I have created a life out of Sharpie markers and blank pages. When I was in college and hanging on to my sanity and life, I wrote first as a mental health reprieve, and then as a visionary tool. I deconstructed the life I knew and constructed a life that resonated with my soul. Within thousands of pages over more than 20 years, I wrote my way to the career and life I am living now.
For my work, I create and teach writing curricula for many different purposes and populations. I teach writing for empowerment to single mothers experiencing homelessness, and I teach writing for personal leadership to undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. I teach fiction writing to youth and writing as a therapeutic modality to social workers and psychologists. Meanwhile, early in the mornings, I write young adult novels and essays.
Because of this work variance, I am in a constant mode of creation. In order to keep it fresh and inspiring, I must enter the flow of creativity with regularity—it is as vital to my work as breathing is to my body.
Creativity is where innovation is born. It is messy, non-linear, and inspired, coming from a place deeper than the intellect. It is the song of the child within and therefore needs wild and open spaces where it can play and discover. Creativity hates stress and time-constraints. It cannot be called on a whim and expected to show up to the party on demand.
Writing is a powerful tool of entry into this flow. It is physical, visual, and spiritual. It slows the brain and enables me to take a range of ideas, thoughts, and intuition and synthesize them into a clear and powerful vision.
For example, this past February I pitched an idea for a feature article to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine on bike dates. When I got the go-ahead to write the article, I had no idea how I would begin or how the article would unfold. So I began this creative process like I do every other—by clearing my desk of everything except blank paper, Sharpies, and a space of time.
The random and messy thoughts on those blank pages evolved to became a six-page feature article in this June’s magazine.
It’s a mysterious process, this thing called Creativity. Maybe because it is evidence of the Divine within that we all share. But we each must find a way to make space in our lives for its magic to occur, to lift our ideas and thoughts from the confines of our beings to become full-color reality in the world.