January, for me, has always been about beginnings. In Wiccan ideology, it is believed that at the moment of death (Winter Solstice) rebirth begins. The winter months appear barren on the outside, but inside new life is already developing. In January, the new life is growing huge! And you feel it! The anticipation that occurs in January! Oh, my! I think it is another thing that has been ritualized into our existence as humans by all of the celebrations. We each participate in the ritual. We set our intentions for the following year; We define how we will grow, in what ways we’d like to change and we broadcast our aspirations for who will be in the following year to anyone who will listen! I am older and set in my ways now, I see no reason to change this season of maniacal planning. Seize it! Get every notebook you can find, every pen, pencil and tube of paint and dream!
Challenge Week 1
Writing has always, always been instrumental in my creative process. Whether the finished piece was a painting or a necklace, it began in one of my notebooks as words. In fact, when asked to show my sketchbook for review in school, one of my instructors was very intrigued to find that around every, single drawing were notes. These things were sandwiched in-between page after page of random thoughts, sometimes in print, sometimes a beautiful script, mostly a crazy combination of both as my thoughts jumped from my mind to the page. Writing has played a large part of defining who I am throughout my life. There was a point, many, many years ago, that I convinced my immediate world that I was going to become that fabulous writer and move to Paris (via New York) and become to France what Hemmingway was to Spain. The reality, as it turns-out, would be no more than me publishing a few poems in regional and college literary journals, several awkward appearance at some open mics, and a very brief stent as a sportswriter for a local, daily paper. Still, that initial passion I had for the written word has never waned and I still write daily. Sometimes I am capable of writing truly brilliant bits of beautiful prose, most days it is no more than a really detailed list about what I want to accomplish the next day or, if I am feeling really cynical, what I didn’t accomplish that day. Since a very young age, writing has been my primary mode of expression, without it, I sometimes feel that I’d be unable to express anything at-all. In any form. Writing has unlocked entire worlds for me and I believe it can do the same for you. My challenge for you, during the first week of this year and a day journey, is to acquire a blank book. It can be a notebook or a sketchbook; Leather-bound and classy or vibrant and loud. The only requirement for its appearance is that it somehow reflects you. The very first thing I want you to write in this book (on the very first page! In big, bold letters!) is your primary, creative goal for the following year. Once you have acquired the blank book of your dreams, the very first thing I want you to write is the single most important goal for you to accomplish this year. Don’t overthink it. Go with your heart. My goal this year is to finish a book I have had long in my head. That is what I would write as my primary intention. Got it? On the following page, I want you to explore the following things: What is it you feel is your biggest obstacle in reaching that goal? What are your biggest fears about not reaching that goal? Do you actually fear success? Do you want this for yourself or someone else? Be prepared to share with the group!
Challenge Week 2
During these weeks I would like you to pick a time each day to sit and write in your new book. It can be morning, noon or night. Doesn’t matter. This is what I would like you to write: 1. Make a basic record of your day. It can be as simple as: The weather, your mood, what you did that day in one sentence. 2. Freewriting for at-least ten-minutes. Freewriting is simply the practice of writing the first thing that comes to mind. Literally. No thought to it. Pen to paper wildness! Just let it all out. Don’t try to make sense of it. Just do it! (<This whole paragraph is an advanced example of freewriting :-P)
Challenge Week 3-4
Remember all of that freewriting you did? Grab that! Now pick one day. Any day. Look over what you wrote. Write one paragraph about that day incorporating what you read. Confused? Look for the word groups. The periods within that sitting that your thoughts made it beyond the first word. Now, look at the record you made of that day. What was the weather? Your mood? How were you physically? Relate these questions to one of your freewriting segments. Again, do not overthink this! Creative license is permitted! (Kind of the point, right?) We will come back to this later.
Intended Outcome: Month One
My thinking is that language is the very first art-form we are exposed to and one for which we each have some gift for. It is basic. To the point that we are almost never overwhelmed using it. Being able to wield the written word is a power we all possess and should yield daily! My hope in having you practice the above exercises is that you would learn to yield this power with more ease. The written word especially. To me, there is something incredibly sacred in the act of writing something down. Those things? They are between you and your gods alone. They are your most inner workings and your deepest thoughts. They are the places where you will find your truths. By writing those thoughts, you are physically putting it out into the universe. For most of us, it is one of the very first acts of creation that we experience. How magical is that? So, if you can be free with that??? The possibilities for creative expression become infinite! Finally, the last task was a lesson in nurturing. Successful works of art are never, ever born out of thin air! They take thought, planning. They take work! But if you can recognize that initial seed of creativity? (see previous paragraph)