Question Everything

   As creative beings, it is in our nature to be curious. Whether it is the colors of a leaf, the way the feathers of a bird are situated, why a young child has blonde hair when both parents have dark hair, or what kind of information a dog gets from sniffing every bush and lamp post, we ask how and why and where and when. The answers are what fuel our creativity, feed our muse. If there comes a time when we see an overflowing garbage can and not think of the people who placed the trash items there, or what happens to the things once they take a ride in a trash truck, then we lose touch with what helps us to ‘see’ differently than those who choose not to be creative.

   In a previous post, I’ve invited you to ask yourself why you write and for whom you write for. When investigating anything we see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or think about in our environment, we exhaust the basic five ‘W’ questions, plus the ‘H’ of how. We can ask what happened before, that landed this item in our path, or what might become of it later. We’ve even changed our perspective and asked ourselves how that item would see us or the world around it. In going about creativity from the heart, there seems to be endless possibilities. But some of our artistic kinsfolk balk at inviting their muse to play. So in this post, I’m asking you to be more brain centered, than heart centered.

   Begin by staring at a blank computer screen or piece of paper. Yes, even if you play the trumpet, paint, draw, sculpt, cook, take pictures, or dance, step out of the space that you are and anchor yourself firmly in the left hemisphere of your brain. On the top of the page (remember, we’re doing this logically and orderly; no bubble maps or little doodles) begin with ‘What if I . . . then it would . . . ‘. Not a complete question, but an indirect one that forces us to complete the question/statement in words, regardless of what our mind gives us.  Write down whatever thoughts you have, even changing the second half if needed. For example:

What if I quit writing this blog, then would it matter?

What if I decided to not be a vegetarian, then I would encourage the mistreatment of the environment.

What if I walked naked through the parking lot, then would I burn my feet on the asphalt?

What if I gave away all my possessions, then would I be a guru?

What if I found my soul mate, then would I finally be happy all the time?

   Write as many as you can. A timed session or a filled page or until you feel exhausted from the exercise. Keep writing. Don’t stop, even if you think your ‘What if’s’ are lame. This exercise can do several things. One, it forces us to face what many artists would consider the most daunting: a blank page. It might pull out some stuck issues, something that you perhaps choose not to look at. It may be that your left brain comes up with all logical ideas, but don’t be surprised of flights of fancy find their way into your list. Let your page sit for a day or so, then come back to it and pick one sentence or statement. Start with that, and see where your right brain decides to take you. Writing even a few sentences will create a feeling. It could be sad, happy, angry, depressed, frustrated, a feeling of being insignificant, or a sense of expansion. If your medium is something other than writing, take that feeling and put it on the canvas, create dance steps to express the feeling, pound or tickle the keys of your piano, but do something with the energy that was tapped into by your list of ‘left brain’ questions.

   Similar to the above activity, try completing this fifty times: ‘If only . . . then . . .’ For example:

If only I won the lottery, then I could be on a permanent vacation.

If only I could reach more readers, then they could enjoy my books.

If only I was an extrovert, then radio talk shows wouldn’t be so scary.

If only we could love each other, then there wouldn’t be any wars.

If only we could forgive ourselves for perceived wrongs, then there would be more love in the world.

If only people would allow themselves to play, then more of the population would be content.

   Again, let your list sit for a day. Pick one and write about it. If your right brain just won’t stay on the bench, give yourself permission to dance, sing, doodle, sketch, or rhyme what the situation would look like if your ‘If only . . . then’ were to come true. Just for fun, write the reverse. For instance, “If only people would work more, then they would be less content.” How would that look? Are people in the U.S. capable of working more than they already do? How would that change the American society? What would happen to plants and pets and creativity? Investigate on paper or canvas or wooden floor or with musical notes.

   The real assignment here may not be about making the lists or questioning everything. It may be about how you create, how your brain and mind and heart aren’t really separated. Maybe it’s about facing a nemesis, a blank page, and instead of enticing the muse, be cerebral. Or perhaps what you’ll discover is that regardless of what medium you choose or method you employ, whatever moves through you and onto the paper or canvas or out the instrument, is as unique and worthy as you are.

   I’ve neglected to write a post the past two weeks because all of my effort was focused on completing my fifth manuscript titled, Of Art and Air. It is the first in a trilogy. Like the rest of the stories to clamour for my attention and demand to be birthed, it is an Action-Adventure Romance novel that touches on social issues that many of us choose to ignore. Since my typist hasn’t finished, I don’t know how many pages it will be, but I do know that this one was a little tougher than the previous four. I questioned whether the story would be good enough. I argued with my critic about word choice and how much detail to include and how long to make the chapters. I questioned if I would even complete the story. So, for the past seven months I’ve been hanging out in the left brain, except for those times when that was pushed roughly aside and the muse-energy flowed stronger than any ego-derived thoughts. It will be those portions of the story that will not have to be edited much or tweaked with rewriting. I did question everything, as I do when I step away from the piece to edit it for the reader, but it comes down to trust. To trust that what I am directed to create is what is supposed to be. And so with manuscript #5 completed, I turn my attention to editing #4, Of Prophesies and Promises. It will be in print next month, and available at a pre-publishing price on my web site I am interested in those of you willing to risk a little time and perhaps discover some truth of your own. Try the activities above, then leave a comment about how it worked for you.