158: Playful, Vulnerable Process with Tori Grace Nichols, writer and performer

Friends and accountability buddies! Juliana Finch and Tori Grace Nichols get beautifully deep about writers block, self-care, and being open to the full range of the creative cycle. The conversation is full of tips for gentle process, progress, and productivity.

Bio:

Tori Grace Nichols (they/them/theirs) describes themself as a prismatic performance artist. They can be seen performing drag as G-Clef with the House of Coxx and causing good trouble around Durham, NC as a cultural organizer and stand up comedian. Most folks call them Grace out of drag. 

Recent writing credits include sketch comedy with Kahoots Comedy and two audio dramas, Stretchy Shorts and Crocodile Twins, for the podcast platform Artist Soapbox. 

Through the Center for Documentary Summer Studies Intensive, they co-created a short documentary called Call Me Harriet Tubman about their friend Muffin, who founded the North Carolina Community Bail Fund of Durham. 

Recent acting credits include Dreaming (assistant puppeteer) with Duke Performances and Freakshow (Mr. Flip) with The Women’s Theatre Festival. They also host and produce a podcast called Go With Grace in which they discuss the impact of white Christian supremacy on our daily lives for the organization Soulforce.

Tori Grace began their cultural organizing work as the Arts and Culture Fellow for Southerners on New Ground, a Southern queer liberation organization. They are adopted from the Philippines and identify as queer, genderqueer, trans, and disabled.

Links:

Filipino/American Artist Directory: Tori Grace Nichols

Instagram: @tori2grace

Go With Grace Podcast

Stretchy Shorts: Declaration of Love Episode 9

Crocodile Twins: Food for Thought Project

ASBX Interview with Tori Grace about Crocodile Twins

Transcript

LISTEN TO ASBX AUDIO DRAMAS:

Master Builder

The New Colossus

Declaration of Love audio anthology

ASBX Shorts

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Transcript
Tamara Kissane:

This is Artist Soapbox.

Tamara Kissane:

Through interviews and original scripted audio fiction, we deliver stories that

Tamara Kissane:

speak to your hearts and your minds.

Juliana Finch:

Hi Soapboxers..

Juliana Finch:

It's your pal Juliana.

Juliana Finch:

Today I get to talk to my friend, Tori Grace Nichols, about writer's block and

Juliana Finch:

taking care of yourself creatively and spiritually and all that great stuff.

Juliana Finch:

Tori Grace Nichols describes themselves as a prismatic performance artist.

Juliana Finch:

They can be seen performing drag as G Cleft at the House of Cox and causing

Juliana Finch:

good trouble around Durham, North Carolina, as a cultural organizer

Juliana Finch:

and stand-up comedian.

Juliana Finch:

Grace also wrote the audio dramas Stretchy Shorts and Crocodile

Juliana Finch:

Twins right here on Artist Soapbox.

Juliana Finch:

So you can check those out.

Juliana Finch:

And they, co-created a short documentary called Call Me Harriet Tubman about

Juliana Finch:

their friend Muffin who founded the North Carolina community bail fund Durham.

Juliana Finch:

Grace also hosts and produces a podcast, called Go with Grace in which they discuss

Juliana Finch:

the impact of white Christian supremacy on our daily lives for the organization

Juliana Finch:

Soulfire.

Juliana Finch:

They are an adoptee from the Philippines and identify as queer gender queer,

Juliana Finch:

trans, and disabled, and on a personal note, Grace and I get to talk every

Juliana Finch:

week where we are accountability buddies for each other's creative process.

Juliana Finch:

And it's such a delight to bring to you one of those conversations that

Juliana Finch:

we have with each other privately every week to a broader audience.

Juliana Finch:

So I hope you will enjoy this interview with Tori Grace Nichols.

Juliana Finch:

So, hi Tori Grace Nichols.

Juliana Finch:

Thanks for joining me today.

Juliana Finch:

I'm so excited to talk to you,

Tori Grace Nichols:

Juliana Finch.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Great to talk to you also.

