Writing like Chopsticks: 3 Tidbits to Help Improve Your Creative Flow

*Note: This post is an updated version from one I created in 2014. Nevertheless, eat up!…I mean, who doesn’t like leftovers?

Writer's TableIt amazes me how something as simple as Chopsticks can actually hold very profound power. After all, basic chopsticks are fashioned from two pieces of wood.

They are nothing more than sticks, but to use them, to be able to feed yourself with them takes practice and elegant form.

When thinking further about the analogy I made between Chopsticks and Time management, I realized the same holds true with creativity as a whole. To that end, I am to give you 3 tidbits to help you along your creative path.

Your art is a living, organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.”~ Crystal Robinson Clark

Years ago, I was having a conversation with my eldest sister, Crystal, about my art not doing what I wanted it to do and certainly not doing it within the window of time that I had set for it.

Crystal’s response was that “Your art is a living organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.” Referencing chopsticks made me think of this . Ruminating on the connection gave birth to the image below. (It’s more a diagram really)

Vector Drawing by Candice Coates

A few years ago, while having lunch with some of my friends who are Korean, I learned that a person who holds the smallest amount of their chopsticks happens to be very proficient. In other words, the person who takes up the LEAST of controlled space, actually has the MOST power and control.

An employer who is able to have friendly relationships with his/her employees but still receives the utmost respect and honor from them is a person who takes up the Least but has the Most.

This comes from confidence. You can hold the reins with a lighter hand when you are confident in your position.

When it comes to time management, writing, creating visual art, I, like many others, have strained to make things happen in the exact way that I envisioned because of some type or form of fear. I was working out of a place of low creative confidence.

I shook those shackles off of my writing years ago and I am so glad that I did. My fiction has grown much stronger because of it. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be in the midst of typing and your main character suddenly makes a shocking decision that makes you gasp because you didn’t even see it coming.

I remember the first time this happened and me, shaking my head saying “Octavia! Why did you do that?! You are so stupid!” This is true organic creativity in action or writing with chopsticks.

I always have a “recipe” for my plot lines but I do not marry myself to them…I hold my writing chopsticks covering as little space as possible, leaving the rest to organic growth.

Some might be thinking, “Well, Candice, what do you do with ideas that pop in your head about a particular storyline you are working on?” Simple, I write those ideas down and keep them in a separate file.

Chopsticks_(PSF)I very rarely trash an idea altogether. Even if in the present moment it doesn’t seem to have a place, that doesn’t mean it won’t have a place in the future.

I like to think of these files as my “literary spice cabinet.” (I’ve mentioned this several times before.) When I come to a place in my manuscript that needs a little something special, I open up my file and I find the right plot twist, add it to my story and see if it works. I am guiding my creativity this way, not controlling it.

The same holds true for visual arts. I was taught in undergrad over a decade ago, that ratio of time for drawing is 30 to 70. I am to spend 30% of my time looking at my canvas or paper and 70% of the time looking at the form that I am capturing. This way I “draw what I see and not what I think I see.”

This is only relevant if you are creating from life, the 30 to 70, but it speaks again to being confident in your skill. Control says look at your paper more than the object you are recreating, while organic process says just flow.

In closing I want to encourage with the 3 tidbits I had woven in this posting:

1. Be free with your process: Remember what Crystal said, art is organic, so let your art grow in its own way…even if you have to trim the hedges later.

2. Hold your reins with an easy but steady hand:  Only cover or control what is absolutely necessary to guide your art but allow it to become what it is meant to be.

Art is after all a lot like children. Children raised with overbearing, overprotective, controlling hands, never really grow up to become confident, able adults. Their potential gets stifled. They are birds with fragile wings or trees that never reach the sun.

Which leads us to our last tidbit…

3. Be confident in your ability: You’ve been given a gift so use it. Raise your creativity/child with confidence!

Children guided with a hand of confident authority typically end up being well-rounded adults, given just the right balance of boundary and freedom to become what they were meant to be.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Advertisements

Once Upon A Time…Why I Started This Blog and Why I Didn’t

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, (less than two years if you want to get technical) I started I Came For The Soup.

When I started this blog I had one goal in mind, and that was to harness creativity, fan flames into raging fires, and create, create, create.

