how to draw creative boundaries
Live Go Creative! Flow Practice now runs weekly at the start of the week. The session lasts an hour and is designed to give you a creative boost at the start of your working week.
If you’d like a weekly reminder, you can sign up here: https://www.ornaross.com/flow-practice-reminder

Online Creative Flow Practice: The Practice

  • Introduction to the theme of the week
  • 15 mins Inspiration Meditation (See below)
  • 15 mins F-r-e-e-writing (See below)
  • 15 mins Live Q&A / sharing session (using the FB comments box) about your own creative challenges and/or accomplishments.

Online Creative Flow Practice: When and Where?

At the start of your week, online.
This is a weekly session on Facebook Live, running at 9am on Monday mornings if you’re in Wellington, New Zealand; noon on Sundays if you’re in Vancouver, Canada; and whatever time is local for you wherever you are.
I’m in London so it will be 8pm Sundays for me.
But of course, you can catch up here in replay any time, wherever you are.

Online Creative Flow Practice: How to Join

Joining in couldn’t be easier. Just check your time zone below, if necessary, and then just turn up to the Flow Practice Facebook Group to join the session live at the allotted time. Make sure to turn on your notifications for this group, so Facebook will notify you when the session starts.

Online Creative Flow Practice: The Group

It’s a closed group, audio-only session, so completely private. It’s also completely free with no upsell.
(If you’d like to say “Thank You”, you can support indie poetry on my Patreon page here): Patreon.com/ornaross

Online Creative Flow Practice: Bring Your Creative Questions:

If you would like to ask a question, or share a comment, please post it on the event page in Facebook, or on the group in advance, so I can dig out useful links.

Online Creative Flow Practice: Don’t Miss Out

See next week’s Facebook Live Creative Flow Practice event here

 


online creative flow practiceOnline Creative Flow Practice: F-R-E-E-Writing

F-r-e-e-writing is writing fast, raw and exact but easy, a simple writing method with transformative effects on creative capacity and flow, the most direct being its value in beating block and fostering flow.

See www.ornaross.com/f-r-e-e-writing for more on its many proven benefits.

The best way to find out about its value, though, is not to read about it, but to do it. F-r-e-e-writing is a practice.

If you find you have consistent difficulty getting started with it, Dorothea Brande’s advice still holds, almost a hundred years after she wrote it: “Rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can — and without talking — write.”

Write Fast

Write as fast as you can. Keep your hand moving until you stop.

As you write, no thought or image should be welcomed because it is optimistic or positive, and no thought or image should be rejected because it is negative.

Don’t avoid the familiar or the boring or the petty. Keep going, through the boredom. Bleak and boring bits often produce the greatest insights when we f-r-e-e-write our way through.

Write about how you are boring yourself. Let the words tell you what the boredom is hiding. 

Or not. 

If you feel nothing in your mind, you can just describe your shoes, or write a word or phrase over and over (“nothing, nothing, nothing,” or “I hate this, I hate this”).

Other words will soon rise, they can’t help themselves. At this point in human development, our brains pump words like our lungs pump breath, like our hearts pump blood.

Fast doesn’t mean tense, anxious, or stressed. Decompress your jaw, relax your tongue, sit freely in the chair, breathe slowly, and let your feelings deepen and open. It’s fine to relax your muscles and to pause briefly, but don’t pause to reread what you’ve just written. That leads to stalling and attempting to control or refine first thoughts.

Instead, write a little faster. And when you find yourself slowing, write faster again.

Write without stopping until you have completed the time or page space you have allocated to the exercise.

Don’t think, just write.

Let the words flow. Lose control. Write f-r-e-e…

Write Raw

As you f-r-e-e-write, pay no attention whatever to style or expression. Just write the thoughts that arise, in your own, everyday language. Don’t worry about even basic standards for this f-r-e-e-writing. Forget all about spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Freely accept made-up or meaningless words. 