Juliana Finch:

So this series that I'm doing is all about creative lulls and what

Juliana Finch:

some people might call writer's block.

Juliana Finch:

Tell me about how you feel about that term or that part of the creative cycle.

Juliana Finch:

Have you experienced it and.

Juliana Finch:

What does that feel like for you?

Tori Grace Nichols:

Well, I automatically imagine like the worst parts of it where

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm just like curled up in a ball and bed and there are like deadlines and stuff.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm like, I can't do it.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I feel like I've, I have definitely experienced this and there are

Tori Grace Nichols:

certainly moments where I feel.

Tori Grace Nichols:

More okay.

Tori Grace Nichols:

With the ups and downs and just let myself flow.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And there are other moments where.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Uh, I guess the depression cycle has started and it's

Tori Grace Nichols:

harder to pull myself out of.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yeah.

Juliana Finch:

You've been writing for many years as I have.

Juliana Finch:

And do you notice a kind of pattern about it?

Juliana Finch:

Does it seem random?

Juliana Finch:

How does, how does it hit you when it hits?

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think I feel the blocks the most when I feel

Tori Grace Nichols:

like the stakes are really high and.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That could be like an actual deadline or it could be sort of self-imposed

Tori Grace Nichols:

or self-created like, I'm really, I'm really excited about something, but

Tori Grace Nichols:

somehow I've worked myself up into a dread about completing a thing.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It's really interesting how the brain works that way.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Like, I could be really excited about something, but then it just feels

Tori Grace Nichols:

like I'm just taking such a huge risk.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so they have to sort of be mindful of the anxiety that comes along with that.

Juliana Finch:

Do you think that that's related, like wanting it to be.

Juliana Finch:

Like you think it's related to a type of perfectionism around it.

Juliana Finch:

If it's something you're really excited about, you want it to be as

Juliana Finch:

good as the thing in your head is.

Juliana Finch:

And that feels like a lot of pressure.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Oh yeah.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And again, it feels kind of strange because if it's something I'm

Tori Grace Nichols:

excited about, you know, it should feel as you feel good, but I think,

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think it's also stemming from things that we probably all struggle with, but

Tori Grace Nichols:

like, you know, believing in ourselves believing that our work is worthy and that

Tori Grace Nichols:

people are gonna also be excited about it.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I feel like that's a natural anxiety to when, when we are

Tori Grace Nichols:

putting ourselves out there and it feels like a matter of just kind

Tori Grace Nichols:

of staying in, check with that.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And also.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Learning and practicing a detachment of sorts.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Tell

Juliana Finch:

me about that.

Juliana Finch:

Like what works for you when you're trying to release that grip on,

Juliana Finch:

on worrying about what people will think about it, or if it's going

Juliana Finch:

to be as good as you want it to be.

Juliana Finch:

What's what's helpful.

Juliana Finch:

How do you detach from that?

Tori Grace Nichols:

Most recently, for me, it's been connected with

Tori Grace Nichols:

acting and acting endeavors and just.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Recognizing that I did my work and I did my best and things are, are

Tori Grace Nichols:

going to be what they're going to be.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And oh, and just allowing myself to be even disappointed about something and

Tori Grace Nichols:

recognizing that, that type of feeling is okay and yo, and then like balancing

Tori Grace Nichols:

with, there are lots of opportunities out there and what is mine will be mine.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I can be there.

Tori Grace Nichols:

There are many other things to be excited about in the future, but

Tori Grace Nichols:

it's okay to be a little, a little disheartened and, and, uh, needing to

Tori Grace Nichols:

kind of cope with that in the moment.

Juliana Finch:

So really just giving yourself time to be like,

Juliana Finch:

this feels like crap right now.

Juliana Finch:

And that's okay.

Juliana Finch:

And not trying to push that away too soon.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yeah.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think like, particularly if, depending on people's

Tori Grace Nichols:

approach to work, if it's like.

