The Art of Stillness: Creative Motivation

 Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of  being still.” ~Candice Coates via the Lord Jesus

I, by nature, am a woman given to hard work. I have an inherent urge and drive to be productive, to seize the moment and bear fruits from my labor. Being still, not producing, often leaves me with an anxious feeling that I have wasted my time, time that I will never get back.

"Rest at Harvest" by William-Adolphe Bouquereau c. 1865
“Rest at Harvest” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau c. 1865

The deception of that ideology is one that plagues many of us, I am sure; being still means you have wasted a moment.

Years ago, I was presented with the converse of that ideology. I learned that there can be great wisdom in resting…simply being still.

All too often we confuse stillness with the lack of productivity. We in the west have been conditioned to believe that if there is no movement then nothing has been done.

This is actually an enemy of faith. Faith, as the Bible puts it in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things NOT seen, the evidence of things hoped for.” Going a step further with faith, I am reminded of the beauty that comes from stillness especially in the face of my unfinished projects and art.

I have found that when I rest, when I am still and quiet, my creativity flourishes in a way that it does not when I am “trying to work” it out. In the hush of the still moments, the moments that logic says I should be moving, I find that the rivers of creativity flow, the sound of the stories play as music in my ears, and the colors of the art waiting to be made dance within my imagination with a clarity far more real than the world I live in.

I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.

It is in the stillness that I am able to take hold of the bouquet of roses without pricking my hands with the thorns of forced efforts…which ultimately equal wasted efforts. Wouldn’t you agree with me, that it is indeed a waste of time to force your efforts only to find that hours later you end up trashing everything you squeezed out of you? You end up far more stressed afterward when you do this.

Forcing the moment is akin to squeezing the blood from turnips.

Those years ago, as I sat on my bed, warm buttery sunlight pouring through my window and onto my face, I heard the voice of the Lord Jesus say, “Sometimes using your time well or wisely is really just a matter of  being still.” And this is the truth.

Being still in body and even in the mind allows your creativity to speak without all the commotion. Clarity comes, the vision is brought into greater focus. Strength for the next steps is also given.

I still have to be reminded of this truth. I have to keep myself from straining to “hear,” but to simply allow myself to hear when the time comes.

I want so very much to produce without a break in the moment but these breaks, if treated right, if embraced with the full commitment of rest, produce such wonderful and delicious fruit.

When I look at William-Adolphe Bouquereau’s painting, “Rest at Harvest,” I see the truth yet again. The woman reclines with sublime peace at a time when she should be gathering in the grain.

Had she done the logical thing, she would have missed out on the joy she so clearly was filled with by simply being still and I would reckon (using my imagination here) that when she finally did go to gather the harvest she was much more efficient.

This is what I want to be. Actually, in writing this article and looking for the perfect image to express my words I was made to really take a deeper look at Bouguereau, and I have to say I have fallen in love.

My prayer is that in the seasons to come, I will continue to authentically produce works that are worth posting and worth your time reading. Do bear with me, as I do not want to rush them only to have to backtrack later.

I humbly thank you all, all of you who have journeyed with me thus far in Following this creative platform,  those of you who have Liked the postings, and those of you who have participated in the writing prompts and have taken the time to leave feedback and comments. I can’t say thank you enough.

*Revised from July 14, 2014

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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Taking the Scenic Route: Moments of Creative Clarity

“…The race is not given to the swift…” ~Ecclesiastes 9:11

I am, by nature, a person who is all about using every second of every day to my advantage, constantly working out in my mind how to squeeze as much into a moment of productivity as I possibly can.

I like to map things out in order to ensure that I have taken the shortest route but achieved the greatest return. I especially held this way of thinking in the world of my fiction writing.

So when I set out for the third time in my writing career to complete the writing of a novel in thirty days, the first thought, besides what I would write about, was in how many words would I need to produce in a day.

If you do not know, what makes a novel an official novel is the word count. This is the same with Novellas, Short Stories, etcetera. To have a novel, your manuscript must be made up of 50,000 words or more.

Trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

When I sat down on June 1st, 2014, I felt my nerves pinching away at me, screaming for me to make 3,000 words. Why? So that by the end of June I would not only have achieved novel status, but I would be finished the story I was working on in totality.

It sounded like a good plan, great plan if I am honest. But what I have realized is that rushing and counting does not for a strong storyline make. Actually, by focusing more on the word count goal and not the actual creative process, I felt my lines of creativity constricting under the unnecessary pressure I was applying.

Being a person redeemed by the blood of Christ, I often pray, and turn my movements over to Him and rest in His favor as a result. So from the beginning of that writing process, I could hear His voice saying, “Don’t force it. The story will come to you.”

My writing of  Ascension Graveyard (my still current WIP) ended up revealing to me that TRUST is a VERY large part of the creative process, and trusting God often means taking the scenic route.

My rushing was hindering me from allowing this story to truly tell itself. Cutting corners and cramming in masses of words for word’s sake was only making a mess. My rushing toward the goal was getting me nowhere fast.

Since then,  I have slowed down.  Ascension Graveyard has truly taken me on a scenic route, so much so that it is doing more brewing in my imagination than pouring through my fingers onto a keyboard.

I do not have the “desired” word count (yet) but what I do have is a solid plot that I am proud of. I can finally see the characters, get to know them and empathize with them in a way rushing would not have allowed.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because this is what the Creative process is all about. It’s not punching a clock, not compiling data, not reaching a status just so you can say you have one. Rather it is about basking in the picturesque natural beauty of what comes from within when you take your time and create something from your heart.

I have learned that this is indeed true. My art, my writing, is indeed witness to this and I have the Lord Jesus Christ to thank for that.

*Revised from June 2014

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Ebbs are always followed by flows.”

~Candice Coates

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our creativity flows out of us in so many avenues of expression. But just as it flows out of us, it will also flow back in with freshness and newness. be at peace with your creative cycle. It is as natural as breathing or even the tide against the shore; in, out, in, out…

Faith is the key element that takes you on to live your big life. Your heavenly Father didn’t create you to live a life of mediocrity – you were created to live life in the FAITH LANE. The faith-lane is not to be mistaken  as the ‘fast lane’ because often it is just the opposite. Faith and Patience= The Promise. (Hebrews 6:12)”

~Pastor Brian Houston “Live love lead” Devotional (HEBREWS 6:9-12)

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Writing Process: A Quote

In the writing process, the more the story cooks, the better. The brain works for you even when you are at rest. I find dreams particularly useful…You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.” ~Doris Lessing

In our pursuit of writing the perfect prose, novel, short story, let us bless ourselves with the gift of time-time enough for our ideas and visions to proof and rise to their fullest potential. After all, I would much rather have a “meal” from a slow cooker than a microwave. Let’s treat the words we weave together with the same honor and respect, especially since we intend to feed them to someone else.

Cheers!

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