Friday, March 26, 2010

Creativity as inner work

Following on yesterday's blog, I want to further explore creativity (writing, painting, gardening, any form of creative self-expression) as inner work. We might even call it spiritual work. According to Anne Wilson Schaef, an innovator of process work, leading a spiritual life means being fully engaged in the processes of life in each moment. This is the Buddhist idea of "chop wood, carry water." Whatever task you are involved in, give it your full attentionhether it's doing the dishes or writing a short story.

For us creatives, that seems particularly important. When you're writing, attend to your writing. If you feel a need to take a walk and clear your head, bring your wandering mind back to your writing, back to whatever choices and decisions you need to make about characters or plot or description or the argument and support of nonfiction. When you're painting, give it your full attention to make shape, line, volune, color choices. Engage your whole self in the process.

Although I came up here to write this week on my novel, I've had a difficult time staying engaged. After my inner critic slapped me around for a while and I fought back, I did settle in and write 2+ new chapters. But many things have been distracting. Jake's death, some physical ailments, too many fun things to do (read a novel, play canasta, do some watercolors) and work things too. I'd promised a couple of clients that I'd be available to then as I knew they had tight deadlines and I value their business.

The truth is I'm in a low spot, with grief and pain and distractions. And that's the inner work that I need to do right now, the process I need to engage in.

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