Category Archives: Creativity Coaching

Four More Weeks of “Creative Writing Extravaganza” at Bliss!

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As Seen in Natural Awakenings Magazine!

Creative Writing Extravaganza
Tuesdays, August 16 – October 4, 2016, 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Bliss Spiritual Co-op
1163 Pleasant Oaks Drive, off Chuck Dawley Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC

No registration required! Attend all eight weeks or drop in when you can!

Join us as we explore how the raw material of our life experiences informs our artistic expression and how we can develop them into poems, stories, flash memoir, and more! Each class will focus on a specific sample or style of writing from which students will generate their own work by responding to prompts, engaging in invention activities, and emulating the sample writing itself. Time will also be set aside during each class for students to read aloud from any new work they wish to share (always optional). All levels are welcome.

We will explore:

  • Imagination in prose and poetry
  • The music of the sentence
  • Forms of poetry (and why they matter)
  • Elements of narrative
  • The Lyric Essay
  • Flash fiction
  • Fun with metaphor, simile, and personification
  • Flash creative non-fiction
  • The role of the writer’s journal
  • How drawing helps writing
  • Deepening writing through awareness and meditation
  • Deepening awareness and meditation though writing
  • Establishing a regular writing practice
  • Working through fear of failure
  • Working through fear of success
  • The joy of revision
  • Revising life stories for empowerment
  • Deepening self-awareness and healing through writing
  • Deepening craft through self-awareness

Bring your journal, favorite writing instrument, and inner child!

New Creative Writing Class in Charleston Community

f89a6047e669ec1ac91be6381d9ec13eI am happy to announce that I will be teaching  a creative writing class open to community members at Bliss. Thanks to Tish for providing such a wonderful space for dream incubation

Creative Writing Extravaganza
Tuesdays, August 16 – October 4, 2016, 7:00 to 8:30 PM at Bliss Spiritual Co-op
1163 Pleasant Oaks Drive, off Chuck Dawley Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC

No registration required! Attend all eight weeks or drop in when you can!

Come learn about or deepen your understanding of poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction, essay and short fiction writing. During this eight-week class, we will explore how the raw material of our life experiences informs our artistic expression and how we can develop those expressions into finished pieces. Each class will focus on a specific sample or style of writing from which students will generate their own work by responding to prompts, engaging in invention activities, and emulating the sample writing itself. Time will also be set aside during each class for students to read aloud from any new work they wish to share (always optional). All levels are welcome.

We will explore:

  • Imagination in prose and poetry
  • The music of the sentence
  • Forms of poetry (and why they matter)
  • Elements of narrative
  • The Lyric Essay
  • Flash fiction
  • Fun with metaphor, simile, and personification
  • Flash creative non-fiction
  • The role of the writer’s journal
  • How drawing helps writing
  • Deepening writing through awareness and meditation
  • Deepening awareness and meditation though writing
  • Establishing a regular writing practice
  • Working through fear of failure
  • Working through fear of success
  • The joy of revision
  • Revising life stories for empowerment
  • Deepening craft through self-awareness

Bring your journal, favorite writing instrument, and inner child!

Voice and Technology: A Brief Meditation

Vocal communication is one of the most ancient modes of technology still utilized in modern times. It is the mode by which we first learn to persuade others to see our point of view and call them to act, and it still holds great power and rhetorical value today. More than engaging the intellect through well-chosen words, the voice is the body’s singular channel for connecting with others and conveying emotional meaning through intonation, stressed syllables, meter, rhyme, and volume. Poetry, with its attention to sound and sensuous appeal, naturally evolved from the human need to remember and convey oral histories. Combining the technology of written expression with the oral tradition of story-telling, poetry expands the limits of language to engage the listener’s soul. We can say, then, that poetry is a technology older than the iPad, the laptop or the analog phone. Older still than cave-dwelling drawings or the written word; older even perhaps than prose.

While poetry continues to evolve in response to new theories on form and function and even in response to historical upheaval that would require it to conform, it still resists and overcomes language barriers, gender perception, and political influence. Read or spoken aloud, poetry continues to be one of the most effective means of conveying emotional truth today.

The Problem with the Perfect Space

The characteristics of a perfect creative space are as varied and subjective as the myriad individuals who utilize them. What makes an ideal space for one may be abhorrent for another. One writer, for example, may prefer the solitude of a quiet room with a closed door while another prefers the white noise and human bustle typical of the neighborhood café. One painter may prefer En plein air while another longs for the consistency of the indoor studio. Too, such preferences alter in response to related personal needs and emotional states.  Perhaps yesterday the objective was to get out of the house and away from the dirty dishes, making the coffee shop, where the dishes are someone else’s concern, more conducive to working. Tomorrow the concern may be reducing caffeine intake and limiting sugary snacks, making the library a more attractive choice. Artists intuit this about themselves and constantly adjust to get their creative work done.

