Inspire Envisioning

Expression. Craft. Completion.


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Writing and Publication: A Nonlinear Path

In 2016, I’d given up on getting a publishing deal.

I’d been writing for most of my life. As a teenager, I’d self-published two poetry books (in the day before digital publishing, when self-publishing meant going to Kwik Kopy to get paper books printed) as fundraisers for charity. I went on to study Creative Writing in graduate school and complete a novel as my thesis. I had poetry, short story, and children’s book manuscripts ready to send out, a track record of literary publication, and old projects sitting in my Dropbox. I was bound and determined to have a career.

So the submissions and query letters went out, and the rejections came rolling in. The next five years brought two close calls: after many no’s, one publisher accepted my children’s book, only to have the line of books they’d accepted it for fold. A new small press was interested in my short stories, but the press ended up not getting off the ground. I tried to freelance and occasionally shopped around old pieces, but my heart was no longer in it. I dreamed often about having a great idea for a novel, but my real-life attempts never made it past chapter 1. The energy had drained from my writing attempts, and I worked in abortive fits and starts. Was my lifelong dream of writing books a false hope? Despite my love of stories and the positive feedback I’d received in my early life about my way with words, I wondered, not for the first time, if I’d been cut out for this at all.

Meanwhile, I focused on studying and then teaching the Enneagram personality system. My co-teacher Kacie and I decided to create a little ebook about personality types at work as a freebie connected to our mailing list. I brought out my editing and design skills to shape bits of our previous writing into a coherent whole, and added Decoding Personality in the Workplace to my email signature. I also continued to edit books on a freelance basis, and one day, one of these publishers asked: “We’re looking for an Enneagram book, and I see you’ve written one. Would you be interested in doing one for us?” And in 2017, Kacie and I got to hold The Modern Enneagram, the published book I’d given up on, in our hands.

There’s more than one path to being published, and the journey can be long and hard. Here are some strategies to weather its ups and downs.

1. Be persistent.

Rejection is a fact of publishing. A quick Google search will yield lists of rejection letters, hilarious in hindsight, for best-selling novels, and Stephen King collected enough of the suckers to hang them on his wall. From my experience on the other side of the acquisitions desk, I can attest that a lot of good writing, for reasons related to fit, space, and chance, just doesn’t make the cut. Those same pieces might find a perfect home elsewhere. Keep submitting, and if the editor takes the time to give constructive feedback, read it carefully. Sometimes they just don’t get your story, but at other times they’ve identified flaws that will improve your writing if corrected.

Also, while many publishers and publications simply don’t respond to submissions they choose not to publish, if the venue doesn’t specify this, don’t be afraid to follow up if you haven’t heard back. Last summer, I sent a fantasy story to an online magazine and heard nothing in response. I assumed they just didn’t like my story, then discovered that another submitter had received a prompt reply. My follow-up email led to the publication of “Count Three Stones,” and a piece I’d loved writing finally found a home.

2. Be open to different doorways in.

If one approach isn’t working, consider another. I just heard a great story from a Scottish literary agent about a writer of paranormal police procedurals. Despite the quality of his work, he was repeatedly turned down by traditional publishers because there was “no market” for his books. This agent encouraged him to self-publish, and the popularity of his unconventional mysteries proved the publishers wrong.

If you’re committed to getting your work out there, be open to trying different avenues for publication (including self-publishing), different genres, and new approaches. Experiment and see where it lands you.

3. Take breaks when needed.

If you feel exhausted and disheartened from the submission-rejection cycle, sometimes the best thing to do is to take a break from the whole game. Step away from your favorite manuscript. Let go of the projects you’re invested in if they’ve been driving you crazy. Later, you can return to them with fresh eyes, able to revise when needed, take a new submission approach, or start something new and exciting. Remember that “not now” doesn’t mean “not ever.” Publication is a non-linear process, so be open for its cycles of ebb and flow, and expect the unexpected!


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Ayurveda and the Enneagram: From Research to Publication

In 2014, Kacie Berghoef and I were learning about Ayurveda as a personal health practice, and we decided to present on this topic at two Enneagram conferences. Attendees at our first presentation were intrigued by our proposal that there might be connections between Enneagram type and Ayurvedic dosha, or psycho-physical constitution, and they invariably asked one thing: “Has there been any research on this?” There hadn’t, so for our next presentation, we did some.

