Writing and Creative Prompts

For a very long time, I had a kind of writer’s block. I could write technical things like grants, business plans, strategic plans and the like – for clients or friends. The physical act of doing this for me and my business was stupid painful. I did it, but with my concussion/Q-fever, I wrote a grant last fall and completely forgot that I did it. Some of this knowledge about food systems is so ingrained in me. It really is part of my muscle memory. 

Creative writing was gone to me. Journal writing, a previous safe way to process things, was also gone. I would stare at the screen or blank page and freeze. I may write a few pages and give up a day or two later because my grammar was off or it was not well written.

I looked at creative prompts. My daughter and I would try these and one of us would quit them. We never finished them. I wondered what it was about the prompts that made us stop. I started to explore them on Instagram and Pinterest to see if there was an easy way to explain why we never finished them. There was always a prompt or two that would stump me. I am sure it did for my daughter too. Is that why we stopped? 

I found one. A 30-Day Mental Health Challenge that had simple activities that I could do. I found three I could not do, but get this… I crossed them out at the beginning (since it isn’t cheating if you do it in the beginning) and started there. I was supposed to fill 3-pages in a daily journal or write for 20′ whichever was longest. Ok. It could help with the therapy I was working on and yah, let’s do this!

The first month had 31-days. I did not add another day of challenges. I figured I needed a day to reflect, to consider another challenge, to maybe just not do it. In the end I did all but two of them. I was not there in my brain space. Did I panic and stop? No. I talked about why I just couldn’t in the journal. It became easier to write about things that were happening outside of the prompt.

The next month was going to be a declutter the mind and space challenge. The first day, organize computer files. Guess what? It stopped me from doing this challenge. For some it may have been a simple task, but for me that was a multi-day project. I never finished that challenge. The rest of the daily prompts were fine and the previous month, I could substitute a prompt if I didn’t think it fit… why not this? I knew it was a lot and I could have changed it.

What saved this daily creative activity? A co-Art challenge I was doing with my mom. A daily sketchbook thing. I used to draw ALL OF THE TIME. Why did I stop? Adulting? I was looking for things that could help my cognitive issues. I will talk about that experience later. One you-tube guy said that daily sketching and creating is a great way to grow brain cells. I wanted my brain back. It did not involve me doing or consuming woowoo stuff, so draw anything with a pen it is…

That month, I bounced back and forth and was a little more of a hot mess, but I did get back into a daily creativity thing. I just wrote in the journal and have not gone back to daily challenges. Writing was getting easier and if I didn’t have words, I did art. Get this…. I allowed myself to make a mistake and it was humbling at first, but ok. I reminded myself it did not have to be perfect, and it was not going to be displayed. Stop expecting perfect.

I cannot say I was gentle to myself or that I did not have anxiety over a daily commitment, I did. I do. My world was shaken up and I was trying to find a way to ground myself and find a new daily rhythm. What starts out as a halting uncomfortable brain fart became a very me brain fart and I was feeling silly, but ok with it. It didn’t have to be perfect. I also realized I was SO out of practice with my art and I really should not expect great things right away.

Yah, grammar and coloquial Shannonisms were there in my writing and Ahhh that is why we did those fundamentals for an entire quarter in Jr High art class. I was so out of practice and had to remind myself that if I looked at a little kid’s first drawings and essays, they are not brilliant either. Just do it.

 Is drawing or writing perfect for everyone? No. A friend does colouring books. I know a lot of people who quilt, scrap book, bullet journal, make amazing art with Procreate… I stumbled upon patterns and mandala drawing folks on Instagram and Pinterest (a great way to wind down before bed is watching them and watercolour artists online…). I downloaded some of them for inspiration if I was stuck. If I could not draw or was short of time, make a pattern. I will share some of that later too.

I found I was anxious when I started daily pattern drawing, but by about day 6-8, I found it was more relaxing. I was also more confident about handling a pen and was proud when I could make straight lines free-style again. I am working my way up to loose floral watercolours.

One of the creativity prompts (from Superbetter) was to write a letter to something I am grateful. This built on the prompt the day before that was trying to get you into a routine of trying to think about things you are grateful for. I wrote a letter to a hot cup of tea. It may sound silly, but I admit I was surprised what came out. It isn’t quite Robbie Burns Ode to Whisky, but it is mine. It clearly was something I *was* grateful for.

I will be honest; I did not keep that first month’s journal. I was afraid of revisiting it because I was basically in shock about a lot of things. I don’t plan to be Ainis Nin, but for this blog, I will share a lot about how I got to this point, what is helping or not helping me and then the journey. I also plan to include creative writing or art that I have done and there will be a tag or category that says “creative” at the beginning of this. 

I am still working out how I am going to do this blog (I will keep repeating this until I know what I am doing), I am going to be ok that it is not perfect and just roll with it. That is a current personal objective and is super hard for me. So yah, this is also a daily creative project that will evolve with time. I hope to explore a few things. I may settle into something specific. I may just doodle about or share a photo. I may edit and re-publish it again later. We will see how it goes!

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