I can’t believe this happened! I’m usually so organised, especially when it comes to pens. And when writing with a fountain pen, there’s a little more to consider like having spare ink cartridges. There’s nothing more frustrating than running out of ink when writing, more so when I’m in the flow.
So I couldn’t believe it when I went to change my ink cartridge, to find that the spare was indeed used, empty! I can see the funny side to all of this. And as much as it pained me, I switched over and used another pen – not the look I like in my journal, but it really doesn’t matter. Now, I do have a fresh ink cartridge in my handbag, ready to go.
As part of a series on journaling workshops I presented over winter, one of the activities centred around using a sentence to help start writing. Members in the group wrote down the first sentence to the beginning of a story then passed it around the group where all members continued the story with their own sentence.
Each story took unexpected twists and turns than the creator had. This is part of the magic that happens when creating, there are influences you don’t always have control over but it can be worth going with the flow and seeing where you end up.
This was true for the four sentences that were added to mine.
My first sentence was:
Fish swimming all in one direction without thought.
The sentence was inspired by the art work of fish on a canvas in the café where we met.
The photo shows where the others in my group took my story.
The story went in a completely different place to what I was going to write about. I’m not sure exactly where I was going to take the story of swimming fish, it was going to be something about conformity.
I like how the other four group members influenced the direction of the story and how it changed with each direction taking me to a completely different place. Inspired by their words and influence on the story I decided to change what they had written into a poem (shown in the photo).
This is the first draft, raw and messy, and in need of a few rounds of edits. But at least I have something to edit. By allowing myself to flow with this process I managed to write a poem without indenting to and tell a story I’d not otherwise thought of. Also by going though this process, and by going with the flow my logical mind was pushed into the background with all its should and should nots, allowing the process of creativity to unfold naturally.
Of course this process might not have worked. It’s always a risk when creating. By surrendering to the process and outside influences, I as the creator became absorbed in the journey instead of attempting to control every step as an observer. My writing benefits when I’m swimming in the journey and not sitting on the sidelines.
Thank you Carol, Lauren, Jeremy and Nikki for your sentences and influence on this poem. The final poem is in the image.
Please share below your unexpected influences on your creative projects.
After years and years of making lists, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m not a list person. While that’s the advice given and share in the motivational world, make a list get it out of your head, it doesn’t work for me. I prefer to keep it all in my head.
I might forget particular jobs this way but even with a list I’ve let some projects go unattended, especially since I have so many lists each for the different areas of my life.
By not making a written list, I can adjust the order of the jobs as I need to in my mind depending on other priorities that might come up during that day. By having this flexibility it means I can allow my intuition influence over what gets done as suited for the day, my mood, and what else is happening in my life. It’s a more harmonious approach, my anxiety levels are reduced, and I don’t feel like I’m forcing myself to get things done or that I’m weighed down by shoulds and should nots. This way my mind can rearrange the to-do list in a flexible and intuitive way, the way I like to approach life.
Of course my ego protests. It voices its doubt, and that there’s no way this creative approach will work. I’ll never finish projects or make progress and it will, as in my life, will be a mess. This is life. A mess. For sure, there are times when lists are helpful. But when my life is just as productive and less stressful when I take a more fluid approach, I notice that maybe these goal driven approaches aren’t for me.
While I do have a strong logical brain, I also have an equally strong creative brain. Based on how unpredictable life can be, how chaotic it is, and how one is really not in control, it makes sense to be able to switch between the two, and give the creativity, the intuitive side just as much value as the logical and planned side.
My dad always kept the details of the farm and breeding of the sheep in his head. There were a few notes in the dusty Elders notebooks in the ute. Your mind is good at remembering what’s important but it’s not usually a finite situation. There’s a limit for how much can be remembered at one time, maybe this can be extended or maybe not. But this is the amount of memory space you have to work with. Over loading it will only lead to a form of shut down. So by working with what you’ve got can actually be expansive. It’s a more feminine approach. Women do it all the time, and no it’s not necessarily about multi-tasking. But more understanding what you’ve got to work with, head space, time, personal energy, environment, other people and then making the best of that in an extraordinary fluid balance that may change without warning or throughout the day multiple times.
It’s not surprising I’m finding I work better this way. After all a big tell tale sign is how I approach my writing. There’s two main ways, connected by a spectrum, pantser or plotter. I’m a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants when I write the story and characters all come out organically and I don’t plan (like a plotter). It means I often think of plot twists and points on the fly, and come up with ideas spontaneously rather than getting weighed up in the planning. This style isn’t for everyone. What’s important is to recognise what works for you, and then go with that. There are times when you need to switch between the two approaches left or right, logical or creative, planned or unplanned, or maybe even straight ahead in the unique balance which works for you.
Are you a list maker? Does it improve your approach to getting jobs done, and reduce stress levels? Or do you find it easier to have the mental fluid list and do just fine that way? Let me know if lists work for you or not in the comments below.