2021 Art in process: Just continue on.

Can’t believe it’s the start of May already. I’ve got six weeks until I begin at RM Gallery, so I need to press on. It’s been a very busy week, and I didn’t get a lot of research accomplished but I will continue on.

One thing I have been doing is re-watching films from early avant-garde filmmakers. It’s interesting to see the development of film following the great art-movements of the early 20th century like; Dadaism, Surrealism, German Expressionism and such. I’ve never enjoyed the aesthetic of Surrealism in the plastic arts, but now find myself caught up in these 1920 and 30’s films, especially Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. There is a looseness to the work, which I’m intrigued by. Marcel Ducamp’s film Everyday (1929), which I cited in What the heck am I doing, has more of a structuralist approach – very tightly edited, extremely controlled, but Un Chien Andalou allows for more abstraction in association between each image in a sequence.

I’ve never worked this way myself – but might try experimenting with this in editing. Not sure. But I want to push myself and this to me would feel very uncomfortable – so that must be a good thing.

I want to also look at the Russian filmmakers again, especially Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Lev Kuleshov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. Eisenstein, of course well known for developing the montage. I’m not sure I see these filmmakers as avant-garde probably more experimental if I have to come up with a label. However, their use of montage is intriguing and I know it did influence the Surrealists at the time.

The only other thing I’ve been doing towards the research is pondering. Yep, pondering. Especially on the development of the ‘event’ in my last post. I had a good conversation with a friend about how the narrative should develop technically. For example, if I’m developing the idea of a spiral narrative form inspired by a shell the camera could constantly be moving in a spiral formation. So another layer to ponder on. And of course sound! How to develop sound is something I also need to think about – so pondering is important.

That’s all from me. I’m just continuing on. I didn’t get done what I thought I would, but sometimes life has other plans and gets in the way of our creative intensions.

I hope you all have a great week. Let me know about your own creative endeavours.

Catch you next time xx.

2021 Art in Process: The Pinecone

Out of all the natural objects I’ve collected, I didn’t think the pinecone was going to be the pivot-point for this research. In last week’s blog I put up a photo and a drawing of a pinecone, and the two main ideas that come from brainstorming around this shape was ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’. Then I decided to reduce the pinecone into an abstract drawing, then into a more diagrammatical image. I just allowed myself to mull on these images, without rushing.

This is hard to do. Just being and thinking is hard to do.

In this mode of ‘mulling’ I come up with an approach to narrative that I don’t think I would have thought of without this reflective process. Which gives me some confidence in the work. It is difficult to push ahead, especially without knowledge of where the project is heading. I guess this comes from judging what I have done before and projecting that into the future. What I mean is that if I haven’t done something before, I can’t judge it on my past work. So the lack of knowledge or lack of known pathways can cause discomfort. But I have to push through.

So, the pinecone. Who knew?

I thought the research would be based around the spiral in the shell, or the speckles in a river stone. I wasn’t going to even use a pinecone, it was a random decision on my part. And, I wonder if because the shell and the stone already have connotations of narrative to me in their make-up they are in a way loaded in the research. But this pinecone I’d never intended to use, so my thoughts were a lot more free to roam and question how this object could inspire narrative or narrative structure.

Original sketch of the pinecone
First adaptation of the shape
Diagrammatic render with brainstorm

The words I initially used to describe the sketch of the pinecone, ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’ have not been developed. Rather the idea of an ‘event’ presented itself. How to develop that further, will be the work of this coming week. But I’m quietly confident I can work with this idea. It certainly has potential for narrative or non-narrative exploration depending on how I develop it further.

The ‘event’ could seem very similar to the ’cause and effect’ approach of conventional narrative filmmaking, however, I believe the concept of the ‘event’ can strike a deeper philosophical meaning.

So, where to from here?

First I will analyse the term ‘event’ starting with the etymology and then look at any writers or artists that have used or been inspired by the term.

I’ll leave it there for this week. Catch you next time xx.

Oh… before I forget – I wanted to say I’ve posted my very first Vlog. So if you want to see me chatting about this research click here.

Review, Reflect, Refocus

This blog is about revisiting my New Year Resolutions for 2020, taking stock, re-planning and re-focusing. Yep the year hasn’t turned out as planed but there’s only one way out of it – and that’s into it.

