The process of creating often begins with inspiration. What inspires you?
What do you create? How do you bring your creation into being? Creativity is all about action. When we create anything we take something from inside us and turn it into something else. What we create and how we create share a close relationship.
This week I’ve been reading Stephen Nachmanovitch’s new book, The Art of Is: Improvising as a Way of Life. Click here to read a short excerpt from the book. Yesterday I read about notes and tones, my jaw dropping when he highlighted that both words share the same letters. We think music is about notes, but is it more about tones?
In my voice lessons we have been working on tones, focusing on creating resonance. When I shift from paying attention to the notes to paying attention to the tones, the sound and feeling intensify in their depth. He talks about the importance of listening with the whole body, not just through the ears, listen is touch. Think through the eyes.
It’s About Noticing
Finding inspiration is about noticing, being present and paying attention to what is happening now, listening with your whole body. When I can go through a day empty of expectation and open to surprise, the creative energy vibrates at the most exciting levels and ideas pop up everywhere.
My understanding has changed over time from looking for inspiration to listening for inspiration, being completely open to whatever arrives. Sometimes it’s the phrasing someone uses in conversation that inspires me or the way the light creates shadows on the trees on the commute home.
Begin with an Idea
How do you know which ideas to grab onto? Once you have an idea, how do you turn it into action, creating something?
In this video, I reflect on my relationship with process. What do I need to write every day? How can I write with intention and focus?
- Watch the video with the goal to engage in the ideas actively.
- Write in your journal for 20 minutes, noting anything that came up in the video that: you agree with, you challenge, or you question.
What Do You Wonder About?
In your journal, begin with “I wonder…” and keep writing. Every time you stop writing, begin with “I wonder…” again.
A Year of Reading for Inspiration
Here are some excellent sources that offer valuable lessons on process and craft. Consider reading one a month for the next year! If not these books, then make your own list of books, one per month for the next year on any topic.
January: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
February: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
March: On Writing by Stephen King
April: Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark
May: Story by Robert McKee
June: Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry by Sage Cohen
July: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Stephen Pressfield
August: The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner
September: Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
October: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Marie Rilke
November: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
December: Out of Our Minds: The Power of Being Creative by Sir Ken Robinson
Choose at least one of these tasks (or do them all!) The more that you engage with the prompts and activities, the more change you will find in your practice.
Go out and find something interesting, taking a picture of it. At home, study the picture, inviting it to transport you beyond its form to a place where you remember what happened before and after. Take note of what’s missing from the picture. Write about your discoveries, converting images to words to stories, allowing the ideas to take you beyond this place. When you are done, reflect on the process, writing again not about the picture, but about the way you created, attending to each detail of the process. Then compare the two pieces, the creation with the reflection and see how they relate.
Write about all the ways you take care of your body. Write about all the ways you take care of your spirit. Write about all the ways you take care of your mind. A few days later, return to the lists to reflect on balance.
Find a poem and read it. Let the words wash over you, trying to be present with the poem. Notice like a poet for the rest of the day. Write about the experience.