Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

C- Creativity…Motivational Quotes A-Z Challenge.

“Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for business

people looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for

engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents

who want their children to see the world in more than

one way.”

-Twyla Tharp

Welcome back to my series on Motivational Quotes for writers and creatives. When it came to choosing a word for C, it was  a toss up between commitment and creativity and perhaps I should’ve gone for a different quotes from choreographer, Twyla Tharp:

“Creativity is a habit, and the best

creativity is the result of good work

habits.”

Twyla Tharp

Of course, commitment would be a good work habit.

Personally, I feel creativity also needs to involve some kind of spark, flair, magic. Of course, we all know that person who is as boring as bat shit and can suck the life out of even the most fascinating subject and conversely those creatives who take the most mundane and ordinary people and everyday processes, and zap them with some kind of magic wand which truly brings them to life. Produces gripping fascinating stories out of nothing. In this sense, creativity involves finding a kind of twist in the story. A perspective which is unique and breathes new life into something we’re head before…a little lateral thinking or honing in on an obscure detail or fact.

Acclaimed author, Elizabeth Gilbert also sees curiosity  as an important stepping stone towards creativity. This is a lengthy quote but well worth reading in full:

“I am a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity. You’ve maybe heard me talk about this before? We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. In seasons of confusion, of loss, of boredom, of insecurity, of distraction, the idea of “passion” can feel completely inaccessible and impossible. In such times, you are lucky to be able to get your laundry done (that sometimes feels as high as you can aim) and when someone tells you to follow your passion, you want to give them the middle finger. (Go ahead and do it, by the way. But wait till their back is turned, out of civility.)

But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach.

Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…”

Passion is rare; curiosity is everyday.

Curiosity is therefore a lot easier to reach at at times than full-on passion — and the stakes are lower, easier to manage.

The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?

For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.

Small steps.

Keep doing that, and I promise you: The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion.

And that’ll be the end of boredom.”

What are your thoughts on creativity? Is it something which comes easily to you? Or, more of a struggle? If you are taking part in the challenge, please leave a link to your posts belong.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Why Write?

“All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a POLITICAL purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.”

-George Orwell, Why I Write

Among all of the questions writers chew over and recycle, the one I keep coming back to both in my own mind and in the works of other writers is this: “Why do I write?”

Here I am reading at about age 5 or 6...good preparation for becoming a writer.

Here I am reading at about age 5 or 6…good preparation for becoming a writer.

While plagued with writer’s block or struggling to rub two coins together, we really do have to wonder why we do it to ourselves. Why don’t we just go and get a real job?

Why, indeed.

Yet, when things are going well and we are in the zone and each and every one of our senses is fully activated and alive and the most amazing stuff just flows onto the page and we actually resolve some of those inner conundrums and make real progress then we know. We know why we put ourselves through it.

Reciting my poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop in Paris in July, 1992. I had a little black book with my poems in.

Reciting my poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop in Paris in July, 1992. I had a little black book with my poems in.

There is no more thrilling adventure than the creative journey. Whether it is expressed in words, paint, photography, fabric etc; the creative journey is incredibly thrilling and stretches our imagination, knowledge and often even our physical body beyond what we ever thought possible. It is pure electricity.

Writing poetry at the Hotel Henri IV, Paris July 1992. Love this photo!

Writing poetry at the Hotel Henri IV, Paris July 1992. Love this photo!

So why do I write?

I write because I am a writer. Writing is what I do. For me, writing is like breathing. I’ve been doing it seriously since I was a teenager reciting dreadful poetry about romantic rejection on the bus after school. Indeed, since I was 11 years old and Mum taught me how to spell enthusiastic and gave me my Roget’s Thesaurus. I knew, even way back then, that I wanted to be a writer! I knew who I was.

Writing in my journal while waiting to see my rheumatologist. What are the results going to be? Jan 2014.

Writing in my journal while waiting to see my rheumatologist. What are the results going to be? Jan 2014.

However, pursuing that further, why is writing like breathing for me when for someone else, it’s more like a heart attack and they’d struggle to write more than a paragraph in a life time? What determines that distinction? What makes me write and write and write. Indeed, to keep writing long after my physical body has all but fallen asleep just to get the story out? Yet, that someone else can live quite happily without ever writing a word.

Foot Writer

Foot Writer- all pose, of course!

But out of where? My head? My heart? My soul? Moreover, is it even my story to tell or does it belong to the muse? God? Where are all these ideas coming from?

