Our 5 Step Process For Entering the Creative Flow…
There have been several times over the past decade, when I have committed myself for periods of time to this daily practice. Particularly during difficult times when life got complicated, I felt overwhelmed, or was working through grief and loss. I share this only to say that this practice is simple but potent in its ability to get creative and emotional energy flowing, keep it moving, and find a more peaceful heart toward our creative work, our life, and our self.
I invite you to return to it again and again too, as needed. Or perhaps you might adopt it as the opening ritual for your existing creative practice. Keeping creative energy flowing is ideal, as the longer we step away from doing creative work, the more the energy tends to stagnate… sometimes coming to a near halt altogether.
I also want to give credit where credit is due. This practice is largely inspired by the pioneering morning pages of Julia Cameron, in her book The Artists Way. If you have yet to read it, I highly recommend you do. It is truly a balm for the creative soul. Gratitude to the creatives who have been walking this path before us, calling us forth into our own spiritual and creative awakening.
With that, let’s begin…
1. Commit to a time each day that you will do your practice. (approx. 30min.) I suggest doing this practice at the same time each day to add some direction and willpower to the practice. Sometimes when we say we are going to do a practice ‘at some point every day’, the ambiguity of not having a specific time commitment undermines our ability to follow through. Many of my students share that this is a common reason why they stopped making art… it was difficult for them to find the time. So let’s give it the space it deserves and needs.
When I am working with this process, I commit to first thing in the morning, just like a meditation practice. I find that doing this ensures it takes priority, and also sets my day up to flow from a creative, intentional place.
(check out my brief writeup on setting sacred creative space, in the bonus materials area, before your first day of painting)
2. Begin your creative practice with a short meditation (10min). as a simple way to both mark your intention to be present to the creative process, and begin to tune inward to your creative center.
I invite you to listen to the centering practice on the meditations page before referring to your daily prompt. This will help you tune into a neutral state of listening first, by acknowledging how you are showing up to your creative practice with compassion. Instead of fighting was is happening within you, practice noticing your inner weather without judgement. And as a teacher once said to me…. and if you find yourself judging yourself, don’t judge yourself for judging yourself.
Find yourself a quiet, comfortable place to sit, and press play…
3. Written reflection on the daily prompt (5 min). This step is particularly inspired by morning pages from The Artists Way.
Begin by reflecting on the corresponding daily prompt below, writing stream of consciousness onto a piece of mixed media paper.
Stream of consciousness means simply; no punctuation required, free flow of thoughts as they arrive, without self editing. The key here is to listen, and allow, allow, allow. Sometimes these writings will feel boring, sometimes whiney, sometimes emotional, sometimes profound, sometimes coming so fast it is difficult to write fast enough. No matter, this flow of our inner world into the outer world and on to paper, begins to free us up in places that have had our creative energy on lock-down.
For the purpose of this course, I have created 7 prompts to offer some structure for your entrance into this practice. If you continue to utilize this practice beyond these 7 days, I encourage you to simply show up with curiosity and compassion, listen for what is present in your heart, and flow from here.
Sometimes I take a photo of these writings, and sometimes they are not meant for sharing or savouring. I encourage you to do whichever feels best for you.
4. Painting practice (10-20min). After you are finished writing, continue from this space of primed, unedited allowing, and begin painting on top of your writing.
Just like in the writing process above, tune inward to what wants to happen on your paper, notice the mind’s tendency to judge or question, and choose to follow the impulse anyway. If your sense is that a particular colour wants to find its way onto your paper, then grab that colour and a mark making tool, and go for it….. again and again. Maybe symbols arises, maybe words.
There is no right or wrong way to paint during this process. These paintings are not meant to be beautiful or painterly at all, but rather as a practice of listening for the creative impulse, acknowledging it, and allowing it to flow through you.
I like to set a timer for both the writing and painting steps for two reasons: the first is that sometimes we can feel prematurely finished the step, which can indicate we are not really letting go of control. And second, once we do let go of control, it is really easy to lose track of time and end up painting the day away (which you should definitely try when you have the time!).
5. Closing (2min). Just as the centering meditation helps to mark the beginning of your practice, so too is it important to create a short practice that marks the end. This offers an opportunity to acknowledge the effort, vulnerability and release that has unfolded during your practice, and a reminder to leave it behind on your paper, instead of unconsciously carrying it forward into your day.
A few suggestions for a closing, include; a moment of silence with eyes closed, giving a moment of gratitude, blowing out your candle, washing your hands, repeating a mantra or prayer you are working with, etc.
Art doesn’t have to be permanent…
Here are a few of the things I have done with my creative flow paintings over the years;
Save and compile each painting to reflect on as a whole, at the end of the series.
Hang paintings for a while that happen to be particularly inspiring or illuminating.
Throw them in the trash as soon as they are finished.
Burn them, as a means of ceremonial release.