Reflecting on my goals I can see that some of them are now out of my control and cannot be achieved. However, there are still several I can accomplish if I refocus and put energy and time into them.

To begin with, looking at all my goals and plans for 2020 was a little bit of a downer.

My daughter and I were planning a trip to Greece and I had other adventures planned, also the interactive-experimental documentary, At The Horizon, which I have mentioned changed. Because of New Zealand’s lock-down the gallery that was to host the exhibition had to push a lot of the projects back to 2021. I wrote about this creative project in Process: A mixture of creativity and chaos – Part 1.

I’m blessed, I haven’t lost my job and I have my health and family, so these aren’t major issues. But I feel like the beginning of June is a perfect time to review, reflect and refocus.

So where to go from here?

I can’t push all projects or goals back. Some are just no longer practical in this changed world. Yes, they may happen, in a year or two, but for my own mental health and creativity I need to focus on now, on today.

In my New Year Resolutions 2020 post, I categorised all my goals; personal, health, creative, and work.

So, in review: two goals in my personal category can no longer happen, the health goals haven’t changed, and the creative goals and work goals need to be realigned

In reflection, and being honest with myself, my six personal goals were probably a few too many anyway. As stated, two can no longer happen and one has been removed, so now I have just three to focus on. The health goals haven’t changed, one of them I have maintained throughout this year, but the other has not happened at all, so I need to focus on this. I had five creative goals, one has been ticked off, YES!!!!! One I’m going to let go, which leaves three. The two work goals will still happen, but I need to develop new timelines for them.

Also, in reflection, I simply can’t ignore what is happening around the world. I’m not an island in space, I am connected to my world. I have to be honest; my mood, positivity and energy have changed. I’ve needed more time out, more rest, more down time.

So that’s they lay of the land, now I have to refocus, while giving myself a bit more time.

Years ago, my partner and I bought a property that needed a lot of work. We were both taken with how cute the house was and could see all the potential.  Some of the issues were dealt with straight away, and some were left for, “when we could get to them”… After a few years, everything began to bug me, I started to see all the flaws and it was overwhelming Then after talking with someone I realised that the house hadn’t changed, it was just how I was thinking about it. Seems cliché but that is exactly what happened, I remembered why we had bought it, my attitude changed, and I actually started doing things on the house again.

Refocusing can be tricky. But there is a reason why you do the things you do, a reason why you create in the way that you do.

You love it.

Yes, you get frustrated, you don’t have the time, you feel depleted before you begin, but you still love it. And just settling on that for a while can assist to grow motivation. I try to remember moments that I’m in the flow, times when my creativity takes over, or seeing someone impacting by work I’ve done. That is often enough to get me going again.

But that is not all it is. It can’t just be daydreaming about the good times. It is also the work. Refocusing means recommitting to the work ahead. Making timelines, breaking goals down, writing lists, putting deadlines in the calendar. You know, all the hard stuff.

I’m not going to leave it too long before a reflect again. I think I need to do this more regularly.

Well that’s it from me. Catch you next week xx.

Lists

Lists to do. Groceries, jobs, crossed out or ticked off.

What lists do you make?

Well I want to start with a few different types of lists, fun lists, list that open up creativity. Something I’ve picked up from the book: L’art de la Liste: simplify, organise, enrich your life. Written by Dominique Loreau.

The first one I want to start with, is a list of self description. A written self portrait. Try it. It is more difficult that is sounds. Below is my attempt…

There are so many lists that are fun – the next one is a ‘wish list’. Dominique Loreau states:

Writing down your dreams – even seemingly impossible dreams – may lead to a strange phenomenon: They may come true.

My wish list is pretty simple:

I wish to travel, see the world, the whole of it.
Everything.
Which now seems further away.

I wish to talk in languages.
German
Te Reo
Spanish or French.

I wish to work in China for a while.

Loreau states:

Make a list of your wishes – date them and keep them. Don’t worry if they contradict each other. All you need to do is believe in the unthinkable, the unimaginable, in mysteries and miracles. Lists of wishes have more potential to change your life than you may think. Every word conceals a certain energy. When we commit our desires to paper, we accord more importance to them; we cherish them. Our words are the cement, and our dreams are the bricks.

