebook.com/groups/doodleoutreach.