Drawing on an Ayurvedic dosha assessment from a book we owned, we created an eight-question quiz that addressed psychological and physiological aspects of constitution. The aim was for it to be fun and not too overwhelming. We used SurveyMonkey, put the quiz online, and e-mailed each responder with a description and recipes tailored to their Ayurvedic dosha. We included preliminary results and quiz-taking in our next talk, to participants’ delight.

Over the next several months, we worked on this exploratory pilot study and a statistician, James Farnham, helped us analyze the results. Our survey had 232 usable responses, with some of them tied between two doshas. Suspecting there might be a difference between them, we looked at overall type-dosha correlations as well as each Enneagram type’s correlations with the psychological aspects of dosha.     

I’ve had a lot of questions about our Ayurvedic research over the years, and I’m gratified to share with you that it has finally found a home. This month, the Conscious Living Center has published our complete study on their website. You can read the full write-up of our process and results here.

Why did we embark on this journey in the first place? Here’s what our research article has to say:

“Maintaining a regular, structured practice that fosters mindfulness is helpful for using the Enneagram’s insights effectively. A good practice builds up the capacity to observe oneself, in order to see one’s automatic type habits at play and choose to engage differently. Ayurveda is one such practice that draws on the body center’s intelligence.”

If you’re interested in the intersection of these two systems, check our article out and see what correlations our surveys came up with. While the results are preliminary rather than scientifically rigorous, my takeaway from this process is that systems of learning can intersect in revealing and beautiful ways.


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Three Gifts of Storytelling

The holiday season is approaching, and with it a focus on gifts. It’s important to many of us to find just the right thing for our loved ones. But this is also a fruitful time for us to reflect on our inner gifts, and the gifts we can bring to ourselves.    

One of our greatest inner gifts lies in story, both the stories we have lived and those we imagine. Your stories belong to you and express your unique voice; no one else could tell the same one the same way. When you choose to write these stories down, you share this gift with readers. For some, it may be exactly the gift they need. And it’s a gift that works in two directions: your stories can reveal new insights and perspectives to yourself as well as to others.

The art of storytelling also has inherent gifts that you can invoke deliberately to bring out your writing’s meaning and coherence. When you write, it helps to keep in mind the following three gifts of storytelling, inspired by the Enneagram’s conflict resolution styles, as tools for revealing your story’s wisdom.

Gifts of Context

No narrative exists in a vacuum. All stories have greater meaning beyond their own existence. They have something to say about being human and existing in this world (even if they are set in a different one). What is your own story saying? Here are a few questions to keep in mind when considering the context of what you’re writing.  

  • What will this story give the reader?

Reader experience is important to think about. Are you speaking to a specific group of people, with a directed message? What do you aim to give through your story, and what will readers receive? Here’s where feedback helps to see if your intentions are conveyed effectively.

  • What possibilities does this open up?

Most stories engage with questions and options. There are multiple ways to tell a story and multiple decisions to be made as you go along. First person or third person? Reality or fantasy? Car chase or romance scene? What about both? Don’t be afraid to follow tangents as you’re writing and let inspiration lead you.

  • What themes are you engaging with?

Sometimes this question is a starting point and sometimes it isn’t clear until the end. This is your “I want to write about ___.” Why is this theme important to you? Chances are that your personal connection to theme will yield powerful material. What have others already written on this theme, and how can you engage with this wider dialogue?

Gifts of Logic and Structure

Writing isn’t just about context. It is also a structured art. Thinking ahead and strategically will help you create something coherent and polished, as will revising and rewriting once you’ve finished a draft. The following questions touch on important structural and logical points to keep in mind as you write.

  • What rules and constraints will you follow?

Most writing has a genre (or multiple ones) and structure. Some people prefer to lay out structure and logic from the beginning, creating outlines and defining parameters for their writing projects. Others “discovery write” and build in structure later, revising as needed. Giving some thought to the rules and traditions you will work in will help grant your project a strong shape.   

  • What is the “high concept” or interesting part of your writing?

The most successful narratives have an attention-grabbing hook. In your case, there must be something driving you to write your story in the first place. Follow your inspiration to its source to find this aspect, and let it guide your writing. Keeping your own interest in mind will keep your story lively for readers, too.

  • What knowledge and research do you need?

Often, our stories require knowledge we don’t already have. Cue reading, Google, and asking primary sources. Experts in a field often have the most informed and targeted answers. Some experts might even be willing to read your story and give suggestions. Decide what you need to know and start learning.

Gifts of Emotion

Consider the emotional undercurrents that shape your story. How does the project make you feel, and what feelings do you want it to evoke in the reader? Just as it’s useful to read in your genre, it’s helpful to look at sources that reflect a similar emotional landscape for inspiration. The primary source of your own experience is invaluable, too.