Tori Grace Nichols:

If people are believing in things like manifestation or femifestation

Tori Grace Nichols:

as it has been reframed sometimes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think it depends on how people are approaching their work or trying

Tori Grace Nichols:

to be mindful about their work, but sometimes there's this pressure

Tori Grace Nichols:

to think positively all the time.

Tori Grace Nichols:

You know, think towards your opportunities all the time, which is,

Tori Grace Nichols:

which is a general good suggestion and to not dwell on the things that

Tori Grace Nichols:

are discouraging, but I've noticed for myself, it's like, it sometimes feels

Tori Grace Nichols:

like a bottleneck or a tensing up.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Cause I'm like, like forcing myself to think positively when actually

Tori Grace Nichols:

I feel pretty sad that I didn't get a gig that I was excited about.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And yes, Like you said, it's kind of like just allowing the full range of

Tori Grace Nichols:

emotions as we throw ourselves into this very vulnerable artistic process.

Juliana Finch:

I'm so glad you said that too, because also just

Juliana Finch:

being writers, being artists means that we do have to explain.

Juliana Finch:

The full range of human emotion.

Juliana Finch:

And if we're gritting our teeth through trying to like be positive

Juliana Finch:

all the time, then you're right.

Juliana Finch:

That is, uh, that's artificial.

Juliana Finch:

And it's, it causes a tension and maybe limits what we can actually

Juliana Finch:

express and do with our writing.

Juliana Finch:

I also noticed that you talked about acting, so obviously you're not just

Juliana Finch:

a writer, you're doing acting you've also written and helped produce

Juliana Finch:

a podcast for Artist Soapbox and

Juliana Finch:

tell me about switching between your different art forms.

Juliana Finch:

When do you do that?

Juliana Finch:

When one is feeling like it maybe needs more attention, or if you hit a low and

Juliana Finch:

one, do you kind of switch to the other or is everything happening all the time?

Tori Grace Nichols:

That reminds me of that movie.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That's coming out soon.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think it's actually called everything everywhere, all over.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

What about it?

Tori Grace Nichols:

Oh, it seems so trippy.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And like an expression of my spiritual life.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That's a different conversation.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Well, in general, I am so interested in all aspects of

Tori Grace Nichols:

production and creativity that.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I've really had to learn to compartmentalize a little bit, and

Tori Grace Nichols:

to also be clear about our role in a certain production and really be

Tori Grace Nichols:

intentional about switching those hats.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I can always appreciate working with a team.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I work best in collaboration, I think, and people who can kind of help me set those

Tori Grace Nichols:

boundaries and help me clarify a role.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So yeah, I, I really enjoy having those different roles, however,

Tori Grace Nichols:

because it, I think it can really fill out a work when you can think about

Tori Grace Nichols:

what is the experience of an actor of the director, of, of the writer.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And really sort of bring that sense of collaboration to a

Tori Grace Nichols:

piece is really exciting to me.

Juliana Finch:

Yeah.

Juliana Finch:

I think it's really useful to have been on the other side of, for example, an

Juliana Finch:

audio drama, which we both, we both been on both sides of, and I think it's

Juliana Finch:

really helpful to be able to put yourself if you are the writer or the director

Juliana Finch:

in the chair or the booth of the actor and think about what their experience

Juliana Finch:

is going to be like on the other side.

Juliana Finch:

And I think it can help make you a better writer if you understand what

Juliana Finch:

an actor might be looking for in a

Tori Grace Nichols:

script.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That's been extremely helpful to have had that experience.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so like, Knowing what, what might feel the most clear.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And then of course, it's also, there's a learning curve with everything.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So getting feedback from people is really key and getting feedback from

Tori Grace Nichols:

other writers and the actors of sort of what made sense and what didn't is

Tori Grace Nichols:

really helpful to build that skill.

Juliana Finch:

And you mentioned how much you enjoy collaboration.

Juliana Finch:

I really do too.

Juliana Finch:

And it's something that's a little bit newer in my life, but I've noticed that.

Juliana Finch:

It helps me with accountability, which is something you were kind of alluding to.

