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Books, Creativity, Ecourse, Uncategorized, Writing Life

Mixing It Up in 2015

Bang by Ai Wei Wei at the Vancouver Art Gallery, December 2014. A photo posted by Leanne Prain (@leanneprain) on

I gave up making New Years Resolutions a few years ago. Instead, I’ve adopted a theme word for each year – last year’s word was JOY (and amid the ups and downs of life, there was a lot of it) and this year’s word is STRETCH. For me this means trying new things, taking on projects that I haven’t done before, and expanding the limits of my comfort zone.

Over the next few months, I’ll be filling my time with some exciting projects, including:

  1. Changing my e-newsletters to come out every two weeks. Not on the list? You can sign up here. I started to publish to my list monthly this past fall but lost momentum over the holidays. With blogging and e-newsletter writing, my biggest hurdle is not keeping up the habit. This year I really want to prove to myself that I can do this. 35 newsletters – here we come! (the next one comes out tomorrow – January 4th!)
  2. A website redesign - my current site is not reflecting my goals and interests. I’ll be doing gradual updates over the next month. Keep your eye out for changes. While my focus has been primarily on textiles and street art, I intend to start blogging more about design, making, and the intersection of culture with all of these things that we touch and make by hand.
  3. My first e-course! Launching February 1, I’ll be sending out a weekly prompt via STITCHED STORIES to inspire stories for textiles, or textile stories (as you wish). The course will run for 12 weeks and this first session will be free. Let’s write together, it will be fun. I’m limiting this run to 50 people tops, so sign up early.
  4. An ideation class  – I’m taking a night class at a local design program on brainstorming ideas, and I’ll share what I learn as I go. I’m looking at getting a fresh perspective on how to generate new ideas. Plus, I’m super-excited to be around young graphic designers again.
  5. Sewing clothes and trying to figure out my new Serger. I may need your help figuring this one out.

It seemed like 2014 was a mixed bag for many people I know, and there is a feeling of optimism about the coming year. 2015 – I think you are going to be a good one.


Did you receive Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles as a holiday gift? Drop me a comment on this post and let me know what you think of it!

And, thanks to the Surface Design Association for naming Strange Material a must-have book for 2014. I’m honoured!

Book Tour, Books, Events, Textiles, Writing Life

California, here we come!

A yarn bombing of Union Square by IshKnits, 2013

In less than 24 hours, Betsy Greer, Kim Werker and I will be in San Francisco! We’re so pleased to be starting our multi-city author tour Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity, and Activism of North America to celebrate our three new books. I hope that you’ll be able to come join us at an event, as not only will there be our trifecta of voices but we have some truly amazing people moderating our conversations!

Here’s where we will be (and who we will be with!) in the Bay Area:

Our Host in San Francisco Rena Tom

Makeshift Founder, craft & small business sage, and marketing editor of Anthology Magazine Rena Tom will be our host in San Francisco. 

SAN FRANCISCO – panel discussion
Wednesday, October 1st, 7:30pm. Free!
Booksmith, San Francisco, CA
Moderated conversation with Rena Tom
RSVP on Facebook

Lisa-6_lowres

Artist and illustrator extraordinaire Lisa Congdon (and author of the recently released Art Inc.) will be our host in Oakland. 

OAKLAND – panel discussion
Thursday, October 2nd, 7pm. Free!
Diesel Bookstore, Oakland, CA
Moderated conversation with Lisa Congdon
RSVP on Facebook

MakeShiftSociety

Lovely Makeshift Society – where we’ll be teaching creative workshops in Brooklyn and San Francisco! I’ll be teaching some writing methods to loosen your brain and ego for creative projects and I promise that it will fun and *not scary*!

SAN FRANCISCO – creativity workshop!
Friday, October 3rd, 6:30pm
MakeShift Society, San Francisco, CA
Hands-on Workshop (Purchase here!)

Betsy Greer will tour in support of Craftivism: The Art & Craft of Activism (Published May 2014). I will share Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles (Brand new tomorrow! October 1 2014). Kim Werker will tour in support of Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty (September 2014).

Following the Bay Area, we will be travelling for panels and workshops in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, Toronto, Philly (details pending), Boston, Brooklyn and DC. See the full tour line-up here: http://www.leanneprain.com/events.

Book Tour, Books, Events, Workshop, Writing Life

Book Tour Announced!

I’m thrilled to announce the details of my fall book tour with fellow authors Betsy Greer and Kim Werker.

Our brilliant publishers Arsenal Pulp Press & Sasquatch Books have partnered to send us on an incredible fall tour where we’ll visit 12 venues in eight different cities across the US & Canada. We’ll be participating in panels on craft, creativity, design and activism, and we’ll also be teaching hands-on workshops. In our workshops, we’ll be doing somewhat of a crafting ’round-robin’ and for my portion, I’ll be teaching story techniques for artists of all kinds, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.

I have to say that I’m in somewhat disbelief that this tour has come together is such a cohesive way. It had germinated as a half-thought that I had scratched onto a scrap of paper while working late at the night on a draft of my book, “Talk to Betsy and Kim about going on a book tour.”

A few weeks after, I shyly mentioned the idea to Kim while meeting for sushi and she responded enthusiastically. Now, six months later, we actually have a tour schedule with an amazing roster of designers, curators, and artists as hosts. We’re all amazed at how this has come together.

