Recently in an interview, I was asked if I did anything specific to get my creative juices flowing. As I answered, I thought this would make a good discussion topic. I’ll share my methods and hope to learn what other writers do.
Artists of all types often talk about entering a creative zone where they are inspired, focused, and do their best work—when their muse is happy. However the challenges and stresses of daily life tend to cut us off from our creative natures, making that "zone" hard to access.
I’m fairly addicted to exercise, but not any type just for fitness. I prefer the varieties that open and calm my mind. I find when my thoughts of everyday worries quiet, the plot of my WIP swells to the surface, and I always solve whatever scene issue I need to address.
My choices of mind-expanding exercise include yoga, cycling, hiking, and kayaking. Being outdoors is a wonderful way to allow my mind to open to a wider viewpoint. The beauty and complexity of nature is so vast, my concerns melt away. As a fantasy writer, I imagine portals to other worlds everywhere and wildlife plants and animals become fascinating characters.
Yoga also quiets my mind to foster creative thought. It can be an invaluable tool to help find the kind of internal peace that allows for inspired imagination and creativity. It’s as though the creative impulse seems to be activated as soon as there's a little breathing space in my mind. Sometimes it feels as if the idea, or the solution to some vexing problem, was waiting patiently all along, just out of reach, until my mind stopped churning in its breathless quest for an answer. I’ve never once failed to solve a plot problem using this method.
"Creativity is actually the living, breathing essence of your Self," says Sianna Sherman, an Anusara Yoga instructor who teaches internationally. To tap into it, you simply need to make space for it. Kundalini Yoga teacher Hari Kirin Khalsa, who is also a painter, wrote in Art & Yoga: "When you're under stress, you're contracted and fearful. Everything is black and white. You're not intuitive; you're instinctive. You can't think outside the box." But by practicing asana, pranayama, meditation, or devotional chanting, she says, you can shift out of that stressful state and connect with your imaginative, spacious Self. "Yoga opens up the flow of creativity, the unfurling of the creator within."
I’ve practiced yoga almost daily for thirteen years, and I still find new things to discover about it and new ways to apply it to my life as a writer. Lately, I’ve been learning the joys of hot yoga. It cleanses the mind in a whole new way, and leaves me even more open to create. As a fantasy writer, the mystical side of yoga is especially appealing, giving me greater appreciation for the connectedness of all living energy. I definitely weave that feeling of flowing energy into my fantasy worlds.
What do you do to get your creative juices flowing?