Juliana Finch:

But it also, if I am in one of these blocked periods or these lulls, having

Juliana Finch:

someone to just bounce ideas off of and be playful with is a really great

Juliana Finch:

way for me to kind of come out of that period, because I'm also not focused

Juliana Finch:

intently on what we were talking about at the beginning of the conversation

Juliana Finch:

of like, I'm the solely responsible person for this thing being good.

Juliana Finch:

And the pressure has really taken off and it becomes more

Juliana Finch:

about playing with each other.

Juliana Finch:

Is that something that you experienced when you're collaborating?

Juliana Finch:

Does it help you?

Juliana Finch:

Let's say if you are in a low, is collaboration something that you

Juliana Finch:

might turn to to help with that?

Juliana Finch:

Oh

Tori Grace Nichols:

yes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It's exactly what you said.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It really takes the pressure off.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And since I've also spent a lot of my life in sort of organizer,

Tori Grace Nichols:

social justice movements, a more collaborative community approach

Tori Grace Nichols:

also feels anti-oppressive, it feels.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Uh, combating of these white supremacists capitalist notions that says we have

Tori Grace Nichols:

to do everything by ourselves and we have to be the best at everything

Tori Grace Nichols:

and we are in competition with everyone.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And, uh, it feels like point to me, of art of creating is to

Tori Grace Nichols:

take us out of those mentalities.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That can be really damaging.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So, yes, I really appreciate the people in my life who are willing

Tori Grace Nichols:

to talk through things with me, definitely support accountability.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I definitely have a tendency to just wander or not be

Tori Grace Nichols:

super responsible to myself.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So it's, it's, it's really helpful.

Tori Grace Nichols:

To just be in community with others who are, or who are also interested

Tori Grace Nichols:

in creating and can help with, we can help each other build our projects.

Juliana Finch:

Absolutely.

Juliana Finch:

And I love what you said about taking the competition out of it.

Juliana Finch:

I've always been really resistant to the idea of

Juliana Finch:

um, you know, my industry as a singer songwriter has been very competitive

Juliana Finch:

in the past and it's just not fun.

Juliana Finch:

I want to get on stage and play with people and have a good time.

Juliana Finch:

And I always try to remind myself, that's why we call it playing.

Juliana Finch:

You know, it's supposed to be fun.

Juliana Finch:

And anytime I've been in a situation where it's very intensely competitive,

Juliana Finch:

you know, either a literal competition or people just vying to have

Juliana Finch:

the adoration of the audience or something like that, it's felt really.

Juliana Finch:

Disconnected for me, from what I want to be doing up there.

Juliana Finch:

And collaborative experience really does take that off the table.

Juliana Finch:

You also mentioned being really responsible to yourself, and I would

Juliana Finch:

love to segue that into talking about how to care for yourself.

Juliana Finch:

How do you care for yourself when you're in one of these phases?

Juliana Finch:

When you feel like maybe you don't have ideas or you just not feeling

Juliana Finch:

like sitting down to do the work, like it's just not showing up.

Juliana Finch:

How do you care for.

Juliana Finch:

Yourself, physically, mentally, spiritually, but also, you know,

Juliana Finch:

to help nurture back that creative process in a way that's not maybe

Juliana Finch:

a high pressure, which is what I think a lot of us do to ourselves.

Juliana Finch:

If we feel blocked, it's like, no, we gotta, we must work out of the block.

Juliana Finch:

And that aggressive approach probably doesn't work very well for most people.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Well, I guess the way to even visualize it is if

Tori Grace Nichols:

there's like, you know, a bunch of pent up energy and you've hit a wall.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It seems like the energy needs to go elsewhere versus towards

Tori Grace Nichols:

the wall that is not moving.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So I certainly think about just moving in general, if it it's, you know, just

Tori Grace Nichols:

even shifting and eye gaze or your body.

Tori Grace Nichols:

All the way to just throwing something on the floor, doing some pushups or something

Tori Grace Nichols:

or waiting a whole day, you know, just like giving some work some space.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So it's not becoming unfun, right?

