“The spiral in a snail's shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it's also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It's the same ratio that you'll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt
On Saturday morning I went for a walk near home. Crisp blue skies. Sparkling sunshine. Radiant colours. What caught my attention was the leaves. Without a breeze, leaves gently floated from their branches to the ground: two, six, three, ten, one, fourteen. They moved silently like gentle morning snowflakes. Along the way I paused to stand under trees, enjoying the surprise of where the next leaves would fall from, imagining I was floating on one.
This is what change can feel like sometimes, a magical floaty otherworldly moment that goes beyond understanding. It was nice to see change that way, even for a moment. I wondered how to extend this peacefulness beyond this morning walk. If only we could see the beauty during change, the grace of falling when we ache to rise.
Conflict is an intensifier in writing and in life. In this lesson we open the door to explore conflict as both danger and opportunity.
When my dad watches a movie or TV show and the conflict intensifies, he puts his arms up over his head. Conflict sparks a physical response. Conflict provides an emotional entry point into a story so the story is no longer over there, we are now immersed in it.
In life, conflict can be tough for everyone from children to adults. Working in schools as an administrator has given me a master class in understanding conflict. Over the years I’ve learned that in any complex situation if we can slow everything down (within us and around us), the conflict can change shape and tone.
Learning can feel like conflict sometimes because learning is change. We can feel discomfort and resistance and anger. There can be a gap between where we are and where we want to be. For example, if I am learning a new language I can feel my walls go up and my mind shut down in similar ways to when I feel like there is an injustice.
Stories help us to understand conflict. They can show us ways into tough situations and ways out of them. Writers entertain, educate, and engage us through a series of events that shift power, expectations, needs, and feelings among opposing forces.
My recent television binge has been the series ‘Billions.’ I was fascinated by how the series explores the shifting power dynamics between Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades. A billionaire from the streets versus an attorney from generations of privilege. A man of commerce vs. a man of civil service. The forces of good and evil are strong within them both. The story is the conflict and how it moves and changes shape. Neither man is entirely good or bad. It is compelling because of this tension. We wonder, who is the better man? Will the better man win? These overarching dramatic questions lead viewers through five seasons.
Watch the video to go deeper into the idea of conflict and how it relates to your writing process and projects.
Are you looking for more creativity in your life and projects? Do you want regular reminders and prompts to invite you to nurture your creativity? Do you want to grow your ideas, light your dreams, and harvest your vision?
I want to help you. Join my FREE Creativity Workshop.
For the last 20 years I’ve actively explored how to find balance with my life, work, and creativity. I want to share what I’ve learned with you. Making an impact on your life is important to me. Helping you to reach your creative potential will help me to realize my potential.
Discovering the 8 Writing Spirals focused and inspired my learning journey. I feel strongly that they could help other people so over the last few years I’ve searched for ways to connect with creative seekers. First, the book The Writing Spiral. Then I used an online teaching platform to develop the first draft of the workshop. Soon I transferred some of this material to blog posts, hoping this might be the right form.
Now, I’ve made it even easier and developed an email series. Start anytime. The workshop will be delivered directly to your inbox! And, it’s FREE!
Plus, you can join a monthly online live chat! Explore each spiral in conversation and on the page to unlock your process and open new ways of noticing in your creative practice. Generate ideas, develop routines, and create!
This morning I sit by my first garden, between the early morning shining sun in the east and the fading moon in the west. My feet in the cool grass. Two cardinals sing in the trees. A gold finch waits by the feeder. Ravens fly from rooftop to rooftop, watching me as I watch them. Since yesterday’s rain the humidity is gone and a breeze rustles the trees, their arms sway against a cerulean sky. It is then I knew my gardener’s soul arrived.
I’ve always loved the book The Secret Garden, a story about the healing power of a garden. Although my garden is for vegetables, the process of bringing it to life and watching it grow is more rewarding than I could have imagined. My only regret is not planting one sooner.
We connect in community through teaching and learning writing. Over the last 20 years I’ve watched writing workshops explode in volume and scope across North America. Writers and workshops are easy to find.
In previous lessons we talked about the idea that the doorway to become a better writer is to become a better learner. We write what we learn AND we learn what we teach.
To become a better learner, become a teacher.
We can write in community and we can write for community.
I’ve always enjoyed writing in community, gathering to bring our creations to life alongside each other. We feed on collective energetic sustenance to keep our projects alive and on accountability to keep our bottoms in the chair to get the writing done. This video explores the value of a writing community.
The larger community we serve as writers is our audience. How do you know when something is ready for publication? How do you find a place to publish your work? This video also explores ways of navigating the publishing industry so you can connect to a community of readers.
In the midst of a global pandemic, we all have an opportunity to nurture our solitude and self-awareness. When the news of school closures and the importance of physical distancing broke two weeks ago, I was shocked.
Our lives changed quickly. Our worlds turned upside down. Routines dismantled. I wonder at times if I’ve watched so much Netflix that I’m seeing the world through the lens of a dramatic thriller. I wonder if I’ll wake up and this will have been an elaborate dream. I pray for good health every morning and every night–sometimes in the middle of the day too. I pray for peace.
In the midst of the worry and the discomfort, I know it’s important to find the blessings. I am lucky to have many blessings. A time of great change is a time of great learning.
This lesson is about how we can develop self-awareness about how we learn on our own or with others. How can we make the most of our solitude (without adding to our stress)?