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.

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Using “the Hero’s Journey” to tame your story

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

As I embark on the process of trying to get the trust of my story and draw it to me, I keep myself busy by reading around the subject of writing.  There are so many books there which extol the virtues of planning and setting rigorous writing targets.  I know that in time, when I actually put pen to paper, this guidance will be of use.

However at present I am sitting still and waiting for my story to present itself.  I have had a tendency to rush into new projects with all the joy and enthusiasm of a five year old at the art table.

I get easily burned and so I am learning to be still and rest.  Not just into my story but also into the whole idea of myself as Writer.

I have hidden from it for so long.  So afraid to truly embrace that this crazy stuuuuupid idea is not going away.

I think that is why the Hero’s journey a la Joseph Campbell by way of  Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
strikes such a chord with me.

Because the fact is that writing a novel is a journey too.  We must be heroic to face this challenge.  We must as writers step out of the ordinary world and accept the challenge.

Yes I can use the hero’s journey as a nifty little plotting tool, but perhaps I can also use it as a guide on my own journey through the writing process.  I know that I will have to tackle my demons if I am to write this story.  I know that there will be threshold guardians (possibly the bank manager….)  I will meet allies and make enemies (not you dearest reader, I hope!).

So for those of us who are embarking on this journey, here is the route that lies ahead:

1.  Ordinary World – you know, just trundling along finding distractions to make you feel normal and pay the bills.

2. Call to adventure – it’s the middle of the night and The Story arrives and won’t let you go.  Or  (as it was for me) you are washing the dishes and a whole world opens itself to you whispering “write me, write me…”

3.  Refusal of the Call – “me?  A novelist?  Don’t be stupid – I have responsibilities, jobs to do, things to finish off.  It’s not the right time.  I would if only I had….   I’m not good enough…. What’s the point…”

4.  Meeting with a mentor – website, youtube, library, amazon – mentors are everywhere these days, don’t you know!  Just take your pick.  WARNING: just the act of choosing a mentor can be a subtle form of procrastinating, perhaps??

5.  Crossing the first threshold – could be buying a new notebook and scribbling down your notes, could be opening up a new file on the computer and trying for those first few words.  The blank page is our first threshold as writers and the thing that makes it such a challenge is that the page represents all our fears, insecurities and limiting thoughts.

6.  Tests, allies, enemies – oh this will be a journey of stamina.  Perhaps we will meet allies through social media.  Perhaps the enemy is time, space, “real life”, stamina, discipline – you name it, they are all going to come out of the bag when you attempt a literary marathon.

7.  Approach to the Inner most cave – I imagine that this will probably hit at around 35 000 words when I suddenly feel uncertain as to whether I can even make 40000 words let alone 90000.  Here is where I will face my fears…

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

photo credit: wili_hybrid via photopin cc

8.  The Ordeal  – do I continue or do I abandon?  Do I allow my fears as a writer to tell me to stop being so stupid and get a real job, or do I push through and use all my strength to finish the task?

9.  Reward – the first draft is done…. time for a coffee and a nice slice of cake.  Perhaps even a trip to the Office Supplies store???

10.  The road back –   editing, redrafting, printing off the first draft and feeling inordinately pleased with myself

11. Resurrection/ Climax – “this first draft is absolutely rubbish.  It needs completely redoing.  Why did I ever think that I could be anything?  Why did I waste my time?”

12.  Return with the elixir – publication?  the call from the agent?  hollywood battle for the rights?  multimillion dollar advance???   Or perhaps just the wondrous satisfaction of knowing that I finally finished my novel.  I battled with my demons.  I did it.  Little old me…

Who knows how my journey will turn out as a novelist.  But here is where I begin.  I am still in the ordinary world at present but I have had my call to action, mentors are presenting themselves to me.

The Threshold Awaits…..

What teachers have helped you at the start of your writing journey?  I would love some recommendations for great writing resources and inspiration.  Post a comment below.

Happy writing,

xxx

ps the book I was referring to can be found here. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition