In my wanderings across web world, I often check out sites of wonderful creatives. Something I have noticed is a focus on tools which nurture, energise, and polish creative practice. It seems that one of the most popular ways to do this is to use prompts. I have tried two, one for writing and one for photography. Capture your 365 has a prompt for each day to help you take your daily photograph. Last year, I took part in Laurie Wagner's 27 Days: Writing Prompts to Grow Your Powers, where each day for a month I was sent a prompt to write to.
I found success in both approaches. Having said that, sometimes my photographs each day are not of the prompt. And, I only wrote to about five of the 27 day writing prompts. So how exactly have I been successful?
Because they did (and do) exactly what they are supposed to, for me; cultivating a consistent practice of presence, appreciation and story. They consciously require something of me. Which in turn feeds my creative nurturing, energising, and polishing. Whether I take the specific photo, or write to the specific prompt is in the end irrelevant. Here is what I wrote to Laurie at the end of our 27 days:
"I started off with your writing prompts and did each one for about 5 days. I created a cover for my writing book which took your words - the power of presence, observation, appreciation, story and freedom. And so, I was reminded of what I was doing each time I opened my writing journal. I understood my need to cultivate a writing practice, and to simply write. I probably only completed about 5 or 6 of your prompts, although I did read each one every day. Your prompts gave me the freedom within myself to just write. When I became confident with that, I began to tune into myself - with presence and curiosity. I started to see the things I wanted to write about. So I started to write. You affirmed for me, if you write, you are a writer"
So I thought I would continue to work with on nurturing, energising and polishing my creative practice. Why? For all the reasons above. To be present. To be appreciative. To inject a creative zap! To address some of my perfectionist tendencies. To teach myself something about the art of brevity. Or, perhaps simply to see what happens.
Inspired by Maya Stein's 10 Line Tuesday (Maya has undertaken some amazing literary adventures!), I have come up with a version of creative energising which I hope might work for me. Each week, I will aspire to select (randomly, intuitively, or using my diary) one day of the week when I will practice my Wonder of a Word. On the chosen day, when I wake, I will reach out to my bedside table and take the first book my hand lands on. I open a page and let my finger land on a word. That is my word. It doesn't matter what that word is - 'a', 'the', 'in'; or conversely the longest word I have ever seen. I don't get to go back for a second dip! All words have wonder! Sometime during the day (and not indulging my perfectionist self by taking all day to angst over every minute detail!), I will write 5-10 lines with that word as my focus, and share the results back here with you.
What about this excites me?
The unpredictability and randomness of it.
The joy of seeing and creating something new.
The joy of being able to marvel in the Wonder of a Word.
I will leave you with this ....
Don’t ask yourself if you’re a writer.
Don’t ask yourself if your stuff sucks.
Ask yourself if you’ve written today.
(Laurie Wagner, 27 Powers)