Honoring Your Inspiration

January 16th, 2009

The second chapter of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, which I'm reading with a book group here, is all about honoring your inspiration. This is so important and part of the reason why I keep sketchbooks within arm's reach at all times. It may drive the hubster a little nuts because of the excess of paper I have around me, but if I'm having lots of ideas, it's so helpful for me to get them down. For one, I feel better after releasing the ideas from my head and I also capture lots of bits and pieces that I might have forgotten had I not taken the time to sketch, write, or scribble some stuff out.

There's a lot packed into this particular chapter, it ranges from carving out a sacred space, to creative ritual, to play! Yes, according to author, Gail McMeekin, play is an important factor for us creative people! So for you Creative Every Day Challenge participants who have been resisting getting playful, now's the time to give it a go! I'm planning some posts for next week about how to get playful if you're feeling really stuck around it.

At the end of the chapter, there's a challenge about taking a "Creative Style Inventory." I'll share my answers with you here:

  1. When did your creative awakening or reawakening occur? I've always felt like I was a creative person, but there was a period, right after I graduated from art school where I felt a bit dead creatively, like my fire had been put out. It can be hard, especially for us sensitive folks, to go through something like art school and come out the other side feeling good about what we create. I left with the feeling that everything had to be a certain way, a "right" way and as a result, I felt little to no desire to create. Nothing felt good enough. It took me awhile to break free of the art teacher voices I heard in my head when creating. I had to get back to being playful (part of the reason I think play is so important) and I also got back to creating from my intuition (something I'd been discouraged from doing.) I literally got away from the easel and started creating while on the floor, I took classes in intuitive art making, and began to really enjoy the process again. I had to find my way back to the joy in creating, but in a way I'm glad I went through that process as I feel much more in touch with my creative side now than I did before. 
  2. What talents do you have naturally? I think I'm a natural peacemaker, I tend to put people at ease. I'm an artist. I'm good at encouraging others. And I'm naturally silly. :-)
  3. What elements (fire, water, wood, air) draw you toward them? I'm drawn to all of the elements at different times, but I'm drawn most strongly to water. It soothes me.
  4. Where and when do you create? Where and when do you wish to create? I create mostly in my home studio space, but I can create just about anywhere. I create usually in the afternoon and evening and I'm fine with that.
  5. What activates your creative energy, and what drains it? My creative energy is activated by inspiring reading, movement (like taking a walk or yoga), playing, journaling, and taking classes. What drains it is too much time in front of the computer or television, sleeping too long, and overwhelming messes (some mess is o.k., but it can get to a point where I can't handle it anymore.)
  6. Do you use creative rituals? Sometimes. I usually begin creating by closing my eyes, taking a breath, and giving myself permission to make "bad" art. :-)
  7. Does nature influence your creativity? Absolutely! I'm constantly inspired by the forms of nature, the color combinations I see in the world, the cyclic patterns of life. It shows up in my work constantly.
  8. What has been your greatest creative hurdle so far? Probably the one I mentioned in answer to question number 1.
  9. What time of day are you most receptive to inspiration? I don't know that there's a particular time of day...A lot of my ideas seem to come in the evening when I'm feeling a little tired or in the hypnogogic state just before sleep. I think it's because my mind is tired enough to let subconscious imagery slip through which creates some fabulous images for me.

After looking over what I've written, I think what I most need to do is do a little cleaning and clearing in my studio space. I've been slowly tackling it throughout the week, but a more concentrated effort would be a good thing. Makes me want to do one of Jennifer Hofmann's office spa days!

38 Responses

I love how we’re all sharing ideas because your post reminded me that I too keep some writing materials near me all the time. I don’t use the always, but putting pen to paper and letting the idea flow out of me helps me connect and make everything clear again.

You also reminded me how important movement is. I often find that walking/running is the perfect time to think about whatever creative project is throwing up hurdles in my path.

On the other hand, some of my responses are the diametric opposite of yours. I’m a morning person and I usually find water to be more unsettling, while a burning candle brings me into focus.

You’ll love the feeling of clearing out your place and making room for more creativity. I did this just this and made some new sacred spaces. I have more work to do to transform my creative room to a true sanctuary for my muse but I’ve taken the first steps.

