If you are a creative – and by that I mean anyone who has a passion for sharing something with the world – you know that the creative process can be elusive. So many things vie for our attention. It can seem impossible to find the time and space to sit down and allow our art to unfold.
I’m writing from Crestone, Colorado, one of the quietest places I know. I originally started spending summers here to be near my teachers and to have a quiet place to practice meditation. I’ve done several long, silent retreats here. Once I bought myself a home here, however, the silence started to speak to me, and I suddenly found I had an urgent need to write.
So now, when I am in Crestone, I practice, and I write.
It’s a fascinating process, dealing with the creative urge. It’s like being ripped apart by wild animals: you have so much inside that needs to be expressed, and an equal amount of resistance assuring you that whatever you have to share is worthless drivel. Torturous, to say the least. Sometimes you want to let the carnivorous animal eat you, and just be done with it. Mostly, I let resistance torment me with endless distractions until I realise what I’m doing (avoiding what I should be doing.) It’s become a practice in itself.
Luckily, the methods I use to distract myself often lead me straight back to my passion. While stirring honey in my tea, I suddenly know how to edit the story in chapter 9. What may appear to be aimless pottering or vacant staring at the horizon are actually the secret practices of an artist, fuelling the fire of imagination. It’s like my wisdom dakini wears a masquerade so that she can speak to my inner demons. They learn to dialogue in that nether world between logic and distraction.
Inviting space for the creative process means learning to set boundaries and let go of whatever inhibits the endeavour.
So I sit at my desk each morning at 9am sharp. It means setting your intention and releasing all that does not support that goal. No internet while the manuscript is open. (I swear.)
But it also means inviting the muse, who is not wooed by rigidity or brute force.
You don’t stalk the muse; you invite her by creating a harmonious environment.
So I edit a short paragraph and then spend an hour organising my shoe closet. Edit a sentence and file the gas bills. Write three words and plant a few bulbs. My house, needless to say, is immaculate, and my (indoor) garden thriving (the outdoor garden is rabbit food.) The carpet is vacuumed and the car washed.
The memoir, on the other hand, still needs help. But each time I uplift my environment, my mind feels more fresh. I intuit new neural connections and a sense of peace. The piece is evolving, without my forcing the process. I write, then clear the mind while I occupy my body organising the environment. I show up, do the work, and then let go. Repeat.
Here is my latest discovery. It is a simple tool of shedding unnecessary baggage, literally. This Japanese woman has created the ultimate method for uplifting your environment. Her book has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks.
If the fruit of a settled mind is creativity, then inviting space for the creative process is simply an extension of order. Let go of distraction and order arises. Get rid of the junk and what is leftover is pristine and spacious and possibly worthy of being called art.
So here’s the experiment: organise the material objects in your life. Maybe this will invoke the harmonious environment that you need to be able to create your masterpiece.
Here is a brief introduction to Marie Kondo’s, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”