The Year of the Memoir–and Juicy Creativity

Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem. –Rollo May




It’s the Year of the Memoir—welcome to 2012. At the National Association of Memoir Writers, we are celebrating the full riches of the memoir, and inviting everyone to write their memoir this year.

Writing as you know is about creativity—and keeping yourself creative, actively writing, and engaged with your material. Post-holiday is a perfect time to center on your creative life and get focused.

When you think about it, a large part of our writing lives is spent reflecting, musing, journaling, and being “pregnant” with creative energy and ideas. We need to listen to the voices within—which means we should write, muse, and write some more! We need to stimulate our creative minds, to “fill the well” as I call it, so we have a lot to draw from when we sit down.

The more we use and stimulate our creativity, filling the well with beauty and good ideas, the more it will be there for us when we need it. For inspiration about creativity, I enjoy Rollo May’s The Courage to Create, which I recommend to explore ideas about creativity expressed without jargon. He talks about inspiration and breakthroughs, and explores the role of the unconscious in creativity—one of my favorite sections. 

He makes several important points about creativity:

1.      He says that “the unconscious seems to take delight in breaking through…what we cling to in our conscious thinking.”

2.      The breakthrough shakes up our calm world, the status quo of our thinking.

3.      During the breakthrough, everything is vivid, as we are in a heightened state of consciousness—which intensifies memory and the senses.

4.      The breakthrough comes during the transition between work and relaxation.

Einstein said, “Why is it that inspiration seems to come while I’m shaving?”

Another expert on the creative process, Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write says,

“Inspiration comes very slowly and quietly…the imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.”

So, go ahead and clean your house and prune your roses, while tuning into your creative processes bubbling deep within. Who says that only writers who are avoiding their desks have the cleanest houses? Maybe those who are properly messing about are engaged in the highest level of creativity!

Tips to Enhance your Creativity in 2012

1.      Journal every day for 15 minutes. Writing begats more writing, and invites the flow of ideas.

2.      Immerse yourself in creativity—read a poem, meditate on beauty or something that inspires you.

3.      Go to an art museum and allow other forms of creativity to fill your well.

4.      Take long, or even short, walks, as Brenda Ueland suggests, noticing the details of plants, houses, animals, and people.

5.      Read inspiring literature of any genre. If it is well written, it will fill the spaces within your unconscious mind with good raw material to process.

What is your favorite way to invite creativity?

What are your writing plans for The Year of the Memoir?