Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Next Chapter – Secret #2 Honouring Your Inspirations

I’m taking part in an online book blogging club called The Next Chapter.  This post is part of our discussion about The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women.  Feel free to jump in to the conversation here or with some of the other posts about Secret #2.

My Little Crazy Thoughts

This week I have actually been quite busy engaging my creativity.  With the wishcasting prompt I knew immediately that I need a creative space.  Somewhere I can do more than just writing.  I need a place where I can have access to all of my colourful bits and bobs that I like to play with.  I felt so powerfully drawn to the project that I’ve already started working on it. 

The First Challenge

The first challenge of the book was to find 15 minutes every day to cloister yourself away and get in touch with your creativity.  This gives me a small problem as I don’t think that this is possible for me right now.  It’s ideal, but not right for me at this time.  I’m hoping that creating a crafting space for myself will help let me take advantage of the bits of time that I do get in the future.  If everything is organized and ready, I’ll be able to more easily jump in and out of some creative explorations. 

I also found myself wanting to defend the city.  It seemed as though the author was saying that nature is only the territory of creativity and I would disagree.  I think that the human mind and spirit has the capacity to find inspiration amid a chorus of chattering voices, horns, and machines in the city, as well as it can amid the sounds of birds, trees, and insects in the wild.

The Second Challenge

The second challenge was a Creative Style Inventory and I thought I’d briefly report my answers . . .

  • When did your creative reawakening occur?  Probably in 2007 when I decided to commit to writing a novel in a month.  I’ve always thought “I’m a writer” but this was the first time as an adult that I’d attempted to write. 
  • What talents do you have naturally?  This one was really hard since I don’t usually think of my own talents, or of myself as talented.  But, I do know that I’m naturally organized and very determined.  I love reading and teaching and explaining things to people too.
  • Which elements draw you toward them?  Earth (mountains & trees) and Fire
  • Where and when do you create?  I create writing on my computer at home or work.  Or in a notebook in almost any place that will give me a few minutes to focus on my story.  Usually in the afternoon when I’ve finished all my obligations for the day (if I manage to get them all done).
  • Where and when do I wish to create?  At my neat and clean desk in a neat and clean office in the morning.
  • What activates your creative energy?
    • structure
    • timelines
    • projects
    • passionate people
    • rules
    • processes
    • puzzles
    • good stories
    • What drains it?
  • What drains it?
    • too much openness – I feel lost
    • getting caught up in what others might think/say
    • too much distraction
    • too much outside input
  • Do I use creative rituals?  I’ve started to this year . . . lighting a candle when writing . . . curling up with a good movie to sift through magazines for words and images that inspire
  • Does nature influence my creativity?  The inspiration for my 2007 NaNoWriMo challenge started from staring at the mountains every morning.  One of my other old story ideas (yet to be developed) comes from the crows! 
  • What has been your greatest creative hurdle so far?  Justifying and finding the time for creative pursuits.
  • What time of day are you most receptive to inspiration?  Definitely the morning!

The inventory really had me pondering my girls in the basement/my inner muse*. Not only what they/she might look like but also about what they need to be inspired.  They need a little space to do business and play.  They need to be fed good stories.  They like to get up in the morning and spend time planning out projects, making lists, and putting things in order.  And they need challenge to keep their creative juices fired up.  In fact, they sometimes prefer to do things the hard way.  I’m looking forward to getting to know them/her better.

*’girls in the basement’ refers to the same basic thing as an inner muse but is an expression commonly used among the community of writers (aka Wiffers) that I enjoy being a part of.  I like the term because it allows many different facets of your creativity along with some interesting conversations to take place inside of yourself.  Though I am also drawn to the idea of defining a set of characteristics that make up my inner muse.


Her Speak said...

I totally agree--the urban setting can be incredibly inspiring. I live smack dab in the middle of the city, so soaring vistas and ancient trees aren't really readily accessible. I love looking at weird things that get tossed off the sidewalk or crumbling brick. Very interesting.

I LOVE the idea of "girls in the basement"! I've never heard that before.

Thank you for sharing you style!
Much Joy, Merry Making~*

traveler one said...

I also love the city- I feel sort of insecure in the wild- LOL!

But it's interesting how for some of us structure and deadlines etc fuels our creativity but for others those are just the things that stifle us!

Kim H

Genie Sea said...

Cities inspire me as much if not more than nature, because I live in the city. It's right here!

I also agree about the drains. Other people's opinions being imposed on mine is definitely a drain and a drag. Unless I ask for it :)

Sacred Suzie said...

Fantastic! And I agree, when I read this chapter I said, uh oh! Why did I choose the chapter with all this talk about nature? So I just ignored it and focused on my own topic but I appreciate you pointing that out. So many people don't live in nature. Many don't feel connected to it like I do. I don't like that assumption that it's the be all for everyone's creative spirit.

You are a writer my friend! I love that your space is neat and that you are lighting candles. I have never heard that term of girls in the basement before either!

Kavindra said...

Hi Jenn and the girls in the basement... fellow space takers!

I love what you say about not wanting too much openness. I got a real aha moment there.

