Continuing with our creativity theme today, we’re concentrating on how words can inspire us to greater creativity, our own words and those of others, even if we don’t consider ourselves writers.
We all have favourite writers, don’t we? People we learn from, grow with, gain inspiration from, laugh with. They can be well-known authors, or much-loved friends imparting wisdom from the safe harbour of their blogs; they can be our own age, or younger, or older – or even dead! Inspiration comes from many places, and does not discriminate against gender, age, or race.
Who are your favourite writers – those ones you trust, engage with, who infuse you with ideas, illuminations, and fresh thinking? Who gets you wondering, curious, asking questions? Who gets you moving?
What do you do? How do you move? Perhaps you paint, or make memory books? Or you sing, or play an instrument?
However your creativity manifests itself, how might it feel if you were to write your own words first, using them as both grounding mechanism and springboard? Instead of jumping straight into a project, all guns blazing, then watching the passion fizzle out halfway through, how might it feel to write down your thoughts, your hopes, your ideas first – develop a structure from which you can craft something special?
There are many ways to use writing to move you into a more creative mindset. One way is through Julia Cameron‘s ‘morning pages’, as espoused in her seminal book, The Artist’s Way. These are described as 3 pages of quick, stream-of-consciousness outpourings done first thing in the morning, ideally, before the rigours of the day descend upon us.
She describes this discipline (and, let’s face it, anything that asks us to rise 20-30 minutes earlier each day is a ‘discipline’ until it becomes a ‘habit’ and then, hopefully, a ‘priority’) thus:
‘I wake up in the morning, reach for a pen and a Morning Pages journal, and I dip my soul into my current life, noting what makes me agitated, what makes me irritable, what finds me excited, what feels like drudgery… It is a ritual, a way to start the day and a way to come clean before myself and God. There’s no pretending… I really am that petty, that fearful, that blind to the miracles all around me. As I write, the light dawns – just as the sun comes up over the mountains – and more is revealed. I see why I am frightened, whom I should call to make amends to, what I need to do in this particular day’s march to inch ahead a little… I get my moments of insight, my glimpses into the why behind the what that I am living. But, for the most part, the pages are routine. I do them because… they ‘work’. (extracted from Walking in This World, Julia Cameron)
And it’s not just Julia herself who follows this routine. Photographer Chase Jarvis has also talked about it recently:
Like Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” which pours on and on about wonders of journaling, I make regular “artist’s dates” (read the book or infer as you will), and keep “morning pages,” where I write, first thing, every day. The practice, Cameron insists, is not just for the writer. Any “artist” — be you painter, screenwriter or photographer — will benefit from getting the “juices flowing.” I can attest to this. When I’m on it, I’m ON it creatively. (Read his full post, ‘Writing Makes Photographers More Creative – 5 Easy Tips‘.)
Another method of journaling might be to re-engage with your senses. If you’re more of a visual artist, you might want to develop your viewing skills more acutely. Jennifer Louden wrote recently of beginning a practice of writing down ten things she notices every day. She says:
The trick is to go for details and tune into all your senses. Notice after a few days if you always focus on one sense, say sound, and then try the next day to notice through a different sense, say taste. (Read more about Jen’s work here.)
So developing a habit of journaling – your thoughts, your ideas, your ambitions and dreams, reasons to be thankful, or joyful, or inspired – can be transformative. It can move you from thinking about your creativity, to actually developing a creative spirit, growing a creative practice, and living a creative life. And who doesn’t want that?
So why not give it a try?
If you’re interested in my journaling process – the whys and the whats – you can read about it in a guest post I wrote for Discover Bible Treasures here.
(This is Day 21 in ‘A Royal Progress through Your Life’. Catch the vision here.)