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Aligning Planets, Aligning Dreams: How to be an efficient creative being.

I didn’t see the eclipse this morning. I was lying in what felt like the world’s most comfortable bed, in the most gorgeous hotel, having drunk a leetle too much champagne the night before and simply breathing. I lay there in this comfortable bed and thought ‘Ah, I remember this. This is what it feels like not to worry.’

I am a worried. I am also a planner, a schemer, a long-term investor, a busy body and someone who gets rundown easily. I am possibly the worst person to be self-employed. I do maths, I make charts- ‘How can I increase my efficiency?’ ‘Can I squeeze in any more hours this week?’ ‘How much more can I get done if I learn to be happy with six hours sleep a night?’

This is not the right way to be efficient. Or creative. Or a human being that other human beings want to be around.

This is the way to a nervous breakdown and a heartattack before I’m thirty.

So as I lay there in this very comfortable bed, doing nothing but ruminating and breathing, I thought to myself ‘Why am I panicking when everything seems to be going right?’

I wonder if you ever have this sensation too? That you are so full of dreams and hopes and plans that they never feel like they’ll get there soon enough. And by the time they arrive, you are too busy worrying about the next plans to fully enjoy them.

This, I believe, is about alignment. On my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, I was required to write a five year arts and business plan. This was meant as a tool to equip me on my writing career. It had contacts, it had aims and goals and ways of achieving them. But nowhere in that plan did I factor in the astonishing realisation that whilst you’re working towards these goals, life is still happening. Life doesn’t stop to let you catch up, or get ahead. I could sit here and work out that x+y = 13 books a year, and how much a % commission is and what likelihood it is that I could write full time…but you know how my time would be better spent? Writing book 5. And letting book 13 work itself out when I get there.

I spend a lot of time tutoring kids in analysing Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. It’s a brilliant book, and often the essay question the kids get is: ‘Explore the importance of dreams in the novel.’ It throws them, because they can’t see any dreams in the novel, no-one’s asleep and imagining crazy things, no-one’s looking up at the Hollywood sign and saying ‘I’m gonna be a star’ (although one character thought that, once). It’s a landscape of failed dreams and unachievable goals. But here’s the catch, the important thing was to have a dream. To let it nourish you, to give you strength to get through another crappy day where nothing seemed to change. To let it be your lullaby when your weary head hit the pillow.

My lesson here, dear readers? Dreams should be invigorating, they should give you purpose and movement and strength. But they are no substitute for real life. Let your dreams inspire your life, but let your life be more important than your dreams. Work hard, play hard and BE PRESENT. Only then, can your creativity align with your passion. I’d also recommend mindfulness, and I’ll be posting some mindfulness writing tasks next week for those of you who want to be more present in your present!

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Writing to Be Your Own Hero

When I was younger, I often felt like life was happening to me, instead of ‘me’ happening to life. I was the sidekick in someone else’s story. It’s a pretty disempowering feeling, the idea that all around you people are making things happen, forging on with their journeys and experiences, and meanwhile you’re stuck, really only there to provide support to the main character, to be their shoulder to cry on and kooky best friend.

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We are ALL the main characters in our own life, and we ALL have stories to tell. I’ve been working on exploring how The Hero’s Journey, a sort of template for adventure stories, can help people in their search for wholeness. We explore who we are as a hero, what magical elixir we’re searching for (our life goal/aim) and who we encounter on the journey (mentors, demons, tricksters).

When we start to look at our lives through the archetypes and metaphors, it’s easier to notice patterns. It’s easy to see that the kindly older person we constantly seek advice from is our mentor, and that often much of our problems on the path are self-imposed by our shadow selves, by doubt and fear and anger.

I’m currently working on creating a program using The Hero’s Journey to help those on a journey of wellness and health, so if you’ve had problems with self-image, EDs or are struggling to reach your fitness goals with a positive outlook, get in touch to find out more about the study I’ll be doing this year.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in The Hero’s Journey, I’d suggest looking into The Writer’s Journey.

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Rebirth, Renewal, Rethink: Taking off the Layers

Spring is on the way! At least it should be. All around us, nature is bursting into bloom, and we should be too. Shake off the weariness of winter, take off those protective layers, and let the sun warm our skin. How do we do this? We start dreaming.

 

This is always the time of year that I start to dream again. I dream of summer holidays and lazy days. I make lists of all the things that make me happy about this time of year, all the things I can look forward to as the days get warmer and longer. There’s power in lists, and power in dreaming. What are lists if not dreams aided by intention? You definitely want to do them, you’ve committed to them on paper! Whether you get around to it or not, you’ve taken it from the subconscious to the conscious realm. And that means something!

 

Are you feeling a little more hopeful now that spring’s rolling around? We become more curious when everything about us is changing and growing, don’t we? The days I’d rather stay curled up with a book and a cup of tea are behind, and now is the time I want to go walking in the woods, looking at everything with wander and excitement. It’s the perfect time to get inspired, and to be open to that creativity. 

 

Go on the walks you did as a kid- get excited by the sound of the ice-cream truck, the smell of the seaside. Dance to cheesy music and fall in love too quickly. Access the things you’ve not done in a while, and the memories will start flooding back. Capture these moments like polaroids, cherish them, swim in them. When we make ourselves open to the tiniest details, when we fine tune and really pay attention to the fabric our lives are made of, we become open to it.

 

So, dear writers, I encourage you to cherish the playfulness of life, to roll up your trousers and waddle out into the pool of your childhood memories. Make lists, make plans, get excited.

 

And if you’re feeling the renewal and revamp vibes this season, we have a couple more spaces left on the Writing for Wellbeing Workshop next week (Saturday 26th April) in Barnet. Plus we’re doing a special Easter Sale, so if you enter the Promo Code: FACEBOOK50 you’ll get the whole day workshop for only £32.50! 

