Between the Lines

Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.
— Joseph Chilton Pearce

In May this column’s topic was the importance of writing during difficult times. Last month our focus was how to write during difficult times. Yes, you are sensing a pattern. Difficult times. A whirlwind of events we are unable to control. Our landscape changing constantly. 

Kathy Steffen

Many of my writing peeps are experiencing the same thing as me — an inability to go beyond the blank page. My creative internal landscape feels like a desert in a sandstorm. Nothing but a lot of meaningless beige. Something is definitely needed! Something to help us all let go of stress and anxiety. Something to generate some new ideas and build excitement for them. Instead of a beige sandstorm, bring a breath of fresh air and ideas. Here are some ideas to give yourself a creative break and move beyond the cyclone of worry, anxiety and creative blocks.

Art Therapy: You can use art as an outlet to deal with emotions, reduce anxiety and reconnect to your inner self. There are trained art therapy professionals, but you can try some do-it-yourself art therapy to see if it works for you. Try sketching, doodling or even coloring books. I have an awesome mandala coloring book that helps me de-stress and allows my mind to sink into color while I meditate my way into creativity. Put together an image book — things you love that inspire you and make you feel happy. Build your perfect world with images. Sketch your emotions or meditate while you doodle — create a Zentangle drawing. Try an art journal where you meld images and words. Make a collage and write about the images you put together. Let your imagination roam. Time to play with no pressure to produce.

Distract Yourself: Last month I suggested shifting perspective and going outside to write. I’m going to repeat that — go outside or someplace new — a different environment to help you stop obsessing about creating. Fresh air is a good thing during these pandemic days, and communities are offering more outdoor spots. Grab your creative tote (with paper, pen and whatever else you need), go on a walk, grab a latte or iced tea and then find a spot on a bench or at a picnic table and write, doodle or simply let your mind wander. Nothing serious, the more (seemingly) frivolous the better to get you in your creative zone! Besides, if you do come up with a brilliant idea, you have the tools you need and are ready to create. If no ideas come, at least you’ve taken some time to relax and enjoy some fresh air.

Look Inside Yourself and Focus on What Makes You You: In any format (paint, draw, write, knit, sculpt, sing, collage, etc.) create a self-portrait. Design a coat of arms for yourself with symbols that represent your strengths. Build a website and include your interests, your dreams, and what is most important to you. Take a deep breath, relax and create. It’s time for the highest intelligence of humankind to unfold.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She is grateful to write from her safe-at-home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.