Tag Archives: creativity

Make a distinction

The only resolution I made for 2018 was to distinguish between the work I do for love – my own writing, and the work I do for money  – word-smithing for businesses.

Distinctions bring clarity. And clarity enables us to be creative, productive and to attract opportunities effortlessly.

One of my most favourite books is A Room with A View by E M Forster in which he champions love and truth over social niceties. Without the honest appraisal of what we truly love we will forever be “in a muddle” – and therefore less effective in our efforts.

Giving more focus to the things we love rather than the things we do out of obligation imbues us with clarity and power.

So it’s worth being honest with ourselves and making the distinction.

As a result my writing spark is back with a vengeance. I’m having fun writing my blog and new business enquiries are arriving at my door. Before I was muddled in my thinking about writing – so my focus and energy were confused and dissipated. I was perhaps falling for the assumption that having more things to focus on would rob me of time.

Rather having sharper focus on more distinct things feels like I have generated more time, and infinitely more ideas. Inspiration and words are flowing; and my skills are in demand.

The Journal Writer’s Handbook contains an exercise called Lists of Distinction, encouraging you to distinguish between your talents, gifts, skills and interests. Sharpening your focus on each throws up more clarity, more possibility and more choice about the things that lead you to a greater sense of creativity, fulfillment and joy.

Don’t be muddled. Be distinctive. Make your own distinctions.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative process, Journal Writing, The Journal Writer's Handbook, Uncategorized

Inspiration or Motivation

I have often found it a lot of effort to motivate myself. I usually manage it – but it often leaves me feeling tired, and unlikely to want to repeat the effort any time soon.

So I was delighted to hear Abraham Hicks’ insistence that there is more joyful productivity likely when we are moved by inspiration rather than motivation.

This was music to my ears.

For years I have periodically asserted that I like to “follow my nose” in my projects, commercial or creative. I usually prefer to see where the mood takes me, rather than slavishly follow a pattern or plan, which quickly has me restless and bored.

To me, this is all about being guided by inspiration rather than force. It feels like gliding rather than trudging through life.

This way of proceeding can prove chaotic, indecisive and messy to the casual observer. It might seem flakey, unreliable and weird.

Of course that would be a problem if I were here to live life according to someone else’s agenda.

But since I’m not here to do that, following my nose, or my heart, or my bliss, makes things much more fun and spontaneous moment to moment. It means I get to choose the impulse that feels the best to me, and follow that to its conclusion. It also feels less like I’m pushing things uphill, and more like I’m free-wheeling down the other side of a hill I’ve climbed through courage and vision and honesty rather than effort and obligation and pressure.

I have had a great deal of really cool experiences with this approach. It helps me be more ready to say YES to opportunities as they present themselves. And it has also opened the flood gates to a whole host of new creative ideas.

If you are looking for ways to tap into your creative imagination, or if you are keen to live the life you want, you would do worse than to give yourself permission to explore what impulses occur to you, moment to moment, when you allow yourself off the motivation hook and get ready to be inspired.

2 Comments

Filed under Creative process, Law of Attraction

Metamorphosis through art and journaling

It’s always a huge privilege to talk to artists about their work. I find it brings their creations to life for me in a way I don’t know that I’d get just by viewing their work in a gallery. I love to understand their process, the questions they begin with, the choices they make and how these present themselves.

Creating art is vital to our humanity, though often in our utilitarian, materialistic worldview it is more convenient, or more practical, to believe otherwise. However I am a fan of art and artists.

As a journal writer I like to reflect on what art has given me whenever I have encountered it. A couple of weeks ago I enjoyed a fabulous conversation with Swindon-based multi-media artist Jill Carter. Her collection Curious Narratives contains drawings, found items, photographs, stitched dolls, journals and items to wear, chronicling her time travelling in Italy, in search of the mythical Sybils, the prophetic women of the Classical world.

The Sybils

Jill’s Sybils, depicted here in pen and ink, are left to right a doll, a healer and a donor. It feels like these are symbols of her process and motivation.

I am intrigued by what dolls, and stitching, mean to Jill. Both are central to her work. Jill tells me that dolls signify our childlike creativity and expression, but she also considers them to be the story keepers, representing ritual and spiritual healing, like religious icons.

After working in social settings Jill describes feeling overwhelmed by people’s stories and how she felt herself being drawn to stitching dolls. I wonder whether this is about containment, holding in that which we cannot process or resolve. It’s like praying, transferring our pain onto an inanimate approximation of ourselves, in the hope of transformation. And the thought occurs to me that this could be why some people find dolls creepy – the artificial, frozen features are the repositories of unidentified fear and suffering.

After the stitching comes the healing. This feels like integration, and is akin for me to journaling. Once we are healed, once we have that clarity, then we can give. It is a metamorphosis of sorts.

Where are you on the journey from stitching to giving? How does your journal and your process help you heal?

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Creative process, Journal Writing, Reflection

David Bowie is… a creative genius

I’ve written about Bowie before on this blog, and I make no apology for doing so again. For precisely one week ago I visited the David Bowie is exhibition at London’s V&A and was once again transported by his words and music.

David Bowie again

The things that most stand out for me from this exciting showcase of Bowie’s work through sound, video, personal diaries, notes and costume, is the musician’s constant assertion that there is no authorial voice in his creations. Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke and other of his performance personae seem deliberately to negate the identity of the performer. And looking at his most recent album cover there is no image at all of Bowie, just a plain white square over the photo.

There is something important in this negation of the authorial voice. Something which gives greater life and vibrancy to the musical and artistic creation perhaps. Or which simply causes the fans to scream more loudly, so difficult to tolerate is the idea that the person performing is simply a beautiful and tantalising illusion.