Here’s the nitty-gritty of our tour:

Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity, and Activism

Betsy Greer will tour in support of Craftivism: The Art & Craft of Activism (Published May 2014). Leanne Prain will share Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles (Forthcoming October 2014). Kim Werker will tour in support of Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty (Forthcoming September 2014).

As event times are confirmed, I’ll be updating details on the Upcoming Events page of my website. In addition to my travels with Betsy and Kim, I’ll be participating in additional events on my own in Vancouver, Courtenay, and Seattle and they’ll be listed there as soon as I confirm with the venues.

Book Tour, Books, Publishing, Writing Life

Anthologized: Betsy Greer’s Craftivism

Last Spring, amid working of drafts of my upcoming book  Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles, I managed to squeeze in a few other writing projects, including a personal essay on embroidery and community called Stitching It Together for Betsy Greer‘s new anthology Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism.

Without giving away too much, the essay discusses my experience of teaching craft, the value that I see in it, and how communities can come together around making.

I feel honoured to be included in a book that really is a whose-who of the current craftivism movement – among my favourite parts of the book are an essay called Don’t Get Angry, Get Cross-Stitch by Jamie Chalmers, the beloved Mr. X Stitch; and an interview with Maria Molteni of NCAA New Works, a fibre artist that makes nets for forlorn basketball hoops;  and an essay by filmmaker Faythe Levine (the brains behind Handmade Nation and more recently, the Sign Painters movie) on craft as a method of empowerment. This is truly a wonderful collection, and I’d recommend it even if I wasn’t involved in the project. The more time I spend with this book, the more I find to re-read and savour.

The past two weeks have also been busy ones for me as I’ve finished book edits on Strange Material (cover art debuting very soon!) and I’m planning a highly-creative, East Coast/West Coast book tour for the fall with Betsy Greer and the fabulous Kim Werker of Make it Mighty Ugly.  If you know of a tour venue that we must visit in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, DC, Toronto, or New York; please drop me a line in the comments below.

 

Creativity, Publishing, Strange Material, Writing Life

On Making Time to Write

The manuscript for my new book Strange Material is due in exactly one month. While I’ve been stealing away to coffee shops on my lunch hour and turning down plans with friends over the past few months in order to write, nothing works better for me than having long stretches of time to mentally meander, run word-counts as a mark of my progress, and simply write without a time constraint. I learned long ago that if I promise to go somewhere at 8 pm, my mind takes a unwarranted vacation from the hours of noon until 8 pm just because I know that I am going somewhere later. Likewise, if I’ve promised myself that I’ll write, but instead find myself out for drinks with friends – I’ll end up being angsty (and a sheer joy to hang out with) because in the back of my mind I’m thinking about what I should be doing at my desk. So, ever so often, I need to go into hermit-mode. This week, I’ve taken four days off of my day job to do nothing but write.

With each of my books, I’ve been lucky to have weeks of time away from the world in order to think. I’ve house-sat for my parents. I’ve stayed in friends’ guest rooms. And I’ve made myself stay home. I’ve tried to ignore Facebook. I’ve spent less time on Twitter. I’ve even ignored email. I’ve forcibly stopped myself from playing with Pinterest, or dreaming up apartment decor ideas from DesignSponge, or fantasizing that I will one day live in a fabulous loft and collect abstract art for sale at www.saatchionline.com. I’d like to be planning something crazy for Halloween or sewing the latest Colette pattern, but for now I’m content with writing. I keep a list of these diversions to be my reward when the project is over.

DesignSpongeDesk_400px

I often find myself asked how I take on long writing projects – especially while working full time, and my first answer is ‘I don’t know’. But really, I rely on a couple of simple tools:

  1. The eloquent and classily named ‘butt in chair’ technique. Frankly, if you want to write, you have to sit in the same place for a certain amount of time. I set myself a goal of how long I plan to write most days. I also set myself a word-count, usually 500 – 700 words a day when I’m working on a long project.
  2. Lunch hours – I often eat at my desk while working so that I can go to a coffee shop and write for during my lunch hour. I find I can accomplish a lot in 45 minutes when I know I have to be back at the office.
  3. For days off and long stretches of time alone, I’ve found the Pomodoro Technique is life-changing. I’m not usually one to prescribe to others methods of working but this one works for me. You work for 25 minute increments, you take a five minute break, and then you start again. On my ‘writing retreat’ dates, I set myself goals of four 25 minute writing stretches with 5 minute stretch/tea making breaks, a one hour lunch break, and then four pomoderos to follow. You can use a kitchen timer for this technique, but I prefer a free app called Focus Booster on my mac which turns colour as my time is winding down. I wrote my entire last book using this method.
  4. Rest. Some days, no matter how hard you try – nothing comes. This is when I turn to things like a long walk, a bike ride, cooking something healthy, or napping. Some days I get to my goals in a matter of hours, some days I know that I’ll procrastinate for several hours until I start to feel the fire of getting down to things. This is part of my process, and no matter how much I try to resist, I’ve realized is just better to accept that this is the way that I work.

Interested in learning more about the process of craft book writing? Last year I wrote this post on how to pitch a non-fiction DIY title.