As promised in my last post, my intention is to update you on my progress in resuscitating my creativity on a weekly basis, and Friday seems as good a time as any. So here we go.
Friday Review No 1:
Well, the week got off to an excellent start with the aforementioned post and recovery plan, followed by a day of frenzied ideas for blog posts. I’ve sketched out 12 in total so far, so you’ve got lots of exciting content to look forward to.
And then the wheels fell off the waggon.
I received news of a not-unexpected but nevertheless devastating medical diagnosis for someone close to me. It was hard to cope with all the emotions that came up as a result.
Instead of forcing myself to take action, I simply sat with those emotions, and felt them. And slowly, slowly, the pain began to lift. I know this is only the beginning of a diffcult and life-changing process, but I also know that my creative practice is not only going to help me get through this new phase, it is also going to feed into my future work.
I was worried my plan for creative recovery would be completely derailed before it had even properly started, but thankfully, that hasn’t happened. I have kept my appointments with myself this week to do my writing practice, thoroughly enjoyed then, and even (imho) done some good work. I have discovered some new blogs about writing, which I hope to share with you in future posts. I have continued with my reading adventure, though Umberto Eco’s habit of dropping into Latin in ‘The Name of the Rose’ has proved something of a labour to me, since I don’t understand Latin. But I am keeping on keeping on. And thats the point.
This is what I learned:
How to journal when you need to get stuff out, but you just can’t face explaining.
Let me introduce you to your friend in extremis, the list.
Yes, dear reader, the facts are too horrible to cope with, but you know getting them on paper will a) get some of the poison outside your body, and b) begin the process of helping you to see not only some context, but also how to navigate your way through the battlefield with your sanity (or at least most of it) intact. This is the moment when you each for your pen and make a list.
Write down a list of what happened:
and then this.
(I used bullet points.) And what you remember:
I remember the paper on the desk when he told me.
The phone showed the duration of the call so far.
The consultant will do x,y,z.
Then I did this. And this.
Then this person rang.
Just getting the facts down on the paper relieves you from having to remember them, or to explain them in future to your diary. You don’t need to give any detail. Just bald facts. You don’t need to write them out at length. Just make notes. And then let them go.
Now is not the time to analyse. Just be with the feelings. You can go back to your usual journal practice of writing at length when you are ready. But only when you are ready.
The important thing is not to neglect your journal during the crisis. If you do, you will begin to feel that the mass of painful information you have to record is building up into a barrier that will stop you from using your writing to coach yourself through in the future. Even if you just sketch down a couple of bullet points every day until you are ready to write more, you are keeping that mountain cut down to size.
This is what I have done this week, a completely new approach to life crises for me – before, when things have happened, I have written nothing, and then felt unequal to the task of resuming when so much has changed. I’m so glad my creative muse rescued me this time with the idea of the list. It eased the pain immeasurably, made me feel so much less overwhelmed by events. I offer this technique to you, in the hope that it may help you in any challenges you may meet.