I feel like writing. I should be using this feeling to get started on my experiential portfolio, or my analysis of leadership styles as demonstrated in the movie “Twelve Angry Men” (you should watch it, if you haven’t already). I think this is part of my “process”, though.
In her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharp talks about how she has established rituals that organically move her, without thinking, through her creative process. She starts every day by getting in a cab and going to the gym. The ritual is the cab, not the gym (though she mentions that her creativity is tied to heat). It’s a thing that is the catalyst for the creativity to come, but not directly related to the creativity itself. It’s the thing that she relies on, every day, to make sure she maintains her “creative habit”.
Upon reading that, I got to thinking about what my “thing” may be. I know what I would LIKE it to be – a physical place. A SPOT, where when I enter I am faced with days stretched before me with no obligation other than to create (which I guess means I’d like time, too). Yoga pants and a desk at a window, coffee and a breeze. A place that is mine, that has notebooks scattered around and pushpins in the walls. A window seat with a view, birdsong and whispering trees the only background noise. When I HAD that spot (well, sans the yoga pants and whiteboard – holy crap on a cracker, were whiteboards even INVENTED when I was nineteen??? Breathe, Tiffany…) I would sit, let my mind wander, and gaze out the window. Often times I would look down and see jots and doodles, words and phrases penciled into my notebook without being aware that I had been writing at all.
I wrote a lot of short stories back then. A LOT of them. I had notebooks full of ideas, stories in various states of completion, phrases and paragraphs scattered around. I can’t quite remember the last time I wrote fiction. Back when I was running The Storyteller, I guess (I still kind of like this one). My writing has been, for years now, prosaic. Stream-of-consciousness, like now. Instructive, like on Beyond Megapixels. Formal, for school. For all of their prose, though, there’s nothing that says they aren’t creative. I’m okay with that, though I had to arrive at that conclusion almost by force. For some reason, for a long time I thought creative writing had to equal “fiction”. Stupid, I know, but it was the automatic mindset that I had for YEARS. Now I’ve come to realize it’s the comfort of words that I need, whether it be the structure of an assignment or the recounting of a weekend. The very act of stringing words together to form cohesive thoughts is creative.
I just like words. I like putting them together. Whether or not they speak to anyone else, they satisfy something in ME, and that’s the point.
So, back to rituals. I can’t really capture anything of what I described before, here in Arizona. I do have a room to myself with a whiteboard and a couple of desks, though it’s more utilitarian than my ideal. It’s more of studio and a place to WORK, rather than a place to create. I’m okay with that, too. It’s a functional area for when I need a functional area.
The only atmosphere that I can dictate that is FUNDAMENTALLY necessary is quiet. I can close myself in the bedroom, lock myself in a conference room, snag a lawn chair out back, or even plug noise-cancelling earbuds into my ears. Once it’s quiet, the itch to write begins. Take now, for instance. I reached a lull in my work, sat for a moment in the quiet bedroom, and thought, “I feel like writing.” I didn’t really know about what, yet, but the excerpt from “The Creative Habit” that I read for school stuck in my head. So, I did the most elementary thing that there is to do as a writer – I wrote about writing.
While I’m writing, I’m percolating. I find it very strange, in a way that I choose not to question, that writing about something else helps me get in the rhythm to write about what I’m “supposed” to be writing about. Maybe it’s the process of putting words together – kind of like how doing some jumping-jacks makes it easier to start jogging. A mental stretch and a mind-muscle warm-up to get the momentum going.
I don’t know why I want to struggle to make my writing ritual seem “more” than that. Silence and a warm-up before getting down to business. It’s what works. It’s mine. It happens without thought.
Writing is my ritual.