I have said this a few times before in other postings. You will have to surf through my archives to find those posts as I have no idea what they are called at the moment.  Here is a link to a posting called Keep To the Path that first touched on the current topic of this blog posting.

What’s important is raw creativity and spiritual growth,  to become better at what I am doing, to turn this spark into a sustained fire.”

Every now and again, I find that I need to give myself a reminder of not WHY I created this space of expression and bonding, but why I did NOT create this blog space.

If you are curious as to the “whys,” read my About Page, the Welcome Tab found under About, or How It All Began. I even created 4 rules for myself just as a daily reminder (Rules taken from “Keep To the Path):

Rule # 1. Keep to the path. Always remember, this blog is about discovering your new light and creative world. Let that be your beacon towards every post.

Rule # 2. Don’t take yourself too seriously, this blog is playtime. Playtime is fun and adventurous.

Rule# 3. Give what you have at the moment and spruce it up later. (Pictures are lovely. I would like to illustrate some of the Freewrites I have done but clearly this will have to happen later. It wouldn’t make sense to stress over it now.) NEVER FORGET THE POWER OF A QUARTER!

(There is a Blog called “The Almighty Quarter” found under the Daily Words in the Musing tab if you are interested in reading it.)

Rule# 4. This is not a 9 to 5, this is “Creative Therapy”. If you forget to nourish yourself first you will faint before you are able to give something satisfying to others.

Great rules, huh? I even went as far as to give myself 3 MORE statements of “why.”

Frustration forces us beyond our fear and complacency because it has caused us to become uncomfortable, thus pushing us to do whatever it takes to gain our ease again.

  • My Vision: My vision is to grow and take advantage of artistic freedom. As an artist I would like to harness a new level of  artistic expression. As we grow our signatures change. I would like to discover 1 or 2 visual styles of expression and polish them into coherent and clear artistic signatures. I want my writing to flow easily from my imagination into typed or written words, without hindrance and over thinking. I mostly just want to have fun with the process in general. As I discover these things and sample different avenues of expression I will share.
  • My Voice: Even as I create with freedom I want to do so with purpose. I want to discover the voice of that purpose and speak it loud and clear.
  • My Doing: I want this blog and journey to be the catalyst for the creative and spiritual journeys and discoveries of for others. I want to inspire my readers and watchers to create and grow, and inspire others to create and grow. I want to discover more of me and I want others to be inspired to discover  more of themselves. (Taken from the About tab in Main Menu)

None of this has changed really. Actually what I am facing now is the frustration of NEW VISION and a CLEARER VOICE, as I struggle to express myself in a NEW WAY OF DOING.

Frustration, if you don’t already know, is a speed bump in our road of progress. Frustration is not always an enemy, as speed bumps are not the enemy. What it is is a tool. Frustration causes us to pause in our “doing,” take note of what is missing, and change our course of direction to take hold of what is we need.

Frustration forces us beyond our fear and complacency because it has caused us to become uncomfortable, thus pushing us to do whatever it takes to gain our ease again.

Frustration… is a speed bump in our road of progress.”

My current frustration is in my rhythm. Its like going from driving an automatic transmission car, to a stick shift. You need to drive, you just don’t know how to use your vehicle to the fullest…yet.

That being said, I am fully committed to polishing the “Newness” that has grown out of my previous seasons in order to take to the road again with style.

So, frustration in hand as a tool, why did I NOT create this blog?

  1. I did not create this blog to gain a sense of worth. Let’s face it. If you blog, you have been bitten by the “statistics bug” at least once or twice. You have pouted over low views, follows and ratings. This is not a “road bump.” Falling pray to this kind of bite is like a cancer that threatens the very life of your creativity. DON’T GIVE IN!
  2. I did not create this blog in order to be regimentedSchedules are good things, but I need to be careful with them. I can easily lose my “glow” by becoming legalistic with my sense of “order”. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are my absolute blogging days, but I will most likely still post in between. Creativity is not on a schedule.
  3. I did not create this blog to look like the blogs of others. It is tempting to see the success (stats and what not) of other bloggers, the popularity of their content, and seek to follow their lead because of it. Although it is wonderful to admire and even borrow some techniques, if you just become a “copy” of someone else, then why are you even blogging?
  4. I did not create this blog for it to be a chore, filled with “have to’s.” This blog is and remains an instrument of growth. Growth happens naturally and not out of force. I don’t HAVE to post, but I should as I have the voice and spark to do so. Anything else is inauthentic and just not welcome.

