Tag Archives: Creativity

Denying your creativity can kill you

The War of Art - book coverI’m reading Steven Pressfield‘s excellent little book about writing, how to be a professional writer, what that means, what makes you stop writing (or doing any creative work) and how you can overcome it. I’m almost finished reading The War of Art, but from the very fist chapter, I knew this was a winner. It’s one of those books that make you feel like you have to underline every single sentence.

Let me give you an example. Last night, I read a chapter titled “Life and Death”. This is a chapter I wanted to underline, quote, print out and frame, and shout out from the rooftops. In “Life and Death”, Pressfield discusses how a profound shift takes place in the awareness of a person who finds out that he/she has a terminal illness.

“Things that sixty seconds earlier had seemed all important suddenly appear meaningless, while people and concerns that he had till then dismissed at once take on supreme importance.”

How many times have we heard stories of people who, after being told by their doctors that they have just six months to live, quit their jobs to spend time with their families and do something that takes everyone by surprise?

Tom Laughlin, an actor, lecturer, author, and psychologist who works with the terminally ill, says that this “deadline” makes people start to think about what they’ve always wanted to do in their lives. They start thinking about how they’ve always wanted to play music, or paint, or write, or travel around the world.

The reason this happens, Laughlin says, is that consciousness shifts from the Ego to the Self. As Pressfield puts it, “The world is entirely new, viewed from the Self. At once we discern what’s really important. Superficial concerns fall away, replaced by a deeper, more profoundly grounded perspective.”

So what’s new about that? We all know that, right? Who would continue working in their 9-5 jobs or prefer to spend time in their cubicles or in office meetings when they find out they have six months left? So what’s so amazing that I’m dedicating an entire blog post to this?

According to Pressfield, once people make this mental shift and start pursuing their dreams, they recover from their illnesses.

And Laughlin, as well as Pressfield, ask some crucial questions:

“Is it possible… that the disease itself evolved as a consequence of actions taken (or not taken) in our lives? Could our unlived lives have exacted their vengeance upon us in the form of cancer? And if they did, can we cure ourselves, now, by living these lives out?”

How much negativity exists in our lives when we aren’t doing what we aren’t pursuing our dreams? And how many diseases baffle doctors and researchers, who end up explaining them as being a result of “negative stress”, among other things?

Call me deluded, but this makes a whole lot of sense to me.

What do you think?

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Filed under books, life, reading, writing, Writing related

WRCE bookmarks? Or, I need help.

Used with permission from http://www.smashingmagazine.com under Creative Commons License.

First, a note about this post’s title. I admit to a serious case of brain freeze. I simply cannot come up with a good title for what I am hoping will be a more or less regular feature on this blog: a roundup of  links to the very best of what I’ve been reading or watching online about writing, reading, creativity, and, occasionally, eating chocolate. WRCE is basically the initials of the blog title. Completely banal, I agree, so help me out here and suggest something better (anything you suggest is bound to be better).

In no particular order, these are the best articles I’ve read this week:

on becoming creative: keep trying

I could praise this post till the end of the year, and still think it deserves more. This is one of the most inspiring and insightful pieces of writing on creativity. Diana Bauer of A Certain Simplicity writes about the relationship between creativity, talent, and the fundamental importance of technical discipline. I can sum up her post in three sentences, but if you don’t go on to read the whole article, you’d be missing on what may be the most important thing you read about creativity.

She starts out with a statement which I believe does wonders in calming jittery creative nerves. “Not being able to do something well does not mean that a person does not have talent.” So relax, people.

But, she says, “so many people don’t make it over that first hurdle because they believe that in order to start, they have to magically produce some sort of talent they don’t believe they even have, when what they should be doing is starting to understand the technical part of the art which they might be interested in.”

Thank you, Rose Deniz, for suggesting this article.

6 Tips to Ease Back into Your Writing Routine

Suzannah Freeman on Write it Sideways tackles the struggle to get back on track with your writing when you’ve been away (whether physically or mentally) for a while. She starts her post with the following sentence, which grabbed me, because it describes me to a “t” (although I’m still not as disciplined as she is): “If you’re anything like me, it only takes a few days away from your regular writing routine to throw everything in your life out of whack.”

And then she outlines six tips for getting back on track. I particularly identified with her suggestion to “organize your surroundings”. I can never think straight or otherwise in a messy room.

Rhythms of Writing

Darcy Pattison of Fiction Notes writes about what she calls the “messy and unexpected” nature of her writing process. She says: “Once I know the direction that I need to go, I don’t mind letting go and doing the unexpected.”

In my opinion, this is a very important balance between the never-ending “debate” between the outliners (in which the writer outlines the novel/story) and the pantsers (in which the writer does not outline the novel/story and just writes “by the seat of his/her pants”) in the creative writing world. I don’t think that you have to choose one method of writing over another, but believe that both can contribute positively to your writing.

So What Exactly Is Creativity?

This is the third lesson in Mark McGuinness‘s free 6-month online course for creative professionals, called The Creative Pathfinder. I have tremendous respect for Mark’s articles because they are not only well-written, but are extremely helpful as well. It’s obvious that he puts a lot of thought and effort into each article. Case in point, his third lesson in the Creative Pathfinder course.

In this lesson, he outlines different definitions of creativity and suggests how these definitions can help creative people. He starts out by stating the obvious, and then points out the not-so-obvious that makes all the difference. This is an example of what he has to say:

Creative thinking is often the first thing we think of when we think of creativity. But any real creator knows that creative thinking isn’t worth doodly squat unless you do something with your ideas.

On the other hand, if you focus too much on execution, you can get caught up in foolish productivity, busy all the time yet somehow never creating anything remarkable.

Warning: Mark’s articles usually run a little long, but from experience, they’re worth reading to the very end.

Your Time Is Your Currency

So how do (successful) writers balance writing with the rest of life? Laurie Halse Anderson of Mad Woman in the Forest, has three valuable lessons. These are: seek out kindred spirits, be clear about your true priorities, and take charge of your life.

But these lessons aren’t as simplistic as they sound. Laurie’s post is excellent inspiration for writers and other creative people to read over and over again. Thank you, Debbie Ohi, for suggesting this post.

When Life Gives You Writer’s Block, Build With It!

An interesting premise. I’ll be the first to admit to usually just sleeping/hibernating, dreaming, cooking, eating, movie-watching, and generally  doing anything but building when I get hit with writer’s block. I’ve been trying to deal with it more creatively and have written about this before here.

But Christopher Rice on Fuel Your Writing has a new take on how to build when life gives you (writer’s) block. “The goal”, he writes, “is to analyze why you’re bogged down with writer’s block.” If you think that sounds like a therapist’s take on writer’s block, read the rest of the article to discover just how this analysis helps move your writing project forward, and why analysis works.

And now, over to you. I’d love to know what you’ve been reading lately about writing and creativity. And don’t forget to suggest another title for this feature.

Update: As per the suggestion of the wonderful Nadia El-Awady, the winner of the best suggestion for the title gets a batch of what she generously calls my “world famous brownies”. But alas, the winner must be a resident of Cairo, Egypt and be willing to arrange for pick-up in 6th of October in order to receive the prize.

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Filed under links roundup, writing, Writing related