We all lead busy lives. We are constantly bombarded with images, information, stimulus. This constant chattering in the mind is not good for us mentally, and I think, not a good environment for us to be creative. I know I find it very hard to be creative when my mind is pinging me with a million others things I need to be doing.
What strategies do you have for creating the stillness necessary for a creative mindset?
Some people like to play music. Others, like me, prefer quiet. Some can find stillness in a coffee shop – that doesn’t work for me either. I couldn’t even settle in a library – it was too nosiy for me! (On a side-note, does anyone else long for the days when libraries were quiet places where you weren’t game to speak above a whisper?)
I can be in a perfectly quiet room and still have my mind pinging off in different directions. It’s the internal, not the external, I need to control. Way easier said than done.
In November last year, I started daily journalling. First thing every morning – well, after I feed the cat, and make a cup of tea – I go outside with my journal and my cuppa. Usually I’m up before the rest of the family but for when my son gets up before me, I’m slowly training him not to disturb me during that time 🙂 And I write. At first it was hard – what should I be writing, what rules do I need to follow? But once I gave myself permission to write whatever I liked, things flowed. Most days my journal entry is a recount of the day before – what we did, how I was feeling etc. Much like the diary I kept as a teenager but without the “my parents won’t let me do anything – all my friends are allowed to go to the movies but I’m stuck at home…” angst. (Now I have far more grown up angst 🙂 )
Yes, some days my journal is angsty. Full of pain or confusion. Some days I jot down description of the sky, the sounds I can hear, what I can smell (has the neighbour down the street fertilised their garden with blood and bone again?!). Other times I’ll reach into my memory bank and write about a childhood memory. I write, and I sip my tea, and gaze out into the garden (and try to ignore all the weeding and whipper-snippering that needs doing). Some days my entry reads more like a to-do list, but that’s ok. It helps empty my mind of the thoughts crowding my creativity out. Some days an idea for a story will jump into my head and I write it down. I have no rules.
I’m pleased to say I’ve kept it up since November, only missing Christmas morning. Because, you know, watching my son open his presents took precedence.
Now I’m taking things a step further. I’m trying to add a five minute meditation into my morning before I start journalling. And it’s tough. Five minutes can seem like a lifetime. I do yoga once or twice a week, and we always end with a ten minute relaxation / meditation. Physically exhausted after yoga and with the instructor guiding us, it’s usually pretty easy to fall into a relaxed state. Doing it on my own, trying to stop the thoughts of what I have to do today, is hard.
But I know it’s worth it, so I’ll persevere.
I’m also trying to remind myself throughout the day to stop and really think about what I’m doing. Concentrate on the warmth of the mug when I’m having a cuppa. Really feel the peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth at breakfast. Not just doing things mindlessly. It helps still the mind – and as a bonus, that’s the type of small detail that we can add into our writing to bring the reader closer to our characters.
Do you need to still your mind before you can be creative? What strategies do you use?