I used to try to work on one project for a short period and then move onto the next. But it isn’t working. Creation, for me, is a forgetting and a remembering at the same time. It’s a letting go while capturing what will become the piece of work that wants to be. It’s the tension between these opposites. What works is to dive deeply for hours into the work. Like one gets lost in beauty, the artist must lose themselves in the work in order to have the piece be a true expression of them.
Some can do this in short stints. We can lose track of time whether it’s 15 minutes or 5 hours. But for me, it takes time to get into the creative trance where the dance takes place. And once I’m there, I hate to leave it.
I find even when I’m in my morning meditation/prayer time, the time I spend envisioning the life I want to create, I do my best “work” when I can take my time. Both creating a life and creating a work of art are time spent with the creative power itself. Time does seem to slow down. You can’t rush a birth. And that’s what we are doing whether it’s a book or a painting or a life, we are giving birth to ourselves.
So take the time to become one with the creative work. The key is to “be” come. Let go of the doing and be the work so you can be the expression you create. You are life becoming life.
(This excerpt and much of the book can help you tap into your creative mind which is helpful not only in writing but in creating your life. If you're looking for answers, creating space for ideas will help you find them.)
So what do I mean by making space? Why do I call it the unknown frontier?
A definition of space is a continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied. So I mean for you to free up your time and your mind. By doing this you make yourself available to the new or the old ideas that got buried under years of “have-tos” and “shoulds”.
It’s the unknown frontier because you don’t know what’s going to show up. Not knowing freaks many people out. We don’t always like to wait for inspiration and sometimes we don’t have to wait. Sometimes it just appears. But there are other times when we need to be patient and keep from filling up our lives and minds with too many tasks and thoughts.
I’m not advocating for you to do nothing at all, though you may need many moments of that. You can experience new insights while you’re writing, as well as by staring out a window. What I’m making a case for is relaxing and allowing your ideas, your own intuitive guidance, to rise up.
Sometimes we get desperate when we can’t come up with an idea. That desperation is not conducive to contacting your subconscious. Sometimes we just want to avoid thinking about it all and so keep ourselves busy. And sometimes we fill our minds with the tasks yet to be done or replay past regrets. We have a tendency to fill our lives and minds up when we’re afraid. It’s a way of avoiding the real work because we’re afraid we’re aren’t good enough or will never have a good idea. But I promise you are full of good ideas as well as bad ones. Our minds are idea-making machines. Thinking is what our brains are wired to do. So don’t think that you could ever be empty of ideas.
You also don’t have to worry about following a bad idea. If something doesn’t look like it’s going to turn into what you hoped, you can always stop working on it and wait to see if the space you give it brings you another way of viewing it, of making it work. You can also just leave that project and work on another. There is no failure – only experimentation. Sometimes ideas seem great in our heads, but when we flesh them out, we find they don’t work. It’s okay. That’s the life of a writer and of anyone trying to turn ideas into realities.
As I mentioned above, space is good for your current projects and not just for coming up with new ones. That space can help expand your ideas and bring new insights that may make your project better. Just don’t put too much space between you and your work. If you do, you can lose track of your thoughts about it.
When you give space to your work, you need to be aware of your motives. Are you doing it to make it better or are you afraid it won’t be good enough and so are procrastinating? If you find you do this over and over and never finish a project, you are letting that nasty perfectionism win. First drafts don’t have to be perfect. But if you are ever going to move forward on your project, you have to get it written. Leave the polishing for later.
As I write this book, which will be my first published book, I’m being challenged by perfectionism. Since I was small, perfectionism has plagued me. It has killed many projects. I let it. It won’t kill this one.
This is one of the things I’ll talk about in the “Healing Your Stuff” section. When we take a step out of our comfort zone or when we put ourselves out there in some way, resistance will rise within us. Think about any of the new things you’ve tried. Did you feel afraid? Did you think you wouldn’t be good at it? That’s only natural. You may feel these things, but you have to understand that you have the power to override them and keep going. As you work on something new, you’ll get better at moving through your doubts. Your confidence will build and you will finish.
But first you need your idea. And to get that you need space.
