Create That Shit.

True to my word, here I am again.  Just finished morning pages, and getting ready for my shift at Pier 1.  Working part-time is awesome!  A few weeks ago I decided I had been thinking about this job thing all wrong.  I worked for a lot of years, 25 to be exact, full-time.  I also worked other part-time jobs while working full-time, and then went to school full-time while also working full-time and obtained my four-year degree.  Phew!  That is a lot of working.  For other people.  But now, I have switched it up.  My career, my job is writing.  And creativity.  So whatever "workaday" job I have will be in support of that. 

I intend to work enough to pay my bills, build my savings back up and payoff my debt I accrued from traveling.  I am creating a life I love, on my own terms.  The bulk of the work I do now is work no one ever sees, my creative work.  People tell me "you're so creative" or "I'm just not creative".  I always say bollocks to that because everyone is creative to some degree.  

What you may not realize about creativity is it does not just happen.  It is not that some of us are most blessed with it than others.  It is that some of us decide to make it a priority.  I get up early every day and write 3 pages of gibberish first thing in the morning.  Not for anyone else, just me.  I am working through Julia Cameron's follow-up to the "Artist's Way", "Walking In This World".  I surround myself with people who are also creative, and who support me.  No time for negativity here.  I am reading 2 or 3 or even 4 books at a time, most of that non-fiction.  Current titles on my bookshelf are "True Irish Ghost Stories", "Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change" (Pema Chodron) and "Memories of Old Sellwood".  The last one is part of ongoing research I am doing for one of my books.

And then there are all the day-to-day things to focus on, like exercise, feeding yourself, keeping my space tidy.  If all those things are out of whack, then creating is impossible.  I also need a certain amount of time alone daily to recharge.  I do not like to be alone, but I do need a significant amount of alone time.  When I write, I go into a deep place within myself that no one else is in.  I have to, or I cannot create.  Creativity also spills over into a lot of different areas too.  I can play the guitar, write poetry and blog.  I even go to an open mic where I sometimes read.  I am also getting into photography.  The flow is always there, you just have to decide to jump in.  

It has taken me countless hours upon hours by myself to hone my craft, which is words, first and foremost.  When I do not honor this daily, my soul has a restless energy that does not abate until I create.  Just know that for every blog post you see, who knows how many hours might be behind it.  I have a deep, deep reservoir inside me that I can pull from.  So that is the difference, really.  I have made a very conscious effort to craft a life that supports my writing.  Am I gifted in it?  Probably.  These blog posts take me about 10-15 minutes to write, with very little editing.  But, I have to keep nurturing and growing it otherwise it will wither and die.  I spent a lot of years blocking my own creativity, without even realizing I was doing it.  Now, the river is flowing.  

So jump in!  If there is something you have been dreaming about, a secret, silent tug at your heart, FOLLOW IT!!!  We need people who see and express the beauty of life.  Julia Cameron says art "alchemizes the experiences of our life".  She's right!  The best stuff comes from the worst time.  Maybe if people opened up to their own creativity just a tiny bit, we wouldn't have all the problems we do.  Creatives are the innovators, and point the way to the next "evolution", if you will, of the human race.  We're like scouts, out there on the fringes, encouraging others to come because it is a wondrous, beautiful new world.  If you don't express what is in your soul, it will turn on you and become something ugly and distorted.  As Julia also says, we act out our dramas in life because we are not acting them out on the page or on the canvas.  So get to it.  Start creating.  But just know, once you step on the path, you will never be the same.  

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1 Thing That is Really Helping Me Get My Writing Shit Straight.

My brother, Benj Curtis, challenged me to simply work on one of my books for 15 minutes a day.  That's it.  This was on Sunday.  

I'd been fairly stuck in my book writing process.  I had one book with a partially finished first draft, limping along.  A second book had been burning inside me but I told myself I needed to put this one off until I finished the first one.  Talk about a subtle form of self-sabotage.  This way, neither book ever gets written and I can say I am a writer who is writing nothing but morning pages.  Not that there is no value in morning pages.  They simply are not a book.  

It's this little thing called performance anxiety.  "What if it's crap?", "What if it's terrible?", "What if no one likes it?", "What if I can't actually write, but just think I can?", "Why would I write a book, let alone two or more, when there are already so many?".  And on and on it goes.  I have had to learn to tell my inner critic to shut up and go to the corner, tying her into a chair if I have to.  Her name is Edna.  I say, "Edna, go to the corner and be quiet."  And sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't.  

I get overwhelmed when I think of writing for a four-hour block of time.  Even a two-hour block of time.  But, for whatever reason, this 15-minute thing seems to work for me.  So, for the last two nights, after getting ready for bed but before reading and going to sleep, I set my phone timer for 15 minutes and write.  Guess what happened?  In two sessions, I have almost 1500 words.  

Sometimes I hate admitting this, but my brother was absolutely right.  It's easy for me to do 15-minutes.   And I have found there is something magical about writing when the world is quiet.  Plus, I'm writing kind of a creepy tale so the darkness is a good place to do it.  I write my story out long hand, using a pen or pencil, on good old-fashioned notebook paper.  I date it, number the pages (back and front) and then put it in a plain white binder when I'm done.  

I type the words into my laptop the next day, so I can keep track of word count and don't get overwhelmed by having to type the whole thing in all at once.  I do teeny, tiny edits when I am typing, but for the most part, keep it as raw as I can.  For me, there is something so important about touching pen or pencil to paper.  This is exactly how I write songs.  Chicken scratch on paper, and then I copy it to a computer or somewhere else once it's finished.  Poetry and short stories too. I write them out by hand, messy, scribbled and very rough.  And then I refine them, after I have birthed the initial idea.  

And then I came across this video by Neil Gaiman in one of my emails.  This is why I write.  Not because I am better or smarter, but because no one else can tell the stories I must tell.  Cheers!