This is my plan to begin again.
Two years of creative drought are over, and though there are still challenges in my personal life which could prove equally difficult, I have decided I can’t allow myself to be so completely crushed next time around.
So I’m on a journey.
One step at a time, baby steps. Reminding myself. Beginning again.
Its actually quite hard when you have been effectively out of the creative loop for so long, and there is no expecting to pick up exactly where you left off. My typing fingers are rusty, my imagnation has stalled, my physical strength is unreliable, and I am far too likely to lapse into ranting at the mirror in the bathroom in the mornings, and then being in such a bad mood that I fail to find any corner for creativity the rest of the day.
Its time to inch into new habits, little actions that mount up, tiny movements that ease me into a new frame of mind.
I’m on a journey, and I’d like to invite you along with me.
I don’t know how its going to turn out, and if I’m going to get anywhere, or if I’ll end up back at square one, but I hope that you and I can both learn from the experience. So I’d like to set out for you the little steps I am taking to ease myself back into writing again.
Firstly, I’ve made a vow to read more. Yeah, I know, this from the woman who can’t walk past a bookskshop or a library. This from a woman who has permanent damage to her shoulder from lugging around a handbag full of books, just in case she finds herself in a queue without some way to entertain herself.
I did a bit of analysis after Christmas, and realised that the majority of books I read last year were non-fiction. That, or Terry Pratchett books I’d read before that I knew would comfort and distract me through admitedly difficult times. I remembered the days when I was taking my Diploma in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, days when I consumed really good writers like Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Helen Dunmore and others. I realised I couldn’t remember when I’d last read a new work of fiction.
So my new New Year’s intention was to read. Widely. Novels, yes. A bit of History and, obviously, non-fiction. To remind myself what good writing is. And so far I am doing quite well, helped by the fact that we’ve been clearing out my late mother-in-law’s sustantial book stash, from which I have benefitted greatly. I had quite a haul of books for Christmas too, which I’m looking forward to devouring. The important thing to note is that I am excited about the idea of reading fiction again, which I haven’t been for a long time. Which is a good sign.
Secondly, I’m pursuing a writing practice.
I read Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book, ‘The True Secret of Writing’ at the end of last year and I was blown away by it. I started doing timed writing practices in the manner she suggests. Pen to paper. Write whatever comes. Its heaven.
Thirdly, coaching. Yes, you heard me right. My dear friend, the poet, Heidi Williamson, is also a writing coach, and kindly agreed to take me on as a client. Our first session was mind-expanding. I’ll write more about this experience in future, but let me tell you, I’m sold.
I’d been wrestling with getting out of my own way to do writing practice, and Heidi suggested I make a deal with myself to do two sessions a week, on the days best suited to my schedule, which for me is Monday and Thursday. So far, I have yet to default. Which is unheard-of for me. I do it on other days too, which feels like earning huge brownie points. Its only a little thing, twenty minutes at most, but it feels like a monumental change. And I’m keeping a promise to myself, which is adding to my confidence.
Fourthly, not pushing. This might seem counter-intuitive, but Goldberg suggests that you need to do writing practice for at least a year before you have even begun to accumulate enough material to track what it is you would like to write about in a sustained way, such as a novel. So I don’t really have a particular project. I’m just writing. I’m being gentle with myself, because goals tend to freak me out and stop me writing. There is plenty of time for them later on, when I’m ready anyway.
The whole point of not pushing is to enjoy myself. I’m not going to write if it isn’t fun. So why make it hard. I want to enjoy it.
No doubt I will add to this routine in future, but this is my core plan to gentle myself back into creating. I read somewhere recently that ‘Creativity is the expression of the Soul.’ My soul has taken quite a battering in the last two years, so I need to nurse it gently back to health with love and sploshy paints, and definitely no strict rules.
Finally, I mean to document my journey here on this blog, which has been sadly neglected of late. I want to tell you how I get on. A bit of accountability, yes, but also a project to get me blogging again.
So I hope you will join me on my trip to Creativity,