With all of this being said, I take my keys in hand and I put myself behind the wheel of my new creative vehicle. I hope that my frustration and growing pains are helpful to you all as well as encouraging.

Thanks for riding along with me, and if you have any words of advice or encouragement of your own, please do share!

Cheers!

Chopsticks_(PSF)

{Curious about this picture? Click it!}

Decisions part II…More on Chopsticks

It amazes me how something so simple as Chopsticks can actually hold very profound power. After all, basic chopsticks are fashioned from two pieces of wood. They are nothing more than sticks, but to use them, to be able to feed yourself with them takes practice and elegant form.

When thinking further about the analogy I made between Chopsticks and Time management, I realized the same holds true with creativity as a whole. I briefly mentioned it at the end of the previous post, but I wanted to take some time and expand on it.

Your art is a living, organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.”- Crystal Robinson Clark

Over the past few weeks of blogging, there have been a few reoccurring themes; time, control, and of course, creativity. Years ago, I was having a conversation with my eldest sister about my art not doing what I wanted it to do and certainly not doing it within the window of time that I had set for it. My sister’s response was that, “Your art is a living organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.” Referencing chopsticks made me think of this yesterday. Ruminating on the connection gave birth to the image below. (It’s more a diagram really)

Vector Drawing by Candice Coates
Vector Drawing by Candice Coates

A few years ago, while having lunch with some of my friends who are Korean, I learned that a person who holds the smallest amount of their chopsticks happens to be very proficient. In other words the person who takes up the LEAST of controlled space, actually has the MOST power and control. An employer who able to have friendly relationships with his/her employees but still receive the utmost respect and honor from them is a person who takes up the Least but has the Most.

This comes from confidence. You can hold the reins with a lighter hand when you are confident in your position.

When it comes to time management, writing, creating visual art, I, like many others, have strained to make things happen in the exact way that I envisioned because of some type or form of fear. I was working out of a place of low creative confidence.  I shook those shackles off of my writing years ago and I am so glad that I did. My fiction has grown much stronger because of it. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be in the midst of typing and your main character suddenly makes a shocking decision that makes you gasp because you didn’t even see it coming. I remember the first time this happened and me, shaking my head saying “Octavia! Why did you do that?! You are so stupid!” This is true organic creativity in action or writing with chopsticks.

I always have a “recipe” for my plot lines but I do not marry myself to them…I hold my writing chopsticks covering as little space as possible, leaving the rest to organic growth. Some might be thinking, “Well, Candice, what do you do with ideas that pop in your head about a particular storyline you are working on?” Simple, I write those ideas down and keep them in a separate file. I very rarely trash an idea all together. Even if in the present moment it doesn’t seem to have a place, that does not mean it will not have a place in the future.

I like to think of these files as my “literary spice cabinet.” When I come to a place in my manuscript that needs a little something special, I open up my file and I find the right plot twist, add it to my story and see if it works. I am guiding my creativity this way, not controlling it.

The same holds true for visual arts. I was taught in undergrad over a decade ago, that ratio of time for drawing is 30 to 70. I am to spend 30% of my time looking at my canvas or paper and 70% of the time looking at the form that I am capturing. This way I “draw what I see and not what I think I see.” This is only relevant if you are creating from life, the 30 to 70, but it speaks again to being confident in your skill. Control says look at your paper more than the object you are recreating, while organic process says just flow.

In closing I want to encourage you to be free with your process. Be confident in your ability and hold your chopsticks with a sure and steady hand, but only cover what is absolutely necessary to guide your art but allow it to become what it is meant to be.  Art is after all a lot like children. Children raised with overbearing, overprotective, controlling hands, never really grow up to become confident, able adults. Their potential gets stifled. They are birds with fragile wings or trees that never reach the sun. But children guided with a hand of confident authority typically end up being well rounded adults, given just the right balance of boundary and freedom to become what they were meant to be.

Chopsticks…the certainly are more than just two pieces of wood.