Tori Grace Nichols:

The genre might not always fit, but you know, creating should also be fun.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It should be something that, that gives you life and that you feel good about.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That is nourishing.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And that is, is not frustrating.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So I, I do all of those things take breaks, do pushups.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I also, sometimes I think of late I've actually revisited old works work

Tori Grace Nichols:

that I felt really good about that.

Tori Grace Nichols:

You know, when I got on the other side of it, it was like, dang, I did that.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And I'm really proud of what I accomplished.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think it's important to remember.

Tori Grace Nichols:

We have accomplished things.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And we have evidence that we have accomplished things

Tori Grace Nichols:

even in our own body of work.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So it's helpful to look back sometimes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And I also look to other other sources.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I might listen to a podcast that's connected to something

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm working on or not.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I might look to something totally different, but it's

Tori Grace Nichols:

really interesting how.

Tori Grace Nichols:

If you give some space to your work, you can make connections to

Tori Grace Nichols:

a different thing that might give you a different perspective that

Tori Grace Nichols:

might freshen the work a little bit.

Juliana Finch:

Yeah.

Juliana Finch:

And this, this is where I really want.

Juliana Finch:

Listeners to realize that these periods where we're not creating output,

Juliana Finch:

it's because there's input happening.

Juliana Finch:

And if there's not input happening, then there's synthesis happening.

Juliana Finch:

So this, we have to go and experience the world.

Juliana Finch:

We have to have experiences in order to write about them.

Juliana Finch:

And so there naturally has to be this period where.

Juliana Finch:

You know, you made a great point about making connections.

Juliana Finch:

We can't make those connections if we don't give them time to happen.

Juliana Finch:

And so that period of not generating doesn't mean that

Juliana Finch:

there's nothing going on, you know?

Juliana Finch:

And like, I love this idea of revisiting stuff that you were proud of in the past,

Juliana Finch:

because sometimes it really does feel like what we do is very ephemeral and

Juliana Finch:

the process itself is kind of ephemoral.

Juliana Finch:

I mean, as evidenced by many books and podcasts, there are about trying

Juliana Finch:

to figure out the creative process.

Juliana Finch:

I mean, even it's our own job and we still are like, what is going

Juliana Finch:

on because it's hard to nail down.

Juliana Finch:

And it is so much of a, a, a serial kind of thing that it's nice to be

Juliana Finch:

able to look back and say, Oh, yeah.

Juliana Finch:

I actually really liked this thing that I made and I can do that again.

Juliana Finch:

I did it in the past and I can do it again because I know for me, sometimes

Juliana Finch:

it feels like every time I make something it's like, this is the last thing I'm

Juliana Finch:

ever going to make this big one, guys,

Tori Grace Nichols:

the pressure, like this is going to be the thing,

Tori Grace Nichols:

but again, not, not exactly helpful.

Juliana Finch:

Right.

Juliana Finch:

And there's no like destination that you're trying to get to necessarily.

Juliana Finch:

Or if there is usually if you get to that goal or that destination.

Juliana Finch:

It doesn't feel the way you thought it would feel so, or, or you

Juliana Finch:

just then want a different thing.

Juliana Finch:

So wanting a specific goal might give you some good direction, but it's

Juliana Finch:

not necessarily the reason to create.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And that's like, that's the maybe sometimes

Tori Grace Nichols:

contradictory difficult part.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That sort of cheesy thing.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That's just like embrace the unknown, which, you know, if you've achieved

Tori Grace Nichols:

that steadily congratulations.

Tori Grace Nichols:

But particularly in the, in the context of our world at this time, like being

Tori Grace Nichols:

okay with the unknown feels does not feel attainable and actually feels quite scary.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So I think it's okay to.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Just be unsettled when you're in a, an a middle place.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I would

Juliana Finch:

love to actually talk about the last couple of years.

Juliana Finch:

Just a little bit, which is that I think there's been a lot of folks.

Juliana Finch:

A lot of artists have really pressured themselves to be creating

Juliana Finch:

during this time as though.