Artists also know that physicality of space is important to the creative process. The painter/sculptor must be able to make a mess; the musician must make noise without raising the ire of neighbors; the photographer must have space to store and use specialty equipment; and the writer must have something hard on which to write or a place to set the computer upon which she types. In developing one’s place of creativity, it may be useful to know that quiet is generally considered more conducive to creating than noise, that large spaces dissipate energy and small spaces channel it, that distractions can prove homicidal to focus. But more importantly is intention to create.

One of the ways artists undermine their intentions to create is to focus on acquiring a perfect creative space – even waiting to create until everything about a space is perfect. Manuscripts are postponed until the perfect house on the perfect lane with the perfect view are purchased, occupied and decorated. Musical arrangements delayed until the ideal music studio secured. Great paintings left imaginary until just the right cooperative opens up. Then, once the perfect space is acquired, the artist becomes paralyzed by that very perfection. The writer is so stunned by the view beyond the windows of their dream writing space they never write a word. The painter becomes afraid to make a mess in their newly built studio with its hardwood floors. The sculptor becomes distracted by loft-mates and other artists in the cooperative she joined. The perfect space, then, is just another way perfectionism can thwart an artist’s efforts.

The intention to create, then, is at least as important as one’s creative space.  Is it really the thought of those dirty dishes that interferes with creating, or is it fear of facing the blank page, empty canvas or block of stone? Is it fear of success? Or is the thought of those dirty dishes a distraction meant to delay the creative process and temporarily keep the ego comfortable? Will the perfect creative space really make you better at creating, or will the act of creating make you better at creating?

Take into consideration other professions in which lack of distractions is crucial to success. You would not want your dentist to be distracted by a stunning view while performing your root canal. Give the same level of focus to your creative work by providing your creative process with as much consideration as a surgeon gives the patient beneath his scalpel.

The Perfect Creative Space

The characteristics of the perfect creative space are as varied and subjective as the myriad individuals who utilize such spaces. What makes an ideal space for one may be abhorrent to another. One writer, for example, may prefer the solitude of a quiet room with a closed door while another prefers the white noise and human bustle typical of the neighborhood café. One painter may prefer En plein air while another longs for the consistency of the indoor studio. Time and mood, too, play roles in an artist’s preferences.  Perhaps yesterday the objective was to get out of the house and away from the dirty dishes, making the coffee shop, where the dishes are another’s concern, more conducive to working. Tomorrow the concern may be reducing caffeine intake and limiting sugary snacks, making the library a more attractive choice. Artists intuit this about themselves and constantly adjust in order to get their creative work done.

Artists also know that physicality of space is important to the creative process. The painter/sculptor must be able to make a mess; the musician must make noise without raising the ire of neighbors; the photographer must have space to store and use specialty equipment; and the writer must have a surface upon which to write or to place the computer upon which she types. In considering creative space, it is certainly useful to know that quiet is generally more conducive to creating than noise, that large spaces dissipate energy while small spaces concentrate it, and that distractions can prove homicidal to focus. But most important for creating is having the intention to create.

One of the ways artists undermine their intention to create is to focus on acquiring the perfect creative space – even waiting to create until everything about a space is perfect. Manuscripts are postponed until the perfect house on the perfect lane with the perfect view are purchased, occupied and decorated. Musical arrangements delayed until the ideal music studio secured. Great paintings left imaginary until just the right cooperative opens up. Then, once the perfect space is acquired, the artist becomes paralyzed by that very perfection. The writer is so stunned by the view beyond the windows of their dream writing space they never write a word. The painter becomes afraid to make a mess in their newly built studio with its hardwood floors. The sculptor becomes distracted by loft-mates or other artists member of the cooperative she has joined. The perfect space, then, is just another way perfectionism can thwart an artist’s efforts.

The intention to create, then, is every bit as important as the physicality of the space.  The artist must ask – Is it really the thought of those dirty dishes that interferes with creating, or are those dirty dishes a convenient way to avoid facing the blank page, empty canvas or block of stone? Will the perfect creative space really improve the creative process, or will the act of creating improve the creative process?

Take into consideration other professions in which focus is crucial to success. The surgeon, the dentist, even the chef. None work in luxurious open spaces or demand astonishing views. They do not entertain distracting thoughts of inadequacy or images of failure while practicing their craft. They do not worry about the dishes.

Artists can take a note from the pages of the professional practice book and learn to focus just as intently to give the creative process as much consideration as a surgeon gives the patient beneath his scalpel.

Set an intention to create today and get to it.

Introduction to Creativity Coaching

What is Creativity Coaching?

Many people understand “Life Coaching” as a relationship wherein a trained individual helps another achieve certain desirable life goals and dreams. Creativity Coaching provides the same kind of support but with a concentrated focus on the creative personality and involves individuals who identify themselves as creative persons. A creative person can be described as any individual who is serious about their art, regardless of proficiency or amount of time dedicated in pursuit of honing that art, and regardless of the degree of financial support garnered from their art. In simplest terms, the creativity coach supports the artist through all aspects of the creative process, including, but not limited to, overcoming obstacles, mulling over the meaning of creating, planning projects, maintaining dreams while accepting reality, managing time, and completing stated goals.

