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Keep The Creative Thread Alive

May 6, 2008
There are times when life takes over and we're forced to put our creative projects on the shelf. Visitors, illness, big life moves and other disruptions can lead to frustration on the creative front. Artists of all media and writers deal with this challenge of life disrupting our creative work.

I've worked with many clients on this. The biggest thing is to not beat yourself up or spend too much energy on being frustrated or angry. A better practice is to develop ways to keep a thread alive that connects you to your creativity. Here are a number of 'threads' that can keep your project alive when you can't be as present with it as you want.

* Spend a few minutes with your project, just looking at it, reading it, being with it.

* Read relevant materials to stay inspired, but watch for 'surfing', where your attention wanders away from your focus. If you surf or read for longer than ten minutes, chances are you could be applying that time to your writing.

* Develop a new lens or antenna through which you see the world. Your project is the lens, and ideas and solutions will pop up when you keep your eyes open and filter life through your project. For instance, I was looking for ways to tighten up the drama and action in my novel. While watching the TV show LOST, I noticed that they ended every segment with a dramatic 'bang.' I went to each chapter's end and trimmed away the last few sentences which were not adding to the drama of the book. With the lens of tightening up my writing, I was open to LOST as a teacher of good writing.

* Schedule time in your calendar to work on your project so you know when you will get to it. Just knowing you have a place for it can help ease anxiety over not being in your creative zone.

* Lean into your sense of trust in your own creative process. Remember times when you lost the connection and picked it back up. Use those memories to assure you that you will get back to your project this time.

* Make lists of things you are pondering or working on in your project. The bits and pieces that add up to the whole will help you stay connected and sort through issues you're working on.

* Do a brief free write, sketch or mind map about your work. Sometimes stepping back and getting the big picture will help you connect to the project in new and useful ways.

* Connect with things that inspire you to create. Conversations with other artists, both in your medium and not, almost always spark your creativity.

Balancing life and art making takes effort for most of us. But don't make yourself a victim of your circumstances. Instead, use these threads and develop your own ways of staying connected. Make space for the creative work you crave. If you find yourself avoiding or shirking your creative practice, that's another story. Avoiding art making is more often due to fears rather than lack of time or life's disruptions. You know the difference for yourself. Get clear on whether life is in your way or you are in your way. And then choose to do the art you love!

My favorite bumper sticker says Don't Postpone Joy. I say Don't Postpone Creativity. Keep the thread alive in whatever way you can.
About the Author
Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse helps writers and visionaries make their brilliant ideas a reality. Author of Create Your Writer's Life, Go For It! Leading Tours for Fun and Profit, and Cross the Finish Line! Five Steps to Leap Over the Hurdles to Completion, Cynthia coaches from Europe. Follow her adventures at JourneyJuju.com
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