To the local coffee shop, the yoga studio, the barn, a restaurant, the ballpark, a friend’s house, the desk at work, the bed, the couch, outside by the pool, the balcony, the truck, even standing in line waiting for the bathroom. I don’t think Dr. Seuss had those destinations in mind, but yes, I have written in all these places, and more. The beach, while walking down the hallway, in a meeting, while riding in a car, talking on the phone, in the bathtub, and at all times of the day and night. When it comes to writing, I’m finding, especially recently, that I can do more when I’m not at my beloved kitchen table. Or even at home, where I have become consumed by this device in my office that feeds me information, more than I can spend several lifetimes attempting to digest, and simply sucks the time, and my motivation, like a thick shake through a straw.
Have you played around with different venues for your creativity? Some people prefer to be in the same place, with a familiar chair, perhaps some classical music on in the background, or complete silence, which is difficult in this age of power yard equipment, garbage trucks, and sirens designed to reach miles in every direction. Do you notice those distractions? What about neighborhood children climbing the tree outside your window, or playing in the street? Birds chirping in the early morning or rain slammed into the windows? Or perhaps you are immune to auditory distractions. Have you noticed your preferences?
It seems that our senses not only collect what is around us in the environment, but also demand things from us as we attempt to work. Besides sounds, how distracted are you visually? I think some people don’t venture afar to create because they will be too absorbed by what they see outside, and therefore refrain from tapping what is inside. What about touch? Do you prefer certain clothes, a particular temperature, a certain chair, to be alone, or with others when you write, draw, or compose? Incense is used by many to help focus the mind during meditation. The smell of pizza, or the stench of trash, has a tendency to momentarily pull me from the story. I also find that I can drink, frou frou coffee, tea, or juice, while working, but I can’t eat. Occasionally, french fries or something simple can be snagged with my left hand and generally make it into my mouth instead of my eye or up my nose, while I write with my right hand. When I’m at an establishment, I do order something, write until it arrives, eat, then continue with my work.
Have you spent the time and effort to discover what nuances your senses prefer when you create? It could well be worth your time. If you don’t want to chance a project you’re working on, that’s alright. Take a sketch pad and walk the docks or in a park or have a seat in a darkened bar in the middle of the day and check it out. Is it too much stimulation? If so, write or sketch what is distracting. Is it the guy at the end of the bar with gold rings and a cross around his neck? The exhaust emitting from the stacks of the ship as it moves against the current? What about the people on the boat or the boat captain? Can you see them? Where are they going? The questions you could ask yourself are more than I can list. Try a few places, a different pair of shoes, Disturbed instead of Vivaldi (or vice versa), popcorn or ice cream, and just notice. More or less effort to work?
The results are many fold. You could narrow down what interrupts the flow or your concentration. These places or noises or smells could be used to bring you out of a ‘creator’s block’. The discovery of a place or taste or sight that fuels the juices that flow through you seeking a way to escape, could well be a delight. Or, like me, you could turn it into a training session. When I first started playing with this, I thought I had to find ‘the place’ and everything else that had to be just so in order for me to create. Anyone who knows me, should be laughing right now. I’m not a ‘just so’ kind of person. I tend to be more allowing, flowing, accepting, wondering, than eliminating or selecting. Now I try to find new places to go, sights and sounds to distract me. Does it? Can I stay tapped in despite the bombardment of sensual input? And when I raise my eyes, check in with the surrounding environment, can I then lock it all out, or set it aside, and dive back into the story, the dialogue, the love scene?
What about you? Play with it. After all, that’s what so much of this is about. Play. Joy. Discovery (or remembering). Be serious, in a focused way, only to do the experiment and notice. What is hard? What is easy? Would you move away from one and towards the other, or linger awhile and see what happens? I would love to hear about your results. In the coming weeks, unless something else steps to the front of the line and demands to be written about, I’ll share my enormous, informational gathering forays with all of you, my fellow creators. About what, you might wonder. Well, you’ll have to tune in to my web site to see, www.myjoyenterprises.com and return to this blog to view the tidbits of what my hours upon hours of study have compiled. Want to know where I’m at in manuscript #5? See my posts on Facebook.