One more list I want to try is a memory, this is a time I spent with my Nana.

floral carpet and floral curtains
custard kisses and cheese rolls
horses
flowers
a spare bedroom with coats hanging in the cupboard
a boat in the shed, unused
a rest in the chair after lunch

Try making lists – not the ‘to do’ kind, the type that lets your imagination wonder.

Catch you next week. xx

To Choose, or not to Choose

Even though they sit in the same word family there are some differences about the words choose and choices –

Choices: is to have options

Choose: is to make a decision, it is an action word

Here are some synonyms of the word choose: select, pick, take, indicate, elect, cherry-pick, decide, all good words, all words of ‘action’.  (I especially like ‘cherry-pick’). So why is it, that with so many choices we often give up our privilege to choose.

This time last year I chose to visit my brother and his family in Australia. Great decision on my part.

With this new framework of staying at home due to covid-19, our choices have become more limited and within that I’ve began to realise the varied choices that ‘were’ available to me and reflect on why I didn’t choose to take up some of those opportunities.

When given a multitude of choices it is easier not to choose. In that way every choice is still possible, or that is what you are telling yourself. Yes, sometimes you do need to keep yourself open, but what if you do that too much, what if some doors you don’t go through because you’re always expecting a better choice to turn up, or you’re scared that going through one will rule out another.

Recently I was approached to be part of a creative collaboration. I jumped at the chance and for a time spent my creative energy on the project. I found time, I became excited by the work and once it was finished, I realised that I had not been choosing my own project. The one that means something to me, the one that I’ve been working on for a few years.

Was it because I was no longer excited by the work, or was it because I wasn’t choosing it?

The short burst of work I engaged in collaboration reminded me that I love the creative process. So, the following week, I choose to work on my project, and I’ve been actively involved ever since. My renewed decision sparked my energy and I now look forward to each time I spend on it.

So, what was happening. Over time opportunities, or things you think you want to do accumulate. Not only important things, but the small fun stuff too, the catchups with friends, the drive to a particular beach, the activity you’ve put off all summer. All the things you want to do become this long list, and how do you divide your time up between them. Well, maybe you don’t. Maybe having too many choices is actually the problem.

With time being spent at home over the last six weeks, I’ve been reminded that I don’t need a lot of things and choices cluttering up my day, week or month. Actually, less is better.

Love this quote from poet Mary Oliver:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?

We may be told that we can have it all, and do it all – but really, if you think about it, that’s not true, and why would you want that anyway? Your one wild precious life – keep that in your head and heart when you are making your decisions, or when you are full of indecision and fear. Life is so short, it is wild, precious, beautiful – don’t spend it on things you’re not that into, or feel obligated to do, don’t fill it with worry, that is not worth your time.

Greg McKeown author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less states:

When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices – or even a function of our own past choices. In turn, we surrender out power to choose.

I think we also surrender our power to choose when we have too many choices. All the choices may hold interest, may be meaningful, but because you can’t have it all or do it all – YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE.

When you are walking and you put your left leg out, then your right leg out – do you ever ask yourself if you started walking on the wrong leg? No, well I don’t? So why think about choice as wrong or right, it is a step, and you need movement to get where you want to go. If you don’t know where that is, start moving and maybe you will end up where you don’t want to be and then at least you can decide where to go from there.

But if you’re not moving?? Well you know that answer.

Make choices, make decisions, move, find out, discovery what is and what isn’t for you. Don’t let too many options stall your movement – keep discovering how you want to live your one wild precious life.

Catch you next week xx

Productivity Pressure

Sometimes I get a lot done, I mean I just plough through the work, I’m creative, I’ve got energy, I feel inspired. AND sometimes I don’t feel like this, and I don’t get much done. The problem is, I tend to beat myself up when I’m low in energy. Which is so stupid. I don’t do that to other people, I keep that one just for me.

Also, with the lockdown in New Zealand due to Co-vid 19, it feels like there is more pressure to be productive on creative projects because you’re spending more time at home. And if we are just talking about time, then yes, I don’t have my daily 3-hour commute – I’m still working but have more time.