Photo by Tony Flaco

Creativity Coaching differs from therapy or other similarly helpful professions in that coaching is more concerned with supporting the client’s state of being than with analysis of the client’s condition. Objectives generally emphasize discovering what creative pathways the client wishes to explore and supporting such exploration through experienced guidance and compassionate interest. When a client is confronted with an obstacle involving confusing or traumatic past life experiences, the creativity coach is on hand to assist in navigating murky waters and untangling that which has become tangled in the psyche, ultimately allowing the individual to return to the important work of living and creating. Even though the focus of creativity coaching is on creativity, coaching of any kind is holistic in nature and considers every aspect of a client’s well-being.

It is very common for coaching relationships to develop through telephone and email communication, or even through a Skype connection. Phone sessions typically occur every week and last between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the situation, the client, and the coach’s parameters. Typically, coach and client stay in touch through regular email communication between telephone calls. Because coaching does not depend on a meeting location, it is possible to coach, or be coached, anywhere that email and phone connections are available.

Creativity Coaching often yields a high return for clients. Still, it is a relationship and so requires a commitment from both parties. As such, certain characteristics and attitudes are particularly useful to possess when embarking on a journey with a creativity coach. These include: willingness to release resistance, willingness to honestly self- reflect and willingness to truly work towards stated goals.

As a Creativity Coach, I offer a 20 minute free introductory session for interested individuals and am taking new clients. My clients range from novice writers discovering their voice to accomplished musicians putting together a next CD to visual artists arranging their next gallery showing. Whatever your creative endeavor, I am here to help you on your journey.

My email is writeone.lisa@gmail.com – write “Creativity Coaching” in the subject line.

Informal Notes on The Japanese Renku

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Journal of Ranga and Renku http://www.darlingtonrichards.com

Here are some very informal notes from the renku workshop I recently attended:

The Renku form is an endless poem consisting of alternating three- and two-line stanzas. The fist stanza consists of three lines while the second contains two lines. This pattern repeats indefinitely, or until a specified and predetermined date and time of its conclusion. Each stanza is written by a different poet and should attempt to change the focus, utilize mixed images, borrow syntax or otherwise surprise any expectations that may have been set up by the previous stanza. The Japanese tradition of Renku suggests the beginning stanzas include compliments about, and generally acknowledge the graciousness of, the host.

Ways for shifting focus and linking stanzas in unusual ways:

1) kotobazuke (link through words): Observe rhymes, existing repetition, puns, familiar phrases, grammar or syntax and carry them through. For example, if the first line of one stanza is something like “The man in the hat,” you may want to consider using the same syntax but with a very different subject, like “The car in the street.” Alternately, free associate with words and images. For example, if the previous stanza has a word like “goggles,” it makes me think of “google,” which makes think of searching, so I may write about searching. If the previous stanza uses a word like “sleep” it makes me think of a rhyme, like “sheep”, so maybe I will include something about sheep (sheep searching, searching sheep, shepherds searching for sheep…)

2) monokuze (shift through things/use contrast): Ask a question to which there is no answer, deepen the observation or present an opposite or contrasting mood. If it’s dark, lighten it. If it’s active, present a still setting, if it is quiet, add some noise.

3) ioizuke,  a.k.a./ “scent” (shift mood or feeling): Like syncopation, add an unexpected element to the mood. Use a metaphor or change the setting.

4) Finally, do not explain connections – resist the temptation to explain the image you have presented.

For our pre-Renku exercises, students worked primarily with the Haiku concept, but we discarded the syllabic restrictions,(as English doesn’t adapt to that parameter very well).

Here are a few of my exercises:

First:

Focus: Deepen. That is, look at it, then took at it some more. Do not explain connections.

Our Prompt: Sheep in a field.

My response:

Sheep in a field
Men on horseback
Un-hitch the barbed wire

Second:

Focus: Contrast mood/use opposites

Prompt: Small boat in calm harbor

My response:

Small boat in the calm harbor
breeze echoes the sound
of raised voices

Third

Focus: Ask a question/add a person

Prompt: The cat returns after eleven nights

My Response:

The cat returns after eleven nights
Where are you?

Anyway, you get the idea.

The homework for our class is to “make” a Renku, which has been set up as a blog. My fellow poets and I will be adding to it over the next ten days, and I’m really excited about watching it evolve and grow. I hope you, my blog readers, will take some time to check our project out at:

KC Writers’ Place Renku Project 2010

If you are interested in reading and/or contributing to some really great renku yourself, check out the Journal of Renga and Renku (as pictured above) at:  The Journal of Renga and Renku