The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Julia Cameron

My wonderful guest bloggers have done an excellent job of providing tips and inspiration for how to turn on, electrify and ‘jump-start your June’. I end the series with the theme of creativity. There are so many ways to understand the role and meaning of creativity in human culture. The idea of creativity as an expression of and connected to spirituality is an idea that Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) as well as many others have championed. In my own coaching practice, I draw on the two wisdom traditions of science and spirituality to explore creativity. Below, inspiring teacher and guide Joan M. Newcomb explores creativity as part of our reason for being and how it connects us to the universe at large.

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Creativity & Spirituality

Your creativity is your spiritual language. Whether it is dance, music, painting, acting, needlework, or cooking, it is the greater aspect of yourself, the Divine You, expressing yourself into the world. It is a language beyond words (unless your creativity *is* words).

Your Essence needs to communicate. Static energy held within for two years will manifest as a physical ailment. Years ago, I developed a softball sized fibroid on my uterus. It  was my body’s not-so-subtle way of telling me my creative energy was blocked. I avoided a hysterectomy through natural solutions. Part of my healing without surgery was to start writing again.

Our creativity gets stifled externally and internally. Parents will dissuade their college student from majoring in art and encourage business or economics. We don’t dance for fear of being teased. We don’t think of ourselves as creative.  How do we awaken our spiritual voice?

1.  Do it imperfectly. You don’t have to make a living as an artist, you don’t even have to show your work.

2.  Be childlike and playful. Don’t know what your expression is?  Think what made you gleeful as a child – we are born creative.

3.  Do it alone, or with a group.  You may find it encouraging to join others who ‘speak’ the same language in community theater, local choir, knitting circle, or creative writing class. Or you may want to nurture your creativity by yourself, away from competition or criticism (real or imagined).

4.  You may be ‘multi-lingual’.  You might enjoy playing around with several different artistic pastimes.

Whatever you do, your vibration flows out and joins the Symphony of Consciousness. Energy is unseen and transcends physical boundaries. You enhance the collective energy on the planet, simply by expressing yourself. You’ll be happier, you’ll be healing yourself, and you’ll be contributing to the healing of us all.

Joan M. Newcomb is the owner of Life Transformations Unlimited. It’s her passion to encourage others to be their Essential Selves in all aspects of their lives.  Her blog is ‘Mystic Musings’ http://www.jmnewcomb.blogspot.com

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Why is it so easy to believe the awful and never believe the good?

—Carolyn See

The use of affirmations has come a long way. An affirmation is a short, simple, positive declarative phrase that as Eric Maisel says, in Coaching The Artist Within, “you say to yourself because you want to think a certain way…or because you want to aim yourself in a positive direction.” You can use them as ‘thought substitutes’ to dispute self-injurious thoughts (as a cognitive behavioral approach), or to provide incentive and encouragement when those seem to be in short supply. Now that many psychologists, mental health workers and coaches advocate the use of affirmations, they’ve become respectable. Gone are the days that affirmations made you think of Shirley MacLaine, flouncy scarves, and quartz crystals. (Though for the record, I’ve liked each of the above at different times in my life.)

Writers can benefit from using affirmations as our inner critics, judges, and evaluators are often uninvited guests during our writing sessions. Carolyn See is one of the few writers who writes about using affirmations, saying that they make “a nice counterpart to the other wretched noise that gets turned up in your brain when you write, or even think about writing: “Look at Mr. Big Man!” (in Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers)

She uses them to defeat the din of naysayers and to help her students think differently about their writing challenges. Here I’m quoting from two different passages in Making a Literary Life:

“Everybody’s seen it: nobody wants it,” my own very sweet editor said to me about the (then nonexistent) paperback of my memoir, Dreaming. “Everybody’s seen it; nobody wants it.” Yikes! Ow! The pain! It’s a good thing I remembered that I deserve the very best and now is the time for it” and thus got up the courage to call a friend of mine at a university press. The paperback is still in print, doing very nicely, thank God.”

I can’t tell you how many times my writing students have said to me, “I can’t do dialogue.” Or, “I have so much trouble with plot!” Or, “I don’t know what to put into this story and what to cut. I can’t seem to figure out what’s important.”

I say to them, “How about if you could do dialogue?” Or, “You have the perfect plot, right there in your brain.” Or, “You’re a perfect editor; you just don’t know it yet.”

