Fun. When was the last time your creative work (for me, writing) was fun?

When I asked myself that question, I got the mental equivalent of that little spinning wheel thing that you see with "buffering." In other words: uhhh. Been awhile.

This summer, I participated in something that was really FUN. And although it was related to art, not writing (or perhaps because of that fact), I feel more playful in my writing, too.

What did I do? Index Card a Day: invented, managed, organized, and curated (and copyrighted) by Tammy Garcia over at

The idea is that you somehow "decorate" an index card (either 3 X 5 or 4 X 6) per day, every day, starting June 1 and ending July 31. That's 61 days in which you take 5 or 15 or 65 minutes and cover the surface of an index card.

* Nothing more precious--index cards are inexpensive--and nothing more ambitious. (That said, nobody's stopping you from doing other stuff if you have time or want to!)
* The result doesn't have to be pretty or art (whatever that means); it doesn't have to "work." The point is to create something every day for 61 days in a row. Process, not product.
* Use highlighters, acrylic paints, makeup, watercolor, pen, pencil. Sew, glue, draw, paint, staple, whatever.
* Tammy provides prompts and suggests  media, but you don't have to use them.
* There's a Facebook group to share your images if you want (I opted not to in order to keep the "fun" element alive and well for myself, though I shared them daily with my sister for the sake of accountability), and people were on Twitter, too.

My sister has always created beautiful artwork: she draws (recently Zentangles, but she was drawing wee illustrated books for me for car trips back in the 1960s), she hand-makes books, she's made jewelry (both from purchased beads and from beads she made with polymer clay, pysanky, hand-tatted lace, note cards, halter tops (this was the 70s), and embroidered pillows. Among other things.

As for me, well. I like pretty colors, and I have taken a drawing class, and I've thrown pots (which was also really fun in a wordless way), but really I'm a writer. So I went into this without any pretense of "art."

Here's proof! One of my images: crayon resist w/ watercolors. It's more or less supposed to look like birch bark (and the photo is from my iTouch and I was wearing a pink shirt, so colors are approximate).

Anyway, the POINT of all of this is that I haven't had this much fun in I don't know how long. Being the rule-follower that I am, I deliberately let myself/forced myself to NOT follow ANY rules and so I did lots of index cards--collections and books of them. (I bought 300 and used roughly 250.) I compiled drawing done in the evenings when I was too tired to do anything more productive than drool in front of the TV (lots of pages of vaguely flower-shaped objects, as well as a series of lines in different colors); they became a three-dimensional "garden" and background images for other days. Early on, I had a light-bulb moment and "went outside the lines" of the index card horizontal space. Soon, I started building stuff out of index cards, too.

Lots of them turned out to contain writing advice from me to me: follow your own path, small fruit is still fruit, success is in/spiration (as from rain) per/spiration (from growing). Some even didn't have words! Like they're actual, real art! Here's one of my favorites:

That's ancient black elastic from my sewing box, duct tape "flowers", centers and leaves made from paint chips, over a card with designs meant to resemble storm clouds and wet weather, and cellophane at the top (remember how when you were a kid, "sky" was a blue strip at the top of the page?), with staples as "design elements" representing rain. This was one I did after a few others relating to "grow," and I was so excited about making the flowers (plaid duct tape! circles! then cut so that they have petal-looking bits!) that I had a hard time sleeping.

And yes, I wrote a lot this summer, too. I have been a little all over the place with it, rather like the gardens here after they get growing. Connections I might have missed before! Words! Thoughts of reasonable coherence! Words accumulating under fingers and under the tip of a pen! Green, growing, nutritious!

That has been the best part of all: that the fun I had decorating one little card a day for 61 days is spilling over into my writing.

So if you, too, just see that little spinning wheel when you think about "having fun" with your creative work, consider a bit of structured play in a medium that's not your primary one. Here's a link to what ICAD was all about. The 2014 ICAD-a-palooza is over, but mark your calendar for next year. For reals. And Tammy has a lot of other goodies going on over at Daisy Yellow, too.

Now all I have to do is quit collecting collage materials...