Isn’t that one of our eternal conundrums and part of the writer’s quest? !!

Writing in my journal at Palm Beach yesterday. I was so focused on the view I didn't even notice the DVD player on the table. I was in the zone.

Writing in my journal at Palm Beach yesterday. I was so focused on the view I didn’t even notice the DVD player on the table. I was in the zone.

Moving on a little further, is there a distinction between someone who writes privately for themselves and those writers who see writing is as a vocation and for them, if they don’t publish, they shall surely perish?

Personally, I do believe that writing with a view to publication is a different ball game and I guess this is why I am getting to  with this title. Why jump through hoops and push yourself beyond survival in the same way a marathon runner  pushes their mind, body and spirit beyond breaking point with the faith (or is it simply hope) of reaching the finish line. For writers, financial security is usually a pipe dream and we somehow survive on thin air and relationships with our nearest and dearest can become severely strained as our focus fixates on the laptop, word count and the intricacies of fictional characters instead of those we say we love. After all, writing usually demands silence or at least a sense of peace and that really doesn’t sit well with physical human interaction.

What follows is a big of a debate: Why write: the case against and Why Write: the Affirmative. I’d love to generate a bit a discussion happening so please comment, debate, disagree and provide links to relevant posts

This has been W for Why Write for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

xx Rowena

Buying Time

This morning I finally took the plunge and bought myself some more time. Actually, I bought more thyme.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Very funny! While I know that pun is the very lowest form of wit, I’ll blame the rain. It’s been raining for days and days. My brain’s gone soggy and needs more sunlight to function properly.

But wouldn’t we all like more time? Isn’t that the Holy Grail we’re all madly trying to find? Some almost magical way of buying more time, even though we know there are only 24 hours in a day?

I know I’d certainly like more time!! Particularly now that I’ve had to accept that time is a limited resource. It doesn’t stretch. Like the sands through the hour glass, it just runs out. That’s it. Poof! It’s all gone!

This came as a bit of a rude shock to me. I don’t know about you but I’ve always treated time as a fairly flexible resource. Squeeze something in here. Jam something else in there. I’ve also had my watch set five minutes fast, so I could always squeeze in that one last thing before I bolted out the door. I can also run a little late, which is another way of buying just a little more time.

However, as the school bell rudely reminds me very morning, time is fixed.

Well, that might be what the so-called experts believe but I’ve finally found a loophole. I’ve proven them wrong. Not by buying myself some thyme. Rather, I’ve just done some very simple mathematics.

You see, if you want more hours in the day, you simply subtract them from the night.

Wake more…sleep less.

As I said, it’s a very simple equation…all very basic mathematics. An equation so delightfully simple that even the most mathematically challenged can get it.

I always knew I was clever…a veritable genius! I just needed to find my thing.

Ssh! This has to be our little secret. At around 9.30PM when my husband starts thinking of going to sleep, I conversely start to wake up. I make myself a cup of decaf tea, ostensibly to unwind before going to bed. Of course, it takes time to cool down. So instead of turning off my laptop and actually letting my brain slow down , unwind and  prepare for sleep, it actually fires up again. Inspiration hits and suddenly I’m typing at whirlwind speeds and the ideas are really flowing. Of course, it’s the very best writing that I’ve ever done and I don’t want to lose “the moment”. If you write, you’ll understand just how precious “the moment” can be. When inspiration hits, you’ve got to catch it. Get it down anyway you can before it gets up and leaves and goes somewhere else. (Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, gave a fabulous  TED Talk about creative inspiration: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html)

I write and write and write until all that inspiration has well and truly dried up. I only stop when the words are starting to merge and blur together and I can’t tell the difference between a verb and a noun. By this point in time, instead of capturing all those pearls of wisdom, I’ve actually deleted them and nothing makes much sense in the morning!! I’m just left with a pile of gobbledegook. This, of course, is the danger of stealing too much time. Unfortunately, it seems you can borrow a little bit of time but you need to pay it back. You can’t keep it indefinitely!

Sadly, like most good theories, there’s a catch…no  free lunch. You pay for it. In this particular scenario, it’s called sleep deprivation. There’s that magic balance between wake and sleep and when you deduct too much from one of side of the equation, the whole thing topples down taking you down with it. Did you know that seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%? That means that if you were driving a car, you could actually kill someone!! That’s rather scary. We push ourselves further and further beyond the brink of sleep deprivation and that’s where we can end up. It’s not pretty. Not pretty at all and contrary to my earlier boasts, it’s not smart. It’s not smart at all.