So, suddenly with 15 more hours to fill up – I should be more creative!? Well, maybe. But… the world is in a terrible situation and for some of us we just aren’t feeling it. I’m not saying we should all sink into deep dark depression; I just mean, this is not an easy time. And, it is TOTALLY OK to not feel creative, to not be inspired and to not have a lot of energy.

On my social media feeds, I’m seeing posts about productivity, and getting “that project done you’ve never had time for”. I don’t think this is a bad thing, however, it can become negative if you beat yourself up, because everyone else seems to be overly productive and you can’t seem to get your act together.

Remember the only thing you may have more of is TIME. Don’t get me wrong, having extra time is great – but it’s not everything. Just because you have more time, doesn’t mean you suddenly feel more creative, have more energy or feel inspired. So why put the pressure on yourself.

Give yourself some space. Take that extra time and be good to yourself, whatever that means to you. I have found during this time that I’ve been more tired, which is probably due to the stress of this situation. Stress really takes from us, takes our energy, takes our inspiration, and our ability to creatively function. So, in this instance often you need to fill yourself with these things.

Think of yourself as a container; some things can take away what you have, and some things add. Stress is a taker…

So, if you are feeling overwhelmed you probably need to give to yourself (your container). And this really depends on you.

Last Saturday, I got up, did 20mins of yoga, had breakfast, and then wrote this massive list of all the tasks I was going to do. Didn’t happen, what did happen was me going for a walk in the sunshine, caught up on some of the YouTubers I watch, listened to some vinyl and cuddled my cat – A LOT.  I did this, because I realised it was what I needed. I’d been teaching online all week and it was just OK to enjoy my day without giving myself unneeded pressure to be creative or productive.

The thing is, is to listen to yourself and not your social media feed.

Be OK with being overwhelmed sometimes, or tired, or unmotivated. This is not ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. Your body and mind are telling you that you need to give to yourself and not take more out.

If you have got yourself tied up into knots and are in a bad way, and every time you go to create it either doesn’t happen, or nothing you create seems right. Maybe it’s time to STOP.

That’s right. DO NOTHING. This has happened to me in the past, I’ve got myself into a negative mindset and have heaped on pressure to keep going no matter what.

What I do in this situation is give myself some time but decide on a day that I will start back into it – even a time. For example; maybe I’m working on a short film or some creative writing, but my creativity and energy is becoming low. Nothing is working. I’m becoming frustrated and annoyed at myself. That is when I decide, OK, for the next four days I’m not going to think about this project, but on the fifth day at 10am I’m going to open up that document and start working again. During this time-off I try to ‘give to myself’, again this will be different for you than it is for me.

I enjoy yoga and meditation, walking, reading, baking something yummy, watching Netflix, YouTube, listening to music – nothing overly special, but as I’m doing these things my container is starting to fill. AND, usually I start to get excited about the project again. But I don’t let myself start early, I keep to my date and time – that way I know I’ll have the energy I need, but more importantly I have kept my agreement with myself.

Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is almost daily on our screen during Covid-19 telling New Zealanders to be kind to each other – I’m saying, be kind to yourself.

Catch you next week xx.

You’re Your Biggest Asset

You know those times when filling out some financial form or statement and you have to list your assets: house, rental property, investments, bonds, vehicles… and so on it goes. We all write down or tick different things according to our situation. I always have this moment where I think, ‘I don’t have enough’, or ‘I need more things that other people have’.

I’m not sure about your culture, but in mine we keep our financial circumstances private. I live in a house – but do I own or rent? My partner has a vehicle – but does he own it, or is he paying it off? I have appliances, but again are they owned, rented, or on HP? It’s easy to look at others from the outside and start comparing based on the items you think they own, but you never really know anyone’s situation.

It’s strange to think that when we are filling out these forms, and the question is, ‘what is your largest asset, or what is your largest financial asset, that we don’t write: ‘ME‘. I am.

I am my biggest asset. I am my biggest financial asset. I am my biggest investment. Even if you are not working, you are your biggest asset – in every way.

You have to be, it doesn’t make sense to write anything else down. What you are doing, what decisions you have a head of you, what your possibilities are – is everything. YOU are your biggest asset.

