“Writing is a patient and slow process that requires total concentration but also a relaxed state of mind so ideas and images can flow with an almost organic energy. If I am trying too hard, the muse of inspiration backs off.”
Total concentration and a relaxed state of mind — what a great description of the state of “flow” in writing! As Isabel says so well, a writer must balance both these seemingly opposite qualities in order to tap into the “organic energy” of creativity and get into the “zone” where magic happens.
Yet, even a seasoned novelist like Isabel hits rough patches when the words and images she’s searching for don’t flow easily. When this happens, like the rest of us, she can find herself “trying too hard” and scaring off her muse.
Isabel has come up with a novel way to handle troubling moments like these. Instead of tensing up and pushing forward, she relaxes for a while by stringing beads. What a clever, childlike solution!
Isabel was inspired to take up beading by the creativity of one of her oldest friends, Tabra Tunna, a jeweler whose silver pieces are prized around the world. Watching Tabra work inspired Isabel to take up beading. According to Isabel, Tabra can take hours arranging beads, “studying the design, contrasting color with texture and form, making sure that every part is perfect…” After watching her friend, Isabel came to realize that “…making jewelry is similar to writing. In both cases, one needs to have an eye for detail and a vision of the whole.” Choosing beads, Isabel says, is like choosing words.
Now, Isabel fashions necklaces for her friends in the same room in which she drafts her novels. She has a desk for her computer and a long table for her jewelry making. When she needs a break, she starts beading. As she puts it, “When I feel that the writing is not coming easily, that the characters are not talking to me or that the story is not unfolding gracefully, I start playing with my beads, which takes my mind off the book. By the time I finish the piece I’m working on, I am usually refreshed and ready to go back to my writing….The wrong word can change the mood of a whole paragraph. It’s all about harmony and balance. With words I can tell a story, with beads I can express a feeling.”
I just love this concept and crafting words and crafting necklaces, don’t you? What an inspired way to nurture creativity. I’m sure there are many approaches like this that will work for us as they do for Isabel. Let’s explore them. Any ideas? I’d love to hear them as we all write on!