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?
Those peaches activate drool. My mouth is watering and I long to dash upstairs and fill a bowl with juice-oozing peach slices, so sweet no sugar is needed, then slowly savor the contrast of quick tang and silken softness of cream. Alas — peach season lies nearly eight months ahead! The memory of peaches bursts my bubble of seasonal satiation and returns my tastes to earth. Fresh, juicy peaches are sunshine for my soul.
Thank you for the lovely thoughts. Although I adore the breakthroughs, I often find the preceding hours, days, weeks disconcerting. If I let that in-between stage go on too long, the mere thought of writing feels painful. Thankfully, rediscovering the passion and the fiery creativity that comes with it is always spectacular enough to renew my faith in the process. I do find that using my visual senses, whether it’s taking photographs or selecting gemstones and creating beaded jewelry or redecorating, will often jumpstart my writing energy. Getting out of my “head” quiets the nagging voices and awakens my subconscious. Feeling rooted to the earth through gardening or getting into my body through yoga are also fabulous ways to stimulate creativity, at least for me.
I so agree that much of our creative time is NOT spent pounding on a keyboard or scribbling on blank pages, but in deep silence. That back burner of the mind is active at unspoken levels, firing away with hot flame, maybe too hot or unformed to express. It is the antithesis of our “just do it” culture to stare into space or at a tree or pond for hours on end. Yet I love that creative process and not only for writing. Any good idea takes a gestation period. It’s a thrill when that idea takes on a recognizable form. Ah! Then I see it and can begin to act in the “real” world.
Dear Linda Joy,
I am so ready for this to be “The Year of the Memoir”! I love the idea here of “inviting creativity.” And those luscious-looking peaches symbolize that “juicy creativity” best of all. What a great way to launch 2012. Thanks for all the tangible tips on inviting our own creativity.