Hello, True Believers!
Today's post is all about a common road block we can encounter in our creative life. The idea of the perfect place for creative practice, and what that looks like, as well as what to do when you don't have one.
Now, I wear my creative endeavors on my sleeve for a reason, and it's not the selfish need for reinforcement and praise, though that really is a nice byproduct. I do this to help support all those people in my life who tell me over and over again that they'd love to do something, be it paint or write or take up photography. It's so easy to talk yourself out of taking the risk of putting words on a page, scenes on a canvas. What I try to do is show you that it can be done. You can build a satisfying, creative life that will enhance your life as a whole, make you a better person, help you bring joy to those around you.
I mean, come on, I just wrote a story about a guy fighting a fifty foot chicken, do you really think anything you make is going to be sillier than that? Be brave.
Many of you know I'm a big fan of Austin Kleon's work. Each week he publishes a very nice newsletter that's high on nice content, low on self-promotion. Recently, he wrote about the idea of the Bliss Station, that special place that you must keep sacred as your own. A special room or part of a room or separate location where you get to disconnect form the world and make something new. It's a great article, so use that link above and read it.
That bliss station looks different for different people. Pottery and woodworking really require some kind of station to work with your materials, access your tools and fashion something. For photographers that I know, it's about being in the darkroom or at the computer and seeing if the moment that was seen through the lens is captured on the paper or the screen.
So what if you don't have that space? Austin's article has a nice perspective that's very aligned with my own creative practice, which I'd like to share today.
I always dream of having that ultimate writer's desk that looks out on my yard, has tons of inspiring pictures, knick-knacks, whatever. A place i can walk in, blast music and get down to work.
But I ain't got it. Not like that. My place is portable. Simply, it's the 5"x 8" notebook that's become my go to writing tool. My artistic indulgence is a high quality line notebook, regardless of price, and an affordable fountain pen. Really, there's nothing like the feel of letting ink fly from a fountain pen on good paper. The great thing about this combination, is that it naturally lends itself, with the addition of a rubber band, to a nice kit that I can take with me wherever I go. I never know when I'm going to have a few minutes, so I always keep one handy.
Black & Red notebook and Lamy Safari Simple Moleskine notebook and a nice
fountain pen Kaweco Sport fountain pen
That's the notebook for "The Just sitting in the yard...creating.
"Half Moon Hotel Stories"
Since I don't really have the space, I really let the notebook be the space. I guess I'm lucky in that I'm usually able to work on multiple projects at once, depending on which one is exciting me at the time. I can put a story down for a few days or a few weeks, and pick up pretty much where I left off. It's an act of artistic discipline and concentration, and for some reason, that seems to be part of my gift. More about my schizophrenic process another time. The big take away is to know that there are ways it can be done.
So really, those times with the notebook, that's my version of the bliss station that Austin Kleon talks about. My practice is about stealing moments and getting that 500 words a day on paper. It's about giving myself permission, while I'm hanging in the yard waiting for burgers to cook on the grill, or waiting in the car to pick the kids up from practice, to feel the fun, the excitement of creating.
So really, you don't need a studio or an office. If you have one, great, keep it, don't ever give it up. However, if you don't, you really can take a few simple tools and enrich your life with them.
The key is to:
1) Make them easy to access. My kits are just laying on the bookshelf under my nightstand. I make a choice every morning about what I'm excited about and I being it with.
2) Bring them with you. Really, people won't ask why you have a notebook in you hand or on the front seat of your car. Remember, everyone's wrapped up in their own stuff. They don't care that your personal path to Nirvana is right there. Just bring it with you. There's nothing more frustrating, I can tell you, than having a kick-ass idea and not having a way to get it down in some kind of real form.
3) Create! Scratch that pencil on the page. Make the sentences. Build the stanzas. Draw the view in front of you or the movie in your head. Just give yourself permission to do it. You deserve to feel the rush of creativity. You want to do, so do it.
4) Create wherever you are. Like hanging at the pool? Create there. Riding on the commuter train? Create. People are running late for a meeting? Grab the notebook and create. You don't have to finish it right then and there. But a little progress is still progress. Inches at a time, your thing will happen.
Okay, True Believers, I hope your inspired to go make something, and can see that it's easier than you think. There's no perfect time, so go ahead and do it now.
Maybe I should take my own advice...
A man who loves to write.