Pinching the flow of creativity

In Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist’s Way, I find a compelling chapter that covers the importance of recovering a sense of self-protection when it comes to one’s creative potential.   This protection is against the blocks that each artist employs to pinch the flow of creativity.   It’s as if once we have really gotten going, it’s the natural order of things to try to squelch it. To sabotage the wide range of possibilities that exists within each of us.

 

The various methods of blocking we employ range from food abuse, sex abuse, liquor or drug abuse, distracting ourselves with busyness – and other addictions in general.

Why is it that we do this pinching off of creative flow on purpose?

 

Fear.

 

It’s plain and simple fear.

 

It’s as if the hunger for the high that comes from the wave we ride is too much to handle.

 

Or, perhaps it’s that the small snapshot of hope that this life is extraordinary is dampened by the reality that life is hard.   We reach dramatically for the high only knowing that the high is really just outside our grasp and even if we push ourselves to reach even higher, we will never truly grasp the golden egg.   Not really. It’s there within reach, but something always forces us back down to earth and we must start over again.

 

And that is exhausting.

 

So, after time, perhaps we reach less fervently.

 

We barely extend the arm and we still climb, but we don’t climb as high.   For then, the drop is less painful.

 

And then one day, we look up and once again we wish and hope that we were wrong.

 

And, we try again. And we push ourselves to go to heights we never reached before and then, we fall. Again.   And, we’re not sure why we tried again in the first place.

 

Did we forgot what the fall would feel like? The disappointment. The disgust. The fear of failure. All over again.   The cycle. Again.

 

Perhaps it is a matter of reaching this time for some help.

 

To not climb on our own.   To rely on a circle of like minding individuals who can cheer us on and remind us of our full potential. To not isolate ourselves in our art. But to reach for other artists, in whatever discipline that art form yields.   And to listen to their stories, their motivations, their hopes.

 

Where are these people?     They can be found at (perhaps) an Artist’s Way Group near you. Search for it on the internet- you’d be surprised. I found one and I am headed there later today.   I have only attended one session back on a cold February night at a local library when a storm was brewing. Many  made it that night, despite the horrible ice and snow crusted road conditions. And we spoke, each one of us, about what our creativity outlets were and how are creativity flowed.   And, it was a marvelous evening.  The memory of it dances around my mind as one of the most delightful times I have spent with other human company.     Tonight, we will discuss what makes for Authentic Creativity- and the focus is on Julia Cameron’s book- week 10 (chapter 10).

 

Cameron shares in in this chapter:

“The choice to block is a creative U-Turn. We turn back on ourselves. Like water forced to a standstill, we turn stagnant. The self-honesty lurking in us all always knows when we choose against our greater good. It marks a little jot on our spiritual blackboard: “Did it again.”.   And then: “It takes grace and courage to admit and surrender our blocking devices.”   And also: “As we become aware of our blocking devices – food, busyness, alcohol, sex, other drugs- we can feel our U-turn as we make them. The blocks no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try – perhaps slowly at first and erratically – to ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with and worth with.”

 

 

As I consider the years and years of wasted time. Finding distractions. Not following through. Reaching but not grasping. Shutting off the flow.   Dulling the ache with food and binge TV watching. Putting off creativity.   I realize how much truth lies in Cameron’s words.   And how marvelous it is that she wrote this book to reach the many who would pick up the book in an effort to reach deep inside and find the creative well that exists within each one of us, and tap it.

 

So grateful for these moments of discovery and awareness – and hope.

A Room to Write.

 

 

There are so many potential distractions as I make my way to a place of writing.   My mind is all over the place.   I pick up my iPad to check on the WordPress stats. I browse through other people’s posts. I like this one, comment on another. Consider other social media. And then there are web searches for ideas on what to write about.   There is a time and a place for all of this activity. But when the time comes when I am to sit and just write, I need to pull myself away from those distractions and focus my attention completely on the vital task at hand. Daily pages. Morning pages.

 

 

In an Advice series of posts on WordPress, author Amanda McCormick offers up encouragement to other writers. One of Amanda’s most recent posts offers that one must make time to write and she shares a quote from J.K Rowling which suggests: “I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards her firstborn egg”- I like that image. It’s vivid and feels active. Guard your time to write. With this focus, and Amanda’s urgings, I find her to be a generous soul. How kind to create a place other writers can go to get helpful information and resources on improving and reaching for their own goals. She shares in her profile that she has been writing since she was eleven years old. How magnificent for her that she knew so early on what her passion was. And how lovely that part of her writing make-up is to care about offering advice to others. She helps to propel others in a community of writers to forge their own way.

