The night after I agreed to contribute regularly to this Authors’ Blog, at 3:00 am my eyes bugged open in panic: How will I ever get enough ideas? How will they ever be interesting and meaningful enough? I stared at the ceiling, grinding around for long minutes. As my worry spiral finally wound itself down, I remembered an image I’ve used when other writers ask where I find my ideas.
I imagine my life as a dartboard, pie-divided into ages, events, relationships, memories, impressions, images, feelings. When I throw a dart, at whatever section the point sticks, I know I can write about it. And I take heart from the unapologetic confidence of Italian composer of wonderful operas and many other works Gioachino Rossini: “Give me a laundry list and I will set it to music” (http://www.musicwithease.com/rossini-quotes.html).
We live so much in our heads, our mental machinery on an infinite loop. We think, plan, devise, figure out, outline, and worry in a never-ending stream of noise. Our mind seems to control and consume us, and we think we can’t stop it. We don’t even attempt to because we’re afraid there’s “nothing” there. Maybe it’s time to go out of our minds.
When we “turn off” our minds and all the thoughts that keep us at the surface, we tap into the vastness inside us. We access the infinite well of our creativity or, as Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “the infinite depth of who [we] are” (p. 28).
Look at Nature’s creativity—the strains of flowers, species of animals, classes of bugs, shapes of clouds. Look at all the creativity humans explode with in music, art, literature, dance, sculpture, architecture, science, design, fashion, cooking, closet organizers, IPhone apps.
Each of our lives is an overflowing cornucopia of ideas. Writer and psychotherapist Rachel Ballon in The Writer’s Portable Therapist offers another perspective: “Everything you’ll ever need for the rest of your life is already inside you. Your dreams, your childhood, your hopes, your life experiences, your fantasies, and most of all your timeless memories are the richest sources for your stories from the heart” (p. 97).
We have as many ideas for writing as we’re willing to open to, and we’ll never run out as long as we keep the channel open. Then we choose the one that stirs our insides to chant Yes Yes Yes!
Think of a time you were stumped in your writing. You stopped, maybe groaned, flung out of your chair, stuffed in a brownie or banana, flipped through a magazine, flipped on the TV . . . . And then, as you resignedly circled back to your desk, the right phrase or hero’s previously impossible escape surfaced full-blown.
On the deepest level, if our creativity comes from God (give It the benefit of the doubt, please), how can God have limited ideas? In The Artist’s Way (I warned you), Julia Cameron declares, slightly irreverently: “God has lots of money. God has lots of movie ideas, novel ideas, poems, songs, paintings, acting jobs. . . . By listening to the creator within, we are led to our right path” (p. 92).
All we have to do is slam the brakes on our worry spiral, quiet down, and listen inside. Ideas for this blog? When I finally calmed down in the middle of the night and listened, three emerged instantly. I turned over and fell asleep.
Author, editor, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne writes fiction and nonfiction, having published over 300 pieces in print and online venues, including Writer’s Digest, The Writer, ReadLearnWrite, Women on Writing, Transormation Magazine, 11.11, and Unity booklets. Her monthly column, “Bloom Where You’re Writing,” appears in Coffeehouse for Writers. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for over 28 years Noelle has helped doctoral candidates complete their dissertations (finally), with a psychological-spiritual handbook in progress. In her book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books; one of ten best 2011 ebooks), she draws examples from her practice and other aspects of life to help writers and others release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. See Noelle’s website: www.trustyourlifenow.com. With Trust Your Life, Noelle appears in the Unity Books 2013 “Summer of Self-Discovery” on Goodreads with two other authors of positive messages for discussions and free webcasts: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/100799-unity-books