Juliana Finch:

This is a rest period.

Juliana Finch:

And you know, I've said this a bunch of times over the last couple of years,

Juliana Finch:

you know, when I see somebody post about like, if you're not writing a novel,

Juliana Finch:

what are you doing with your time?

Juliana Finch:

And it's like, well, I'm surviving a global tragedy.

Juliana Finch:

Yeah.

Juliana Finch:

And that actually does take energy as well.

Juliana Finch:

So, did you feel pressure to create during this time that was quote

Juliana Finch:

unquote off for some people, which I don't think it was time off for most

Juliana Finch:

people, lucky you, if it was, but did you feel pressure to make stuff?

Juliana Finch:

Were you able to, like, what was your relationship to

Juliana Finch:

your work during this time?

Tori Grace Nichols:

Right.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm remembering some of beginning works being like online drag performances.

Tori Grace Nichols:

My drag family was really trying to find a way to uplift people.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I think we, we sort of answered that call as artists, and

Tori Grace Nichols:

then we experienced our own burnout, our ownrecognition that felt forced

Tori Grace Nichols:

and difficult for us to sort of be an uplifting source when we

Tori Grace Nichols:

are also impacted by the pandemic and everything that was going on.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So I feel like I took a little bit of time to sort of sit still and to be,

Tori Grace Nichols:

but I'm traditionally kind of a restless person and sort of have to be moving and

Tori Grace Nichols:

doing what became different about my work was, was sort of a return to writing.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think I I've been predominantly a performance artist.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I did take the opportunity of not, not being able to be out in the world

Tori Grace Nichols:

to actually go inside myself and, and figure out how I can express that way.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I think through Artist Soapbox and some others were, I was just given a lot of

Tori Grace Nichols:

really great opportunities to write.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yeah.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That became an important expression.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm recognizing more and more how much I, I really love writing and

Tori Grace Nichols:

it, and I'm excited to continue expressing myself in that way.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And

Juliana Finch:

I'm excited to read and, or.

Juliana Finch:

Hear them

Tori Grace Nichols:

and make them out, interact with them and perform in them.

Juliana Finch:

It's been honestly so much fun being able to do some

Juliana Finch:

of this stuff remotely as well.

Juliana Finch:

And I think that's been on one hand, as you said, I think a lot

Juliana Finch:

of us felt pressure, positive pressure to sort of step up and

Juliana Finch:

help uplift people during this time.

Juliana Finch:

But yet being able to sit back and go, okay, now we also need to cope

Juliana Finch:

and need to rest and take care of ourselves in order to have something

Juliana Finch:

to give later, but being able to.

Juliana Finch:

Take that time to maybe re-examine if there's something else, if there's

Juliana Finch:

another art form that you want to get into and something that you might've

Juliana Finch:

been neglecting in the past, like you're writing saying, Hey, I'm still here.

Juliana Finch:

When you're coming out of a process of low or a time of creating less.

Juliana Finch:

I know for me that the process of when it starts to come back

Juliana Finch:

has a very specific feeling.

Juliana Finch:

And what does that experience like for you when you feel it start to come

Tori Grace Nichols:

back?

Tori Grace Nichols:

It feels like focus, which, which is, is hard for me.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And.

Tori Grace Nichols:

There are also moments.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It feels like channeling.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Like I finally got the messages that I want to convey and that I am also

Tori Grace Nichols:

channel channeling messages that are supposed to be in the world.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So it feels very purposeful and, and therefore kind of easy to access.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It feels like what I'm doing is important.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And, uh, and then there's my dog, Sandy.

Tori Grace Nichols:

She,

Juliana Finch:

she also has important

Tori Grace Nichols:

messages.

Tori Grace Nichols:

She has her very important messages, which is, um, as the princess diva of the

Tori Grace Nichols:

house, she feels neglected how dare we do other things with our lives anyways.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yeah.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It's always very exciting when I can feel like I'm back in a flow and, and

Tori Grace Nichols:

for me, It probably is supported by like, I've made a clear goal for myself.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Like I've created a plan that makes sense for myself as well.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I'm, I'm moving some stuff forward.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Do

Juliana Finch:

you set deadlines for yourself?

