How To Go Creative: B Is For Being

When Doing becomes infused with the timeless quality of Being, that is success.” ~ Eckhart Tolle.
Begin with being.

“Being” creative has two modes but from the outside we only see the second one, the “doing” mode. We see the artist painting the canvas, the cook stirring the pot, the gardener trimming the hedge, the businessman dealing with customers.

That doing mode kicks in during Stage Four, the Composition stage of the creative process. Before that, there are three, equally crucial but invisible stages: Intention, Incubation and Investigation of memory and imagination. These arise from the “being” mode.

So what is creative being? It’s the nothingness without which nothing can be. Consider a page of writing.  Between the words and letters is space. The words always get much more of our attention but both words and space are necessary to meaning. A page with only marks on it is all black. Unreadable. Meaningless. The more space around the words, the more meaningful they generally are, one of the reasons a page of poetry is more eloquent than, say, a page of legalese.

It’s the same with life. We have the content of our lives – the thoughts, feelings, events, experiences, stuff, people. The “thingness” of life, if you like. This we notice. But also always there is the  ”no-thingness”.  It too is necessary.

Nothing is what makes everything.

Conscious creativity needs us to take notice of this nothingness, this space that lies around us and within us. It is our creative intelligence and when we waken to it, we enter the timeless present. (It works vice versa, too: the more deeply we move into the present moment we are in, the more our creative intelligence is activated).

This is the creative zone and here is where we begin to really see, and to really know, drawing on capacities that are deeper than our conventional, analytical mind. This is the paradox of creative intelligence. By focussing on nothingness, thingness manifests.

“We reclaim a form of perception that was once common to all people and cultures, and which is innate in every infant born into this world ” says Stephen Harvard Buhner, author of Ensouling Language.  ”The conscious mind  begins to move into the background, and the statistical mentality  begins to be left behind…”

We’ve gone creative.

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How To Go Creative: A Is For Aha, Ha ha and Ahh

A is for Aha, Ha ha and Ahh, three dimensions of creative intelligence. The creativity theorist Arthur Koestler gave us these. Aha is a sense of insight, when we move beyond what we formerly knew: the Yes! Eureka! I get it! moment. Ha-ha is our sense of the absurd, the way we laugh when opposites combine, waking us out of our usual, singular way of seeing. Ahhh is the peace and freedom we feel when we sense our interbeing with others, with something beyond ourselves.
Expressive Exercise
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How To Go Creative: An A To Z

How To Create Anything

How can I be more creative. That's the request — sometimes a plea — that I hear most often.

It's the question that the Go Creative! book series was written to answer.

These books go on sale in January. To lead in, I'm doing an A to Z series that will introduce some of the concepts and hear about your own experiences and ideas.

I hope that you'll find the series useful and enjoyable. Questions and comments are welcome, in the guestbook or below.

And in the meantime, here's an extract from How To Create Anything: The Seven Stages of The Creative Process to whet your appetite.

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Countdown to Christmas: Anne Sexton's "Christmas Eve".

From now until the Sunday after Christmas, the blog's Sunday poetry slot will be given over to a selection from Poetry for Christmas. This week, Anne Sexton's “Christmas Eve”, takes us into the searing heart of a complex mother-daughter relationship.

Anne SextonThe Christmas story has nothing to say to daughters and that's often a source of anger for women poets. In “Christmas Eve”, Sexton captures such daughterly anger within agonising imagery and a tightly controlled rhyme scheme and rhythm that slowly unpeels her ambivalence: your ageing daughters, each one a wife/each one talking to the family cook,/each one avoiding your portrait,/each one aping your life…

What takes the emotion beyond the poet's individual relationship with her mother into something more universal is its allusion to

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WB Yeats Poems Inspired By Iseult Gonne

White bird Symbol of Maud Gonne & Iseult Gonne
White bird: a symbol in Yeats's poetry for both Iseult & Maud Gonne

In “A Memory of Youth” Yeats acknowledged how his poetic inspiration had dried until the intervention of “a most ridiculous little bird [who] Tore from the skies his marvelous moon.”