It’s not often that I purchase a large asset, or an expensive item. But when I do I’m pretty chuffed. For example I once bought myself a small red French car and I LOVED IT. At first, I cleaned it, took it through car washes, bought smelly hanging things for the rear window – did all the things. I was, ‘car proud.’ Yep, that was me, it was shortly lived, but during that period I spent money, energy, time and thought on that car. It’s a pity that, even knowing I’m more important than a car I don’t always care for myself the way I cared for this vehicle.

Even though I’m my biggest asset, and always will be, I often don’t spend, money, energy, time and thought on myself. In another perspective if someone else was looking after me and treated me the way I sometimes treat myself, it would probably be called – neglect.

There are so many reasons why we end up neglecting ourselves, and often circumstances, such as financial difficulties or health come into play. However, if we understand that we are the most important person in our lives, we may just treat ourselves with a bit more respect, love, grace, and forgiveness.

Even now, it is hard to write that I’m the most important person in my own life – shouldn’t that title go to my children, partner, parents, siblings, friends… that’s what I have always told myself, that all these others come first. But now I think that it is OK to think of yourself as the most important, because it actually doesn’t negate how you feel or treat others.

For example, if I had a tool or machine that made my income for me, provided for myself and others – wouldn’t I look after it? I would probably take it in for checks, get someone in to fix it when it was needed, purchase replacement parts, keep it in good running order – because it’s an asset. So why don’t we do that for ourselves? Logically it makes sense to keep ourselves healthy, spend time on ourselves, rest, do all the things to keep us going, so we can work, provide for our families and spend time with others.

If this makes sense, then why are we doing everything-but looking after ourselves? Laurie Buchanan, PhD states:

Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift yourself with people, places, things, events, and opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health — body, mind, and spirit.

We need to take stock of what is important to us and include those things/people in our lives. It’s not easy, I can be so harsh on myself, the energy I do use on myself can be so negative – but lately, especially since starting this blog – I’ve been really facing myself a lot more and realising I need to spend money, energy, time and thought on myself to sustain a fulfilled and creative life.

I will leave you with this wonderful quote from Kamal Ravikant:

Any negative thought is darkness. How do you remove it? Do you fight fear or worry? Do you push or drown away sadness and pain? Doesn’t work. Instead, imagine you’re in a dark room and it’s bright outside. Your job is to go to the window, pull out a rag, and start cleaning. Just clean. And soon enough, light enters naturally, taking the darkness away.

Catch you next week xx

Creative Energy: Part Two

This week I’m returning to the topic of Creative Energy. I wasn’t initially planning to write a part two, however the topic is multi-faceted; there could easily be a part three…

One aspect of energy is time. Often I’ve completed my day at work, commuted home, and now, wanting to do something creative, I realise I’m just too tired. I feel like my time is ‘spent’, my energy falls away, and I struggle just to do a few jobs before falling into bed.

This is an aspect of my life I have been reflecting on for the last few years. I’ve tried getting up very early, but this has only lead to fatigue, I’ve also tried forcing myself to work late into the night. However; forcing, striving, or pushing, never inspires creativity and whatever project I’m working on, it feels more like a chore than a release.

So what to do about time? If we can’t create more, how do we increase our energy?

I simple can’t change my hours at work, I want to work and enjoy it, but it’s not everything. So, I need to hold onto enough creative energy for my own passions. My question this week: is there a way to preserve energy so when I get home I’m not completely depleted?

I’ve been reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown and I highly recommend it, for anyone who has a full life but is lacking in energy, or wants to turn a messy, over crowded, over complicated life into something more refined.

The book reminds us that we are living in a pressure-styled world with demands constantly pulling us in multiple directions – at all times. In this world we are encouraged, through technology and media, to speed up, do more, and do it faster. However, contrary to this belief Essentialism suggests that slowing down will give us back time and energy.

I know! It’s not the first thing that springs to mind but slowing down, doing one task at a time with purpose, and letting go of off ALL the other unessential activities we don’t need to do, can bring back the energy we are so often lacking.

One of the unessential activities I need to let go of, is social media. When I say this I don’t mean I will ban it from my life completely, but rather timetable its use. So I will use it to wind down and catch up, (just not every 10 minutes). But social media isn’t where it ends. There are multitudes of tasks at work that pile up, and I’m often feeling overwhelmed and unsure on how or where to start.

