Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meandering Through the Windmills of Our Mind

I was in San Francisco this past weekend. Coming off the 280 Freeway, I descended down Market Street for a pristine, clear view of the city. It left me in awe of its jewel-like quality under a clear, cloudless sky. 


I asked myself why people crowd into this small (46.9 square miles) area, piled on top of each other (over 17,000 people per square mile) to be here? Inspiration, free-thinking, uninhibited expression—take your pick. 



I was in need of inspiration and this visit did not disappoint.


Lately, I’ve been noting that many writers/bloggers are getting tired of the tread mill of blogging-promoting-marketing (even Jane Friedman has called it quits from blogging for the moment) and still trying to get their works in progress completed (me included). Inspiration wanes in the constant output and effort that affords no let up.


What if we changed up our thinking?

Sometimes we get stuck and don’t know how to proceed because we’ve been on a certain path and can’t find the next opening. It appears blocked in front of us as far as we can see. You know the phrase, “straight as an arrow?” Well we might take inspiration from the outback, indigenous people by thinking, “bent like a boomerang.”

What if we moved from rut thinking (you know, staying in the grooves or on the tracks along the same time worn paths) to meandering for a while? Think of the term, walk-about. There is no set goal, there is only exploration. Being open to what might come, by not being goal oriented, we can stay open to what our own creative self might like to offer up. Don’t think of this as the opposite of goal-oriented thinking—maybe just a break from said thinking.

Last year, I read Daniel Pinchbeck (The Return of Quetzacoatl) and the underpinnings of my mind were changed forever. Sometimes we need inspiration from places we would not ordinarily look; we need to keep our minds open to new ideas so they can come in and find room to play.

If the 60s in San Francisco did anything, it changed my 'rut thinking' forever. Perhaps what is needed is some exposure to different ideas; new ways of looking at our writing problem. Nothing will 'un-stick’ us if we stay on the same path when a detour is indicated.

Shaman meandering or quest seeking might be in order. Try exploring, traversing strange ground, maybe learning something new to pry open the mind and heart to see the world in an expanded way. Change of place helps because we can get a different view of the world if we take the shades off and really enter into it. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep getting what we’ve been getting.

The thing with inspiration is that it comes in its own good time. There is the school of thought that we must keep on banging away at getting down those words (if a writer) but as an artist we also require inspiration and that doesn’t always come on our time schedule. While most of the time it comes while “beating the bush” (by writing, writing, writing), we have to recognize that sometimes and/or for some people what is needed is some meandering with no rigid schedule or straight jacket to-do list.

My San Francisco visit inspired me to take another sip from my eclectic cool-aid once again and journey into the wilderness for some new inspiration. Since finishing the series on character building for writers, through astrology and the Tarot, I've been wanting to do a series on the Tarot as the path to creativity (or whatever shows up).

So next post (or maybe the one after), I will start with the history of the Tarot—ideas about where it came from, why it was created and what we can learn from it. Then we will travel a new road each week, along the Tarot's path, to see what we can glean for our creative needs. Hope you join me on that journey across the eclectic ethers. 

Are you stuck right now? What do you do for inspiration or to motivate you?



20 comments:

Tami Clayton said...

So many good points in here, I don't know where to start. I have most definitely been in a rut with my WIP - it's been stalled for months. I've thought of shelving it and starting something new, but I'm drawn back to it each time.

Thanks for the timely reminders and inspirational ideas. I'm looking forward to your posts on the Tarot.

Lesley A. Diehl said...

Right now my inspiration is coming from thinking back on my past and reconstructing family members and relationships. I always find that invigorating. Didn't like Aunt Nellie? Replace her with an Aunt Nessie who gave you a convertible for graduation. The past is past, nothing can change it except in the mind of a writer. I have a whole new past with relatives I adore, a me that is heroic, and friends who never fail. Great stuff! If that doesn't work, I walk down the block and get an ice cream.

Elaine Smothers said...

LOVE the word "walk-about". I've been in a rut with both my blog and WIP for several months now and am still looking to achieve balance. I tend to over think things and engage in repetitive behavior. Maybe I'll take the next right and do a little meandering.

Patricia Gligor said...

Cora,
I enjoyed this post very much. It reminded me of the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When I realize that something isn't getting me the results I'd hoped for - in writing and in life - I change what I'm doing. Sometimes, it takes awhile to figure out what the new direction should be. Other times, once I let go of the "old" ways, insight comes almost instantly.

Melanie Jackson, author, editor, piano student said...

Thanks, Cora. This reminded me to give a chance to a person or idea I might otherwise brush off as incompatible or uninteresting. Amazing how that changes once you look closer and deeper.

Kat Hinkson said...

Cora,
I literally went on a 'walk about' tonight. I’ve been stuck on my story and decided to take my protagonist for a walk, something that my character might do too. I went to a lake nearby and talked to myself the whole time. Digital recorders are so much fun. I was able to describe the area, thoughts my character had while out walking and a couple scenes that could work too.
I hadn’t thought of a walk about as a possible solution to the problems. Thanks for the suggestion.

Ellen Gregory said...

Great post, Cora. I'm also struggling at present - feeling very lacking in motivation. And I think you're onto something when you suggest meandering and exploring creativity instead of being goal focused. Sometimes I think goals kill creativity.

Cora said...

Thanks for your words of support on the Tarot. I have been doubting whether I should do it because it is so specific to a small group of people that might be interested. I'm hoping I can make it of interest to many.

Cora said...

Ice cream is my downfall. I absolutely love ice-cream-it does inspire me.

Cora said...

A little meandering did wonders for me this past weekend. I didn't think of writing at all and it freed me to think clearer about it when I got home.

Cora said...

You're so right, letting go of the old to gain new insight, but sometimes it takes a while before we realized it is "the old" and time to change or go in a new direction. Thanks for commenting.

Cora said...

Ain't that the truth. It is too easy for us to stay stuck in familiar patterns when opening to something new can open vistas unimagined.

Cora said...

Oh, I'm so tickled that my suggestion worked for you. I appreciate your sharing that.

Cora said...

You are probably right, goals might kill creativity. Are they even located in the same parts of the brain--probably not. So, if that is true, we can have goals but we need to make sure we give enough time to the creative side or else the goals are meaningless.

Sally Carpenter said...

This post came to me at the right time. I've had the blahs over the demands of marketing and writing and keeping up with endless emails. Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" books stress the importance of play in generating creativity. My acting teacher said we should approach working on a play as "play." Yes, artists need to step back from their work at times so they can relax, have fun and refill the creative well.

Matthew Wright said...

It's amazing how inspiration can float in sometimes, often from unexpected directions - or a change of scene. Often, apparently unrelated to that change or place. Yet often the best ideas come in that way. For myself, I'll often set a 'creative problem' out in my mind and then ignroe it. Maybe do something else, go out, have a change of pace. A little later I'll usually get an answer to the creative problem. Interesting. And it's all good.

Billie Johnson said...

Didn't someone say "San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality?

Seems right, somehow!

Billie Johnson

Cora said...

Or, maybe it's the other way around and the reality is inside the 49 square miles. Just a thought. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Cora said...

So glad there was some inspiration here for you. We all need it at different times.

Cora said...

I do that as well; set a creative problem and then go about doing something else until the inspiration comes. Best time for me is before sleep. Thanks for comments.