  • What elements of internal life are you portraying?

Keep this question in mind as you build characters and narrative voice. The same plot event can be told multiple ways to evoke different emotions. Just as your story is a journey of sorts, its emotional arc takes your reader on an inner journey, with different landscapes and realizations.

  • How do reactions drive the story?

When plot events occur, they impact both outer and inner worlds. Dive into their consequences by having your characters react, and allowing their reactions to drive events. Show the internal impact the events have, as well as the consequences of your characters’ decisions.

  • What goals drive the story?

This question shapes structure, but is also at the core of your narrative’s emotional landscape. Something needs to happen, and this “something” is never neutral. It presents high stakes for narrative and character(s) alike. How does the character feel about the goal, and about plot events in relation to it? How do you feel about these?

With these questions in mind, explore the gifts that your story brings. What is new and unique, resonant and true about it? What aspects will stay with the reader long after they put it down?

 


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Nine Tactics for Winning NaNoWriMo

So, you’ve committed to writing a novel this month. The ambitious goal of completing 50,000 words of a cohesive story in 30 days is both daunting and exhilarating. Whether you’ve completed previous NaNoWriMo novels or are dipping your toes into these challenging waters for the first time, you’ve made the choice to face down that blank page right now. Where and how do you begin? Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, a veteran or a novice, here are a few ideas that will help you finish November with a draft you’ll be proud of.

1. Structure before you begin (or don’t). Some people prefer to have every detail of their story planned out before they begin (see above re: “plotters”), while others like to let their stories surprise them (these are the “pantsers” of the writing world). If you have a strong preference, it can be genuinely challenging to work outside of your preferred method. However, it can also be revitalize blocked writing. When you’re looking to write something fast (like a NaNoWriMo novel), having an outline speeds your progress, because you know what to write next. If your story isn’t moving as planned, though, try giving it freedom to develop and seeing what twists and turns pop up as you go along. And if you’re an obsessive plotter, writing a fast novel by the seat of your pants might be an exhilarating, and even time-saving, experience.

2. Work with others. Writing is usually a solitary activity: one person, one keyboard (or notebook, or typewriter). But it doesn’t have to be. NaNoWriMo offers a treasure trove of virtual support, as well as in-person opportunities in many communities to meet and write together. Take advantage of these changes to find support and camaraderie with others who are embarking on the same writing journey. Other fun ways to bring collaboration into your writing process include completing NaNoWriMo with friends, working with a writing group or coach, or coauthoring a novel. (My coauthor Kacie Berghoef has a great blog post about book collaboration, which might be helpful if you’re looking to go this route.) Collaboration means you don’t have to work alone. When you run into challenges, you’ll have others around you who will understand and help you through them.

3. Write to reader interest. You want to write the book you want to write. Maybe you’ve heard about “writing to market,” and cringed at the idea. Why would you want to follow ephemeral publishing trends? Conversely, maybe you’ve thought, “if (insert best-selling author) can do it, surely I can,” and decided to take up some broadly selling genre, topic, or formula, whether or not your heart is in it. Writing to reader interest is more complex than many of us think, though. It’s not about writing to a script; it’s about writing something that will be enjoyed. When it comes right down to it, most of us aren’t writing solely for ourselves. We write because we have a story to tell, and we’d like it to connect with an audience. And, my desired audience is probably going to look different from your desired audience. Consider the type of reader who gravitates to your genre and interests, and rather than writing to a general audience, write in a way that will keep their interest. Changes are you’re part of your own target audience. What book would you love to read? Write that book.

4. Write from personal experience. It’s an old truism that you should “write what you know.” This doesn’t mean that you need to limit yourself to things you’ve experienced in the real world. If this were the case, we’d have no imaginative science fiction, fantasy, or horror to enjoy. What is helpful is to draw inspiration from your experiences to ground your story. When your character’s in an emotional situation, look to your past to bring to life similar emotions that you’ve experienced. Your background can add color, detail, and richness: if you have a long career as a gardener, for instance, you can bring unique skill in describing the setting’s plant life. And don’t be afraid to mine your past for ideas. Your life is a wealth of inspiration, if you look at it closely.

