Start a Creativity Journal

moss in hands

When you begin any creative project, whether it be writing, painting, or cooking an amazing meal, there is something to be said for honoring your own creative process.  Sure you can follow the path of others and there is much to be learned from those with experience in your field.

However the fact of the matter is that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.

I know, right?  That is some kind of crazy-makin’ notion going on right there…  Fact is that we are all different.  What works for Jane may not work for Janet and so on.

Get to know your motivation:

Before you even begin to create, take a moment to jot down what it is that is driving you to create in the first place.  Do you desire fame and riches?  Do you want your Mummy/Daddy/ bully to finally acknowledge you?  Do you feel motivated by some divine source to put something new into the universe?  Or are you just itching in your fingers to Do Something?

Whatever it is that is motivating you to create, one thing is guaranteed.  It will be overwhelming at times and ignoring that motivation can be a recipe for disaster in the form of mental unwellness.

Because creativity is the very act that will bring up our deepest fears.  Creating something is, after all, about innovation.  It is about birthing something into the world that has never been seen in that exact form before.  It is about making a statement of independence and offering yourself to the world in a physical form.  It is the ultimate act of manifesting.

Forget affirmations and hocus pocus (although I love me some hocus pocus.  If it helps then why not?)

Creating something is about taking a risk. 

It is an act of courage.

And as such you should record the insights that come with taking that leap of faith.

Start a creativity journal

This can be just a diary which you fill in after your creative time. Or you can make it a work of art in itself. (Beware that this can be a bit of a creative cul-de-sac but lovely nonetheless!)

Answering the following prompts can be fun:

How did it feel to put words on the page?  What did you think of those marks you made on the canvas?  What did that strange spice mix taste like?

What do you need to take this creative act further?

What emotions did this act bring up for you?

Why start a Creativity Journal?

I’m no expert but I know this:  when I examine myself for Truth, I always find it.  Being creative is a great way of getting to know yourself better.  It will familiarise you with the monsters that dwell within your psyche and throw some light on the shadows that you have been hiding from.  Recording this new sense of self awareness will make you stronger and better able to continue on the journey.  It is amazing how our subconscious offers us answers when we take the time to listen closely.

Here are some other ways to use a Creativity Journal:

  1. Record insights from other creative types.  Whether it is from their blogs, books or interviews, creative types love to talk about their ‘process’.
  2. Jot down ideas for future creative experiments.  Jotting it down means that you have caught the idea and don’t need to waster dream space on them just yet.
  3. Interrogate your demons.  Writing down your fears has a funny way of lessening their power.  It’s amazing the guidance that comes through with journaling.
  4. Put in lovely quotes and inspiring images.  Make it pretty.  Creativity is beautiful and often visual after all.
  5. Record your progress.  How many words today?  How much time painting?
  6. Evaluate your experience.  How can you improve it?  What tools could be handy?  How can it be improved?  What went great?

So, do you have a creative journal?  I loved reading about Kate Morton’s notebooks which you can read about here.  Such an inspiration!

Do you journal your own creative process?  What tips do you have for ways to use the humble journal to take your creativity to greater heights?  Share a comment.  I would love to know your thoughts.

Embracing your sloppy first draft

stay positive

So I have begun the intimidating and grueling process of creating my ‘first draft’. And honestly there was nothing more scary than setting out to write that introduction.  As I typed out the words, the voice in my head was screaming rather loudly and words to the effect of “Is this the best that you can do?  It’s terrible.  Go bake a cake instead!

Bear with me while I introduce you to said voice.  I lovingly refer to her as Natalie.  I named her Natalie because it is vaguely reminiscent of both ‘nasty’ and ‘Nazi”.  Natalie is both of these things (and a lot more besides!).  Natalie is responsible for keeping me firmly in the land of the procrastinators for years.  And I mean YEARS.  After all, I am no spring chicken (ahem!) and this is not by any means the first novel that I have attempted to write.  I blame Natalie for the fact that in the past I have resorted to all sorts of life-changing decisions in response to the challenge of writing a novel.

Here, for your amusement, is a little list that I like to call “Ways to avoid finishing a novel”:

  • Started a children’s novel and too scared to finish?  Why not get pregnant instead?
  • Started a romance novel and too scared to finish?  Why not get pregnant again?
  • Started another novel of the ‘literary’ genre?  Why not emigrate to New Zealand instead?
  • Got an idea for another great novel?  Why not retrain as a lawyer instead?
  • Know you want to be a writer?  Why not ditch the law degree and retrain as a therapist instead?

The list goes on.  And on.  That Natalie is a real slave driver, I can tell you.

But finally, Natalie and I had to have a talk.  After all, there was nothing more that I could do to avoid writing.  I had done all that I could to distract myself.

I had a lovely life that brought me joy daily.  But I was still frustrated until I realised that the problem lay in my close personal relationship with Natalie.

Having a heart to heart with your inner critic

Like many toxic relationships, my relationship with Natalie was a love-hate one.  I hated her and she loved me hating her.  I listened to her and she loved to be listened to.  It could have gone on forever but I had had enough.  I needed to get real about what I really wanted from my life.  I had to get real about the fact that ‘achievements’ meant nothing if you couldn’t really give a rat’s arse about the thing that you had achieved.

So one night (0ne of those dark night’s of the soul… I know you’ve had one!) I told Natalie that we were through.  I was gracious enough to let her know that she could hang out with me only if she kept her mouth shut.  And this was the killer, I told Natalie, that voice in my head, that I had decided to write a novel and that I didn’t care if the first draft was awful.  In fact I didn’t care if the fifth/ twentieth draft was awful, I just wanted the pleasure of writing these little words: “The End”.

And so I have begun.  Natalie is still hovering but I am ignoring her and embracing the idea of a sloppy first draft.  I am loving the fact that I can breathe into the story and worry about technicalities and ‘art’ later.

An invitation to create slop together:

Today why not join me?  Gag your inner critic (whatever their name is!) and embrace the sloppy glory of your first draft.  It will be worth it, I promise.

Do you have any suggestions for ways to silence your inner critic.  All suggestions gratefully received in the comments….