Wreck This Journal: Blank

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Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing.  There is a page in Wreck This Journal that says, “Leave this page blank on purpose.”  It’s driving me nuts.

Oh, the possibilities!

Leave it blank?  Why put it in the journal if it has no purpose?  There’s nothing on the other side of the page, either!  For a doer such as myself, this was difficult to accept.  There I was with my tools of destruction at the ready and Keri Smith was asking me to leave them alone and do nothing.  My muse was ready to pop a gasket!

My fingers twitched as I considered the blank page in front of me.  I wanted to color in the letters – a pattern of green, blue, and purple – and I almost did it.  Then, it occurred to me that I was looking at this all wrong.  Instead of fighting the notion of nothing, I should be embracing it.

This is a big epiphany for a self-admitted busy body who has trouble letting an hour go by without filling it with some task, whether it be writing, creating, teaching, gardening, pondering, wondering, running, reading, watching movies, etc.  If any moment is filled with nothing, I feel like I’ve wasted something I can’t get back.  It took a stark page to get me to realize doing nothing is not the same as being lazy or wasting a moment.

Creativity isn’t about crossing things off a Wreck This Journal “to-do” list, but rather pitching the list altogether.  A page left untouched leaves the idea of possibilities infinitely open.  The same is true for an unfinished collage or a poem missing the last line.  Possibilities are in plentiful supply  if we slow down enough and regard them with patience.  Doing nothing is sometimes better than writing a thousand lines of words just to hit a word count goal or adding something to a painting just to call it done.  Sometimes doing nothing is what leads to the ultimate end.

My empty page still gives me an itch to color, bend, rip, or crumple, but it remains pristine. Meanwhile, my imagination continues to conjure new ways to wreck that page.  Every time I come across these instructions, I am reminded that without an empty canvas we have no reason to fill it.

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For previous Wreck This Journal posts please visit my tag cloud and sidebar. Stay inspired!

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c.b. 2012

I Knew It!

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My brain really is out to get me! Or at the very least mess with me until I go completely insane.

I saw this last night and thought it was so funny.  Especially, since I just read a passage in Jonah Lehrer’s book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, that explains how creative brain activity hits a peak right before sleep.  So, I guess there’s an actual scientific reason why I keep a notebook (or four) on my nightstand.

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c.b. 2012

Wreck This Journal: Ignite The Spark

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always imagined a little spark inside of me.  It flickers, smolders, and flares to life depending on the mood of my creativity.  Sometimes it needs a little kindling, but never once has it gone out. As I continue to embark on the journey of an aspiring writer, it’s become even more important to me to keep that spark ignited and let my imagination burn wild with possibilities.

This week’s Wreck This Journal page was one of the first I completed because it reminded me of my spark.  The directions instructed me to “Burn this page.” Once I got past my aversion to setting any part of a book on fire, I grabbed a box of matches out of the pantry and got to work.  The idea was to simply add a few little burn marks, to give the page a weathered look, like it had been on the outer reaches of a forest fire, (as usual my imagination had created an entire back story).   What I failed to remember is that paper is highly flammable and the moment I put the match to the edge, the whole page erupted with a brilliant flame!  It was terrifying . . . and absolutely beautiful.  The flame’s vibrant color and warmth made it feel like my spark was right in front of me rather than just inside of me.  Although totally necessary,  it was sad to put out the fire and turn it into a cloud of smoke, (I promise I’m not a pyro).

To keep the flame alive, I drew and colored some flames around the burned edges.  Then, I glued down the matchstick that started the fire.  I wish I could take credit for the matchbook, but that is Keri Smith’s handiwork. I can, however, take credit for giving it color and adding glitter to the flame on the cover.

My spark shows up just about everywhere in the journal, but the scarred edges of this page serve as an autobiography for a fire that just won’t go out.

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Previous Wreck This Journal Posts:

Letting Go

Keep Reaching

c.b. 2011

Wreck This Journal: Keep Reaching

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Sometimes the simplest things can lead to the biggest realizations.  About halfway through Wreck This Journal, there’s page that says: Trace your hand.  I was instantly reminded of the “hand turkeys” I drew while in grade school and I thought it would be fun to make another one . . . or two.  I couldn’t resist tracing both hands!