From time to time, you will find thoughts rise in you that you don’t want to write, thoughts that feel frightening or silly or disgusting or pathetic, thoughts you wouldn’t want anybody else to know you have. Let them come, raw as they are. Get them out of you. Resist any urge to self-censor.

“First thoughts have tremendous energy,” says Natalie Goldberg in her great book, Writing Down The Bones. “It is the way the mind first flashes on something. The internal censor usually squelches them, so we generally live in the realm of second and third thoughts, thoughts on thoughts, twice and three times removed from the direct connection of the first, fresh flash… First thoughts are also unencumbered by ego, by that mechanism in us that tries to be in control.”

Don’t cross out or correct or try to edit anything, either as you write, or once it is written. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, let it stand. Explain to yourself how that’s not really what you meant. Refine the thought into new words. 

Don’t think, just write.

Let the words flow. Lose control. Write f-r-e-e…

Write Exact-And-Easy

Capture images in extreme detail in this, your first f-r-e-e-writing session. The more specific, the more intimate, the better.

A crack in a coffee mug. The way a lock of hair falls across the forehead of a child as he sits reading. The precise color of the street furniture. The vein pattern on your wrist. Get in close, describe the detail, then another. Follow the images. An image is always the deepest wellspring in writing.

Write exact-and-easy. Write free.

Take a sentence, then expand it. Say a little, or a lot, more. Be brave, tell the truth.

Tell your truth. Take the lens off yourself and gaze onto the wonders that are unfolding around you, the good and the bad.

Once you give yourself this instruction in advance of your writing session, to write exact-and-easy, you’ll find it happens automatically. It is a noticing process, a focusing in on what’s rising into our consciousness, so we can take it down.

It might be naming specific facts, that are concrete and specific, not generalized or fuzzy. Not “a fruit bowl” but “my favorite bowl, glazed blue china, piled high with peaches.” Not “the vegetables,” but “red peppers, long and thin as a pencil, and onions the size of tennis balls.” Not “a man,” but “a 35-year-old bricklayer.” Not “she sat there, looking depressed,” but “she sat at her desk, shoulders slumped, forefinger caressing the furrow between her eyes.” 

It might be that we need to bring in more than one sense, how it smells or tastes or feels to touch, we get closer. We get more exactness and understand how everyone’s life is at once both ordinary and extraordinary, how the trivial is  important, and the important, small and passing.

“The trees are beginning to turn color, green fading to oranges and browns. I can smell the end of summer, a sense of damp though it’s a sunny day. It won’t blaze with heat again this year. From now on, even when the sun shines, the air will hold the memory and promise of rain. Sunny but not-quite-hot days always remind me of September, and the taste of blackberries.

It might be a matter of internal detail, how we feel.

“It doesn’t matter,” you write. “I feel ok about it.”  But do you, actually? As you write on, you find something more, lurking beneath. “It’s not that I was annoyed at the time or anything, because I was quite happy sitting there reading my book, but turning up almost an hour late for the third time in a row… It doesn’t feel right.  Maybe she’s losing it again? Last time, she really hurt me.  Being late itself doesn’t matter, that’s true, but what it might mean does. I need to talk to her.”

Should we begin with the outer detail or the inner? With physical objects, or internal emotions? It doesn’t matter. To begin in the outer is to start in the surface and drill down. To begin with the inner — emotions, imaginings, intuitions — is to start in the depths and rise up. You end up in the same place, the empty space of not thinking, just writing.

So allow yourself to discover how you see your world. Play with what you find there, drop it onto the page.

When we’re exact-and-easy in our f-r-e-e-writing, our nouns and verbs are strong. A car chugs. A cat pounces. Clouds loom. Children skip. But as you write, don’t be afraid of using “inappropriate” words, or chastise yourself as you write for getting it “wrong”.

In f-r-e-e-writing, there is no such thing as wrong. All words belong. Nothing is censored. 

