Friday, March 4, 2016

Getting in the Creative Groove

When the well runs dry and the ideas won't flow, it's time to get out of your head. Really out of your head. I like walks. Rambling, long walks in places I haven't been. The point is to turn focus away from the critical voices yammering inside the skull. I play a game - looking for x number of things to see. Things to observe. From the macro - Some days there are great alpine glow photos. (Alpine glow on the Olympics here). To the micro - Some days it's nothing more than listening to the gentle cackle of a pair of crows courting one another in the trees. Or the little weird and wonderful things that happen closer to

home - like a seagull trying to make a snack out of something as big as it is. The point is to focus outward, to distract the ego enough that the creative juices have a chance to work in the background. For me, the more I try to pin creativity down with ego-driven critical YOU SHOULD BE <fill in the blank>, the more creativity squirms away, retreating into the dark. If I give the grasping, frenetic portion of my conscious mind something to do, creative stuff is then free to sneak back into the open. I favor walks because moderate physical exertion works wonders for shutting up monkey mind. So does journaling.
 In the bad old days before better living through chemistry made ironing work shirts a thing of the past, I would have my best writing breakthroughs while ironing (which I absolutely hated - ironing - not the ideas.) The task was mindless, but you had to pay attention so as not to burn down the house. Or permanently press your digits. Conscious mind got occupied with wrinkles. Creative mind churned in the background, kicking out little 'hey, what if' voices. The closest I get now, is through walking a couple of miles (which occupies the conscious mind) or via deliberate alpha state meditating.

Still. All of that can be a little naval gaze-y. And occasionally, the best option is to stopping focusing inward at all. The best kick in the creative pants comes from looking out at the world and observing. Mary Buckham, in the midst of teaching a plotting course, once said that it is a writers job to see what no one else can or will see and then bring that to the page. We concentrate so hard on getting things to the page, we forget all about being observers of our world - all of our world, not just the bits inside our heads. Which makes me think that maybe tomorrow morning, I'm due for a good, long walk.

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