Essentialism suggests, time and energy go hand in hand, if we can’t cut our time at work we need to slow down at work so we have an energy store when we get home. That does not mean that we are non-productive, instead we are actively finding procedures, solutions and habits that make us very productive, in less time and with more energy left over.

Richard Koch, suggests:

Most of what exists in the universe – our actions, and all other forces, resources, and ideas – has little value and yields little result; on the other hand, a few things work fantastically well and have tremendous impact.

The tricky part is knowing what to focus on, what can be left for another time – or maybe, doesn’t even need doing.

Greg McKeown writes:

The benefits of this ultra-selective approach to decision making in all areas of our lives should be clear: when our selection criteria are too broad, we will find ourselves committing to too many options. What’s more, assigning simple numerical values to our options forces us to make decisions consciously, logically, and rationally, rather than impulsively or emotionally. Yes, it takes discipline to apply tough criteria. But failing to do so carries a high cost.

For the last couple of weeks, while reading Essentialism, I’ve used had two notebooks open at my desk, one is my Bullet Journal, which I discussed in December Reflection: Part One, and one is an empty journal open to a blank page where I write the date and title ‘Brain Transfer’. In my Bullet Journal, I have listed three tasks I want to concentrate on that day – YES, you did read it correctly, THREE TASKS ONLY. These are the three main tasks I want to work on. This doesn’t mean that I won’t or can’t work on other tasks, but I’ve prioritised my time, so if they are all I get to, that is fine.

In the other journal, I write notes throughout the day, things like: remember to call HR back, email students to remind them of their looming presentations, book in a screening time with guest lecturer, and so on. These are either, little reminders that pop up into my head, emails and responsibilities I need to get to, or tasks that are given to me throughout that day. Instead of reacting to them in that moment, I put them to the side. This does two things. First, it allows me to fully concentrate on one of my prioritized tasks without interruption, and secondly it keeps a record of my to-do list, so I don’t fully drop the ball.

During the day, I have been scheduling two fifteen minute sessions to get the small stuff done; for example, the short emails, returning a text, booking gear and so on. It is amazing how many of those small tasks you can knock out quickly in clusters.

Then at the end of the day, I look closely at the ‘Brain Transfer List’; are there things that I don’t actually need to do? Are there meetings that I don’t need to attend? Cross these off. Is there anything on the list that needs special attention? That item can become an essential task, something I’m going to highly prioritise during the week. Then with the things left over, they can be put in one of the smaller clusters for the next day.

Sounds simple, it is, but it’s hard to stick to, especially if you are used to interrupting your own attention. If you react to every email, text, or message you will soon become overwhelmed and exhausted. When this happens to me I buffer, scroll through FB, I check out the latest Insta-post, only to realise I still have all the tasks in front of me and don’t know where to start.

I’ve been actively engaging in this practice for two weeks now, (I know I’m still in the honeymoon stage), HOWEVER, I have noticed changes to my concentration at work, and more importantly my creative energy when I get home. For the first time in a long time, last week I came home and powered into a project that had been sitting there for some time. It felt so good to do something creative in the middle of the week – and it gave me even more energy.

I really hope this helps, I know it all sounds a bit naff to start being more strict with time, but it really has worked in the energy stakes for me.

Catch you next week xx

Creative Energy

In Quora a question was placed some years ago: “What is creative energy, and where does it come from?” Anthony Torres gave this answer:

It is the energy of an active, open minded individual who is channeling their inner-will to pursue change with an absence of worldly interference. Creative energy, in general, will come from within, but more specifically, should come from the soul.

I just thought this was a beautiful way to begin thinking about creative energy, especially to note the idea of “absence of worldly interference.” I’m guessing this suggests our constant buffering of our attention, such as; scrolling on a phone, which hinders the flow of concentration. However, the most powerful element in this answer is an individual who is “open minded”.

Last week, (when writing this), I was part of a writing workshop, with two others, to create a possible story line for a web-series.  It was our first meeting, we started at 10am and finished just before 2pm, and, WOW! We got so much done. We bought our note-books and laptops and some initial ideas. That was all. I was unsure of how the process would work, and also unsure on how I would fit into the writing group dynamic. However, my mind was open and I was fully ready for possibilities.