Juliana Finch:

Even if there is an external.

Juliana Finch:

Deadline.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Oh goodness.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm really trying.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm like,

Juliana Finch:

there's no right answer.

Tori Grace Nichols:

It's actually so important that we kind of

Tori Grace Nichols:

like take ownership of what we want to do in the world.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I'm really trying.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That is particularly I've, I've recently transitioned out of a nonprofit job,

Tori Grace Nichols:

a full-time job, and I'll be pursuing full-time creating, moving forward.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I am my own boss.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I am the thing that is going to be creating sustainability for myself.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So I'm currently really working on setting those deadlines for myself and taking

Tori Grace Nichols:

them seriously for my own sustainability, like I mentioned, but I think to take my.

Tori Grace Nichols:

My talent and my creativity seriously as like believing that my work is important

Tori Grace Nichols:

and that I have a right to be creating and putting things out in the world.

Juliana Finch:

Do you have a time of day that you feel, and now that you're in

Juliana Finch:

charge of your own schedule, you can.

Juliana Finch:

Approach your own natural energy flow throughout the day.

Juliana Finch:

Is there a time of day that is more for writing and a time of day

Juliana Finch:

that's more for something else?

Juliana Finch:

Or do you stop and everything you're doing to write when you feel like writing,

Juliana Finch:

how does, how does that work for you?

Juliana Finch:

Do you think

Tori Grace Nichols:

there are, there are certainly moments where if I

Tori Grace Nichols:

have inspiration about something.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I will do my best to try to document that.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And I am the best at that with jokes.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Hmm.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I have to sort of a running note in my phone where I can write a joke idea down.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And that is also something that I learned from Tamara and, uh, really,

Tori Grace Nichols:

uh, writing for the last pod podcast project, which is, if something seems

Tori Grace Nichols:

interesting to you write it down, then things don't have to be in order.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And that was really helpful that if I had an idea about a character,

Tori Grace Nichols:

it would be cool if this character did this, just write it down.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So then at some point it's material to incorporate, at some point

Juliana Finch:

I write that way too, very sort of out of order, and

Juliana Finch:

collaborating with Tamara on Jesus Pancake, she learned very quickly that

Juliana Finch:

I am like, I don't know where this scene goes, but here's the scene I wrote.

Juliana Finch:

And maybe you can find a place to put it, which I, you know, she was

Juliana Finch:

very merciful about that, but I did pressure myself initially to try

Juliana Finch:

to write a story in chronological order and realize that that is not.

Juliana Finch:

How it works for me, at least, with, with scripts and

Juliana Finch:

screenplays and things like that.

Juliana Finch:

I'm like, well, here's a scene that has fully formed in my

Juliana Finch:

head and I have to write it down and I'll figure it out later.

Juliana Finch:

And I think taking off the pressure of having to be a certain

Juliana Finch:

structure is super helpful.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yeah.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And it, it makes it, you know, more, again, it should be fun.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That being said, I am trying to cultivate the better habits that will

Tori Grace Nichols:

just personally make me feel better in my body and help the work keep going.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So, you know, trying to do things that kind of get myself in a good

Tori Grace Nichols:

head space before trying to do any creative work is really helpful.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And I feel like I'm also like transitioning my own connection

Tori Grace Nichols:

to time and things like that.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Cause I, I think I have been more of a night owl, which I let myself do

Tori Grace Nichols:

that, particularly if I can't sleep well and I'm just going to be up doing

Tori Grace Nichols:

things, but trying to just recognize that sleep is really important.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Yeah, myself on a schedule where I'm kind of like prepping myself

Tori Grace Nichols:

for the day and then taking care of whatever kind of annoying admin, more

Tori Grace Nichols:

worky, worky things I have to do.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And then that way.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Things can be spacious and I can just kind of let myself go into them for more time.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I love

Juliana Finch:

that phrasing of it being spacious.