5. Research what you need to know. There are lots of times when your story idea will extend beyond your current knowledge. Don’t be afraid to consult other people, books, or the Internet to learn the answers to your questions. From familiarizing yourself with your setting to getting to know the technical or medical details of your plot points, you’ll find that you need to research more factors than you’d expect to get everything right. In addition to information,relevant images, videos, and narratives (not just books–consider blogs and other internet resources) can make good sources, as can reaching out to people in your network who are qualified to answer your questions. Some of this research may come after NaNoWriMo, during the revision process. When the information is important to the plot, though, don’t hesitate to look it up on the go.

6. Throw in some danger. I’m not talking about endangering your own life as you sit in front of your treacherous laptop screen – I’m talking about imperiling your characters! Most novels are about people with problems. To maintain reader interest, keep the problems building until the end. When one problem is solved, might the solution create another one? Plumb plot possibilities by asking, “What could go wrong here?” If you want to write a can’t-put-it-down read, try ending your chapters with cliffhangers.

7. Keep the process fun and rewarding. External incentives make excellent motivators to keep going. NaNoWriMo is already great for this, with pep talks from prominent authors, relevant sponsor offer “prizes”, and the goal of “winning” built in. Build in intrinsic motivation by focusing on the fun parts of the writing process itself. Each day, focus on writing something that’s exciting and intriguing to you. If your scene is boring, cut it out. If it’s necessary to the plot but not that interesting, bring in fun details, dialogue, or other colorful touches. If you maintain your own interest through each passage you write, your writing will intrigue your readers too.

8. Use action to drive the story forward. Your story is about things that happen. Make sure enough happens to keep the pace going. Even a reflective story needs to have a consistent, interesting sequence of events. Your characters, too, need to be active – especially your protagonist. If you notice that things keep happening to your main character(s), give them more agency. Make sure they make decisions and initiate events rather than simply reacting. Give them a choice in every chapter. Give these choices consequences that significantly influence the plot.

9. Look at the story as a whole. If you’re a plotter, consider thematic elements and plot and character arcs up front. If you’re a pantser, watch them evolve and keep them in mind as you write. Beyond storytelling and entertainment, what meaning are you seeking to convey? What ideas do you want to explore? Who are your characters beyond their surface traits? What motivates them, and how will they grow (if they grow – iconic or static characters can work too)? What will they learn from the journey you are taking them on? Looking at your novel on a macro level will help it resonate with themes that speak to your target readers, ensuring it is both cohesive and meaningful.

NaNoWriMo is a wonderful challenge to take on, and you don’t have to do it alone. Feel free to reach out for support if you’d like some writing coaching, or to share what you’re working on in the comments. Happy writing to all of you!


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Nine Roadblocks to Editing Your Writing (and What to Do About Them)

Anyone who writes knows the challenges of editing. You’ve gotten your ideas down in that “shitty first draft.” Now you must look at your work with fresh eyes, fixing messy sentences and filling in plot holes. It’s useful to get help from others, whether they’re peers or professionals, but ultimately we have to edit our own work too. Some of us love polishing our writing, but for others, it’s an uphill slog. Our personalities stall our progress and throw roadblocks in our path. Here are nine that you might encounter during the editing process, along with tricks for dealing with them when they arise.

1. Perfectionism: If you’re a meticulous type of person, editing might come naturally to you. You enjoy reworking problem areas and finding the right word for the job. You might find, however, that your perfectionism sometimes leads to paralysis. The temptation to fix what you’ve written, again and again, makes it hard to know when your piece is done. Set yourself a “no more editing” deadline, or seek out encouraging others who will help you get your work out there and call it a day.

2. Focusing on Others: As much care as you put into your writing, you also devote a lot of attention to the people in your life. If this sounds like you, you might find editing to be a challenge. It seems selfish and daunting to block out time to improve your work. All of a sudden you need to help Grandma wash her car, or put in extra hours at the office. You get wrapped up in doing stuff for others while your draft sits there. Try getting others involved in the editing process, using their feedback as fuel.     

3. Goal Orientation: You have big ideas about what you want your writing to do. You envision an impact bigger than the day-to-day grind of editing, which can make it hard to sit down at your desk with your red pen (or its digital equivalent). Maybe you’ve written with a market in mind, or dream of shortcuts to take your project where you want it to go. But quality takes time and authenticity. As you edit, look beyond results to the truths you want to convey. What do you have to say, and what’s the realest way to say it?   

4. Introspection: The more introspective among us use emotions to fuel their writing, but those same feelings can get in the way of the editing process. You look over your draft and see only flaws. You wonder if your writing is any good, and if it’s worth putting in the time to edit. These thoughts are discouraging. Seek out reality checks about your work’s pros and cons, and work steadily, a little at a time, to polish it.  

