Friday, August 19, 2011

7 Ways to recapture your creative spirit

There are days when I feel as if my creativity is as elusive as Peter Pan’s wayward shadow. I can jump at it and try to corner it all I want, but just when I think I have it in my grasp, it wriggles away and I find myself sitting on the floor crying because I can’t make it stick. While I may not have a Wendy Darling to sew it back on for me, I do have a few tricks that help me get back to writing when I feel like I’ve lost my “shadow” for good.

7. Get up early and watch the sun rise.

The most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen was from the window of a plane. I watched in awe as the towering clouds took on a grape-juice-colored hue and slowly turned rose quartz pink. Then, in a flash of blinding light, I found myself staring at a sea of white that reminded me of pictures of Antarctica. I spent the duration of the flight donned in thermal wear, a thick parka, and hiking through the snow with all the equipment an explorer needs to discover a new world.

6. Get away from the city lights and stay up all night stargazing.

There are few things I find give me a shiver of delight the way the stars do on a moonless night. The fact that flaming orbs placed light years apart can, from our vantage point, create an image the entire world recognizes in the form of constellations just amazes me. As a young girl, I was obsessed with Greek mythology. I gobbled up every book in the library I could find on the subject and still remember many of the stories to this day, so for me, it’s like looking for old friends in the sky.

5. Play dress up with a child.

Both my mom and my dad would occasionally play dress up with us kids and attend royal balls, tournaments, or have tea with us in Paris. Looking back, I can’t think of a time I was more imaginative than when I’d put on my dad’s dress blues or one of my mom’s dresses. Last night I played princess with my cousin’s little girl, and her stories would have gone on late into the night had daddy not said it was time for bed.

4. Listen to live music outdoors

I love music! Even more so when I can see the performers in action. Earlier this month I was at Pike’s Market for the day and watched an amazing group playing outside the original Starbucks Coffee Shop; had I not been with a group of high schoolers, I would have stood there all day. Music captures the soul in a way that few other art mediums can, and during the summer you can usually find more than one festival or concert in the park to fill your creative spirit. If you find something you particularly like, get a CD and add it to your writing playlist for a burst of inspiration when the summer venues close.

3. Buy or borrow a book full of pictures of a place you want to visit.

I have several books about Scotland (a place I will visit before I’m old and gray!). The landscapes astound me and the mossy ruins lead me to wonder about the lives lived and lost behind those walls. I also collect postcards of all the places I visit and ask friends to bring me back a few when they travel. When I’m looking for ideas on how to describe a particular scene, I’ll often refer to the books and postcards for inspiration.

2. Make a collage of inspirational quotes that motive you (Or read old love letters…)

I personally don’t have a collection of love letters laying around, but I do have a few encouragement notes from a dear friend that I treasure. They remind me of my passion, and encourage me to press on when I’m struggling to find my way. I also keep quotes I discover around me. Some are on the white board in my kitchen; some are on my bathroom mirror. Still others are tacked, taped, or pasted around my desk and writing areas. Quotes remind me that I’m not blazing new trails in unknown territory and that plenty of others have made their way before me. If they can do it, well, so can I.

1. Pull out the first story you wrote and kept. (Ignore the inner critic and read it as you did the first time you wrote it)

Most of the stories I wrote as a child have been lost over the years (multiple moves will do that). But I do keep a couple of plastic file bins that I’ve filled with scraps and stories I’ve written since then. Pulling those out and reading them lets me see where I was and how far I’ve come. It also reminds me of the early excitement I had when I was first starting to write, and I find all sorts of “new” ideas to use in my current WIPs.

I’d love to hear from you! What helps you catch your elusive creative spirit when you need it most? Post in the comments below!


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