Make Writing Your Home
We have an exercise we're gonna go through a little bit quickly, but it's something you can come back to. I actually want to take you through an exercise to envision these different energetic and physical layers of the world around you, going from the largest ephemeral external layer, all the way down to what's happening in your physical home, and in your personal writing space. We're literally gonna reflect on how to cultivate an environment that nurtures us, nourishes us, and is a place where our writing can thrive. As we all know, we become a part of our environments, right? There's this interchange that happens. As an animal adapts and evolves according to its own environment, so do we. Happens in microcosm, but it's really important. This is a great way to create some self-support for yourself from the outside in. Ready to dive in, check it out? Cool. This delicious blueberry glazed donut here represents your environment. I'm getting hungry. Represents your environment, the ecosys...
tem in which you live. I want you guys to think about, this is a reflective exercise, and it's one that, upon reflection, there's the reflection first, and your awareness for these three layers that we're gonna move through, that's you, right there in the middle, doing your writing. Hi, guys. We're gonna first become aware of how these different energetic layers of our world influence our writing in microcosm, and then we'll talk about how you might be able to shift, adapt, change those environments so that everything that's coming into you is the most supportive that it can be for your life and for your writing. First, is this outer layer, your bigger environment, the ecosystem in which you live. Here, Seattle, this would be your environment if you're from here. Me, from the great state of Rhode Island, that's my environment. I used to live in New York City for a time, very different environment from my home state of Rhode Island. What I want you to consider is how the environment, how the culture, how this localized culture in the area in which you live has a direct or indirect impact on your creative values, on your ability to express yourself. How does your environment influence, affect, inhibit, or enable your creative practices? First, observe your ecosystem. Give it a thought. What are the most prevalent qualities to the culture of the area in which you live? How are the elements there? Is it very urban? Is it more rural? Are there a lot of big trees where you can retreat to, or to the mountains? Or are you just camping out on a sidewalk when you want to get outside? This first layer of environment is really important to become aware of because we all do become a part of these cultures. I've lived in a number of cities, all in the northeast, like my coast bias, Boston, New York City, Washington DC, but each one has a very different vibe, and you become a part of that, you pick up on the language and the feel, the flow of the everyday. One thing that I noticed when I was living in New York City, the things that I loved about living in Manhattan a number of years ago, the energy, city never sleeps, the vibrance, the social life, people, constant activity, I loved all that. It's what I moved for. I wanted that energy. I found that that environment ran almost completely counter to my own creative values, which were that I needed space, peace, some nature, some alone time. The introvert in me just wanted to sit somewhere, not be almost spit on by a stranger, you know, these basic things when you're trying to write spiritual poetry or something. Sometimes, the environment in which you live can really contrast with your creative values, with the things that make you feel like you can exist in your writing and not feel threatened through your writing practice. Now, of course, this is the hardest thing to change, especially because we're not all 20-somethings after college, and picking the city in which we want to live. I feel like that's a very flexible time. As you start to get older, you put your roots down, it's harder to change your environment. You have responsibilities, you have a job, you have a family, you can't just say, "I'm gonna try over here now. "I'm gonna try over here now." This is the hardest layer to change, but I feel like the awareness of your environment, of your ecosystem, is really important. It gives you a really powerful sense of awareness for where that friction, where the uncertainty, the instability, may be directly or indirectly... causing you that avoidance shadow, cool? Next, let's move a little bit closer to home. This is a little bit easier. This is a little bit more within our control. Our surroundings, which is a really unspecific way to refer to your living spaces and your work spaces, the actual microcosm environments in which you spend most of your time. Have a thought, and think to your house, your apartment, your condo, the office. If you're self-employed, where do you set up to work? Is it an office within your home? I want you to consider your surroundings and living spaces as being an area of your physical environment that you get to more deliberately cultivate to support your creativity. This is your creative enclave within the bigger world or environment in which you're living. What qualities can you introduce to your environment that will make you feel nourished, supported, and passively, subconsciously always in your writing practice? Is it color? Are there elements like reclaimed woods, paintings, is it quotes sprawled across your walls? How can you cultivate a microcosm of an environment that constantly feeds and nourishes you so you feel like your writing is always a second or two away? That your surroundings, your living spaces are really feeding you with a source of true creative nourishment? Quick show of hands. How many of you, just quickly reflecting on your own creative spaces, or your home environments, how many of you feel like, directly or indirectly, your home environment, your creative spaces, the places where you spend the most time, do feed your writing desires or your writing practice? Show of hands. Ooh, like, five or six. How many of you feel like maybe there's room to improve? Yeah, almost all the room, three quarters of the room. Don't feel daunted, don't feel overwhelmed. This is easy, this is fun. This is a little bit of an introspective practice of, how do I want my writing to feel when I'm in the practice of writing, and how can I visually, emotionally, energetically express this or invite this through my home? Now, before you redesign your entire home to be a writing enclave, your partners, your significant others may blame me for the credit card debt, we could take this even more personal, and even more specific to your personal space, so the space within your home or workplace environment. This is the closest, the