5. Intellectualizing: If your writing has an intellectual foundation, you may find yourself focusing on the ideas as you sit down to edit. The resulting work may be well thought out, or it may get bogged down in analysis. Look beyond intellectual concepts at other vital aspects of your writing. It might be helpful to have a list of criteria about clarity, structure, reader interest, and other elements important to your genre.

6. Committee Mentality: Some of us have a hard time seeking the necessary feedback to improve our work, but if you tend toward the opposite, asking all your friends and mentors for their opinion, you’ll find yourself listening to a lot of competing voices. Resources about writing and editing can also be expert opinions that confuse with their disagreement. Filter others’ ideas through your own goals: are they right for your work or not?

7. Distractibility: It was so much fun to write your first draft that you want to start something new again! Why spend time on a boring editing process? Or maybe you should change what you wrote so it’s completely different, make it much more interesting… Without focus, it’s hard to polish your work to its potential. Keep in mind how exciting it will be to have your project finished, and inject novelty into the editing process. Instead of working on new writing, edit in a new location, or intersperse editing time with other activities.

8. Impatience: This writing has been so much work that you just want to be done with it. Isn’t it good enough already? You’ve said what you had to say. Sometimes a light touch is wisest, but there are generally areas to improve that you’ll find with a further read-through. That in no way diminishes the impact or power of your work. If you’re fed up with it for the time being, set it aside, but give yourself a deadline to come back to it.   

9. Inertia: You find it hard to summon the energy for editing. It’s hard work, it’s not pleasant, and it’s not part of your daily routine. You might intend to edit, but find that hours have passed and you’ve spent them puttering around the garage, or checking Facebook. An Internet-blocking program might help if digital inertia is an issue for you, and a new environment might give you fresh energy. If it’s novelty, build editing into your routine, so your inertia will work for your editing process rather than against it.    

There are many roadblocks you might run into while editing, some of which are related to your specific project, rather than the personality-based ones I described above. If you’re looking for coaching through the editing process, or help from an outside editor, I offer both services and often provide them together. Feel free to reach out to set up a Skype call, or offer your own ideas in the comments. Happy editing!   


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Your Instincts and the Creative Process

When you embark on a large-scale creative venture, you bring every aspect of your human nature with you. One influence you may not think about is your instincts. The Enneagram describes three basic instincts that influence people’s behavior: Self-Preservation, or the drive for conservation; Sexual, which involves the drive for stimulation; and Social, the drive for shared engagement. Some of these instincts are more active in your daily life than others, with one usually being unconsciously overdone, one moderately engaged, and one under-attended to. If you look at your creative process, you’ll find these patterns recurring. Each instinct brings vital elements to creativity.

I was introduced to the idea of using the Enneagram’s instincts in service of the creative process in Lindsay Robertson and TJ Dawe’s Develop Your Creativity workshop, and have gained additional insight through teaching The Enneagram Institute’s The Three Instincts (Subtypes) Workshop, which I’ll be holding in Edinburgh this 14-15 October. The instincts are powerful material because they shape your behavior so deeply yet so unconsciously, and bringing them into your awareness opens opportunities for change that we wouldn’t otherwise access. Below, you’ll find strategies that you can use to work constructively with each of the three instincts. Notice which come easily to you, and which could use a gentle nudge. How can you incorporate the strategies you underuse into your creative practice?    

Foundation: In order to create, you need to have some form of structure and discipline in place. You could have the greatest ideas in the world, but without sitting down in that chair and making something, they will remain intangible possibilities rather than vibrant creative projects. Building a productive foundation is one way the Self-Preservation Instinct plays a key role in creativity. You can make this instinct work for you by scheduling time to devote to your project. Many find it helpful to create routines for themselves, such as writing every morning, setting timers, or using a program that blocks the Internet for a set amount of time. Tending to your basic needs and creature comforts is another way to use this instinct in service of your creativity. Is your workspace comfortable? Does the setting enhance or detract from your productivity? Some people find it most conducive to their creativity to work in a cafe with a comfortable hum of chatter, while others might need their workspace to be clean before they get started. Are you sufficiently fed and rested? Many creators have day jobs in addition to their creative work, which help with their foundation by ensuring that their financial and material needs are tended to.