The Writer's Aha! is available on Amazon for $0.99.
In it you'll discover ways you can tap into your subconscious for ideas. The suggestions in this book promote both mindfulness and mindlessness. They encourage you to slow down and create space in both your head and your life. Space is the key to uncovering your best ideas for a book or anything else you create, including a life you love.
Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.
– Jalaluddin Rumi
A few days ago I was watching a documentary about the band Rush. I love to learn about the creative process of writers, artists and musicians. One thing that stood out was how they stayed true to themselves even when they weren’t sure what was coming next or if what was next was strange and difficult. They followed their hearts.
It takes courage to do this. When everyone is saying it’s too weird or it won’t work, you have to keep true to your vision. The members of Rush described the many times they sensed things were changing. They understood the current way of doing things needed to end to make way for something new. Those transition times and albums were difficult, but they trusted the process and kept moving, creating, imagining the next thing into existence.
Rush fully trusted the creative process. They let things run their course and had help to bring things closer to their heart when they strayed too far. And when it was over, they let it be.
It does feel as though there is a natural course to things. Often we ride it longer than it wants to be ridden because we like the high of success. But this can damage what we created, and it can damage us.
We are the flow of the Universe. Our heart’s desires are the desires of greater Being brought down to earth. When we let the creative process have its way with us, there is no waiting on wingbeats and stars because we have become inspiration living out its destiny. The closer to our hearts we remain, the greater our creations will be.
Art is the essence of awareness.
~ Louise Nevelson
We cannot draw the door to our bedroom from an abstract idea of door. We end up with a rectangle with a circle in it to represent the door knob. It’s a door, but it’s not the bedroom door with its four panels and wood grain surface to give it texture.
It’s possible to create a rendering of a door based on the doors you have seen and create something more realistic. Your creation would be based on what you had experienced. Your ability to be present with what is right in front of you gives you what you need to create. Creation is an act of awareness and what you create is the essence of awareness as Louise Nevelson says.
The thing is it takes courage to be present with what is. What is isn’t always pleasant or pretty. But it is real. If we pay attention to it, it brings us into the moment and into our bodies. And if these things aren’t working for us right now, we sometimes want to avoid them, ignore them, escape them. By not relating to what is right now just because it’s painful, we become numb and lose our ability to stay present. This is the antithesis of creation.
Avoidance has been a practice of mine. I don’t always have the courage to be with what is. And this practice has made life unmanageable at times. It’s left me bereft in terms of my creativity. Anytime I stepped into the present to write a poem about what I saw, what I didn’t want to face would rise and I would shut down. If I practice avoidance too much, I don’t feel like being creative at all.
In the past couple of years, I’ve made it a practice to face my fears and worries at some point. I don’t always rush in. I breathe and take baby steps. I take my time, but I get there, usually. And this has helped me be more creative.
Creation begins with awareness, whether it is a sky of roiling clouds or a mind of worries that becomes the object of our attention. What is in front of us can be transformed by our creativity, but we need to first bring our awareness to it.
The poem I write may begin with wind rustling the leaves of the tree in my front yard. My awareness allows it to be transformed into a memory of the first time I danced or sparks the idea of being moved by Spirit. Either way, I get there via what is right in front of me. The thing before me becomes a metaphor as I place my attention on it or what I create brings alive my experience of it.
To create is to transform what we see, hear, feel. Anything we don’t like about our lives can become something else. But first we must be aware and living in it fully. This is the only way to tap into the possibilities alive in the situation and in us as we experience it.
Creation begins in awareness, is grounded in the moment and comes to fruition after processing our experience through the heart and subconscious mind. Our lives and art are our greatest work. The ability to create is both a gift and an invitation to connect to others and the Divine.
Go then and make of the world something beautiful, set up a light in the darkness.
~ from Awakening Osiris, The Egyptian Book of the Dead as translated by Normandi Ellis
I can see them now, weathered and slightly bent with arthritis after years of making and building. My father held possibility in his hands.
We are all makers, creators fashioning a poem, a painting, a song, a cabinet, a life. We all live on the edge of creation and our hearts, minds and hands play a role.