What I didn’t expect was to see so much hiding in the silhouette I had created. The stark black outline made my hands seem so meek and insignificant, even though I knew better. They aren’t just flesh and bone, but rather a symbol of the fact that big things can come out of tiny packages.  All I need to do is believe.

A realization like this calls for something much more significant than a turkey.  So, I pulled out a box of crayons, my quote journal, and a set of stamps.  I was on a mission to make my hands look exactly how they feel to me as a writer and an (always trying) artist.  Before I knew it, the page exploded with color:

The background is supposed to be the sun on the horizon (either at sunset or sunrise, which happen to be my two favorite times of the day).  To switch things up I drew the sky onto my hands as a way to remind myself the sky’s the limit and I can put it wherever I like in my imagination.   The quotes I chose for my palms come from Langston Hughes and Vincent Van Gogh, both of whom I greatly admire. They are an amazing source of motivation to pick up that pen and keep writing, even when the inner critic is whispering in my ear.

Writing and creativity are all about reaching beyond what is possible. Giving up is not an option, even when faced with boundaries and people saying “you can’t.”  The human spirit is a powerful force . . . as long as we keep reaching.

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Previous Wreck This Journal:

Letting Go

c.b. 2011

Can You See Your Dreams?

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It’s easy to have  dreams, but its entirely something else to actively go after those dreams. Sometimes you need a little motivation to push through all the obstacles.  In my writer’s group we have a tradition of making something called a dream board, which helps everyone connect to their dreams using the basic principle of “seeing is believing.”  This is a powerful philosophy that keeps us motivated to not only write, but to live the life we’ve always imagined.

I keep my dream board tacked to a bulletin board above my writing desk where I am sure to see it every day.  Aside from being a highly visible dream monument, it’s also one of my favorite craft projects.  I made it using a standard piece of 8½ x 11 card stock, various magazines, rubber stamps, stickers, pages from an old book (I rescued it from a trash pile at work and found it was already missing a number of pages, so I recycled it to my craft closet), leftovers from my scrapbook drawers, and little glue.  The result is this collage of dreams, (click on the image for a full-size view):

In the center is a reminder to abide in my philosophy of optimism with the saying “My glass is half full.”  I cut the glass out of an advertisement in a magazine, which was also used to cut out all the letters and words.  Even though it has a “ransom” look to it, the message is still there!

On the left side is a reference to my love of books to remind me to read as much as I possibly can.  Reading isn’t just a hobby, but also an important part of the writing process.  Writers feed off one another, published and unpublished alike. Reading is how I learn what makes a novel tick and how I figure out what defines my point of view.  Under the books is a string of words that I clipped from a bunch of magazines.  They can be linked together in a number of different ways and have multiple meanings.  Much of the poetry I write is inspired by this portion of my dream board.

Scattered throughout the board are a number of other phrases that serve as motivators to be bold, creative, and aware.  I can be a little timid at times, so I need a little push to act with the same fervor that fires up my imagination.  The presence of these words has had an amazing effect.  I can honestly say that I feel stronger and truly believe in what I’m doing.

On the right, there’s a reminder that writing is a daily process.  I used a TV Guide to create a complete week and then assigned a verb to each day.  If I dream, imagine, listen, inspire, create, hope and believe  . . . I can do anything. Even write a novel!

Below the days of the week, are references to long-term dreams of traveling and living in London for at least a year at some point in my life.  I found a little plane in one of my travel magazines and a London “button” in my scrapbooking supplies.  This year I toyed with the latter dream by going on a three week sojourn to London, which has only intensified my goal of staying there for a full year.

To keep my focus I put the word “writer” in large foam sticker letters, along with the phrase “I am.”  Sometimes I need to remember I’ve always been a writer and its not up for negotiation.  You can’t shake something that’s part of your soul, but its all too easy to let a dream go dormant.  My dream board stares me in the face every morning when I wake up and it watches me as I go to sleep.  I have little choice, but to let my dreams flourish.

What would you put on your dream board?

c.b. 2011