How to connect to source.
The following question came to me from a writer last week:
I'm working on a creative non-fiction/memoir project. When I'm writing, I find that "the source" is sometimes very generous with memory and recollection. And sometimes not. Do you have any tips for evoking memory or tapping into that specific aspect of source?
First, I invite you to think about source differently.
Source isn’t a keeper of ideas and inspiration. It doesn’t give. It is.
It helps me to think about the source of creative material as omnipresent and fluid, like a parallel reality, or a 6th dimension or something. By that I mean: IT’S ALWAYS THERE.
If inspiration feels like flow, and I’m downloading ideas with ease, it’s not because source is being generous. It’s because I am feeling curious and calm, and my state of mind is open to seeing and receiving. I’m tuned in.
On the other hand, if I’m meeting a blank page and feel frustrated, the problem is not that source is being stingy — it’s that I’m shutting it out, and not able to access it for some reason.
Because… source is always there.
You know how your body needs Vitamin C in order to absorb iron? (It does! It’s true! So squeeze a lemon over your spinach).
To receive images, memory and scene for our creative writing, we need to make sure our state of mind is ready to absorb them.
When it’s in receiving-mode, your mind-body feels calm, curious, connected, creative, and clarity. (Otherwise known as the 5 other vital Vitamin Cs.)
We won’t always feel all of those Cs all the time, of course. (Life goals!) But while writing might still be possible when we’re C-depleted, it does not feel fun, easy, or pleasurable. It feels… blocked.
Now, knowing myself, I could be blocking it for a variety of reasons, including: how much time I’ve spent on social media, how much caffeine I’ve had to drink, how much exercise I’ve had, how much time in nature I’ve given myself, how long it’s been since my last belly laugh, how many of my dreams I remember from the night before… etc. You get the idea. It’s different for everyone.
Your access to source depends on your state of mind. And you are responsible for your own state of mind.
If you’re not connecting easily to memory and/or image, know that you’re blocking it somehow, and that it is within your power to access it again. This might sound frustrating at first, but honestly, it’s empowering.
Here are some things that help me access source:
Writing with other people.The signal gets stronger when I’m with other writers, and I can tap in more easily when other people are tapping in at the same time.
Writing prompts. Sometimes images come to me despite myself, when I use prompts.
Reading stuff I don't usually read, like plays or screenplays, non-fiction about science, or biographies, with a notepad handy so I can write down things that interest me that I don’t understand.
Journalling with my non-dominant hand, holding the pen like a divining rod, not knowing what I’m going to write, and seeing where my messy handwriting leads me.
If the above list feels overwhelming and already out of reach, you’re probably C-depleted.
That’s okay. You can get your 5 Cs back. Knowing you’re depleted gives you permission to do things your body needs to do, so you can access your creative field again.
Warning: The things you need to do to get your Cs back might feel weird, silly, unreasonable, selfish, immature, or luxurious.
For example, here are some things that help me access my Cs:
lying on the floor and looking at the ceiling
going for a long walk with no destination
playing with a bouncy ball
watching comedy (I love Lady Dynamite and Schitt’s Creek)
calling a friend
taking a nap
going to an art class
visiting a museum visiting the library
doing a writing workshop
spending time with animals
singing out loud in the car or shower
baking cookies or muffins
cutting out pictures and making a collage
Silly stuff, right? Massively unproductive! Ugh, some of these activities are really unreasonable. Waste-of-time stuff. I mean, collage?
Right. Whatever. I do them anyway, so then I can write. Yes, I feel unproductive at first. And I’m telling you, it’s worth it.
Now ask yourself: what do you need to feel your 5 Cs?
Make a list of the things that you know bring you your 5 Cs. Try some of the ones I mentioned, if you like. And if you feel silly, selfish, or otherwise “bad” about doing any of the things on that list, I suggest you get over that quickly, and do them anyway.
This list will be your writing survival kit. Go to your kit whenever you feel blocked or depleted.
We can’t expect to receive images from source if we don’t feel curious and connected! That’s just not a fight we can win. But if we take care of our state of mind, we can remain open to receiving the images that are always there.
Photo credit: Jennifer Chait via Flickr