easiest to manipulate. What I mean is, your personal space, A, do you have space to call your own? Do you have kids who are constantly intruding on everything that you do, everywhere you go? Mom, I'm sorry. I know this was me when I was growing up. Think about, really deliberately, as a sense of self-discipline and self-care, making a personal space for yourself that's entirely off limits to anybody else. I'm talking about, it could be your office within your home. It could be a writing desk in your window. It could be a small altar which, again, doesn't have to have a religious connotation, but it's a place that you've assigned as being intentional and conscientious. Maybe it contains pictures of loved ones, or from travels from years ago, or gemstones and semiprecious crystals. Maybe there's writing instruments, or quills, something that evokes your inner creative and makes it feel like you want to be in that writing. This is a place where you might actually engage in your writing practice too. It can be kind of like a constant window into your writing, a reminder, or it can be a place where you actually sit down to do your writing so you feel like, when you're stepping into the space, you're almost becoming a different person. You're letting go of some other label, or obligation, or responsibility 'cause, goodness knows, we all have so many of those, and stepping into that role of writer, of creative, and giving yourself to your writing practice. This is really fun, and you can change this constantly too to continually infuse your creativity into your home environments. Just wrap that up, think about color, emblems, sources of inspiration, creative influences, mementos, photos, icons. Guys, when we're talking about making writing your home, instead of feeling isolated in the big wide world of responsibilities, remember, food, water, shelter, safety, that kind of base level of Maslow's hierarchy, the things that we are all obligated to do to be a human being in the world, to contribute to society, to raise up kids, family, to pursue our passions and our goals, instead of feeling like your writing has a very, very small place in that big wide world, the big wide environment in which you live, think a little bit more holistically about how you can make writing your home, about how these things feed into one another. Here's a prompt I want to open up to you guys, and I want to get some feedback from you just for 30 seconds or a minute. This is a writing prompt that I'd like you to take home with you. These will all be in the bonus materials too, by the way, all these slides, in fact, so if you've been scribbling down the charts, thank you, I worked hard on them. How do I cultivate the must supportive and nourishing writing environment in which I can't help but thrive? Think of the major themes that you've been thinking about, the qualities, the feelings of your environment, your living spaces, the personal surroundings, all the way down to the little microcosm of practice space, and how can you support yourself first so that the writing can in turn support you? To turn it over to you guys, quick reactions? How, right off the tip of your tongue, do you feel like you can cultivate some support? Maybe we can go back to our friend here, we were discussing... I'm sorry, what was your name again?
Lyn, I don't think I asked in the first place. Thank you, Lyn. Maybe we could pass the mic back to Lyn, and we could hear how, although this won't certainly answer the question of, what do you do about family who may be affected by the content of what you write, do you see how making writing your home may be able to give you more of an emotional energetic container through which your writing can at least express itself so you can answer the calling? How does it feel?
What are you asking exactly?
I guess, what's your reaction to how your environment can help support you in this phase, even though there's other things, conditions that are maybe even outside of your control? You can't really predict what people are gonna say about it. Does it feel like you can find maybe a little bit more solace in the process of the writing that you feel called to do if you boil it down to this microcosm container?
Mm-hmm, I think I am doing that right now. I've been pretty successful, but what happens in my environment where I live is that there's a lot of clutter in our environment, my husband and my environment, because of a family death and some other traumatic things. We've been having a lot of trouble trying to figure out, in our busy lives, how to deal with our stuff. Then the dead person's stuff, you know what I'm saying?
That's been daunting, and I've sort of gotten to the point where I'm kind of like, I'm gonna do as much as I can to try to support that process, but I actually have to write, so I'm writing in the middle of the stuff.
There you go.
That's what I'm doing. But I also need to check in with my husband and be like, "Okay, I will do the dishes. "I will do the dishes, but that's all I can do today "because I have to do this." We do have our own spaces. My husband and I, we have our own desks. We share an office, and I'm a Buddhist, so I have a shrine, I mean, I have all these things that you're talking about, but I also think that, when you live in an environment with another person, you need to always be checking in because I am someone, if I lived alone, I just wouldn't do the dishes. I don't care. I want to get the writing done.
What I hear you saying, Lyn, is that, although we're taking an individual's perspective right now because we're all writers, that it is a co-creative experience. You do need to enlist the support of those around you. All the writing doesn't happen in a bubble, and that makes a perfect point to drive home this conversation about making writing your home, which is that there's more influences going on, and they're all very valid. Thank you very much, Lyn.
They're all very valid concerns, so weighing all those things, the family obligations, the responsibilities, all these things are gonna contribute to some of that big, hairy, scary monster called writer's block, but I think, if you start at this very base level of paying attention to how your environment and the things these energetic layers are influencing you and your relationships, that's kind of the way you can start to see what the potential could be. Doesn't mean it's instantaneous, doesn't mean things won't come up, but at least you have that microcosm of the ability to choose it for you so that the avoidance becomes a way to maybe even write your way into a sense of stability. Think about some writing prompts that would actually give you a sense of groundedness, of foundational awareness. If things are upturned in your life, then you can maybe process through those things individually, and that'll make a big difference. Terrific.