The little bird was Iseult Gonne, who saw herself as both pupil and teacher to Yeats.

Their friendship was founded on intellectual and spiritual connection and an attempt by Yeats’ to cast her in the role of muse from which her mother had disqualified herself.

At the time of his romantic attachment to Iseult, When he was seriously considering her as a wife (1916 to 1918), Yeats was working on the first volume of his autobiographies – reliving his infatuation for the mother while becoming

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Who To Follow On Twitter: WB Yeats, Maud Gonne and Iseult Gonne

Willie, Maud and Iseult, three of the most imaginative people who ever lived, never imagined the Internet or Twitter.

If they were alive today, I imagine Maud would leap on Twitter for PR purposes, Iseult would shun it, and Willie would dismiss it for a time, with a lofty air of Parnassus, for the low-brow level of the conversation and the low-bred emotion of the crowd… but then be drawn in by finding his own way to use it.

I like to tweet regularly about Yeats and the Gonnes, as I find interesting new information about their life and work. You can follow those tweets here.

And here's a Storify list of people to follow if you're interested in learning more:

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Why WB Yeats, Maud Gonne and Iseult Gonne?

Iseult Gonne
Iseult Gonne

I wrote last time about first hearing of the strange love triangle between WB Yeats, Maud Gonne and her daughter, Iseult.

Iseult is less well known than her mother though her life story is equally dramatic, in a different sort of way. Born on August 6, 1894, she was the only surviving child from Maud's thirteen-year affair with a married
French politician and journalist, Lucien Millevoye.

She lived with Maud who passed her off, variously, as her niece, her cousin, or as “a charming child I adopted”. But she did know Lucien and he acknowledged her as his daughter, if not publicly.

It was an inauspicious start to life and Iseult struggled with issues of identity and self-worth always.

Most of my novels begin with a question. Here, the question was: how could Yeats, who had carved a poetic career from writing about his unrequited love for Maud find himself, some years on, proposing marriage to his muse's daughter? To a girl almost 30 years his junior, and one to whom he had long acted in locus parentis?

Other extraordinary connections between these three characters include:

  • In 1890, Maud Gonne had a son with Lucien Millevoye, who died of meningitis. Yeats and his mystical friend AE had convinced Maud it would be possible to reincarnate a dead person by having ritual sex in their tomb. So she on Hallowe'en night 1893, she brought

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What Is F-R-E-E-Writing? A Guide for Creatives and Creativists

three kinds of creative flow practice

It's no coincidence that in my novels both Jo and Norah in After The Rising and Mercy in Blue Mercy write their way to resolution.  This was my way of paying tribute to the power of writing  to heal, transform and liberate.

It’s such a miracle, that through marks on a page we can communicate across vast continents and dead generations.  Like all the everyday miracles, we can take it for granted.

Writing is a uniquely human experience.  Dolphins, birds and other species can communicate but only we can write. It is also the human achievement that (literally) underwrites all the others – without it there would be no mathematics, no science, no philosophy, no history, no cinema.

And, of course, no literature.

Equally miraculous, I believe, is the power writing-to-self has to expand and deepen our creative capacity.

In school, we’re taught how to appreciate literature and how to write to communicate with others but a number of psychologists, scientists, behaviouralists, healers and educators are increasingly interested in the astonishing power of writing when we use it to communicate with ourselves.

My research into this topic this has led me to the technique I call F-R-E-E-Writing, a particular way of writing that maximizes its potential to encourage creative flow.

What Is F-R-E-E-Writing?

The difference between F-R-E-E-Writing as I teach it and other journaling methods you may have encountered is speed and a conscious opening to creative flow.

The f in F-R-E-E-Writing stands for fast (and r is for raw, e is for exact and the second e is for easy.) When F-R-E-E-Writing, we always write as fast as we can.

F-R-E-E-Writing is timed. You set a timer or a page count and when the time is over, or the pages are full, you stop. The stopping is as important as the starting.

