I almost don’t want to say this out loud for fear of scaring it away or bringing some new doom down on all our heads, but I’m feeling hopeful this month. A creative energy that I could only muster for a few days in 2021 seems to have returned. It’s small but steady. For the first time since early in the pandemic, I have been able to think about creative projects. I feel my ambition to learn finally returning. I have been able to read books about teaching and books about writing again. Last year, it was all I could do to make it through slicing in March. This year, I’m already thinking about what project I might tackle in April.
In her most recent Isolation Journal, Suleika Jaouad and a friend prepare for 100-Day Projects they will start April 1. I completed my first 100-Day Project (making a daily zine) in 2020. I haven’t thought about that project in many months, but reading her newsletter made me remember and wonder whether I’m ready for another 100-Day Project. Maybe Morning Pages. Maybe another zine project (here’s a neat one I found on Instagram that uses photography as well as drawing.) or a photo-a-day. Maybe a blackout poem or a Zentangle. Maybe Lynda Barry’s Four Minute Diary.
Jaouad suggests that rather than dreaming of an “ideal creative space,” we focus on creating a toolkit that we can bring with us wherever we are. She asks, “What rituals, objects, or tools inspire you to create?”
Here are a few things that help me create:
A spark, a mentor text, a mentor. My creativity is often in conversation with someone else. Some trusted guides I can always count on to get me writing: Austin Kleon’s blog and newsletter; any interview with Jason Reynolds (here’s a recent favorite); Kim Stafford’s book, The Muses Among Us; Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones; Penny Kittle’s conversations with Kelly Gallagher (a new month just started!); Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Keeping a Notebook videos.
The right tools. My trusty unlined spiral Cachet notebook. Pilot Precise V5s in blue. Uniball Visions in black. Maybe a new package of InkJoys. Watercolor colored pencils. Watercolor paper. Construction paper. Glue sticks. Mechanical pencils.
A coffee shop. The bright conversations, the wake-up smell of coffee, the examples of others deeply immersed in some kind of work.
A walk. It’s rare that I walk alone and without using my phone for anything except taking photos, but when I do, I always think about something to write.
A window with something happening on the other side. People, animals, nature. Something to write about when I feel uninspired.
What would be in your toolkit?
My theme for Slice of Life 2022 is finding inspiration in the writing of others. Each day I plan to find my slice in someone else’s words or forms. Today’s slice is borrowed from Amy at The Way I See It. Be sure to check out what’s in her creative caddy.