I just had lunch with a memoirist friend of mine and we had a great discussion about stoking the flames of creativity. We are both working on a big project right now – she is writing her memoir and mining her past for details, while I am creating a new brand and also mining my past for clues on what it needs to be and what is my fullest expression.
What I’ve discovered has been very interesting. Typically I can write or create anywhere – on my porch, at my dining room table, just inside the bay window by the bird feeder. As long as I have my laptop, writing materials and associated books, I’m set.
But because this project has been bigger and more complex, the process has been different. Each time I work on it, my process has been to “stoke the creative fire” and then, in the midst of the blaze and with inspiration running high, I create. When I finish, the fire dies down, and the next time I work on it I’m back down to stoking the flames again.
The embers are always burning, but what I’ve found is that I’d like a quicker way to start them. As my friend and I nibbled on souvlaki and pita bread at lunch, she shared with me her secret of getting the blaze roaring at record speed — she rented an office.
She found that her more nomadic writing in different spaces was leaving a trail of sparks from room to room. By renting an office space, she says when she enters the door, it feels as if she’s walking inside the book itself. Hung on the walls is butcher paper with lists of positive affirmations, different scenes, motivational pictures that inspire her, etc. She has created an alternate universe that is just for her writing. And when she enters it, she says her body just knows what she’s there to do and on most days the creativity is high upon arrival.
Now I know what you’re saying – how many of us can afford to rent an office space just for our part-time writing? To be honest, this friend isn’t rich, it’s simply that she’s made it a priority. More importantly is that we bring an awareness to our creative space and what environment works best for us.
For instance, I now have a “ritual” box that I take with me when I start working on creative projects. In it, I have various items to help light my fire, such as small pictures that inspire me, a candle, tea bags, a few small rocks and leaves, favorite hand written quotes, and so on. On my computer, I’ve started a journal that captures the flavor of each creative session with my bigger branding project, so I can re-read that when I sit down and not have to wonder where I was or what’s next. All if this leads to the inspiration coming more quickly.
Yesterday I went to write at a coffee shop, and found the tiny Asian woman next to me creating her own space to work. She moved the table, adjusted the blinds, put a napkin under the foot of the table to keep it from wobbling, and then sat down with a mug of tea and satisfied sigh before she began.
It’s not a requirement that we all have, as writer Virginia Woolf called it, a “room of one’s own” in order to write. The muse will come anyway, even if she has to ride in a dirty laundry hamper or whisper to us as we race down a highway. But she loves being wooed every now and again. She adores having a beautiful space and an open heart when we invite her in. And she responds by holding the match for those creative fires…
Writing Pearls: Think about the space where you create, and what you could add to it that would more quickly move you to inspiration? A special painting? A childhood lamp? Or perhaps there’s something you need to remove from that space? Or to fix? What adds to your experience in your writing space and what takes away from it?
As founder of Backyard Pearls, LLC, Carolyn Scarborough helps people tap into their inner wisdom, then share it with the world through books, blogs and articles. As a Writing Wisdom Coach, she supports you through the journey from inspiring idea to published piece in a way that’s joyful, effortless and profitable.
She’s done almost every kind of writing imaginable, including magazine features, newspaper columns, books, journaling — even ghostwriting for Donald Trump! Her favorite sort of writing is the kind where she has to be really present to find the story, so her life and writing are both a constant awakening to a deeper, richer way to live in the world.
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