Some say we are the hands of the Divine, a way for creation to unfold in ever more beautiful and complex ways. As we were created, so we create.
And what compels us to will something onto a blank canvas or form something from a lump of clay? We see beauty and desire to bring more of it into the world. Something inside us wishes to be brought forth. Or perhaps it’s our very soul unfolding as a rose slowly unfurls to know the light and express its essence.
I played in the sawdust left by my father’s making. It was soft and I can still smell its freshness. As parts of the wood became dust the rest began to look like something.
Before I was born the wood that passed through his hands became our house and later it became boats used to reach our island cabin, a rocking elephant painted in full parade regalia, simple toys like a car and airplane.
His hands picked up markers and made beautiful letters on paper, letters that became dozens of birthday cards with drawings of the latest animated characters or puppets.
Paint brushes passed through his hands as he painted his wooden creations, a giant crib board that served as a bench, our tables, couch and chair, a cousin’s crib and dresser. His hands carefully held brushes that styled letters for business signs.
And when I was small, his hands held me, an expression of him, my mother and the Divine.
But one day his hands began to shake and the making became nearly impossible. I saw and felt his frustration. What does a maker do when they can make no more?
My father taught me to take time every day to create, to make, to express the gifts you are given. And so here I sit and write and make something for you to read, something I hope inspires and moves you to pick up that pen or clay or paintbrush. At this moment you stand on the edge of creation. What will you make?
I came across this quote from Ray Bradbury that I had to share. He definitely had the heart of a maker.
Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.
What we are waiting for is not as important as what happens to us while we are waiting. Trust the process.
― Mandy Hale
Today I am truly waiting on wingbeats and stars, the wingbeats of my muse and the stars of my destiny. What is it that wants to come through me? What moves me right now? What is it that I’m supposed to be writing about?
I’m beginning to feel as though what I am to write about is bigger than just my story. I share my story to let others know they are not alone, but there is something else coming through.
We must begin whatever it is we are to do in the world in order for what is next to be revealed. Each step has the seed of the next in it, though sometimes it doesn’t show itself at first. It can often feel we are waiting on wingbeats and stars.
During the in between time, the goo as a friend calls it using the metaphor of the caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly, is where we meet the power of creation itself. We can choose to see it as the rawness of possibility or the pain of uncertainty. It’s a matter of trust and knowing that everything matters even as it slips in and out of matter.
The source of the word matter is mother. Matter is the substance from which something is made. Everything comes from the Mother, the source of all being, which is why everything matters. Each step is important as are those moments in between. Each is the source of the next moment, the next step just as each out breath is the source of the in breath and vice versa.
Soon the whisper will come moving me towards the next words to be written or step to be taken. The soul unfolds with every wingbeat, with every heartbeat. We are the destiny of stars, those swirling giants of gas and light that exploded eons ago. We are the light made manifest and we may never know how far reaching our creations will be or how much we matter in the swirl of galaxies upon galaxies. Even if we can’t know how much anything we do will matter, we must live as though everything does.
And so I wait for the whisper of wingbeats knowing my destiny is intertwined with the stars.
Being fully present isn’t something that happens once and then you have achieved it; it’s being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself.
~ Pema Chödrön
There is a time to step forth and a time to step back. There is a time to act and a time to rest. There is a time to create and a time to dream.
For all of us those times may be different. Some can spend hours creating while others create in short bursts. If you’re a short burst type of creator, you may have moments of being in the flow for hours. An extended period creator may find they create best in short bursts for a time. It’s important to find what works for you and to be open to the times it’s different than your norm.
I know what works for me. I know my rhythm, but I don’t always follow it. This past week I did a lot of writing and by the end I found myself empty. There was nothing within to bring forth. I know I need periods of rest, reading and rumination in order to create, but I wasn’t taking much time for it. The plan this year was to write in the morning and read, study, rest, etc. in the afternoon. I wasn’t following the plan and so found myself unable to come up with words for this week.