In the Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwarz argues that “sleep is more important than food”. That we could survive a week without food but we couldn’t survive a week without sleep.  He quotes former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin who wrote about the experience of being deprived of sleep in a KGB prison in his memoir White Nights : “In the head of the interrogated prisoner a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep … Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it.” http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/03/sleep-is-more-important-than-f.html

The case for getting an early night was mounting but this was the real clincher. Schwarz goes on to quote Anders Ericcson’s famous study of violinists which found that top violinists also reported that except for practice itself, sleep was second most important factor in improving as violinists. The top performers slept an average of 8 ½ hours out of every 24, including a 20 to 30 minute mid-afternoon nap. That is some 2 hours a day more than the average American.

Humph!! Could sleep deprivation possibly explain some of the difficulties I’ve been having mastering my violin lately? For my husband, Geoff, it was a no-brainer: “Are you surprised? You are exhausted. You can’t keep the bow going straight!”

Alright! Alright! Maybe I’m starting to concede that things are having to change. The trouble is how? We all do things we know are bad for us, even when we know they are slowly killing us but how do we stop?

I could start by totally reprogramming my thinking. Tell myself how much I hate and even loathe that 30 minutes of total me time where I bask in absolute, beautiful blissful  silence each night. Tell myself I hate that final, lingering cup of tea and that I especially hate any Tim Tams or stray pieces of evil chocolate which might happen to stray across my path late at night.

But is it wrong to lie, even if it is for your own good?

Staying up late feels way too good to give it up even though it’s really bad for my health, relationships and mental state. It’s probably not even that good for my writing.

So if I know all of this why don’t I stop? Why can’t I change?

It’s like eating broccoli. You know it’s good for you. You know it prevents cancer and does all these other wonderful things but you just don’t like it. But then sometimes, something comes along and forces you to change. It’s like being pushed straight up the side of a mountain…a mountain you never, ever wanted to climb.

You see as much as I love those moments of very precious solitude, even I have to admit that I’m exceptionally tired. I sleep for at least an hour most days, no doubt catching up for what I’ve lost late at night. But I’m still not entirely convinced.  My auto-immune disease causes extreme fatigue.  I also blame my lungs which have been down to 50%. Not getting enough oxygen, can also make you tired and give you brain fog. But even taking all these possibilities into consideration, I should be going to bed earlier. Make the supreme sacrifice. After all, I’m supposed to seize the day, not the night!!

This has all become a bit tragic because I had no intention of going to bed earlier when I started this post. It’s just been a miserable, wet couple of days and I bought myself some thyme. Thought I’d photograph it for the blog as a bit of a joke because like most of us, I would really like to buy some more time. I have also had some scares with my health where I’ve wanted to buy some serious time. Sticking to the nitty gritty like going to bed and choosing the broccoli feels boring but if that’s what it takes to truly seize the day and possibly even save my life, perhaps it’s time for me to seriously play ball.

I’m getting myself a star chart and a serious reward. This time I mean business!

A keen gardener

A keen gardener?

Moving from time to thyme, the sag of my thyme plant continues. I used to be quite an avid gardener but we’ve had drought, water-restrictions and busyness. I don’t tend to buy many plants these days but every now and then I succumb. Despite my protestations, they generally end up thirsty and near death thanks to neglect. Every time I buy a new plant, I promise to do a better job but sadly history repeats itself. But…but…I am determined for this plant to live and to live life abundantly!!

Mister helping to plant the thyme.

Mister helping me plant the thyme.

To give it the very best chance of success, Mister and I headed out to the worm farm and filled the pot up with the best soil I’ve ever seen. It was so beautifully rich in nutrients. Our thyme plant surely has to flourish.

The last word on thyme goes to this folk song a friend sang to me after school this afternoon when I mentioned my post. I’ve just included a couple of verses but you can click through to read the whole song.

Let No Man Steal Your Thyme

For thyme it is a precious thing
And thyme brings all things tae your mind
Time wi’ its labours alang wi’ all its joys
Oh time brings a’ things tae an end

Come all ye maidens young and fine
All ye that are bloomin’ in your prime
It’s aye be aware and keep your gardens square
Let no man steal awa’ your bunch of thyme

http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/l/letnoman.html

Any thoughts?

xx Rowena