If you notice you have written something vague or generic like “flower”, just put something more exact in the next sentence. “A white camelia, in full bloom, about to burst and drop but now, holding on.”

Be gentle with yourself.  Take it easy.

And don’t aim for fine or for good. Aim for true. “If you say what’s on your mind in the language that comes to you from your parents and your street and friends,” said Grace Paley, “You’ll probably say something beautiful.” 

Don’t think, just write.

Let the words flow. Lose control. Write f-r-e-e…

F-r-e-e-writing is a simple writing method with transformative effects, the most direct being its value in beating block and fostering flow.

In life, not just in writing.

See www.ornaross.com/f-r-e-e-writing for more on its many proven benefits.

The best way to find out about its value, though, is not to read about it, but to do it. F-r-e-e-writing is a practice.

If you find you have consistent difficulty getting started with it, Dorothea Brande’s advice still holds, almost a hundred years after she wrote it: “Rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can — and without talking — write.”


online creative flow practice Online Creative Flow Practice: Inspiration Meditation

The form of Inspiration Meditation we use during this weekly online flow practice uses sound and the absence of sound as its focus.

It has three components:

  1. A word phrase (mantra)
  2. The spaces between the words of the phrase
  3. The sound of All (another mantra)

Words have great power. Because language is so every day, we often overlook its significance, but sound, originating as a vibration, has the power to deeply affect consciousness. Language, music, everyday sounds and the “sound of silence” all can alter our feelings and experience of life.

Although physically expressed as sound and silence, the real essence of Inspiration Meditation is the soundless focusing of mental and imaginative faculties by drawing the attention inwards, leading to subtle alterations in consciousness, that radiate outwards and inwards.

It’s a profound and very pleasing experience.

Inspiration meditation: The Phrase
The phrase we use for Inspiration Meditation is Know ~ Your ~ Truth ~ In ~ Me ~ Open ~ Allow ~ Be.

During the meditation, each word is separated out and repeated many times. So the phrase is not approached in the logical, linear, sense-driven way we normally approach a sentence.

It is not really a sentence. It makes some sense, but its meanings and emphases are not fixed.

Know ~ Your ~ Truth /~ In ~ Me ~ Open /~ Allow ~ Be
Know ~ / Your ~ Truth ~ In ~ Me /~ Open/ ~ Allow /~ Be

All words come trailing fronds of meaning. Some of the meanings of these words may attach themselves to your meditation. This is fine.

Or you may find that the repetition has the curious effect of detaching them from what they normally mean. This, too, is fine.

Inspiration meditation: The Space
Just as important as the words in the phrase are the spaces between the words.

Everything that exists arose from nothing, is surrounded — inside and out — by nothing and will return to nothing.

Unlike words and experiences and things, silence and space and nothingness cannot be divided or categorized.

Words contain silence, and silence contains words. Experiences contain space, and space contains experiences.

inspiration meditationNothingness contains things, and things contain nothingness.

Inspiration Meditation draws attention to this interplay of form and formlessness.

Inspiration meditation: The Sound of All
The word “All” contains the vowel sound that is found in so many of the names given, over the centuries, to what is most commonly in Western culture called God: Yahweh, Allah, Ra, Jehovah, Krishna, Kali, Yeshua, Tao, Shiva…

It is also the sound in Mom and Dad, Mama and Papa, Gran and Granddad. The sound of satisfaction. The sound in art. The sound in heart.

As All is sounded into the space between the words of the Inspiration Meditation phrase, new meanings emerge:

Know ~ All ~ Your ~ All ~ Truth ~ All ~ In ~ All ~ Me ~ All ~ Open ~ All ~ Allow ~ All ~ Be.

Again, we let any such meanings arise without weighing them with any more thought. We sound the sounds and return to the space between.


 

Orna Ross
Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is an award-winning author-publisher, advocate for independent authors and other creative entrepreneurs and, as Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" (The Bookseller).