Fostering Creativity – Part 7

It’s easy to get sucked in.

Eliminate Distractions

Multitasking may seem like a necessity in today’s world, but it’s a killer for creativity.  I saw an interview with Patti Smith recently where she said that during her sojourn in Michigan she would use the early morning hours before her kids woke up for writing and studying. I’m an early riser too, and I need absolute silence (or Zen music) when I’m writing. People have different levels of tolerance, but anything that distracts your mental energy from focusing on the creative task is bad, and the internet is full of them.

When you get stuck on a sentence, it’s temping to open a window and kill some time, but I’ve found it’s better to stay with the thought and work through the problem. If all else fails, it’s probably smarter to take a walk or do something physical than to open the Daily Mail. It’s easy to get pulled into one wormhole or another and before you know it, hours have passed and you haven’t written one word.

No assholes

Mind space distractions are killers to creativity, and certain people can burrow in there real good. My husband has a rule for his business. If he wakes up still thinking about some asshole on the job, he fires them. Now, most of us don’t have that luxury when it comes to our working lives, but how many of us have hung on to shitty relationships out of some warped sense of duty? I know I have. We all have bad moments now and then, but if someone is consistently obnoxious to the point where you are thinking about them too much, it’s time for the old heave-ho. It may sound harsh, but in order to create to your fullest potential your mind must be free from the petty dramas of life. Continue reading “Fostering Creativity – Part 7”

Fostering Creativity – Part 1

I’ve had many careers (is it okay to use that word if you’ve made zero money at any of them?) Perhaps avocation is a more accurate description. In any event, I’ve done a lot of artsy stuff from acting, directing, and costume design in theatre to many levels of filmmaking and, most recently, to novel writing. I’m hoping that before I die I will dabble in abstract expressionist painting in my old age–that’s assuming I can still hold up a brush, but then I’ve always been an optimist. One constant in my life is creativity. I suppose I could say it’s my drug (drugs can kill, I’ve learned to temper my addiction). Over the years I’ve made some personal observations on the nature of creativity and what the best ways to foster it are. I’m happy to share them here…

A Walk in the Woods

Nothing cures my internet overload more than a quiet walk in nature. This isn’t news, but it helps to be reminded of how important it is to unplug, turn off the noise, and connect to a higher power. Like many Romantics before me, I find that in nature. Although walking with a friend is fun and that certainly has its place (nothing like the therapeutic walk n’ talk),  for fostering creativity the daily perambulation in quiet contemplation is essential and is best a solo endeavor. For those with limited mobility, even meditating outdoors for twenty minutes is invaluable. Try not to check your phone, or better yet leave it at home.

Of course, Stephen King’s daily walk got him nearly killed by a van, so do be careful. That being expressed, my favorite walks are the rambling, aimless ones.

Two roads diverged?

Here are a few highlights from my mid-day walk yesterday (yes, I brought my phone because I took a break from work and I had to time my return). I found this lovely little path. The weather was perfect. I turned off the noise in my brain and checked in to the happy sounds of chirping birds and branches swaying in the gentle breeze. After a long, wet winter, the sun felt so good on my skin I was instantly filled with quiet gladness. I felt a Buddha smile forming in the corners of my lips which remained throughout the day. My spiritual battery was charged. The following morning I still feel it.


Continue reading “Fostering Creativity – Part 1”

The Zen of Focus

…and hanging out with James Patterson

Okay, I’m not really hanging out with James Patterson, but after re-watching his Masterclass series, I feel like I am.  Of his seventy-plus bestsellers, I’ve only read one. It didn’t exactly make me rush to my library or bookstore to devour the rest of the series the way my introduction to Lawrence Sanders’ McNally books did (still my favorite series; not sure why) but I want to like them because, as previously stated, I really like James Patterson. I’ll even go so far as to admit (again) that I have a bit of a crush on him. His positive attitude and advice is really helping me stay on track as I write my second novel (the first) .  Or is it?

My new novel, coming out this summer.

Whether it’s called writers block or resistance, or distraction, anything that takes away my focus is an impediment to me getting the job done, including watching Patterson’s videos when I should be writing. In our ADD world of simultaneous digital platform surfing, it seems like the ability to truly focus is reserved for the Zen masters.  With so many delicious distractions surrounding me, I’ve had to develop some simple strategies. Continue reading “The Zen of Focus”

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