Turning inward in the search for the creative spark

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Photo by Adam Borkowski, Dreamstime.com

Perhaps it is that late autumn is a period for introspection, for turning inward, but I feel that I am starting to ask the right questions. Not, “Is who I am today who I was meant to be?” (which is what I would’ve asked a few years ago), but “Is who I am today who I want to be? Is this the type of life I will want, someday, to have led?”

I am starting to see that I lost myself in word-count tracking, asking, “How fast can I write?”

That, I have learned, is the wrong question—at least for me. For me, the real question is, “How deep can I go?” And, “How closely can I listen?” “How much can I open my heart to this story, this poem, this piece of work?” “How much of myself can I give?” “How much am I willing to lose?” “How much risk do I want to take?”

Turning inward is reconnecting me with my inner artist, the creative part of me that is linked to the creative energy of the universe. Turning inward is reminding me why I write. It is helping me to be open to myself and to the universe, or whatever you’d like to call the mysterious source of creative energy that guides our hands as we shape our creations.

In light of that, I am preceding slowly. At first, I hated that I was no longer writing 2K or 3K a day. I hated that I couldn’t see a story start to finish. My art went from being a list of “to-do’s” to this intangible thing that I couldn’t grapple with. After all, how do you wrangle a creature made of air and shadow and rainbows and mist? (And yes, somehow it seems to be made of all of these at once.)

I quit wrangling. I am a vessel, waiting for rainwater. The autumn wind has been fierce this weekend, and the heat has kicked on, and I am sitting with my laptop, drinking English Breakfast tea and allowing poems to murmur in my ear, and opening the door to the blustery night to find a strange new character standing there. She is setting out a saucer of cream and a loaf of soda bread as an offering to the faeries. Her life is about to change in ways not even I, the writer, can currently conceive. But this character has come to me, and if she wants me to, I am willing and ready to pen her story.

So where does that leave me on this week’s writing goals?

  • Do something writing-related every day, seven days a week: journal, write a poem, take notes on a story, read a writing book, brainstorm, etc. I met this goal, I’d say, five days out of seven: penning four poems; typing out the opening page of a novelette, one that I hope will be part of my Faerie Forest series; and reading poetry by some of my favorite poets (among them, Mary Oliver, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Joy Harjo, and Langston Hughes). I also started reading Autumn Thorns by Yasmine Galenorn, another of my favorite writers, and I bought a short story¸ As Good As Gold, by Heidi Wessman Kneale, to jump-start my creative process with the short story/novelette I’m penning.
  • Reconnect with my spiritual practice. I wrote a spell/meditation for the February full moon. My goal is to add one spell/meditation/ritual for each full moon and every Sabbat to my Book of Shadows. Not right away. Just over time.
  • Start a regular yoga practice. Yeah, not so much. I was supposed to attend a yoga/gemstone workshop on Saturday, but it was canceled. I’ve been lazy on this one.
  • At least twice a week, explore another creative outlet, anything from scrapbooking to cooking to home decorating or Feng Shui. Made ranch chicken tacos in the slow-cooker. The recipe was super simple, turned out really well, and—best of all—we got two nights worth of meals out of it. I also put “new” bedding on our bed. I pulled out a quilt that my husband’s aunt made for us for our wedding seven years ago. It is a work of art, and one that suits us perfectly, blue with a wave pattern and a smattering of star-patterned fabric, but we were always too scared to actually use it. I decided that I wanted to honor her hard work by actually putting the quilt on our bed. I added a few throw pillows pilfered from another room in the house, and now the bedroom has some water energy (flow and movement) and a touch of fire (passion, creative spark) where before it was only earth energy, which provides stability and balance, but can feel stagnant without balance from the other elements. I also bought new ottomans and throw pillows for the living room to bring some color into that space, since it was looking a little bland. So I’ll say this goal was a success this week.

Part of me is, perhaps, a little sad and frustrated that I’m not meeting mad word-count goals and finishing stories left and right. I am trying to learn to go with the flow, to embrace the shifting nature of creativity, and to be thankful that my stories and poems, my life’s work, have chosen me as their storyteller. That, in and of itself, is a blessing.

So instead of lamenting a period of slow writing, I am trying to embrace it. I don’t know whether it will be the new normal, but I am trying to lean back, sip my tea, and simply listen for a while.

What about you? What goals did you work on this week? Do you view hometending as a creative process? How do you revise your goals during slow periods, if you experience them?

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2 thoughts on “Turning inward in the search for the creative spark

  1. I sometimes lament my slow writing (due to wrist tendonitis) but I try to remember that faster isn’t always the goal and I need to accept that. I suspect that even if I could write faster, I’m not sure my brain could take it. 😉

    • I have to admit, I wrote my last WIP really quickly, and it’s, well, a mess. So maybe crazy word counts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Ultimately, I think we’re all different, and some of us need to give our stories time to simmer, steep, brew, etc. I’m trying to allow things to unfold at a more natural pace for me–which, at the present, is slowly. You’re right. I’m not sure my brain could take that fast pace! Thanks, Erin! 🙂

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