Lauren Elkins, Writer: Embracing Artistic Identity

About:

Lauren Elkins is a professional writer with over a decade of experience in the IT industry. She creates social media content for small businesses in technology and also writes articles for websites and publications. Lauren also blogs for her own personal expression and creativity. She enjoys playing the piano (with her Mom on the violin), working in the garden, drawing cartoons, playing soccer, and spending time with her family. Lauren is a lover of stories and fills her emotional bucket by spending time with others and hearing about their lives.

City, State, Country:

Bountiful, Utah, USA

Website: 

laurenelkins.com (professional site)

larriecampbell.wordpress.com (personal blog)

What is your definition of creativity?

Creativity is what happens when you're doing that thing in your life that makes you feel alive! It usually comes from an idea. For example, I may have an idea to play this piece on the piano, to draw this picture, to write this story, to create this space in the garden, and so on. And then from the idea, our brains do what they do. We figure it out. We implement it. We do it. Then we step back and decide if we succeeded or not. More often, I fail, and I learn far more from my failures that from my successes (especially when it comes to gardening!). 

Tell me about your family life: 

I am currently enveloped in the world of small children where I can't sit down on the couch without turning into their jungle gym (they don't do that to their dad, and he's the one with the energy to pick them up and swing them around!); I race around the basement with my 4-year old son and his hot wheels, or "fly" my 20-month old daughter to the potty in an effort to get her to think this whole not-peeing-in-a-diaper thing is fun and what she wants to do all of the time. My husband is an elementary school principal who supports me in my efforts to live as a writer, and to spend a lot of time sharing my creativity with our two kids.

Do you have a primary creative medium?

Writing

Please describe your creative process:

My creative process changes depending on the type of writing I am doing. I make money by writing content for small businesses. I am constantly looking for good ideas, sources, statistics, quotes, etc. For this, I spend time reading a lot of industry websites related to the industry of the businesses I write for. I follow Twitter accounts in the same industries. Between Evernote and Google Docs, I publish a lot of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts, email blasts, and blog posts for these businesses.

I also blog for myself on both my personal website and branding website. I love to write thoughts about fascinating articles I find in places like Harvard Business Review or the New York Times. My posts are related to being a mom and a woman for my personal website, and being a writer and freelancer for my branding website. I also like to add one of my own doodles to each blog post if I'm able to, but I find that I will often use this as an excuse not to post for a time. When drawing becomes a stumbling block, I remind myself that I need to get out and just write!

Last, I am working on a memoir. I am part of a writer's group, so as our monthly get-together nears, I set aside time to sit down and pull up my "records", which are journal entries, letters, and paperwork from the summer I did door-to-door sales. I then write the next chapter of my book and bring it to my writers' group for them to critique. Their feedback and support is such a gift!

What barriers to your creative work have you experienced?

Two of my biggest barriers are not having ideas and not setting aside time. Isn't it so easy to sit down at the computer with the idea to write a specific word-count goal and then find yourself spending 45 minutes scrolling through Amazon or deleting email messages?! And writing is hard, so sometimes, when I should sit down and write up content, I'll actually spend time cleaning instead. Who does that? My house does not look clean, so it's not like this is a frequent habit, but I find that when it's difficult to force myself to write, it's not difficult to find other tasks around the house. And, of course, two small kids aren't going to let mom sit at the computer for an hour untouched. Working around their schedule took some adjusting and juggling.

How old were you when you realized that you were an "artist" or a creative person?

Since I can remember, I've been told that I'm an artist; I accepted this and love hearing it!. I drew with my Grandaddy, read stories with my Dad, played music with my mom and Grandma, and so on. I grew up in rich soil for creativity, surrounded by painters, musicians, writers, gardeners, and other traditional artists, and I want my kids to experience a similar world.

If you could give a new mother advice about honoring her creativity while mothering, what would you tell her?

Your kids should see you alive! This was some excellent advice that Dr. Hanks gave me during a fabulous life coach session we had. I'd never thought about the impact of my kids *watching* me do something for myself would have on them. Instead, I focused on how it might be taking me away from spending time with them and figuring out how to balance that. Now, I tried to spend at least a little time each day where they can see me doing something for myself. They're still pretty young and they don't give me long before they get demanding, but one day, I'm sure they'll love knowing what things make their mom feel alive!

What are you most proud of artistically?

I am proud of the fact that I quit my full-time career to focus on freelance writing. At first I didn't know if I could succeed at earning work on my own like this, but I've been able to do it. I am now at what is my comfortable capacity for my availability and desire to be home with my kids. Plus, it brings in that extra income each month for my family. I can now say that I am a writer-a professional writer. How cool is that? Before that, I worked for a decade in the software industry, so it was a big jump for me, and I am proud of how things have turned out. 

Below are some links to my writing work that I am very pleased with:

1) What's Killing Your Ability To Focus? 
2) Finding Faith Through Doubt
3) The Meaningful Work of Being a Mom

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