Full details in this F-r-e-e Writing Notebook.

If you’ve never done F-R-E-E-Writing before, or if you haven’t done it for some time, or if you’ve done a different “writing-for-self” method, like Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” or Natalie Goldberg’s “writing practice”, begin again.

Try it this way and see how you go.

The most important thing about any form of freewriting is not what method you use but that you just do it.

For f-r-e-e-writing to work its magic, it has to be experienced.

It's about showing up, showing your creative self that it is valued, that you want to hear what it has to say.

The simple addition of speed is enough to change the experience radically for most people.

Don’t content yourself with reading about it. Or tell yourself you did something similar before, so you know all about it.

F-R-E-E-Writing: The Benefits

The benefits of F-R-E-E-Writing are cumulative. They build over time.

Our lives are so noisy and distracted these days. F-R-E-E-Writing is a way to connect with the deeper, more centered and connected, self.

Using this method the aim is to write fast enough, for a set period of time or number of pages, to get beyond our censoring, conscious minds and access subconscious levels.

I’ve introduced this easy writing method to writers and other artists and emerging artists but also to postgraduate students and returners-to-work, to immigrant groups and women recovering from drug addiction.

I’ve witnessed its benefits among people from different countries and at every level of social and personal development, even those with weak literacy skills.  That’s why I can teach the same simple technique, over and over, without ever tiring of it.

The more I teach it, and hear the stories of lives transformed by it, the more my respect for the complex potential of this simple technique grows and deepens.

I’ve come to see f-r-e-e-writing not as a luxury for those with the time to do it but a simple, significant shortcut to physical, emotional, spiritual and creative wellbeing.

A daily brushing of the psyche, that takes a little bit longer – though not much – than a good brushing and flossing of the teeth.

I have come to believe that everybody who can be, should be, F-R-E-E-Writing.

F-r-e-e-writing For Creatives

This is especially true for those who want to consciously create: writers and composers and filmmakers and artists of all kinds; healers, educators, activists and coaches. And also creativists: those who bring the processes of conscious creation to work, money, relationships, every aspect of life.

A Creativist is a person who applies creative principles to the art of living e.g. home, relationships, money, work. Find out more about going creative, in my book A Creativist Compendium.

  1. F-R-E-E-Writing clears.Sometimes, yes, we may be overwrought in our F-r-e-e-Writing. Or whiny or irritable or sad or angry or miserable. Or joyful or elated or carefree or blissed out. Over time, all our emotions will find their way in and we come to see how transient they are.  Allowing all the “negative” emotions, ideas and feelings within us and giving them free vent in our notebooks, siphons them off. This greatly lessens their hold on us.  This is why some people see F-r-e-e-Writing as a form of meditation.
  2. F-R-E-E-Writing liberates. We come to see that it is not the events that happen to us – as individuals or as artists – that count, so much as our inner relationship to those events. Regular F-r-e-e-Writing ensures we become a channel for the deep stuff rather than a mouthpiece for con-mind moans, sound-offs, rants or self-indulgences.  We acquire the distance that is a prerequisite of ease, freedom and flow, the defining qualities of the create-state.  
  3. F-R-E-E-Writing stabilises. Truly allowing all the voices inside diminishes the power of any one (I’m thinking of the inner critic).  Regular and committed use of F-r-e-e-Writing generates a progressive strengthening of the psyche.
  4. F-R-E-E-Writing inspires. As you F-r-e-e-Write, great ideas emerge, seemingly from nowhere.
  5. F-R-E-E-Writing empowers.  F-r-e-e-Writing teaches us to trust our own experience and interpretation of the world, essential to a conscious creator, together with the confidence to express what we truly feel and what we truly want to create.

PLEASE NOTE: You can purchase a F-R-E-E-Writing Notebook with full instructions through my website: F-r-e-e Writing NOTEBOOK.

If you'd like to give ongoing support to my mad, mammoth undertakings (!),  my patrons get early access to extracts of my books as I write them, together with behind-the-scenes insights and patron discounts and gifts. Become a patron here.


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