 

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Get Creative? Get 50% OFF!

Who doesn’t love a bargain? For this week- we’re doing 50% off our Creative Writing for Wellbeing Workshop on 26th April 2014 in Barnet, North London. A whole day (10am-4pm) which includes all materials, drinks, snacks and a gorgeous lunch! 

We’ll be using creative writing exercises and tasks to work on ideas of containment, history, and learning a little more about ourselves through our stories. Wondering if it’s for you? Do you have some things you’d like to approach creatively? Maybe things that are a little uncomfortable to deal with head on? Feeling down on yourself? Missing someone? Feeling a bit stuck? Maybe there’s nothing going on with you, but you’re looking to get a little creative, or think a bit deeper?

It’s fun, we promise! And at the 50% off price of £32.50, you can’t really lose!

 

Go HERE to book tickets, and put the code FACEBOOK50 in the promo code box! It’s a season of renewal- the seasons are changing, the world is waking up- why not join it?

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Excess Baggage and how Writing can help.

 

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We’ve all got baggage, it’s a fact of life. We all have rich histories, full of trials, tribulations and joy. And with that, comes a big suitcase full of stuff. Some of it we’ve dealt with, some of it we’re putting off unpacking.

 

So, how can creativity help? Writing allows us to ‘write around’ those subjects, the one’s that are a little too painful to face head on, but we can write our way into them, as if we’re looking at them using our peripheral vision, acknowledging them, but not waving a red flag.

Writing lets us focus on a tiny fragment. Perhaps you’re not ready to talk about the pain of losing your mother. But you might be able to write about the china teapot she used to keep in the cupboard when you were a child. Each of these fragments that we can access gets us a little bit closer to unpacking that baggage, and walking away a little bit lighter.

 

Why not try it out for yourself? My Writing for Wellbeing Workshop is on Saturday 26th May, 10am-4pm. And you can get it for HALF PRICE if you book THIS WEEK!  Just put FACEBOOK50 into the Promo Code box on eventbrite: click HERE. 

 

(This means you get a whole day workshop, all materials, snacks, teas and coffees and a beautiful lunch for £32.50!- can you get better than that? There’s no excuse not to try something new!)

 

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Owning, not Moaning: How Writing Can Offer a Positive Perspective

You know that image of the moody teenager curled up in her room, writing poetry about how life is meaningless, or that boy she likes doesn’t notice her, or that nothing ever changes? Why do you think that’s become a cliche? Is it that creative people feel more deeply? Or it is that strong feelings are released through creativity?

Picking up a pen when life gets you down doesn’t have to be about losing yourself in your problems. You don’t have to write depressing poetry, or moan about your life in a journal. You can, if you think it will help, but some people don’t like to get too bogged down thinking about their issues, feeling like focusing on them will only make them feel more negative.

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There’s a place for this theory in writing for wellbeing. Yesterday, I woke up in a foul mood. The neighbours had been partying right through until I got up at 6am. I kept dropping things, losing things, and was pretty much a rain cloud for anyone I interacted with. And I didn’t want to stay that way. So I sat down with a cup of tea, and I wrote a list of things that made me happy. True little details that gave me joy. Listening to Belle and Sebastian on sunny days, singing in the car, walking barefoot on wet grass. I filled two pages with these random little details that make me happy, and when I stopped, I was able to realise I’d fixed my own mood. Sure, that morning had pissed me off, but it was behind me now.

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Writing acts as a perspective shift. Other ways of doing this are writing down your issue, then retelling it from a different person’s position. Even writing in third person (he/she) instead of first (I/me) gives you distance. And that’s what you want, in order to affect change, you need space. You need a moment to move away from what’s been bugging you, and to switch your focus.

 

We’ll be exploring more positive uses for writing in my Writing for Wellbeing Workshop in April, (April 26th 10am-4pm Barnet) more details HERE.

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Write What We Know, or Write to Discover?

It’s an old writing adage that we should write what we know. Some contest it, some live by it. I think it’s rather unavoidable. Even if you’re writing about a futuristic world war where robots made from old bean tins have started a mutiny, you’re writing about human emotions. Even when it’s robots.

We can’t help but write what we know…it’s just that sometimes we don’t know that we know it. My point here? Writing is revelatory. It’s all very well saying that if we’ve been a butcher for fifteen years, we should use our experience to influence our settings, lend authenticity to our creations, but often we find parts of ourselves embedding in our fiction anyway. 

I’ve often written things, and only found where their familiarity comes from when someone else points it out. Ah, that broken toaster that was a metaphor for how we love unconditionally, we actually had one of those in our first house, didn’t we? Huh.

These aren’t always major revelations, but with the right questions and tasks, they can be very powerful. As writers, people often think we spend a lot of time on self-reflection, but the truth is, if we’re dealing in fiction, we’re more interested in other people. Usually the ones who are having conversations in our heads! But we can use what we enjoy and find useful, to explore parts of our own lives!

Think about how you come up with a character’s name, or when you’re a reader, how do you identify with the character. What does their name signify? What possible meanings can come from it. Now think about your names. Not just your given name, but any nicknames, any affectionate words, or unwanted familiarities. How do they make you feel? How do they define you? We name characters and allow their names to shape them- are we given the same opportunity? What about titles? Wife, mother, husband, brother, teacher, agony aunt? Boss? How is who we are shaped by the names we are given.

These are just some small wonderings, but it’s an example of how we use writing to look inward, even when we’re creating outwardly, and it’s part of a task I’ll be doing at my Writing for Wellbeing Workshop in Barnet in April!

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For details and tickets, click HERE