Thursday, October 10, 2013

Unlocking your creative spirit

      Sometimes my creative spirit gets locked up.  Not because it's committed any crimes or gotten in trouble. I just don't have time to invite my creative spirit out to play.  It distracts me from all the things should be doing. Life gets in the way.  And my poor creative spirit gets locked away.

A few years ago I bought a wonderful book  "The Artist's Way" by Julie Cameron.  It was recommended to me by a writer friend as a way to unblock my creativity.  I read it and put into practice many of her theories. Then I put the book on a shelf and forgot about it.  A few weeks ago I was reviewing my list of blog topics and "how to unlock creativity" caught my attention. I remembered Julie's book and found it sitting on the shelf, right where I left it.  So I dusted off the cover and read it again.  The most important tools she recommends for the blocked artist are writing morning pages and setting weekly artist dates. The morning pages consist of sitting down first thing and writing 3 longhand pages of whatever comes into your head.   The artist date is simply setting aside a time every week where you feed your inner artist.   So I decided to put these theories back into practice. Sounds easy too, doesn't it? 

I get up at 5:00 am every morning so I have time to walk my dog, pack lunches, eat breakfast and get dressed before I have to leave at 6:30.  Julie Cameron's advice is to get up 30 minutes earlier.  Ha-ha.  I am not coherent enough to hold a pen at 4:30 am let alone remember how to use it. So I worked that 30 minutes of writing time into my morning schedule after I get to school, before the students arrive.  Sometimes I get interrupted by job demands and it may take me all day to get those 3 pages written.  But I'm enjoying that writing time.  It's like spending time with my best friend or mentor.  I unload my brain and make room for new ideas to enter.

Scheduling the artist date was even harder.  Because I forget.  It doesn't seem as important as the million other tasks I should get done.  But last week I decided I had to make this date.  So I sat on my porch at the scheduled time for an undisturbed hour (I left my cell phone in the house) and looked through a book of art by Picasso.  A cheap, yet enriching, date that gave me visual satisfaction.

Sometimes I get stuck on what to write about.  So I created my own list.  Feel free to borrow any of these for your own inspiration.  Give the Morning Pages and Artist Date a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised as your creativity unlocks itself.

Mini Sketchbook Covers
8 x 10        Watercolor 
1.   What do I like about myself and my life?
2.   Who are my heroes? Why?
3.   Where is my place to go for renewal?  Why?
4.   If I could spend one more day with someone I loved who would it be and what would we do?
5.   When I was a child I had the most wonderful day.  Here’s what happened.
6.   If I could have a perfect room or space for being creative what would it be like?
7.   If I had one super power what would it be and how would I use it?
8.   If I just won the lottery how would I spend the money?
9.   If I could go back in history when would I like to spend a day and who would I like to spend it with?
10.  If I could start again what profession would I choose?
11.  Create a list of songs that describe my life at different stages from birth to now.
12.  Who is my spiritual guide and how do I connect with that guide?


  1. Perfect! I needed this. I still have one more blog post to write for tonight. (I am maintaining 2 for the challenge, although I'm not sure how much longer I can keep up.) I hope you won't mind if I borrow one of these.

    Great post.
    Missy Bell

  2. I'm so glad you're in my comment chain for tonight! Anyone who writes anything should own Julia's book, and thank you for reminding me to dig my copy out and read it again. With your schedule, I can't imagine how you find time to connect with your creative side, but I'm glad you do - doing the "morning pages" really does free up your mind. And thanks for your inspirational list and permission to borrow from it!

  3. Good for you Karen! I've been a big fan of Cameron's morning pages. Year and years worth and they still help me "see" my life and my creativity. Hope you have a lovely weekend. (visiting from UBC)

  4. Creative folk NEED to allow themselves time to create - I know I turn into a bit of a monster if I don't get my 'fix'. Doesn't matter whether it's writing (in the main), knitting socks, baking, drawing...I come alive at those times. I'm less of a person if I don't create something. Glad you've found the time to do the same.

  5. Great post, Karen. You cannot go wrong with Julia Cameron!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth - I know you've found your creative spirit - congrats on the new studio!