I knew what I had to do. I spent Saturday afternoon feeding my soul and mind. After a few hours of this the ideas began to flow again. I know this is how I work best, but I’m hesitant to take so much time not being productive. That’s the culture speaking of course. What works for me is to spend no more than three or four hours on creation and the same amount of time on feeding my soul and mind. When I’m in that rhythm, I can breathe. It’s as though I’m in synch with the pulse and breath of the Universe.
We are all creators. We sleep and dream and then we wake and do. We enjoy our morning tea/coffee while staring out the window and then go about creating our experience of the day. We sit and watch the sun set and then create a delicious dinner. We breathe in and we breathe out. Life moves through us as us in every moment. Its energy ebbs and flows, moves in and out of form. How can we live other than the way Life itself moves and has Its being?
I encourage you to find your rhythm and to ride it knowing it will change now and then. There is no greater joy than being the creator you were born to be. Draw beautiful images. Write inspired stories. Create a beautiful life.
In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.
― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi
When my mind is noisy the words are just surface chatter. What wants to be born in me becomes stuck when I don’t allow the silence to rise within.
For me, the silence within is more than just a quiet mind. It’s a palatable presence. It is the Presence and it is always there. Sometimes, like right now for instance, I had a hard time during my meditation. The deep silence was hidden by surface disturbance of frenetic thought. Sometimes this happens when there are a lot of things I’m trying to deal with at once or when there are things I’d rather not deal with. The inner chatter is related to fear and doubt.
The silence, the Silence is more real than all the noise. When I touch deep silence it feels as though it isn’t just within. It’s all around me, too. The Presence has entered my whole experience. As I relax and rest in it, sometimes the words rise up, the words that are true and carry the spark of creation. Silence carries possibility and we give birth to what rises when we take those words and ideas and bring them into form.
Some writers and artists…I think especially poets…feel as though their work comes from something outside of themselves. I think it can feel as if that were so if you’re solely identifying with your smaller self. It can feel as though it is coming from somewhere other than you. It’s coming out of that which is greater than you, but I believe that greater beingness lives as you.
If you wish to create a work of art, a poem, a novel, your life, I encourage you to spend time in the silence and with the Silence. It holds everything and offers this gift to you, always. But it takes courage to be open to listening. Anything can rise. It takes patience and trust for the Silence doesn’t live in time. It also takes courage to then take what you’ve heard and felt and turn it into something. Though it feels as though it is otherworldly in its presentation to you, at its heart it is the very essence of you as well as all of your experiences.
So trust, be patient and willing to share. The silence/Silence is waiting for you. Your greatest treasure is a world of possibility that lives within. Go to it, open your heart and mind and let the journey begin.
You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Creation sometimes feels like you are trying to grasp rainbows. All those brilliant ideas shine for a moment and then the clouds drift over the sun again. What was once perfectly clear is gone.
And this happens constantly. We can write down our ideas, though it feels as though they are never as perfect once we begin to bring them into form. The rainbow is perfect and beautiful, but a photograph rarely captures the power of sunlight on water vapor the way our bare eye does.
But we try to capture this beauty anyway. We are creators and rainbows are our inspiration. Ideas come to us, rise up and we shine the light of consciousness on them. In that moment ideas are as bright and colorful as a rainbow. We can’t grasp an idea like we can hold onto a bouquet of flowers. To grasp at something ethereal by nature leaves us frustrated. Relax and let the idea float. Take it in.
This morning I saw an amazing rainbow out my office window. But I let myself get distracted by something and then I fumbled with my phone to take a picture. The rainbow faded fast. Instead of trying to capture it, I could have simply looked at it while it was full and bright. Those moments of enjoyment would have done more to imprint its beauty upon my memory than a weakened version in a photograph.
Relax and be with your ideas as they rise. Of course get something down on paper, but don’t grasp at the idea. It’s futile. If you reach into the moist air, your hand goes through the rainbow. Let your ideas leave an imprint on your heart. Just be present with them.
And if you don’t manage to get it down on paper, don’t worry. The idea may rise again, but it will only do so if you relax. Remember you’re not trying to capture the rainbow or the ideas themselves. All we have is the memory, the imprint left behind by the beauty rising within.
Waiting on Wingbeats & Stars
News of my latest published works and other musings.