Immersion: All creativity starts with a spark. You have a great idea that gets you excited. You’re drawn to make something new. Connecting with the Sexual Instinct in your creative work is similar to the rush of falling in love. If you can stay passionate about your project, that spark can mature into commitment. Let yourself love what you’re doing, and have a way of recording new ideas when they come to you (notebook, phone app, etc.). Give yourself to your inspirations when they strike: if you’re sizzling with enthusiasm about your novel one night, this might be a good time to get out the laptop. Let your impulses be woven in and see where they go. This won’t always look like foundations and patterns, but fits, starts, and lightning are part of productivity, too. When you aren’t feeling lit up, continue to energize your work by bringing in new ideas. Julia Cameron suggests making weekly artist’s dates, a practice that fuses the routine of the foundation stage with the excitement of immersion. Make it a practice to take yourself new places and experience new things.

Context: No one creates in a vacuum. Even if you complete a creative project on your own, you draw inspiration, consciously or unconsciously, from a broader context. This may include the works of other creators (which are often part of long lineages of influence), and ideas or feedback from other people. Everyone uses the Social Instinct to connect with influences, strengthen, and disseminate their work. If you look in the Acknowledgements section of any book, you’ll see that it wouldn’t exist without a long chain of people involved. You can draw on this instinct’s power by seeking community and context. Find writers’ groups, critique groups, or collaborators who you can bounce ideas off of, and receive valuable perspective. Feedback will shape your work into something more powerful and ensure it resonates with your intended audience. Forge accountability partnerships where you keep each other motivated. Look for work in your field that interests you, and study it to learn new forms of technique and craft that you can try out. You may want to seek professional help, or public response, to take your work to the next level. These strategies will strengthen your work and ensure your voice has an audience and influence.  

Which instinct-based strategies would you like to use more of? How can you build them into your creative practice?

 


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Nine Ways to Connect with Inspiration

We’ve all felt the urge to make something new. For many of us, it’s a powerful impulse in our lives. When we tap into creativity, it gives us the ability to transform our work, engage in play, connect with ourselves, bring new things into the world, and change our outlook on daily life. However, creativity can be elusive. When we’re tired, busy, or overwhelmed, it becomes hard for ideas to flow. At other times, inspiration sends all kinds of messages in our direction, but if we don’t cultivate or can’t afford the dedication and discipline to fully engage with them, they fly away like leaves in the wind.

Fortunately, there are tricks we can use to get ideas flowing when the going is slow. This month, let’s look to the Enneagram’s personality types for nine different ideas to connect with inspiration. The prompts below aren’t definitive of the Enneagram types; rather, they reflect just a few possibilities inspired by different personalities’ energy and focus. Take them as a jumping off point. Try them out, see what works for you, and feel free to invent your own!

One: Connect with an important value.
What motivates you to create your work in the first place? Consider the larger purpose of the work you want to do. Brainstorm ways of creating in alignment with this value, and try one of them out.

Two: Make something with someone else in mind.
Think of an important person in your life and ask yourself what you can create that they’d enjoy or find interesting. This is especially fun when you create something very different from what you’d normally do.

Three: Create something really bad.
Sure, it’s great when your creation turns out well, but today, try making bad art. What’s the worst thing you could make or idea you could engage with? You can also try an art form you’re no good at, just for fun.

Four: Investigate a personal memory.
Reflect on an event in your past that shaped who you are today. What emotions are associated with it? What did the scenery look like? Why does this memory stand out for you? Use it as a creative springboard.

Five: Use a question as a prompt.
What is something you’ve always wondered about? Follow your curiosity as far as it goes. Dig into research. Ask, “What if?” Use your questioning and discovery as a starting point to make something new.

Six: Commit to a “date” with your creative work.
Mark out a time on your calendar to engage creatively. Disconnect from the Internet and social media, unless these are part of your creative process. Show up and create for the allotted time, and see what happens.

Seven: What if anything were possible?
If you could do anything you wanted to do, what would you choose? How would your life be different? Give yourself permission to imagine any and all possibilities. Incorporate at least two of them in your work.

Eight: Get moving.
Walk, dance, exercise…get up and move around. Get your energy flowing and see what ideas show up as you move. Sense your body and stay in touch with this awareness while you create something.

Nine: Go somewhere peaceful.
Find a place where you don’t normally work that inspires a feeling of peace. This might be a quiet place at home, a busy cafe where you feel at home, or somewhere outdoors. Create something in this new setting.

If you’re seeking further inspiration or interested in the connections between the Enneagram and creativity, check out my new e-book, Nine Paths to Creativity. If you’ve already received my previous e-book, you can get a copy of the new one by e-mailing me or using the contact form.  

What prompts or practices inspire you when you’re in a creative slump? Do you have a favorite? Share your ideas in the comments.