Cleaning out my cupboards recently, I came across a pile of old notebooks. The ones that have mostly inane scribbles of ideas in them – hmm, surely nothing much of value there so could probably toss them?! But then again, there might be some private stuff in there so perhaps I should rip off the covers and take them to be shredded?
It then occurred to me… maybe there could actually be some gems in there, amongst the scribbles, illegible writing and doodling of multiple 3D cubes (thanks tech drawing in year 9).
What I discovered, as some of these notes went back to quite a few years ago, was that I had written ideas, goals, plans and more than a few hare-brained schemes that repeated themselves across notebooks. Themes emerged. Converged. Meandered. And I recognised another self within those pages. Yes, younger, but also someone that saw some of the ideas as fanciful but worth writing about just the same. Some seemed outlandish and scary at the time. But they could be given life on a page, if not yet actioned in the real world.
I chuckled to myself as I saw some of the raw ideas and elements for the book I’ve since written, the program I’ve just launched for women, the learning and travelling I wanted to do. Yes, much of it was also musings that went nowhere. But other bits were the specks of gold that can only be discovered through panning through the muck.
I’m grateful for all the people around me who do and create and forge brave new creative paths. I’ve learned so much from Laurence Boldt’s Zen and the Art of Making a Living, Steven Pressfield’s The Art of War, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Nick Williams’ The Work You Were Born to Do, and many more.
Taking time just to think and then capture those ideas is so important in our noisy world. I often record my thoughts when I’m on the go into iPhone notes as it’s always handy, but I also love getting away in a nice nature spot, sitting in the shade with notebook and pen and just letting my thoughts and ideas spill onto paper.
How can you give yourself some space to cultivate this practice for yourself?
Some people like to journal each day before bed, others subscribe to the Morning Pages ritual (described in The Artists’ Way) and may rise early while the rest of the household is still asleep. Others have a more sporadic practice, or tend to have ideas come more readily when relaxed and out of their normal environment. I always like to take a fresh notebook (or buy one at the local bookshop / stationery store) whenever I have a little holiday away. And would be lost without one on a retreat. Stillness speaks, so it’s great to be prepared to listen: capture your ideas then you can get back to relaxing.
Creativity – getting in amongst it, designing your life and work, isn’t a tidy thing. It can be messy, scribbly, and not make much sense at the time.But, there’s always a nice, clean, new page, ready and waiting for you.
Go on, grab your notebook!