BY DEB LUND
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
March 28, 2014
Sometimes we need shaking up. You can’t do the same thing over and over and keep it creative.
I remember when I first dabbled in white-water kayaking. I’d play in the eddies where it was safe. As I got braver, I’d inch out a little farther each time, until I got to the point where I would intentionally go under to practice my roll.
Dabbling is okay, but eventually you have to jump into the flow. To feel the exhilaration of something seemingly more powerful than you. Something that takes over—makes you aware, present, alert. To find that place where you can tilt the nose of your kayak into a hole—the swirling water that holds you at its edge as you balance there. The energy working you. The churning waters. The creative space.
We need shaking-up moments, and we’ll get them whether we want them or not. What if we planned them ourselves instead of being resigned to take what comes our way?
For years I’ve taught workshops and presented at conferences, libraries, and schools with a single homemade deck of cards created to help writers find unique ways to add tension to their stories. Soon they’ll be available to anyone. I call the set of cards and guidebook “Fiction Magic: Card Tricks & Tips for Writers.”
New ways. New directions. Twists and turns or entirely new streams to conquer.
Here’s the idea behind the cards: The “tricks” help increase the tension in stories as the “tips” help reduce the tension in the writer’s writing life. It’s a combination of my writing teaching and my creativity coaching. But honestly, most of my clients think they need help with their craft when their greatest need is to understand how creativity works.
That was true for me, too, and I’m guessing it’s probably the case for most of us.
The most creative work we do comes from our core. From balancing at the edge of the whirlpool. From the place where order emerges from the chaos.
The cards in the Fiction Magic deck have prompts that get people thinking beyond their usual choices. I’ve seen manuscripts almost instantly come alive when writers pull out these cards and apply the prompts. But there’s nothing magical about the prompts. It’s what they trigger in the person reading them. It helps them add tension. Pushes them and their characters into the stream.
We have to shake up and wake up to create. I’m not just talking about writers here. I know you other artists can easily translate what I’m saying to your art—all art is translation, and we create from the same waters.
Too many writers and artists give up, think they can’t do it, need a nudge or someone to toss them a lifesaver. I’m humbled, watch in awe as people support my Kickstarter project, as they grab my kayak and help me right it. And then I start noticing how this practice of trying something new is opening me to other options, strengthening commitments to my goals, helping me raise my voice over the turbulence to yell, “I can do this!”
This whole Kickstarter thing makes me anxious. But I know and keep having it confirmed that anxiety is part of the creative process. It clears us for new understandings.
New ways. New directions. New plans. Here’s what I’ve noticed my recent anxieties have done for me…
I’m clearing my plate for more creativity coaching because it feeds me in ways nothing else can. I’m reaching out to people who have information and skills I don’t have in order to add to my middle-grade historical fantasy novel. I’m coaching and consulting more, and critiquing more manuscripts for clients. And I’m beginning the adult novel I’ve played with in my head for longer than I want to admit. I’m taking an intensive writing workshop to support myself on this quest. It’s spring and the water can’t be stopped. It’s calling.
Take a risk. There’s always a ‘V’ in the water that shows you the best path. That’s all you get. You can’t know the rest. Just follow that ‘V’ where it leads. It’s the vein you need to open, the vision that becomes clear, the veil that’s lifted if you just go where you need to go.
It’s not as scary as you might think.
When you slip your kayak into the stream, the water carries you. You believe you’ll be pulled under, and you might be, but the rocks are cushioned with flowing water, so when you slip under, you just reset your paddle and pull yourself up. My rule was always to try three times before I crawled out of my kayak. But I always climbed back in.
If you can ride the energy of that water, you’ve got it made. New ways. New directions. New determination.
What needs shaking up in your world? What’s already shaking you up that you can harness? What new ways or directions are calling you? Find that still place in the midst of chaos. Then grab your kayak. I’ll meet you down by the stream.
These days, Deb Lund dabbles in the arts more than in whitewater. She’s an author, teacher and creativity coach. Learn more about her at www.deblund.com and check out her Kickstarter project before it’s too late.
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