Happy cleaning and clearing!

your list reads a lot like mine *will* . . . fun to take these peeks into other’s studios & art lives, isn’t it?? & thanks for sharing the office spa info …

It was lovely and insightful reading your answers, which in many way are a lot like mine. Especially the hypno-groggy state as I call it:)

Your hubbie should be happy it’s just paper around you! I drag gourds, yarn, paints, sweaters, fabric, felt, and yes paper all over the place. There is a stuffed hand on the dining room table, sketches by the bed, gourds in the living room. I have 23 skeins of wool all laid out at work! You should see the sack of junk I drag to work everyday!!! I work for my dad doing embroidery so when the machine is running I have a lot of down time and am stuck in the room. Daddy came in yesterday and I had all the lights off with lights on stands on, tripod and camera out taking pictures of my birds! He just laughed…I WAS still working!
I have been known to sleep with an easle next the bed!!! I drag unfinished canvases to work to stare at all day….hehehe Obsessive? Noooo
Have a great day. S

Learning about different artists’ styles is so fascinating ! You see bits and pieces that make the artistic process universal and others that make it unique to each artist, just like we are as people ! It also gives you new things to try in your own creating ! I love the idea of making rituals before play time. I usually clean first, and then just appreciate the fact that I have this “space” to create in. I think I will add in some gratitude and permission rituals to my creative time.

Thanks as always for you generous sharing, Leah !
Have a cozy creative play weekend !

thanks for sharing. the whole process of creativity is fascinating, and it is always thought provoking to get insights into others’ processes. i started painting at 40 and went to class with the same teacher (she was wonderful- any medium was ok, she encouraged development of your own style and explored lots of things herself) and the same classmates for 8 years nearly every tuesday evening. then kathy was diagnosed with brain & lung cancer and she was gone in a year. i couldn’t paint for the longest time after that, even though i knew it was the way to honor her. then play entered- in the form of a friend who does mixed media and who encouraged me to try different things. it was very freeing, and a good way of getting started again. now several of us from the old class get together and paint on tuesdays, and we’ve grown the circle. and kathy shows up every once in a while. we all inspire each other, and encourage each other to play and try new things.

Oh it’s so true! Sometimes we really have to find our way back to the joy of creating. We can lose it. But we can also find it. Mess drives me a little batty too. I’m always working on that one. Thanks for sharing your secrets!

As I read your post I looked around me and discovered my piles and piles of paper! Ha! Yeahhhhh! But we NEED it around us… it’s part of the stuff that inspires us! Unfortunately I also see that some of my piles are growing on hubby’s desk now too! Time for a little control I think :)
Kim H

hi leah :)
oh what a wonderful post. thank you so much for sharing your journaling. i love reading your insights. you are so inspiring and articulate. i love how connected you are to yourself and the world around you.

Yummt sharing. I am gonna have to do that exercise again and write it out in my journal. Thanks for sharing.

Your post inspires me greatly.
I think that writing ideas down right away is an excellent point. My journals and notebooks are never in reach.
Must make an effort, must do it.

Your posts are full of inspiration, thank you for that!

Thank you for posting this. I’m in the same mode, because I am exchanging what was my creative space with the former playroom in our house. While this means cleaning TWO rooms instead of just one, it will have good results for all of us. I have decided to make it part of my “Creative Every Day,” and to include cleaning as a creative activity. Whatever we have to do can be creative, if we are open to that. I am trying to live from that kind of place.
Blessings to you!

YAH! Thanks for pointing out the glitch. I fixed it.

I love the part about giving yourself permission to make bad art! I think I’ll start telling myself that, too. This sounds like an excellent book – I think I’ll search for it. Writing things down is a good idea because sometimes the ideas come thick and fast! i too am so inspired by the colors and shapes of things in nature. Just being outside tends to fire me up!

Oh thank you for sharing this! This is very helpful. I don’t know since when and how I’ve lost my ability to just play like a child. I really could use some help.

First of all, thanks for your comment on my post. If Leah compares herself to others unfavorably, I feel better immediately. I was standing in my kitchen last night before writing that, looking at your calendar and feeling soooo little. Getting a little affirmation from a creative heroine is just what I needed.

Thank you also for sharing so much of your process here. Alot of it resonates with me, and alot of it sounds like good ideas I could try.

