I am doing a series of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Creativity Workshops, and in one of the segments of the course, we are asked to take 20 minutes to sit down and write reflective responses to certain questions. These writings are meant to be fast, free, unedited thoughts – not compositions.
We are asked to post them publicly somewhere, as a creative notebook, so that the other workshop participants may read them. So I am choosing this page as my Creative Notebook.
Step 1. Put 20 minutes on the clock. Reflect and write on the questions below.
- Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What was the last thing you really wondered about?
The last thing I really wondered about was school.
I most recently revisited my nagging curiosity about law school, even thought I’m already 46 years old. Even though that would leave little, if any, time for any of my many creative outlets. How would I perform in shows, blog, write my book et… if I was in Law school?
I think often about studying law but I’m not sure why – I mean I know what attracts me to it but I don’t know how I would make it meaningful to myself – unless of course, I became a human rights lawyer – or the President of the United States of America. I’ve been told on countless occasions that I should go into politics. I’m not sure if it was meant as a compliment or not, but it could make a good mid-life career change…
I thought a lot about a social work degree, and then again about a law degree. I got really excited when I saw that there was a joint masters program, Law and Social Work, at McGill. But again I wondered what the hell I would do with either, let alone both. I imagined years of debt to pay off, and me still working for a non-profit organization, for $18 an hour. I felt even more confused than I did before exploring my options.
I’ve wondered about Classes that I recently heard people talking about – Sexology and women’s issues. I’m interested in women’s issues, and even more interested in educating other women about themselves, their bodies, and the issues that most effect them both in history and the present world.
I wondered not long ago about botany and urban agriculture, food security and farming. I’m obsessed with food. I love growing food, grocery shopping, choosing ingredients, inventing recipes, photographing the food that I make, and inspiring other people to discovery and try new foods and meals.
I’m an outreach worker and was an intervention counsellor for years. I have an unexplainable passion for communication and mediation. I like making sense out of the things that people think and say, and rearranging it so that they are heard and understood, both by themselves, and by others. I thought about taking a certified life coaching program, and before that, about a social work degree.
I thought about music and theatre, as they are constants in my life, ever since childhood, I was sure I’d be a movie star. I failed myself, disappointed myself greatly, by not finishing the Music program at Concordia.
I thought about all of those things. Those are the things I really wondered about lately.
2. Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop Creativity Notebook – Creative Flow
When was the last time you experienced creative flow?
The last time I remember experiencing creative flow – and I mean actual flow, not little bursts or touches of inspiration or anything like that. Real flow…
Was probably when I was blogging regularly, living on Hingston Street. But I’ll be honest, it felt like forced disciplined flow.
I was blogging pretty regularly, and even writing songs here and there. I went through phases.
I remember more clearly, in 2010, around the time that I was hospitalized – before, and even more so after. I remember I was blogging and writing and Vlogging, like a fiend. It felt so natural, like it was pouring right out of me. Im not entirely sure why. I went through phases even afterwards, on Marcil. Musically as well – but mostly writing. I was into it.
What’s different now?
I don’t often find myself with time alone, and when I do, it’s fleeting and I feel rushed to feel that flow. I feel like I have to hurry up and be creative, quickly, as fast as I can!!!! And instead of being motivated, I feel creatively paralyzed.
My creative space, is my “studio” which is in the basement, which is dark and damp and has the extremely overwhelming stench of cat shit clinging to it’s dingy moist air it most of the time, due to the litter boxes in the neighbouring laundry room.
I think it’s probably great folder for writing material, but not overly sustainable. I mean there is only so much writing one can do about the odour of a littler box, but there’s something there… for sure.
I could come upstairs to write but it’s extremely difficult to set up writer’s camp in the living room. But there are too many distractions and interruptions and I feel the resentment building as high as my shoulders rise.
“Stop it. Stop scratching. Get off of me. Be quiet. Go away. Stop it. Gross! Stop it! STOP LICKING YOURSELF!!! JESUS!!!”
I remember having the best flow ever when the kids were small, and I lived in a big 7 1/2 on Esplanade. I was playing guitar and singing and recording almost every single day, for hours and hours and hours. I was writing personal essays and building my first web site.
It was so exciting. If only I knew then… NO really. If only, because I would be living an entirely different life right now. I know it. If only I’d actually taken myself seriously and made a real plan to follow through on, instead of just feeling life out, or up, or whatever.
Especially regarding music, and blogging. I’m sad that I missed the bandwagon. My blog started to take off but at the tail end of a trend that has come and gone already. Nobody has the attention span for it anymore anyway. I think I saw somewhere that people’s maximum attention for these things is 30 seconds. It was probably less. That seems like a lot, considering.
So what was different then???
I guess just that I was working from home, for myself. And not very much. That I had all day, almost every day to create. And I surrounded myself with creative people who believed in me. Who were inspired by me. and inspiring to me also. And I took myself seriously. I believed in what I was doing, and who I was.
I had huge major big unrestricted seemingly limitless flow.
3. Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What did you love to do most of all when you were 8 years old.
3. Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What did you love to do most of all when you were 8 years old?
When I was eight, we moved from Montreal Quebec, to British Columbia. The first place I remember living, was Cortez Island.
My Godfather had promised us a place to live once we arrived, but my mother had no idea that place would be an enormous log house owned by a doctor who had no idea that we were living there.
She also didn’t know that said house would be void of any electricity and indoor plumbing.
There was a fully finished bathroom and kitchen, but no water came from the taps, so we had to walk to the well for water every day, and use the outhouse, a few meters from the cabin.
The property was magical, the house rested in a clearing that was surrounded on 3 sides by woods, the fourth side facing the ocean.
I remember playing alone a lot.
I spend countless hours playing on the beach. I pretended that I lived on my own, and had to forage for food and shelter. I built forts out of driftwood and kelp.
I sang and I danced, and I pretended that the all the living creatures in the ocean and the forrest, were my audience.
I used to play imaginary instruments, miming in the air, my fiddle, my mandolin, my penny whistle… I told elaborate stories to the sea gulls, about my travels across the country.
I sang to barnacles and baby crabs.
Eventually I made a friend.
I was exciting to her, fresh from the big city. I taught her some french words, introduced her to CBC radio, and showed her how to roll a cigarette.
She was exciting to me, she lived on a house boat anchored to a tiny island covered in honeysuckle.
I explained to her who Judy Garland, Mae West and Bette Davis were, taught her the ins and outs of improvisational theatre, and the lyrics to at least 10 broadway show tunes.
She showed me what pinworms look like, taught me how to tell salmon berries from poisonous ones, and how to steer a canoe.
Her mother made the best rice pudding I had ever had in my life. Her father hunted and cooked us dear and rabbit and freshly caught salmon. I loved all of these things about her, but best of all, while I imagine she probably found me pretty bossy, Ocean mostly cooperated when I needed her to play extra characters in my sea side productions.
4. Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What was the last passage from a book, piece of music, or work of art that really inspired you? What drew you to it?
5. Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What are you doing when you feel most beautiful.
6. Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What are your superpowers?
7.Elizabeth Gilbert Workshop – Creativity Notebook – What would you do for a living if you weren’t scared of anything?
Once you have these sources of inspiration jotted down, take a minute and consider the big picture.
What themes do you see?
What is exciting to you?
What do you want to use this course to start pursuing or start creating?
Step 3. Share your creative notebook with others in this course.