Juliana Finch:

And yeah, when you do have like an annoying admin thing sitting,

Juliana Finch:

it's very hard to let yourself relax into the process and the

Juliana Finch:

space that you need for that.

Juliana Finch:

On that note, I would love, you're talking about cultivating good habits.

Juliana Finch:

I would love for you to leave us with a tip or a practical thing or

Juliana Finch:

a fun thing, whatever strikes you as something that you hope that someone

Juliana Finch:

experiencing a lull in their creative process might try to either take care

Juliana Finch:

of themselves during that time or two.

Juliana Finch:

You know, court inspiration again, what is something that has worked

Juliana Finch:

for you in the past that you might suggest to someone else?

Juliana Finch:

Um,

Tori Grace Nichols:

again, this might not be available for everyone, but

Tori Grace Nichols:

for me, the guidance that I've gotten most recently, and actually from a,

Tori Grace Nichols:

a friend who has a psychic medium.

Tori Grace Nichols:

So my creative work is also really spiritual for me.

Tori Grace Nichols:

The messages I got were that it should be fun.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And if I'm not having fun, then you know, that's what needs to shift.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And so I'd say, allow yourself the breaks and the reset that help

Tori Grace Nichols:

you enjoy your work and help you recognize that your work is important.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And.

Tori Grace Nichols:

That just like I said before, you have every right to be creating

Tori Grace Nichols:

and sharing with the world.

Tori Grace Nichols:

And when it's fun and purposeful for you, it'll be fun and purposeful for others.

Juliana Finch:

I think that is awesome advice.

Juliana Finch:

Thank you so much for taking some time to talk with me today, grace, and I know it's

Juliana Finch:

going to be relatable and helpful for our listeners, and I'm sure I will see you

Juliana Finch:

again very soon because we are actually accountability, buddies, accountability

Juliana Finch:

buddies for each other as well.

Juliana Finch:

And we have a little writing date every week and that's probably something

Juliana Finch:

I would also recommend to people is.

Juliana Finch:

And find a bud who can, even if you're just texting them to say, Hey,

Juliana Finch:

I'm going to write for 20 minutes.

Juliana Finch:

So when we get off this call, grace, I'm going to go right for half an hour.

Juliana Finch:

I'm telling you now.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Okay, wonderful.

Tori Grace Nichols:

I'm there with you.

Tori Grace Nichols:

All right.

Juliana Finch:

Thank you.

Juliana Finch:

Thank you so much.

Juliana Finch:

And I'm excited to see

Tori Grace Nichols:

what's next for you.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Thank you so much.

Tori Grace Nichols:

Thanks for having me.

Tamara Kissane:Established in:Tamara Kissane:

studio based in North Carolina.

Tamara Kissane:

Artist Soapbox produces original scripted audio fiction and an ongoing interview

Tamara Kissane:

podcast about the creative process.

Tamara Kissane:

We cultivate aspiring audio Dramatists and producers, and we partner

Tamara Kissane:

with organizations and individuals to create new audio content.

Tamara Kissane:

For more information and ways to support our work, check out

Tamara Kissane:

artistsoapbox.org, or find us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Tamara Kissane:

The Artist Soapbox theme song is ashes by Juliana Finch.

Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as an audio production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just an interview podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, events, and workshops. We create and produce audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Declaration of Love, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Artist Soapbox is about Empowerment & Connection.

Artist Soapbox was founded on the belief that if we (humans/artists) talk with each other, and if we LISTEN to each other, then we’ll make better art. We’ll form a stronger community. We’ll feel more empowered and less alone.

Artist Soapbox goes deep into the creative process.

On Artist Soapbox podcast, artists in the Triangle are invited to put words around their creative journeys and processes.

Artist Soapbox explores all artistic mediums.

We believe we can learn from all artists. Artist Soapbox is open to the full spectrum of art-makers and has interviewed creatives in theatre, dance, visual, literary, craft, administration, film making, photography, music, design and more.

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