Amanda sets a goal of 1K words for herself a day.   And I consider that this is a manageable goal for me as well. I know it is physically possible because I pushed out around 1600 words a day during NaNoWriMo; of course, in that instance, I had a specific focus: a novel and a set of characters. And in that novel, I had investment – even from the very beginning. The core of the idea of the novel was bubbling up inside of me and pressing to get out.   And it was such fun. And, now I have this collection of 54000+ words to work through.   And even that stage is filled with excitement and enjoyment mixed in with some frustration and wonder. How will it end? I have the beginning and parts of the middle and need to finish it, re-arrange it and nurture it into its full potential.

 

During this next period of daily pages, I could lean into that project as well, when other things don’t pop up for me. Or, can I? Are daily pages meant to take me onto a completely different tack?   A way to talk to my inner self, to consult my wise soul and find new threads to explore?

 

On Thursday, I am going to a community Artist’s Way meeting.   On that day, I am encouraged to bring a sample representation of authentic creativity. It could be one of my former posts.  Am I ready to share my authentic self with a group of others? The whole point of my blog at the beginning was anonymity. It was safe. No one that I knew would push me down.   No one to invalidate my passion. I don’t know why I thought anyone would invalidate me. Maybe because I didn’t feel valid in the first place?   I didn’t feel I could honestly call myself a writer.   I mean, who did I think I was?

 

And now?   Who do I think I am?

 

Am I a writer?   Do I have the right to call myself a writer?

 

Isn’t it interesting how we can disqualify ourselves so easily?  Is it because we have a higher ideal of what we consider a valid writer?   Do I have a high standard and am I not sure that I measure up to it? What would it take? Is it because I never took formal training in writing?   My degree is in something else.   Had I spent four to eight years in formal schooling on writing, would that have done it for me?   Would I have felt more legitimate as a writer?   Would I have felt I could justifiably render and submit a quality product to an audience via a professional editor and publisher?   Am I not legitimate today because of this lack of formal training?

 

Still, I write. And when I write, I feel better.   It refreshes me and invigorates me.   When I am writing, I have an energy that feels positive and hopeful.   So, I will keep writing. And, if it turns into something of a professional quality and if someone feels it is good enough, then that’s a bonus.   The goal for me cannot be publication on its own.   I don’t want to just publish. I want to express, create, unfurl and extend what is inside of me onto the page. To see it before me so that I can better understand life, mine and the universe.   Connections. Mysteries. All of it.   One word at a time.

 

A year ago, I sought out the idea of organizing my life and creating a space to cradle my passion for writing.   I picked up books on organizing, including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.   Up until then, my room was a disorganized mess. I did not have a place to write. The room had to contain all of my earthly belongings when I decided to move back into my parent’s home to help in their senior years. I got rid of so much when I moved in.   Sent things on to other homes that I felt could use the items. Offered up furnishings to people who had a need, kitchen supplies to others. The rest to Goodwill. Still, so much remained that had to be contained within one bedroom and a walk in closet.   The room was wall to wall stuff… a place of chaos and certainly not a place of peace and encouragement for creativity.   When I needed to write, I would go instead to coffee houses and plop down for a few hours to write.  It was a solution. But somehow required special planning. It was not as spontaneous as I would have liked. I really needed a safe and quiet place to go and write. A Room of My Own- to write.

 

Over the course of the last six months, I have employed other strategies to minimize my stuff. I took a class on Vision Mapping and came away with some good ideas. More bags exited the home containing clothes, household items, shoes and books. With this activity, I have made room.   And this morning is my first morning of writing in my new space, on a new desk. A corner of my room has now been officially  converted to my writing space.   The place I can go to write. A real desk. The window is open to my right, facing the woods. I hear the rustle of leaves as the wind ebbs and flows.   From my TV, I hear the gentle sounds of pan flutes and steel drums from the Soundscapes Channel that I turned on when I got myself ready to write.   The volume is quite low, barely audible. Truly background music. And, now that song ends and it morphs into a new piece by Matthew Labarge called “First Light”, a soft piano tune that quietly frames my writing space. I look over at the TV momentarily and I see that the Soundscape Channel screen offers quotes.   The one facing me now is:

 

“Resolve to know thyself; and know that he who finds himself loses his misery” – Matthew Arnold.

 

Well then!   Isn’t that part of finding an Authentic Self- and guiding that self into Authentic Creativity.   Tuning into our true self and sharing that in some way with others or even, with oneself. Is art not art unless it is shared? And, can the sharing be with oneself?   Must one have an immediate audience for the art to be enjoyed.   Can that audience not be the self? At least for the moment.   And there you go; 1K+ done!

 

I have more to write today, and more time to do it.   I now turn to the novel.   How does Nina get involved in the underground movement? Who draws her in? When exactly does it happen and what are the stages of it?   What are her fears and does she find purpose in it? What are her risks and what does she accomplish? So many threads.

 

Ah, yes. Indeed. It Is Time to Write.