Good for you standing up for the city too. Don't most young creative people head right out for the city when they leave home? I can remember just getting so much energy from everything happening and all the different amazing people. You can't sit up all night discussing big ideas and art with the bears and the racoons in the woods after all. For one thing, there's no coffee shops in the woods!

Gypsy said...

What a different perspective you have written here. I love it! I have lived in both the city and in the country and even a very rural little town. Inspiration can be found anywhere.

You are so organized and *neat*. I try to implore more that into my day to day. I often scattered but always end up doing it all but it would help to be more organized. Love your post!

Lisa said...

I've lived in the country and in the city. I am more inspired in my little hippy village than I ever was living surrounded by trees, though I loved that, too, at certain times. (like right after a rain)

I would like to incorporate a little more list making and planning into my lifestyle. I always put it off and am fascinated by folks (like you!) who love that part.

gemma said...

I love nature,trees the color green. Also enjoy the city shapes, people and grafitti.
Life is good!

blisschick said...

A city is a natural environment for the human -- who is OF nature, after all -- who created the city. We are just like ants, constructing, tearing down, rebuilding.

My little city park is enough to get my juices flowing. Though my partner craves a wilder, deeper woods. We're all different.

"Girls in the basement..." interesting...a sort of opposite to the "Madwoman in the attic?"

jennlui said...

i completely agree with you on the whole city business. i am lucky to live in a city with lots of green space... but the architecture and museums... there is just so much in the city to see, feel and hear!!! whether it's a walk in nature or in the downtown core, there always something to be inspired about!!!

oh wow fabulous inventory!!! i've never heard of girls in the basement... but love the connotation!!! thank YOU for sharing!!!

peace and love

flapjac said...

i a little ashamed to admit that i hate the word muse, so i love that you have your own phrase and that it's so humorous :)

Diana said...

Good to see your taking the time to be creative - getting over the hurdle. It's great that you honor yourself with what inspires you most. Everyone grows in different places in different ways - yours is the city, nothing wrong with that.

chest of drawers said...

"Girls in the basement"? Fascinating!

Jenn said...

Thank you for all the wonderful comments again this week!

Just thought I'd put in another quick note about 'the girls in the basement.' A kind of disclaimer. I believe the original term was from Stephen King's book On Writing and it was 'boys in the basement.' But a group of writers that I chat online with took the term and started using it for themselves. Since they are all women, it became 'girls in the basement.' And, it just has kind of stuck for me.

Also, I need to come clean a bit (sorry, couldn't resist the pun). I think I may have given you all the wrong impression about how neat and clean I am. I manage to wrangle parts of it under control some of the time. But, when things are in total disarray, it distracts me from doing other things. I also have some flexible standards on things (ie. so long as the duvet is pulled straight and both pillows are on the bed, I consider it made.)

Caroline said...

Living in the city I find it inspiring - but when I lived in the country I found that inspiring too...

Good luck with getting your space all set up - it sounds like it will make a huge difference to you.

Caroline said...

Oh and I forgot to say thanks for mentioning what the first challenge of the book was - I don't have a copy yet so I'm gleaning info post by post!

pen* said...

i grew up in hong kong, a real concrete jungle, and i have to say when reading this chapter, i thought: "is this why i struggle to commune with nature?"

but as you rightfully said, and others have agreed here, the urban landscape has it's own magic to be found. thank you for that.

and, as with the others, i LOVE the concept of girls in the basement
just brilliant.

Jamie Ridler said...

That's awesome that you've already started working on your creative space. WTG!

No wonder it's good for you to have space and structure, you've got a whole team of muses ready to get going and make something happen :) I'm excited to see what they get up to.

And I'm with you on the city thing. One of the things that really inspires me is how much there is to see and experience in Toronto. There's always something new to explore.

Rapunzel said...

Jenn, I totally agree about the city. I live in the suburbs on a standard sized lot but still am able to find inspiration in my own little corner of nature. Also, I never felt so *alive* as when I visited NYC last summer so I know that there is tons of inspiration to be found there.

Faerie said...

I love "The Girls in the Basement" ... I agree with you about finding inspiration where you find yourself, whether it is amidst the concrete jungle or in the luxury of wide open space. To me it brings the Desiderata to mind!


Connie Carpenter Macko said...

ditto on the city vibe! i know others have already commented on this point - but it cannot be stressed enough! the hum of the hive is strong in the city! i say this especially since i've felt a dying (or at leaset very ill) city and it also has it's own desperate wavelength...

Lisa PN said...

I feel like there is a space for city and that there is a space for country. I love the idea of the girls in the basement and it's new to me as well. What a brilliant image.

kath said...

I live in a small village, in the country really and I work in a mid-size but quiet city. My husband and I joke that we are the opposite of people who escape to the country for rest and relatxation. We often have to drive to Toronto to "get away" and be inspired by the food, the people, smells, noise and graffiti. I always come home from a day trip to the City inspired but I rarely act on it. That's why this book sharing is so important to me right now. I need to act.

Stacey said...

Your too much outside input as a draining force is my most draining force too....Custom work for ultra picky clients kills me - I LOVE custom orders when someone give me a basic concept and trusts my creativity - but those who want this and that put here and there - draining to me. Anywho - great to read more about who you are.