Anna Powers in Forbes.com states:

…open mindedness and innovation are linked — because in order to entertain different and, sometimes contradicting viewpoints, those views either have to be presented or conjured up in the mind as counter examples. Thus, it is through creativity that innovation and open-mindedness go hand in hand.

Open mindedness has an ability to refrain from becoming ‘stuck’, so easy for us creatives to fall into. There is a way of being that allows the process to take over the project, rather than staying rigid on a mode of creating. I call it ‘trust’ but others will call it something else. I simply trust the process, so as I start doing the work, I let the work take its own course. It’s not staying static though, you have to start the work, which can simply mean sitting down with a pencil and paper, or going for a walk with a camera, or picking up the guitar; the action of starting has to come from you, then you can allow the process can take over.

That is not saying that you don’t have an intended outcome it’s just admitting to yourself that you don’t have all the answers to get there, but you’re open to finding out how. The Encyclopedia of Creativity suggests:

A creative person, virtually by definition, must be receptive to new ideas and willing to look at problems from various points of view. Open-mindedness includes not fearing the new, different, or unknown and not making up one’s mind in advance.

So our writing group meet, and we started forming the characters, their motivations, the story arch and cliffhanger end for episode 6 – quite a lot of work accomplished in one meeting. I just want to go back to the first point made in Torres’ Quora answer about the absence of worldly interference. This aspect will be very different for everyone depending on their creative pursuit, I pretty much put any technology down and just use a pen and paper to start the story process, however your pursuit may involve YouTube tutorials, or online courses, or searching on your phone, but in my mind that is using technology as a tool and not as interference. It is staying focused and not allowing that technology which you are creatively using to become a distraction.

Our writing group met in a conference room, which is pretty plain, there was nothing in the room that any of us personally connected to. I think ‘space’ is very important to enhance the process, it is not necessary to have a perfect space to start but it does switch your brain into a different mode. Have a watch of Annie Lennox discuss the moving-spaces she uses, especially to create the song ‘Sweet Dreams’. (this is around 0:38 seconds in, however the whole discussion is useful). I also enjoy writing and creatively thinking while commuting to work and back.

But no matter where we are distraction on our phones is so common. Looking, scrolling, watching a small rectangular object connected to our hands has become a way of being in the world. However, this way, (which is not positive or negative), is passive (lacks energy) – so when we are creating we need to bring our energy with us. To do this just make a start, like I said before, just pick up the guitar and then continue onwards being open. If you fall back into passivity, that’s OK, just start again until your concentration strengthens and you can move forward.

In our writing group, none of us spent time on social media throughout the meeting, we stayed focused and as we worked through ideas and characters, the structure of our time happened quite organically. We had a couple of short breaks, but did not stop for longer than 15 minutes during the 4 hour period.

When we think about creative energy we focus on; ‘getting the shit done’, ‘ticked off the list’, the ‘desired end result’, which for me would be a scripted web-series. And I love this, LOVE ticking tasks off my ever renewing list.

However, creative energy is the PROCESS, not the outcome. So the energy actually comes from being creative. Put energy in – to get energy out. Just like physical exercise, energy creates energy and as you actively engage in creativity your energy stamina will grow. A good way to expand creative stamina is to undertake exercises in your chosen field. For example someone may knit a scarf, then perhaps a small throw, before going onto something complicated, or someone might work on pinch pots with a particular clay before trying to create a complex structure involving many elements. So when I discuss my creative work in story creation for a web series, I didn’t just arrive at that place, I have learnt the necessary skills and techniques and then as I’ve progressed I’ve been able to focus my concentration and gain the energy I need to see the process through.

It’s very important to know where you are in the process. I’m certainly not saying don’t make a start, for sure jump in and make a start, but just remember from that stepping in place you may not understand the energy you need for the process, there will be learning involved, mistakes along the way, things that you didn’t expect – but stay open and trust the process. As my Yoga instructor says “If you’re on your mat, the hardest thing has already been overcome.” So wherever you are at, start by bringing your energy, trust the process and see what happens.

Catch you next week xx