Observations from nature: creativity in the making

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Our woodlands beckoned today, so I wandered off to the marsh again with camera in hand. The goose’s nest atop the beaver lodge is now empty and I caught the barest glimpse of the geese and at least one gosling in the distant grasses. A couple mallards drifted in and out of sight, too. I sat on my bench in the silence of the sunny afternoon and wondered where all the other wildlife were hiding. We live five minutes from four different lakes, so I suppose they could have been galavanting.

Bench

I’d say my afternoon qualified for what Julia Cameron calls an ‘Artist’s Date’… “some small adventure.” In WALKING IN THIS WORLD: THE PRACTICAL ART OF CREATIVITY, she says,

“When I am on an Artist’s Date, I stand a little outside the flow of hurried time. I declare an hour off limits from hurried production and I have the chance to marvel at my own “being” produced. I am just one soul amid so many souls, one life led amid a bouquet of lives. When I step aside from pushing time, from facing the clock, even for just one hour, I feel myself drawn to merciful scale.”

“Nothing is too small,” she adds. And I agree. There is nothing insignificant in the world that surrounds me during my wandering.

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“Artists throughout the centuries have talked about inspiration. They have reported the whispers of the divine that came to them when they inclined their ear to listen. Aligning their own creativity with that of their creator, composers exclaimed, ‘Straight away the ideas flew in on me!’ Such ideas can — and do — fly in on all of us. They are the squirrel scampering along the branch. They are the stray pink blossom lighting on a cheekbone. They are the light but definite touch of the unseen world touching our own whenever we are willing to be touched.”

Not everyone has the physical capability necessary for a walk in the woods. Not everyone has the opportunity or the time to take an hour off in the  middle of the afternoon. But I’ve come to believe  we can’t ask our minds to constantly yield ideas for us without regularly restocking their source of creativity. We must be replenished in order to continue producing. It’s important to take time to identify how best to achieve rejuvenation in our circumstance, then make time to accomplish it.

I believe our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual survival depend on it.

Do you agree, or are you more of the ‘push on through the day and stop navel-gazing’ kind of personality?

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“It’s always refreshing to step into another time.”

Diane Lane

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“I have avoided becoming stale by putting a little water on the plate,
lying on the plate, and having myself refreshed in a toaster oven
for 23 minutes once every month.”

Dean Koontz

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“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.”

Psalm 62:1

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“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.”

Psalm 23:1-3

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I Don’t Have Time (or Do I?)

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I’ve just returned from a few days away.  Being short on time and inspiration I’m offering a re-post from 2009 that I hope you’ll find timely. I’ll be back on Monday.

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Someone once asked me if I’m disciplined. Disciplined? Me? That’s a relative term and I had to ask for clarification before answering. After all, if she could see my haphazard approach to housework, she wouldn’t need to ask. But the reference was to daily writing so I was able to affirm that yes, I do write every day, although not always at the same hour. I’m not that disciplined.

Not everyone agrees daily writing is essential to an author’s success, but those who have read about Morning Pages, Weekly Walks and Artist’s Dates will know Julia Cameron isn’t one of those people. She is a remarkably self-disciplined author, artist, composer, filmmaker, teacher and journalist. It doesn’t matter how she feels, where she is, or how much time she does or doesn’t have, her creative commitment is always fulfilled. Whenever I feel as if I don’t have time to write, I think of something I read in her book, The Right to Write.

She says, “The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born–without the luxury of time.” *

My dictionary defines disciplined as “showing orderliness and control in the way something is done or somebody behaves.” When it comes to writing, we are the ones who control our own output. For me the daily question is: will I take control and make time today?

As you start into your Fall routines, are you scheduling specific time for your writing, or simply hoping you’ll be able to squeeze out whatever you need?

* The Right to Write, Julia Cameron (Tarcher/Putnam, 1998)

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Refilling the Well

We all need it sometimes. Renewal. Refreshment. A replenishing of the creative juices. Artist and author Julia Cameron calls it refilling the well or restocking the pond. I call it sidestepping burnout.

Whatever occupies us day after day, we can’t keep at it indefinitely without taking occasional breaks to refuel the passion, the source of our energy and enthusiasm.

I know what it takes to rekindle my flame.  Just give me a day of solitude, preferably sitting on the rocks or logs at ocean’s edge, where the sound of waves acts like white noise for my brain. Serenity replaces stress, and the joy of being one with God fills the empty places to overflowing.

I had such a day last week. In fact, I had two-and-a-half of them. My DH and I had what Julia Cameron refers to as an artist’s date… “something that enchants and entices [the] artist within.”

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The well is refilled.

What do you do when you need to replenish your passion and creative energy?

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. [Mark 1:35]

Taking Care of Creative You

I’m only lost if I don’t know where I’m going, but knowing where I’m going isn’t the same as having a specific destination. Am I confusing you? Sorry about that, but it’s not as convoluted a statement as it may seem.

Unlike Jan Markley who was trying to find her way to a YABS (Young Alberta Book Society) event and ended up being “transported into an alternate parallel universe” (no, aliens didn’t scoop her up but a late-May whiteout almost kept her from spending the day in a coveted green leather hand chair – don’t ask; that one is convoluted), I’ve been known to muse and meander without a destination but with a purpose.

It’s something Julia Cameron advocates. I’ve read a few of her books now but regularly go back to WALKING IN THIS WORLD. In it she advises her readers to take “extended soul-refreshing walks” as one of the tools to nourish creativity. It’s amazing what ideas, solutions, and discoveries emerge from a brain being drenched by additional oxygen during a brisk walk or a contemplative meander.

Any caregiver will tell you that you can’t continue to give of yourself indefinitely without occasionally replenishing your energy. Likewise, a writer’s source of inspiration needs topping up, the well needs refilling.

At the beginning of Julia’s course of discovery she provides a “Creativity Contract” that I think we would all do well to sign.

(Today I’m particularly conscious of taking good care of myself as it marks exactly five years since my cancer surgery… a happy milestone. 🙂 )

What steps do you take to care for yourself and nurture your creativity?

I Don’t Have Time (or do I?)

Today someone asked me if I’m disciplined. Disciplined? Me? That’s a relative term and I had to ask for clarification before answering. After all, if she could see my haphazard approach to housework, she wouldn’t need to ask. But the reference was to daily writing so I was able to affirm that yes, I do write every day, although not always at the same hour. I’m not that disciplined.

 

Not everyone agrees daily writing is essential to an author’s success, but those who have read about Morning Pages, Weekly Walks and Artist’s Dates will know Julia Cameron isn’t one of those people. She is a remarkably self-disciplined author, artist, composer, filmmaker, teacher and journalist. It doesn’t matter how she feels, where she is, or how much time she does or doesn’t have, her creative commitment is always fulfilled. Whenever I feel as if I don’t have time to write, I think of something I read in her book “The Right to Write”.

 

She says, “The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born–without the luxury of time.”*

 

My dictionary defines disciplined as “showing orderliness and control in the way something is done or somebody behaves.” When it comes to writing, we are the ones who control our own output. For me the daily question is: will I take control and make time today?

 

 

*The Right to Write, Julia Cameron (Tarcher/Putnam, 1998)