“Woman Carrying Water,” by Leslie Frances, Innisfree, Lake County, Northern California, clay sculptur.
Column by Janet Riehl with Stephanie Farrow
I got rhythm, I got music. I got my [work].
Who could ask for anything more?
by George & Ira Gershwin
Runners know it as “hitting stride.” Musical combos know that the drummer drives the beat. Painters know that rhythm and recurrence are the guidelines of good composition. Dancers know that without rhythm, they’ll fall. Actors, storytellers, and comedians know that it’s all about the rhythm of pacing and timing to reach the audience. The heart knows that a syncopated rhythm spells trouble.
Creatives know that to come to terms with the cycles that surge through our lives, we must study our rhythms. Only then can we learn how our rhythms are formed and the most skillful way to respond to them.
In this final “Cycles” post we’ll discuss two of these skillful means. The first exercise is linear and logical. This is our left brain at work. The second exercise draws strongly on our emotional and intuitive worlds to include our right brain.
Method 1: Logging Your Day (Left Brain)
Logging or simple listing is a familiar activity if you’ve tried to manage your time better or sought to recall what you put into your mouth. Don’t make logging any harder than you need to. Nothing fancy, okay?
1) List what you do each hour or short chunk of the day. Were you writing? Answering email? Reading? Researching? Playing solitaire? Watching television? Walking? Eating? Washing the car? Paying your bills? Chatting on the telephone?
2) How much time did each activity take? Keep track without judgment.
3 ) Choose a time to review the log. Study the list and analyze what category it falls into. Survival (like paying bills and eating)? Mindless procrastinating (like playing solitaire because you are bored)? Relaxing or resting to recharge (like walking)? Creative forward movement (like writing, reading, researching)?
4) Notice which activities gave you pleasure. Which ones moved you further and which hindered your goal of being a working writer?
5) How do internal and external factors affect your rhythms? Do your inner and outer worlds mesh or snag each other? Without enough exercise, or sleep, or emotional satisfaction, or good nutrition what happens to your mood, health, and creative productivity?
6) Shift your schedule. Decide which activities you’ll stop doing or start doing. Which ones will you do more of or less of?
Method 2: If you are conflicted: Cross-Hand Dialogue (Right Brain)
You’ll find the complete description of cross-hand dialogue in Lucia Capacchione’s fine book “The Power of Your Other Hand: A Course in Channeling the Inner Wisdom of the Right Brain” (http://www.luciac.com/books/bookpages/PowerOtherHand.html)
Briefly, here’s how:
1) Assemble these tools: large paper (butcher paper or newsprint is good) and crayons. These are optional, but allow you greatest freedom.
2) Draw a line down the center of the page. On one side you’ll write with your dominant hand (the hand you write with and use most actively). On the other side you’ll respond with your non-dominant hand.
3) Choose a question you want to know more about. For instance: I feel in conflict over the things I must do and my writing. Help!
4) Pose the question with your dominant hand. Reply with your non-dominant hand and so forth until you come to a resolution within you.
5) When you write with your non-dominant hand, write boldly. Don’t be concerned, even if you can read it then. You can use what I call “inter-linear translation” later by going back and clearly printing what’s written. But knowing what’s written isn’t what’s most important. You know it in your gut. Writing with the other hand draws forth strong emotions, thus making your conflict more clear and the resulting resolution more possible.
Make friends with your rhythm and don’t sabotage it. In entering new territory by setting a new goal or solidifying a new habit, be patient. Slow progress works. Eventually, the rhythm method keeps your creative life in balance.
This third post is the last one in “Cycles.” See: 2.1 Creative Cycles (February) and 2.2 Creative Cycles: Balancing Act (March )to read the complete series. See the Creative Catalyst archive at: http://storycircle.typepad.com/scn/creativity/
Pose ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog in the comment section below.
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