You are dreaming your thirst,
when the water you want
is inside the big vein on your neck.”
I hope your year got off to a good start. After all the hoping and planning I did in December to get back to my novel, I’ve been quite successful so far. I’m giving myself to the end of June to have my second draft complete, and I’m already over half way through my first pass. Lots of rewriting to come and another one or two passes of the whole thing after this one, but at the moment, I’m loving exploring the world of the novel and deepening the story.
That’s actually my word of the year
The Rumi poem excerpt at the top of the blog and the title alludes to the flow I’m finding in myself for my novel project at the moment. Since lockdown 2020, I’ve done a lot of learning about creativity and how to not get frustrated with what you’re producing! This has been a big problem for me. I love it when I have a project on, but when it’s not going well I find that very difficult. I push myself into the project more and more and, sometimes, it just turns to tatters in my hands and there’s no project left.
It turns out that a better way to work is to follow what some people call ‘your flow’ and trust that, rather than what your brain is telling you to do. This will help your creativity flourish.
For example, for me it has played out as:
Head: Why isn’t this play working? Why am I not feeling it anymore? Why can’t I get it right? I must work harder on it.
Flow: Take it easy, mate. Go where it feels good, not bad. Leave the play for a bit. You’ll come back to it eventually. Remember that novel you’ve been thinking about writing when you haven’t been writing a play? Why not give that a go? You have nothing to lose.
Head: But a novel is massive commitment and would take up all my time. I’ve never done it before!
Flow: So? Who cares? You know you like learning to do new creative things. Who knows, you might enjoy it? Surely you want to do things that you enjoy?
The word ‘play’ is interchangeable with anything I’m getting frustrated with, and the word ‘novel’ can be replaced with anything else I have in my mind instead. I’m not a huge procrastinator and I don’t tend to flit between projects. Once I’m committed, I’m all in. I feel better when I have a project on than when I don’t, and at the moment, this approach of following the flow is working for me. Although I’m sad that I haven’t got back to writing a play yet, writing the novel is like I’ve turned a tap on inside me. I have so my water for this project right now, and it’s so much fun. Why not go where the joy is?
Another reason why it’s flowing I think is because of my new process: using a bullet journal (which I talk about in this blog) to log my progress and write notes and ideas. Ticking off writing days and logging word count was something I did during Camp Nanowrimo which helped me finish the first draft. I’m using the bullet journal in a similar way -chalking up hours spent rather than word count- and I’ll definitely be keeping this process for future projects. If you’re working on something big or even medium-sized, I encourage you to try bullet journalling to help you keep track of it all in and hold your ideas together.
Over the various lockdowns, keeping myself to myself as we all have, I’ve also learnt more about the kind of creative I am. I seem to do well with creative seasons rather than a daily practice. Thinking of my work in seasons is helping me move from one thing to another without feeling guilty that I’m abandoning a project or medium which actually just needs to ‘brew’ for a bit. I’m in my novel season currently where, if I’m not writing each day, I’m filling my bullet journal with ideas and questions I’m mulling over when I want to. Once I’m drained of this current flow and the draft is done, I’ll probably go on to a visual art season and get back to my painting and collage. I’ll see where the flow takes me. Although I did make some collaged bookmarks over a couple of evenings last month, which was a lovely break from writing and fun to play around with:
I’ve learnt that, knowing yourself as a creative, working from where the waves inside you flow and approaching projects from the point of view of abundance (you already have everything you need to complete your project. Just follow the flow and trust that it will come) is suiting me well. I feel a lot calmer than I ever have with my creative process, and I’m finding a lot more joy in my practice too. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Especially in these dark times we’ve all experienced.
I thought I’d share some of my current inspirations in case they peak your interest as well:
The islands of the Pacific
My novel is set in a fantasy world all of its own, but I was surprise and gladdened to find an element of the story holds true in real life, however tragic that story is. I won’t share the story point as I’m still working my novel out, but, I discovered this fact whilst watching Martin Clunes’ documentaries on the islands of the Pacific. Filmed during the pandemic -and cut short because of it, AND filmed before the awful disaster in Tonga- he explores the cultures and customs of the islands. So beautiful, and very inspiring.
Steal like an artist
This is the back cover of a book called Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon. Not a book I’d initially pick up, but off the back of a recommendation from the Art Juice podcast, I was given it for Christmas. I took a photo of the back cover so you can see the tips inside. I’ve been surprised how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s really helped me think about how my creativity works and it’s so nice to read something where I think, gosh yes that’s me!! He also has a tip similar to mine about bullet journalling from Jerry Seinfeld. I wonder if I’d read this book earlier, it may’ve helped me think about my creativity earlier? If you have a creative in your life I’d suggest it as a great gift.
The Ones who walk away from Omelas
And to finish with, I wanted to share a rather unnerving short story I found for my reading group this week. We’ve read a few Ursula K. Le Guin stories, and there’s a great documentary on her if you haven’t seen it. My novel is nothing like this story, but it does feature a fantasy world and the discovery of something rotten at its heart. Give it a go. You can read it for free here: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.
Until next time.