Being Creative Requires a Quiet Mind

October 17, 2009

Posted by Leslie Zeigler

A Quiet Creative Space

A Quiet Creative Space

If your mind is too cluttered with stressful thoughts, you may have difficulty in gaining access to  that more intuitive and authentic part of yourself that allows your creativity to just flow spontaneously.  (As with all things there are exceptions and that applies here as well -so I am speaking only in a general sense.)

I want to recommend some tools to draw upon at those times when you  are   having difficulty getting started or  getting  back on track.  So much time can be wasted.  Someone recently recommended a wonderful tape to me that I have found invaluable:  a two CD audio book by Andrew Weil, M.D.  called BREATHING, The Master Key to Self Healing– available on Amazon.  The first CD explains how and why breathing helps, and the second,  in a very easy to understand manner, walks you through some breathing exercises.  He uses an unusally soothing voice, which is an additional plus.

A second tool I can recommend can be found free on the Web: STEPS TO ELICIT THE RELAXATION RESPONSE.   This is an excellent stress reduction technique detailed by Dr. Herbert Benson who specializes in mind/body medicine.  He has done research on this and it really works! 

Hopefully you can try and use either one of these tools when you hit that moment when you start to feel paralyzed and frustrated, yet also eager to return to your creative passion.

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Habits Good and Bad

October 8, 2009

Posted by Deborah Atherton

Not what it used to be?

Not what it used to be?

Leslie and I have both blogged about the importance of establishing rituals and habits to keep working on your creative projects – but what happens when that OTHER kind of habit becomes part of your day to day: the habit of not ever having enough time to paint, write, pick up the camera, invent a new recipe or compose a song? We have all been there – even those of us who make our living as writers or artists – the days speed by us, filled with appointments, business, family concerns, or let’s face it, an umissable Law and Order marathon. Suddenly, it’s a week, or a month, or more. Deadlines may be looming, but somehow, somehow, we just can’t get to it.

It’s easy to edit creativity right out of your life. You don’t miss it at first. But as time slips by, this little feeling begins to creep over you. You’re not quite sure what it is for a while. Your friends start seeming a little less witty and warm. The New York Times appears to be a tad less authoritative. Lenny on Law and Order doesn’t deliver his final words quite as acerbically as he once did. Facebook isn’t half as much fun as it used to be. You feel – oh just a little tired of yourself and the people around you. You begin to think you might need a vacation, or a new job, or possibly a change of significant other.

Before you take up any of these final solutions, check in with yourself. When was the last time you took an hour – just an hour – to focus on your creative work? Labor Day? Memorial Day? Valentine’s Day? Are you beginning to lose your guitar callouses? Have all your paint tubes dried up and shriveled? Are you more than one update behind on your writing software?

Perhaps the most unfair thing about possessing a creative spark is that it demands to be used. If your soul lights up when you sit down at a keyboard or leap out onto a dance floor, it’s going to keep asking you to do those things, and you’re going to end up feeling a little bereft if you don’t. You’re not going to like yourself, and you’re not going to like other people. Life will be a little duller than it ought to be. Nothing will taste as good as it used to. It’s not fair, but it’s the way things are. You can shut your talents up in a box, you can spend your life answering emails from your boss at 1 AM, but you can’t make yourself happy doing it.

On the other hand, you have one little thing you can do that is almost guaranteed to put the savor back into your life. Take an hour. Just an hour. Sit down with your work. Pick up where you left off – or maybe start something completely new.

Not all at once, but slowly, and whether or not the work is the best work you’ve ever done, life will slip back into glorious Technicolor. Everyone around you will gradually become much more amusing – and, more importantly, so will you.