Part of my goals or resolutions for the new year included adding a once a month post about creativity tips, tools and techniques. I felt the need to write this kind of post after reading an article in the magazine “Artful Blogger.”
The author of one particular article was talking about managing creativity. At first, I thought the idea of managing creativity to be odd. But upon reading the entire article, I understood where she was coming from. Her point was that part of the reason that people feel like they cannot or are not creative is because they have unrealistic expectations of what creativity is and the skills necessary to be creative. For example, the first time you pick up a paint brush you are not going to paint a million dollar masterpiece. One has to learn how to use the brushes and the paint. The article pointed out that managing creativity is really more about managing expectations. For that first canvas, if you don’t expect a masterpiece but want to have fun, you are more likely to meet that expectation.
This got me thinking about what made teaching creativity classes and one on one creativity coaching sessions successful. What lessons, tools, and techniques do I use with my students to help them become more creative in their lives? How can I break down complex lessons in a way that will make sense and be helpful? I reviewed class notes and requests for specific lessons from students. I looked at my extensive library of books focusing on creativity. I reviewed favorite blogs that I follow on WordPress. I decided to take parts of larger lessons and break them down. Each month I will try to focus on specific tools, tips, techniques and the ideas surrounding creativity. Please do not hesitate to comment or contact me on my Contact page if there are specific questions that you have or areas that you would like me to address.
This is the first post of my new creativity series and it focuses on three tools. What does a creative tool do? Creative tools help bring out your creativity and prepare you to do your particular creative work. These particular tools are meant to help with our creative subconscious.
Anyone who has read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is familiar with her creative tool, MORNING PAGES. I can hear groans from some of my creativity class students. I started writing morning pages when I took the Artist’s Way class in 2005. You are correct in your analysis of the last statement that I still write morning pages. Like Julia Cameron, I believe they are a very important tool for a successful creative life. The following is a description from Julia Cameron of what morning pages are and why they work.
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, morning writing about anything and everything. You may complain, whine, grumble, grieve. You may hope, celebrate, plan, plot. Nothing is too small or too large to be included. Everything is grist for the creative mill. Why should we do Morning Pages? Morning Pages prioritize our day. They render us present to the moment. They introduce us to an unsuspected inner strength and agility. They draw to our attention those areas of our life that need our focus. Both or weaknesses and our strengths will be gently revealed. Problems will be exposed, and solutions suggested.” – Julia Cameron, Page 2, The Sound of Paper.
Morning pages are hand written. No, you may not type them on your laptop. Three pages. The number of pages is negotiable. If you need to end a sentence or two early or go over a little, it is okay. No one and I mean no one gets to read these but you. You write them for yourself. It is a tool for your creativity. You are never required to share them. Yes they need to be written every day. I am not perfect, I do not write them every single day. But I do write them almost every single day.
They are called morning pages for a reason. Do them right away in the morning or generally when you wake up for the day. If you are like me and are not quite human until that first cup of coffee, by all means, get your coffee first and write second. The reason these are written in the morning is to get all of the clutter out of our brains and onto paper. This way we can focus on what really interests us. Morning pages are a way to capture anything and everything, allowing us to be focused and productive.
Confession. I did not love the morning pages when I first started writing them. I didn’t even like them. I did allow myself to trust the process and started writing them every day when I first took the class. About six weeks into the process of writing them, I had a break through. I actually felt like the pages unlocked a creative block that had been holding me back. From that moment on, I became a believer in the power of the morning pages. They have helped me creatively in a multitude of ways. I cannot recommend doing morning pages enough.
This tool is exactly what it sounds like. It is meant to record dreams. Messages from your subconscious. It is recommended that one keep a notebook and writing utensil next to their bed. Either during the night when you wake up after having the dream or first thing in the morning upon waking, you write down the dream or dreams, in as much detail as you can remember, into your Dream Diary.
You can share your dreams with whomever you choose. You can look up meanings in dream interpretation books. Call a friend and share the dream with them. Maybe you know someone who is good at interpreting dreams. Write notes about insights you have learned. Dreams can be used for creative prompts in artwork, writing, composition of music, etc.
If you are writing or planning on writing Morning Pages, you can combine these two. I personally use my Morning Pages as my Dream Diary.
Unlike the previous two tools, this one you do before you go to bed at night. I came across the Gratitude Journal in the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Find a beautiful blank journal. (There is something about a blank journal that speaks to ones heart and soul that adds to the effectiveness of this tool.) Each night before going to bed write down five things that you are grateful for.
Some days will be easy to make a list. Here a few examples of positive blessings: I saw double rainbows when walking through the park after the storm. My herb bed has started growing on its own with volunteer plants. A friend arrived home safely after completing a tour in Iraq. While on a drive, I was able to stop and take photos of the fall foliage. Today, I helped my niece make her very first snowman.
Some days are harder to think of what we are grateful for. On those days I write down the basics: My family. My home. My cat. My health and the health of my family. My friends. Having food to eat. Being safe. Life happens. There will be days that just living and breathing are hard, let alone being grateful.
Why is the Gratitude Journal an important part of creativity? I think it is an important part of living. When you become consciously aware of your blessings and give thanks for them every day (even on the rough days) you will change. You become aware of the world around you in a new way and open yourself to the blessing of possibility.
I hope that you will experiment and try one or all of these amazing creative tools.