You are a creative being, even if you don’t know it. If you feel like you aren’t creative, or if you know you are and just feel stuck, I cannot recommend enough “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.
The book is a 12-week course in creativity. Each chapter’s reading and activities are designed to unblock our natural creative impulses. Cameron’s philosophy is that we are all creative, but are told throughout our lives that artistic dreams are financially unstable and therefore irresponsible, or just unrealistic, so we block our instincts in favor of something more acceptable.
It was somewhere in the middle of this course that I came up with the idea for my book. The exercise was a Q&A where you give the first answer that comes to mind. The question: What is something you’ve never tried that you’d like to try? My answer: I’d like to write a YA novel with an adventure/fantasy element. Then, out loud: “Whoa.”
I’m a fan of the YA fantasy genre. The books aren’t always the best-written, but they are a lot of fun. I’d never considered writing one before. Once I gave that answer, though, I started considering. What would my “hook” be? Not wizards, not vampires, not post-apocalyptic dystopian societies (who else is super stoked about “The Hunger Games” movie, by the way?)… it needed to be something else. Then, a thought: Time travel.
As soon as I settled on that, the entire thing just exploded into my brain. By the end of the night I’d written out a basic plot outline, character bios and the mythology of time travel as it applied to my story. Again, “Whoa.”
This is where I write, blog and troll the Internet when I’m at home. I considered clearing off the clutter so you’d all be impressed by my organization, but that would be living a lie. This is what it looks like in all its glory. (Confession: I did remove the clothes that were draped over the back of the chair.) Let’s take a tour, shall we?
1. A framed copy of the front page and staff box of my very last issue of The Paisano. This was my sister’s graduation gift to me. I always get a little thrill when I see my name at the top of the staff box under Editor-in-Chief.
2. My bulletin board, where I put things that inspire me. That’s a bumper sticker that reads “God is too big to fit into any one religion.” There’s also a striking postcard of a wolf’s penetrating stare, some mandalas I drew back in 2008 and a scrap of paper where I jotted down something that President Obama once said – “Our security emanates from the justice of our cause.”
3. The computer. If I was on MTV Cribs, I’d point to it and say, “This is where the magic happens.” 🙂
4. The least comfortable chair ever. The desk is actually an old drafting table from when I briefly majored in architecture. Those cans by the printer are spray adhesives for building models. I can probably throw those away.
5. “South of Broad” by Pat Conroy. On my list of books that made me want to beat my head against the wall. It now serves as my door stop.
6. Clutter. Cords for my camera and iPod, scraps of loose paper, office supplies, stuff I should probably shred and recycle.
7. Clutter with purpose! Just a sampling of my notebooks filled with ideas, the calendar with my blogging schedule and bright green notes of encouragement to myself, including the one on top of the monitor that asks “What if I never finished?”
8. Mandalas. I drew these this past summer. The one on top is a literal interpretation of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” the middle one is supposed to look like stained glass and the one on the bottom is the first I’ve ever drawn where the subject is outside of the circle.
Do you have a place where you feel most creative? Tell me all about it!