The next important thing is Bowie’s approach to song-writing, his chopping up of words and phrases and random rearrangement of them, or his ability to capture lyrics in their entirety, in one take on the page, so the words we read are the words we hear. Surrealist chance or surreal imagination? A combination of the two.

Self-negation, illusion, chance and imagination. A potent mix. A vibrant creative recipe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative process

3 steps to transformation

OK so the title of this blog sounds very “Deepak Chopra” but I promise my insights have arisen by way of something rather more prosaic than spiritual enlightenment.

This has been a month of record temperatures in the UK – and of major house renovations at my home in Wiltshire.

In fact the whole of 2013 so far has seen rather a lot of paint-rolling, wallpaper stripping, stud-wall installation and stud-wall removal as we’ve tackled décor projects in our bedroom, family bathroom, ensuite bathroom, lounge and downstairs study. The building dust has been inches thick. And it’s all this work that has triggered my insights into what it takes to truly transform. I’m wondering if they work for personal growth as well as for domestic DIY.

First of all, the destruction phase brings a certain amount of euphoria. Ripping off wall paper, emptying rooms, knocking down walls all carry a certain no-going-back thrill as you realise you forgot to book a skip or cover up all the furniture you don’t want to be affected by dust. Oh well.

Next the transition phase means you have to make good the surfaces to be painted or papered. For us this time there has been proper plastering to do – which in the absence of a professional my hubby decided to take on himself. Needless to say the first attempt didn’t pass muster, so the whole lot had to be re-sanded and prepared from scratch. There was much tearing out of hair.

Transition also means making choices – what paint colour? What style of wall paper? What floor covering? What colour of tile? And then the painstaking process of the first coat, the pasting, the grouting, as the space begins to shift towards its new state.

Finally the delicious restoration phase. This is the time to splurge the credit card on soft furnishings! To reconstitute the space in the way you want to live going forward. This is where you get to see the fruits of your efforts, when you finally try on this transformed skin and feel what it’s like to  move about in. This is my favourite part – though I also realise that I try and live too long in restoration mode and often it’s time for destruction again before everything’s been properly restored.

As for personal growth, do these steps apply? Often it’s necessary to slough off an out-dated attitude or habit in order to make way for something new. Next we need to make choices about what the new approach will be, and make the first steps in the transition.  Then we need to find out what life feels like within that newly created approach, and include the right support and resources that will restore us to balance and calm, enabling us to make progress on our chosen path.

So transformation is an active process that requires some key stages within. What do the three steps to transformation entail for you – and how will you use your journal on the way?

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative process, Journal Writing

News of summer and autumn journal writing events in Swindon

The Town Gardens in Spring by Jane Milner Barry

Image of Old Town Gardens Bandstand courtesy of Jane Milner-Barry

If you’re in Swindon, Wiltshire this July through to October and you feel like spicing up your reflective writing, discovering new creative inspiration and meeting new friends try out these 3 journaling opportunities to give your creativity a boost and ease you into the darker months.

In July and September it’s time to explore what place means to you with two free workshops, as part of Town Gardens’ Little Big Festival,  guiding you towards a new reflective and artistic appreciation of your environment.

Then from September to the end of October embark on your own voyage of reflective self-discovery with a guided series of workshops exploring the exercises in The Journal Writer’s Handbook. Treat yourself to the very special feeling of companionable, stove-side journaling at Lower Shaw Farm. It’ll be just the thing to keep the autumnal chill at bay.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative process, Journal Writing

Recipe for writing

IMG_6358

This week I tidied my desk. The photo depicts the tidy version. Honestly.

“Is that an annual event?” asked my friend Bea.

“Of course,” I replied, “whether it needs it or not.”

It was a relief to discover that there was still a desk under the morass of paper, notebooks, sticky notes, manuscripts, tax office correspondence, business cards, paper clips, CDs, data sticks, receipts and unidentifiable wires and jack plugs scattered all over its surface. It is no wonder that my thinking has lacked focus. My desk has been a disaster zone.

The rather flimsy excuse for this state of affairs is that I’m spinning so many plates I haven’t got time to make sure my desk is clear as well! Such is my life as a freelance work-from-home Mum that I use my desk as a holding area for a whole host of stuff that I mean to get back to later after cooking dinner, or taking my daughter to her drama club, or hefting in the laundry. The reality is that often I’m so jaded by the time I sit down I just rest my elbows on top of the junk and gaze glassily at Facebook. The net result being that I don’t write. Which sometimes means I don’t get paid, and sometimes, more seriously, that I begin to question my capabilities.

Astoundingly however, having sifted through all the junk and ruthlessly chucked some of it and re-cycled other of it, I saw before me a desk space upon which there was nothing but a computer monitor, keyboard, phone, spiral bound pad and pencil. It was the most seductive thing I’ve seen in a long time. I could not wait to sit at it; I even leaped out of bed the morning after, as soon as the alarm went off, desperate to make sure that it hadn’t all been a crazy dream, or that the desk goblins hadn’t returned overnight to wreak havoc. Suddenly I felt energised and in control, ready to take on all my telephone interviews and tap out all my articles with super quick efficiency.

And what delighted me even more was that thousands of words appeared for my latest writing project. Liberated from the oppressive piles of paper and junk, they wormed their way up my unconstrained elbows, along my ergonomically well-supported forearms, through my fevered, fast-typing fingers, and onto the screen.

I’m gradually getting the message. Being in nature and having a tidy desk are two vital staples for me to get down to write and feel productive. I’m sure there are other ingredients for this particular cake. What are yours?

3 Comments

Filed under Creative process