They don’t buy it; they can’t buy it. So I suggest they say, out loud, in the car, at home, “Up until now, I couldn’t do dialogue, but now I love it I can’t wait to type in those quotation marks and see what my characters have to say!” And, “Up until now, I had some trouble with plot, but now it’s my greatest strength. I’m a fiend for plot.” And, “My natural good taste and fine subconscious mind naturally know what to put in and what to cut out of a story.”

Using affirmations about writing (and creativity) have helped me over the years. I sometimes write a few affirmations as a warm-up to a writing session.  I also keep a few posted in key places in my home office. I’m currently reviewing some of my stock ones and seeing if I want to keep them for 2013.

What’s your experience with using affirmations to support your writing? Do you already use affirmations? Do you write them down and/or say them aloud? I’d love to hear what has worked for you.

If not, can you use some affirmations for your writing life for 2013?

I’ve provided some affirmations below culled from Julia Cameron, Eric Maisel, Carolyn See and myself:

My heart is a garden for creative ideas.

My ideas come faster than I can write, and they’re all good ideas.

Revising is the best part of writing.

My writing dreams are worthy ones.

Anxiety comes with the territory. I can manage and even embrace my anxiety.

If I grow quiet, the writing will happen.

To write is to improvise. I will become jazz.

My creative work is highly valued.

I trust my resources.

I honor my writing by keeping the right words and setting the rest free for another day.

For books that combine writing prompts with affirmations, see Susan Shaughnessy’s Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers. Julia Cameron’s Heart Steps (Prayers and Declarations for a Creative Life) is a small but potent book that comforts and uplifts.

Photo Credit: Belinda Witzenhausen (see her site for more great photos of writing affirmations)

I’m delighted to welcome writer and She Writes friend Nadine Feldman in the ‘Love Your Creative Self’ series to share her wisdom. I’ve included a prompt question based on her reflection.

TEA WITH A FRIEND


There is nothing like a trusted friend. We all want someone to share our secrets with, someone who will celebrate our triumphs and console us in our moments of failure.

My best friend is my writing practice. Each morning, before I get out of bed, I write three pages in a journal, a trick I learned from Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. In these private pages, I describe my dreams, my fears, and my pettiness. Nothing is off limits, because the page doesn’t mind. When I tell my troubles to the page, it doesn’t try to fix or change me. It just listens. The muddied waters of my brain start to clear, and then the conversation changes. I could do this… What if…? I could solve my problem by…

Once I have bared my soul, I am free to work on my “real” writing, just as we often feel freer after sorting things out with friends. The conversation changes. We’re having tea and gossiping about imaginary people. We speculate about their motives, cry when they are sad, or laugh when they say something fun or interesting. Sometimes they surprise us and take the story in an unexpected direction.

Ever have one of those days when you’re on the outs with a friend, or you just don’t know how to say what you mean? Friends sometimes abandon us, and some days the page wants to stay blank and unresponsive. If we write enough of I don’t know what to write, though, something comes. Yes, we may get the silent treatment for a while, but it passes. We forgive, we are forgiven, and the words return.

Life intervenes. Financial or health pressures mount, someone we love dies, or a family member disappoints. Overwhelmed at time with these dramas, we may say, “How can I possibly write today?”  Yet how can we not? If we see our writing as our best friend, we will turn toward it, again and again, in good times and bad  – and it will sustain us. We gather our computer, curl up with a hot cup of tea, and begin.

Nadine Galinsky Feldman is the author of The Foreign Language of Friends (a novel) and When a Grandchild Dies: What to Do, What to Say, How to Cope. She also edited the award-winning Patchwork & Ornament: A Woman’s Journey of Life, Love, and Art by Jeanette Feldman. She loves gardening, hiking, travel, and yoga.  She can be found on her blog at http://nadinefeldman.com/

Prompt: What are the ways we can befriend our creative work, so that as Nadine says “we will turn toward it, again and again” even when our lives feel busy and out of sorts?

For some of us it might be as direct as reminding ourselves daily that our creative work matters and then acting accordingly. For others it might mean claiming a home space to paint, quilt or write. For others it might mean learning more effective ways to calm the critical voices in our head that act as saboteurs.

What’s one new way you can befriend your creative work this week?

Photo Credit: Suzanna Leigh

 


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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