Creative Breath

A few years ago while listening to Native American flute music, I realized that, with headphones on I could hear every breath between the notes. At first it seemed to detract from the melody. But the longer I listened, the more the breath sounds became part of the music.

It occurred to me that we each have something that gives breath to our creativity, something that powers our art.

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Breathing new life into my art

I have long been fascinated with this particular instrument and often listen to it while I write. So last week I finally bought myself a Native American flute. Exquisitely hand crafted from cedar, it is a work of art in itself.

The simplicity of the design makes it relatively easy for even an amateur like me to play. From the haunting sound of the low notes to the joyful flight of the highs, it centers me and lifts me up.

This type of flute is one of the oldest instruments known to man, along with the rattle and drum. It was used to imitate the sounds of nature, primarily birds.

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I am not a musician, but I believe that creativity thrives on experimentation. Are you a writer? Pick up a paintbrush or a camera. Are you a painter? Write a poem. If you are right-handed, try sketching with your left hand or vice versa (a technique used in art therapy).

Breathe new life into your art.

I was surprised to learn while playing this flute that the higher the note, the more breath that’s required. The highs are closest to the source, and yet more strength is required to reach them.

What is the breath that powers your creativity? What have you tried in order to increase that force flowing through you, reaching for the higher notes?

I Dream of A Writer’s Room

I have a vision in my head of a large room filled with writers, each with a private desk and comfortable chair, the perfect blend of privacy and camaraderie. Heads bent over laptops, fingers tapping, muses dancing in the air, stories being born. A creative haven–the Writer’s Room.

No, not the BBC-TV version.

BBC-TV, The Writer's Room

BBC-TV, The Writer’s Room

More like the New York and D.C. versions.

NY City Writer's Room

New York City Writer’s Room

DC Writer's Room

DC Writer’s Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How cool is that? A dedicated space just for writers. Published and emerging writers. Novelists, memoirists, and poets, oh my!

In this era of telecommuting, shared office spaces are springing up all over the country. Working from home sounds like nirvana until the loneliness sets in, or the laundry starts calling, or the phone won’t stop ringing with nuisance calls. It can provide a wonderful sense of freedom until you start to feel stagnant from lack of interaction with other humans that aren’t inside your head.

For these very reasons, Writer’s Rooms have existed since the 1970’s. In addition to providing a place for writers to go to get out of the house, a Writer’s Room is a community, a place where collective creative energy will invite the Muse and inspire great writing, (If more seclusion is needed, a good set of headphones can shut out distractions while you stay surrounded by community.)

Some comments from the DC Writer’s Room explain it best:

“Many writers, even writers with workspace at home, are finding that a totally distraction-free environment can do wonders for their focus and productivity.

Another often-mentioned benefit, interestingly, is the presence of other writers. Motivation and seriousness are highly contagious. Some writers also ­value the chance to talk with fellow writers in a social space like our kitchenette.” 

Writer’s Rooms generally have a tiered membership pricing schedule–a pay-as-you-go, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual fee for use of the space. For just over a year, I have tried what I call a seed experiment. For the price of coffee and breakfast, our writer’s group, Just Write, has reserved space at a local coffee shop every Monday morning for three hours. There might be as few as two or as many as ten writers on any given Monday.

 

Just Writing at Java's Brewin'

Just Writing at Java’s Brewin’

Novels have been written here, memoirs drafted, blogs posted. It is an atmosphere of focused intent and warm camaraderie. It is my dream to create a space where this atmosphere can thrive on a daily basis. My vision also includes a creativity room for brainstorming, workshops, classes, and coaching sessions.

It is a big dream, and I worry that it will remain just that–a dream. But I know that big things can happen with consistent small steps, so I will continue to put one foot in front of the other. Next steps: 1. Find a space to meet more frequently. 2. Impart the dream to more writers.

Where do you do your best writing? Do you have a writing community? Would you take advantage of a Writer’s Room if one were available in your area for a reasonable cost?

A Sense of Faith

The twelfth and final chapter of The Artist’s Way is so rich and full it is difficult to sum it all up. Here are a few tidbits from each section.

Trusting
Faith is the underpinning of creativity, and faith requires loosening our death grip on control. That is a frightening proposition. But look around you. Take a close look at your life and you will discover that control is an illusion. The effort it takes to maintain this illusion often creates confusion, anxiety, and depression.

Let go. Trust yourself, your own inner voice. Have faith in the Source of that “still, small voice” of inspiration. Try using these affirmations to bolster your confidence: “I know the things I know.” “I trust my own inner guide.”

Mystery
“Creativity–like human life itself–begins in darkness.” (p. 194) Inspiration often seems like it comes in a flash of light, but in reality ideas have been swirling around under the surface, in the “delicious dark,” gestating until they are ready to see the light of day. Trust the darkness.

“So you see, imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” Brenda Ueland (p. 22)

This “moodling,” or mulling on the page, in Morning Pages can at times seem pointless. Have faith in the process.

Escape Velocity
Escape velocity is a term Cameron uses to describe that point in time when you are ready to launch into a new realm. Whether it’s leaving behind a bad relationship, a stifling job, or old, unproductive patterns, you’ve built yourself up, you’ve prepared, you’re ready to go. Then…bam. Something–or someone–throws you off course.

This is the story of my last few weeks. I was flying high, excited about the growth I’ve experienced through The Artist’s Way process, planning new creative adventures for the new year, posting a weekly blog. Then came “The Test.”

The busyness and increased expectations of the holidays, which I wrote about in my last post. A sick elderly parent needs extra help. My own physical limitations and mood swings slow me down. These are all a normal part of my life at this point. I’m learning to ride the ebbs and flows and trust my resolve to pass those tests in whatever form they take.

What are the tests you encounter when you reach “escape velocity”?

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“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” André Gide

Go forth, brave souls, and create! You will make the world a better place.