Thanks for sharing this Leah. The Universe winked at me when you wrote, “permission to make ‘bad’ art.” I just made a large sign for my studio space (or soon to be space, I should say) that says “Permission Granted” and filled the interior of the letters with things that I need to grant myself permission for. One was to make bad art. It feels nice to share a similar feat with you…. cuz you know I love you, right…darling… lol

Your answers were interesting. I didn’t know you were taught to do things a certain way, and to ignore intuition. You’ve certainly worked through it.

Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely look into this book–and thanks for sharing your answers to the creative inventory.

Yesterday I posted a photo and description of my new journal cover at Sacred Ordinary as part of Creative Every Day: http://redondowriter.typepad.com/sacredordinary/2009/01/metamorphosis-a-new-sustainability-journal-.html

i love the dream state, this is the time where it all downloads and begs attention.. wake up and write, do it NOW.. ! ::smile:: so I do, or not.

Interesting you mention movement. I just reposted a post from 2005 about creativity and movement:


Without movement, there could be nothing created in this universe. The revolving of the heavens can generate wind, rain, thunder, lightning. The revolving of the earth enables us to have day and night, the very cycle of the weather, the seasons, and the growth of plants. Movement is responsible for creativity.

There’s more at the link.

I love “silly” people!

oh yes yes yes!!! i also have papers and journals and sketch books nearby at ALL times!!! never know when ideas will jump out and beg to be remembered!!! i have a horrible memory… so writing it all down is essential!!! plus like i said in my post on this chapter, it’s inspiring just re-reading or going through my ideas on paper!!!

thank you for sharing your answers leah!!! it was truly wondering to get this insight into your fabulous creativity!!!

peace out

I love the idea of giving myself permission to make “bad art”– for a perfectionist like me, that would be a blessing! Great post.

Oh what a great post – as I’m still waiting for my copy of the book its interesting to now more about the chapter too.

And I just love how you put movement into italics AND made it purple – its a really great way to inspiration!

i love how you often start your creative process by giving yourself the permission to create ‘bad’ art. what a wonderful space to be in… allowing yourself to accept and embrace whatever manifests… i like that… alot.

God, YES, to #1. After art school I had to unlearn talking about art, or thinking about art, that thing at art school where they want to know everything about the piece beforehand, like one should have it all thought out and planned and designed, metaphorically and literally all wrapped up in a neat and clever conceptual package; because it killed my art dead. Doesn’t work that way, at least not for me as a painter of Goddesses.

I had to learn to let it be, to not know what I was doing; and it is the best thing ever when I do a piece of art and only figure out what the ‘meaning’ is afterwards. That’s real, and rich, and numinous, and magical. And helpful, too, from a personal point of view when it comes to working out issues and the like, and learning about my self.

Those voices can be pretty strong though; anything that starts with a “should” has this strange power in such a judgemental culture like ours.

I’m so glad that you rebounded after the hard go of art school and that you’re here, creating a more loving and playful way. And how cool is it to have silliness as a natural talent!

I loved reading your inventory. I like the fact that you are a peacemaker.

Thank you so much for your wonderful post. It actually inspires me to rewrite my post, not because i did it wrong, because i realize that the subject is so very immense and it needs two posts!

As someone who is mainly self taught in art, i often have spurts of feeling like i should really go and get an education. I tried it last year and was reminded that perhaps i should just continue creating art. I was reminded of a teacher who once told me, “If you want to be a teacher you go to school, if you want to be an artist, you go to the stage, or studio and create art.”

I know it’s a general comment, but it really resonated with me.

Look forward to hearing more!

The hypnogogic state’s a great one for me, though inspiration strikes anytime–and if it’s not striking, but I start working anyway, it usually comes AS I work.

This was interesting and fun to read.

Leah, this was so inspiring. I loved getting to know you better, and your creative process, too. The whole idea of play, and intuition, too – they seem to be highlighted in beautiful bright colors for me lately!

I am so happy that this book group is giving me a glimpse into other people’s processes and reactions to the exercise and challenges. There is a uniqueness in each post I read, but the thread of commonality that I’m seeing gives me great encouragement as a woman who is just starting to pay attention to this part of my life.

Oh, how I love your answers! I have trouble with the ‘playfulness’ as well. I find that when I do best is when I realize that no matter how hectic, messy or exhausting life can be, I am still and always me!

Thank you for sharing so much – I look forward to your challenges – I will be coming back to your blog often.

Wonderful and inspiring answers. You’ve encouraged me to think more deeply about my creative process–and to read the book too.

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