As writers, we spend so much time developing our craft, but at the end of the day we still need something we can’t seem to control—our creativity.
Or maybe we can. At least a little.
Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka said in his keynote speech at the recent NESCBWI conference that you need to be bored to spark creativity. He’s right, but maybe it’s more than that. So much of our time is spent worrying about stuff that has happened in the past or stuff that’s about to happen in the future. These thoughts jam our creativity. When we connect to the present, we clear these thoughts and free our minds to channel new ideas.
But how do we get our busy monkey minds to stop jumping from the past to the future and just chill out in the here and now? I think we can do it by connecting to our senses. That’s one reason everyone gets many great ideas in the shower. It’s such a sensory experience, and the warm water feels so good that it anchors us in the present, and our thoughts melt away, leaving us in that space where ideas seem to come out of nowhere. It worked for Archimedes in the bathtub…
There are many ways to connect to our senses and free our minds, including walking, running, cooking, and gardening. One way I do it is through yoga. In yoga class, we stretch, twist, invert, and balance our bodies into lots of yoga poses from downward dog to eagle pose. The yoga teacher reminds us to breathe through each pose and to notice the sensation of the breath going in and out. The noise in my head quiets. And suddenly I realize something about my main character that I can’t believe I didn’t see before, or a new twist in my plot.
As the mom of four, I don’t always have time to go to yoga class so I do one or two poses next to my desk. I find balancing poses especially calming. I might do tree pose or Warrior poses. Maybe we should call it Writing Warrior Pose as we have to overcome so many obstacles in order to write from time, self-doubt, and the publishing process. If I’m feeling really distracted, bouncing around social media instead of #amrevising, I might even try alternate nostril breathing. It works, I swear! Check it out here and see for yourself.
Walking also helps me get into a creative state of mind. I let my busy thoughts cycle through, until my surroundings poke me out of my thoughts. The wind flicks my hair, I notice how the light through the gray clouds makes the trees look florescent green, and I start to let go of my stuff. I feel connected. And then suddenly I come up with a new idea for a picture book.
It’s odd that our senses, which are so grounding, are the key to our expansive creativity. But when we feel, taste, hear, see, and smell the world, we unlock our creativity. When we connect to our senses we connect to the universe, and it rewards us with a feeling of peace—and creativity.
So whether you practice yoga, or walk, or meditate, or garden, or take baths, or sip mint tea while gazing out the window, I hope you feel your moments and find your gateway to limitless creativity!
In addition to being a writer, KARIN LEFRANC is a certified children’s yoga teacher. Born in Sweden, she went to five schools in Lebanon, South Africa and England before coming to the US to attend college. She now lives in Connecticut with her French husband and four kids. She self published her first picture book A QUEST FOR GOOD MANNERS. Her first traditionally published picture book I WANT TO EAT YOUR BOOKS was published in 2015 by Sky Pony Press. She’s currently stomping through the dark ages in a middle-grade novel about trolls and giants. You can find her on Twitter.