Beth Brawley Stoddard led eight or so members of our creative team on a retreat today. A family graciously agreed to let us use their mountain cottage and we spent the entire day - after a 2 hour drive - being creative. We talked about ourselves a little and then we were given a creative exercise to do.
Beth had us take a piece of scripture - we all had the same one - and think on it. After some quiet meditation on our own, we were supposed to take a piece of posterboard and make a collage that highlighted what struck us or what we felt was the emphases from the scripture. We could clip magazines, draw or write, color - anything we wanted.
This is NOT my creative strength. I can't draw a straight line. My drawings look like stick figures...from a kindergartener. Seriously. It's pitiful. Plus, I don't usually think visually.
But rather than protest, I...cheated.
I took my posterboard, clipping letters from magazines and glued them onto the board to read:
(Paul, the Apostle, wrote the assigned scripture.) So, technically, I completed the collage assignment. But what I did instead was write about the scripture, and I presented my writing by reading it to the group, along with my lame poster. I wrote creatively, making the case that Paul, like me, used words for his art. "I bet he never did a collage," I said. "No...images may have been fleeting for him, but words were his art, and prayer was his pencil."
My writing felt invigorating and I felt alive! As I wrote, the words flowed with ease - unusually so - and it felt like my art was connecting...with me, with God, with others.
Creatives, you MUST live into your art. You need to, like Beth led us to do, step back from the normal framework of your normal routine and live into a new paradigm every now and then. For writers like me, that means writing by hand, or with some kind of different tool than the normal tool you use. Read a different writer from your normal repertoire. Listen to a different communicator. Write a different genre - like poetry or fiction or even the lyrics to a song. Get away and write from a different place. Sometimes I write from Starbucks for a change of pace. When the weather is nice, I write from my boat. Occasionally, I even retreat and go away. You cannot be creative if you do the same thing all the time.
Stepping outside of my normal writing routine breathed new life into my words today. And it felt like...the breath of God...