Escape Into your Art: Seven Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way #5
I’ve decided to syndicate my ebook Overcome Writer’s Block: 10 Writing Sparks to Jumpstart Your Creativity on my blog, Writer’s Fun Zone, over the next 10 weeks. You can read the whole book here over the next 10 weeks, or buy the entire ebook at Kindle, Smashwords, and at other ebook vendors.
** Enjoy Spark Five! And Happy Writing!**
Spark Five: Escape Into your Art: Seven Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way
“When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. The throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves.”
— A Circle of Quiet: The Crosswicks Journal—Book 1 by Madeleine L’Engle
We must take action to create our art. We must play at it, as a child approaches playing. I love this Madeleine L’Engle quote, and want to share with you how we can escape into our art. How to open the door into the sumptuous world of our own creativity.
I’m assuming you know what your art is, that you know how you want to apply your creative energies, but you feel stymied in some way. If you don’t know what your creative art is, then I suggest you “Remember and Identify” it. You could also read about Spark Seven: The Passion for Writing. (Coming soon! Or you can read it directly in Overcome Writer’s Block here.)
What was your favorite game or pastime as a child? Think back to how you spent your time. For example, I loved playing Olly Olly Oxen Free, a complex version of hide-and-go-seek, with friends and siblings. We loved playing Capture the Flag, exploring the nearby wine grape vineyards, and playing in abandoned fields full of burrs and blackberry brambles. I also loved curling up with a good adventure story, like Misty of Chincoteague or The Lost Prince.
Time to take action. Any action will do. Okay, almost any. If you need more clear direction, then below are six ways to get out of your own way. Do one, or do them all. The point here is to get out of your own way and create in a place of love, enjoyment and play.
Way #1 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Play
With reading, I loved, and still love, diving into another world, so completely different from my own, and coming out of the story refreshed and so in love with that other place, it makes this place, my own place, stand out as foreign, and intriguing. I’m always on an adventure and this I love.
What did you love about the games you played? Dig beneath the pleasure and describe its elements.
Way #2 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Identify
I’m in love with my current piece of fiction: its characters, setting, and problems. I can’t wait to return to that world so that I can sit in the angst of the problems I’ve created and move my characters to some kind of resolution. I love that exploration. Because although I know where I want my characters to go, I don’t know exactly how they will travel there, or if they will really succeed in their missions.
Identify the thing you love about your writing, your art. Identify it and allow yourself to sink your teeth into it.
As Madeleine L’Engle, says, “We must throw ourselves out first,” and become our art creating itself.
Way #3 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Time Limits
Set the timer for 20 minutes. (More or less is fine, though I’ve found 20 minutes to be optimal for writing.) Write about all the reasons why you can’t write. If you find yourself writing about other things, great. The point is to move pen across page without stopping until the buzzer rings. Or, write about what you want your writing project to really be like.
Way #4 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — Tracking
You are ready to work. The computer is on, or notebook and pen or pencil in hand. Now it’s time to note your starting time, page number and starting word count. A spreadsheet can help you just do that, a tracking sheet that helps you, well, track. Not just what you’ve done and for how long, it tracks that you’ve done it! Breathe! Congratulations! Showing up and following through on your creating is what’s it’s all about.
Way #5 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — MAP
As leadership trainer and friend, Greg Norte, taught me, a MAP is a Major Accountability Partner. Maybe this person is a life partner, a business partner, colleague or creativity buddy. Call them at the start and at the finish to report in, celebrate your successes and shore up any challenges. Weekly is best. I have MAPs in all areas of my life. Go team!
Way #6 of Getting Out of Your Own Way — List of Twenty
This is one of my favorite exercises, appealing to both the left and right–brainers out there. This exercise can be used for any kind of creative project, and yes, of course, writing. It’s great, in fact, for story and idea generation in any area. There are five steps to implementing this simple yet powerful tool.
Step One: Set your intention for the list. In other words, decide what you’re going to use the list for. For example, you could decide to list out twenty possible plot ideas, terrible scenarios for your hapless characters to fall into, or twenty ideas associated with a big lifestyle change. Or the question “What do I really want with this creative project?”
Step Two: Get ready! Number your page down the left hand side, 1-20.
Step Three: Get set! Know that you will list twenty items, even if you repeat yourself, even if it doesn’t make sense what you write.
Step Four: Go! Write your list of twenty. Don’t stop until you’ve reached the end.
Step Five: Read your list with amusement and neutrality, then congratulate yourself. You did it. If you are so inspired, pick one item and work on it right now.
Way #7 of Getting Out of Your Own Way – Fieldtrip
When I need inspiration, and something to jolt me into action, I take a little field trip down the hill to my neighborhood, Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, CA. Like today, I took a fieldtrip to one of my favorite coffee shops, Peets’ Coffee, sat in the little plaza and enjoyed the mural, and the passersby while I wrote. Then went to that wonderful resource, the public library, and popped into a fun new store in the neighborhood, Issues, with their wacky and wonderful magazines and newspapers from around the world.
Where can you go to mix things up, get inspiration, spur yourself to action, feed your fire? It may only be a seven-and-a-half minute walk away.
Great! Hopefully by now you have been inspired to action, to choose one or a few or all of the above exercises to help you “wholly concentrate” and “share in the act of creating” with your art, and to lovingly and kindly get the hell out of your own way.
Go be creative! Go Play!
An author too, she’s the author of the 2011 award-winning young adult fantasy novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, as well as of the bestselling nonfiction books for authors and aspiring authors.
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