Thursday, June 27, 2013

CREATIVE FLOW and DREAMS


So I was painting this yesterday and it triggered some thoughts I wanted to share.

Whenever I get into a deep creative flow (usually while painting or drawing) all conscious thought fades away and is replaced by a quiet, meditative void. While in this state, my hands and brain are deeply connected, working independently from my conscious mind. As they do so, my mind is free to think about things other than what I am doing with my hands. This state of detached thought is why I love what I do. It's FLOW. Time passes without noticing. Productivity increases. My body and mind essentially remove "ME" from the equation altogether. After a particularly deep flow session, I'll come away from a drawing or painting not really remembering having done it. Of course, I was there the whole time but it was a different part of my brain that was in control and making decisions. 

Recently, I've noticed that random memories from past dreams have been popping up into my mind while I'm in this creative flow. (I'm talking about images, places, and events from dreams from years and years ago that I haven't thought about since - crazy stuff that I didn't even know I remembered!). 

It's believed that your brain does not distinguish dream memories from actual memories. Which is fascinating because they are obviously very different experiences. So I started to wonder: Why is creative flow triggering dream memories far more often than it is actual memories? And furthermore, why are these dream memories virtually inaccessible except while in the meditative state facilitated by creative flow? 

My answer: Perhaps FLOW and DREAMS are the same process, utilize the same brain connective power, and access the same portion of the brain's hard drive.

Think about it: 
- REM sleep creates dreams. 
- Dreams are experiential manifestations of disparate subconscious stimuli, accessed and assembled by your brain while you sleep. 
- It is suspected that dreams act as a training program for your mind, forging connections and confronting challenges/fears/etc, and creating insights you didn't know were there. They provide lessons meant to be carried into your waking life. Essentially, dreaming is a meditative state where you learn through randomly generated experiences. 
- Remembering these dreams after waking creates dream memories
- The brain stores dream memories in the brain just as it does actual memories.
- Dream memories tend to stay hidden until triggered, yet readily surface while in a state of creative flow. 
- Creative flow is a subconscious state that transcends your normal thoughts and unlocks capabilities otherwise hidden. Essentially, it's a meditative state where you learn through doing. 

So I suspect that creative flow is essentially the same unconscious process triggered by REM sleep. In both instances, the brain is randomly accessing subconscious thoughts and memories to forge new connections between them. It's like your brain goes into super computer mode, unlocking powers you don't have in your waking life, making you capable of things you didn't know you were. 

CREATIVITY and DREAMS come from the same brain space.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

KEEP LOOKING UP


Went for a 10-lap walk around the neighborhood (I think it's a little under 2 miles maybe?). On lap 8 I saw a falling star directly ahead of me. Considering all the directions I could have been walking in that moment, it must have been meant just for me. I sketched it to remember that beautiful surprises will find you if you're looking in the right places.

Friday, June 7, 2013

THE WRITING NOOK


I think if you really believe in something, you must do as much as you can to eliminate the barriers preventing you from taking it seriously. Even if it means converting the spare bedroom closet into a quiet place to write. Which is exactly how I spent yesterday afternoon.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of reading and I find myself consistently retreating into the second bedroom to do so. It's bright, cheery, comfortable, and sparse, with a lovely big window that gets great daylight--the complete antithesis to my basement studio. I've definitely been craving the ability to work in a place that's a little less like a cave--- and it was high time to create a place where that can happen!

Little did I know that perfect place would be a closet. I was cleaning it out when it occurred to me that the small folding table already set up in the bedroom would probably fit in there rather perfectly. Turns out it totally does. (Though I had to fold it up and open it once it was in the closet). I can even close the doors and hide the whole thing if need be. But I like to think that the doors will always be open, encouraging and inviting me to return day after day...(yay symbolism!).

Once I got the desk set up, I brought in my writing books and clipped two super bright LED lights to the shelf--and VOILA! Suddenly it became a bright, clean, inspiring little workspace. I picked up a white shadowbox mirror from Target and hung it so that I can stare straight ahead into the reflection of the windows behind me. Almost as good as having a desk by the window. Most importantly, I pinned up some inspiring quotes from my favorite authors so their words can guide me through this exciting but wholly unfamiliar territory!

Today was the first day really using the space, and I must say, it was quite nice.  I pinned up a couple of illustrations to inspire me as I write, along with dozens of handwritten notes with important key words and phrases that I want to keep in the forefront of my mind while I write. Today was also Day 1 in attempting to follow "The Artist's Way." I'm hoping to use it as a way to sort out my priorities, overcome my fears and inhibitions, and open my mind to new learning experiences.  

I flew through my three written "Morning Pages" and could have gone on for hours, but being that I've got 84 more days to write my heart out it's probably best to save some for the rest of the 12 weeks. Writing things down is just so darn cathartic. I'm truly hoping that all this free writing will evolve into free thinking, which in turn will feed the idea generator... At the very least, it gets me into the habit of sitting in my chair with pencil in hand, putting thoughts into words. That's writing, right???

Monday, June 3, 2013

WRITING YOUR FIRST PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT IN 5 EASY STEPS

STEP 1: OPEN YOUR MIND...THEN CLOSE IT
First you need a great idea, and anything and everything can be turned into a great picture book, amIright?

Noooooope.

If you answered otherwise, you might want to take some more time to better acquaint yourself with the children's book industry. Inspiration is everywhere, but good ideas take hard work and proper filtration. It is essential that you feel completely intimidated by your own high standards before you even attempt to latch on to a potential picture book idea.

STEP 2: LET FEAR TAKE HOLD
Ponder your ideas sporadically for at least two, maybe three years. Write NOTHING down. You must earn the right to write by spending as much time as possible being terrified and mystified by the entire writing process. DO NOT attempt to alleviate this panicked state by trying to actually write something. That would be highly logical and therefore completely detrimental to your irrational fear.

STEP 3: CRUSH YOUR EGO
Continue to overwhelm yourself with feelings of inadequacy by reading so many books by authors you admire that you feel like you could never, ever, never ever in a million years actually create something worthy of being read by other people--especially those small humans called children.

STEP 4: GIVE IN
If, after all your self-confidence-diminishing reading and research, your original sprout of a kidlit idea STILL continues to haunt your thoughts like that neglected plant on the window sill slowly withering to death, you might actually have a decent idea for a children's book. And against all odds, you may just have to succumb to writing it down after all.

STEP 5: FORM SENTENCES
Spend one fine spring day in May (but no more than 2 hours) at your computer typing out the first draft of your first manuscript. After all, it's only 500 words - it shouldn't take you all afternoon...

VOILA! Two years of thought and two hours of actual writing and you've finally done it. You've written the first draft of your first ever picture book (apart from that one in college, which doesn't count).  Now, whether your manuscript is good or embarrassingly bad remains to be seen. But you did it!

Congratulations!
You may now proceed to STEP 6:
Creating Your First Picture Book Dummy In 150 Agonizing Steps

TO BE CONTINUED....