Saturday, March 26, 2011

Creating for creating: portable sacred space for artists on the go

"Creativity, like many things, gives back when you use it." (Molly O'Keefe)

I was in Paris when I met Roberto. He spoke five languages, introduced me to neighborhood markets and bourgeois bars, and attempted to teach me tango (although I was too faint with awe at that point to remember any steps). He was writing a lengthy research paper about impoverished neighborhoods of Paris, and told me that in order to have time to write, he brought his laptop on his hour-long train commute.

“Even if I only get one perfect sentence out of it—it's worth it,” he said.

Modern writers, artists and other creatives wonder how sacred creative space can fit within a fairly commute-oriented work life. Author Kelly L. Stone writes that when we make space for creating, it naturally becomes a safe and comfortable place for one's muse to emerge. Much like a Pavlovian response, simply going into the space will energize the creative process.

But what can we do when our lives don’t allow us to sit home all day and create?

Believe it or not, we can assemble a portable version of a sacred space in the form of supplies: bags, drawing tools, notebooks, folders. It sounds simple, but your mind will help your muse along. It’s all about ritual and repetition.

Here are some ideas for coaxing out your traveling muse:

  • designate a notebook only for your creative ideas. Don’t write to-do lists in it (that's what your planner is for) or phone numbers. Make it sacred and it will give back to you.
  • get a large purse or handbag and put all of your creative materials in that bag. Find a few things (quotes, photos, drawings) that are motivational to you and keep you on your path and throw ‘em in.
  • for days when you’re feeling uninspired, include a token of your past success. For my business partner, Heather, this is easy; she can take an actual bag. For me, I would take a writing contract or a clip of a published article I’m particularly proud of.

The important part is the power of association you’ll create almost effortlessly each time you use your traveling sacred space for its purpose. You can be anywhere; it can involve coffee or Chardonnay (like perhaps it is for me right now...). It can even be on a noisy, crowded train in Paris. If you’ve decided that this is your creation time and make it a ritual—that’s what it will be.

Note to Boulder/Denver folks: check this out. It's a free, Denver-wide, creative-space-finder (who knew?) for artists in the area.

And let me know your secrets—how do you create your sacred artistic space?

Note: I wrote the original version of this article for the local Boulder-based eco-company, English Retreads.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Key lime pie and that is all except for the so much more

My ex always used to bring me water. Before bed, at a café, wherever—but at night was when it mattered. He did it half-asleep once, in the hours when there is no light, only feet peddling against sheets. Then he drank all of it and got up again to get more. There was never any question.

I carried a key lime pie around my house tonight. For several hours, without eating it.

I carried it from its Whole Foods' bag in the kitchen into my room where I called my ex. He talked, I listened, then I saw the pie sitting on my desk chair. I began to get angry; he was standing in the way of me and my pie. I hung up.

Instead of getting my pie, I almost immediately called another ex. I stopped. I examined why I flew down this reactionary, pie-less path. I got out my journal to write about it.

I wrote, then started creating something that could be a big something. It was going to be called The Purpose Project, but it might not be because of this and these guys. It will be something else. It's in my journal now gestating, growing limbs.

I noticed the pie was still on my chair, but now I had to go to the bathroom. I took my pie into the bathroom, which I realize is gross. It sat on my sink for a while, until I realized I hadn't written in my blog for quite some time, since before the ex was an ex. I brought the pie to my bed, where it is now sitting next to me as I type, looking soggy and more like lemon key pie.

But I am writing. In journals and on keyboards. I am creating although it is just me right now, me and my Monday nights and stacks of books and long, dusty brain-hallways. But how sweet and pie-worthy it all is.

I am eating my pie now. I am thirsty. But I am going to keep eating.