First and foremost, I consider myself a writer.
To a slightly lesser degree, I’m a knitter. A crafter. An amateur photographer.
All of these parts of my creative self work together in one way or another.
Knitting is like writing; it shifts my brain into a meditative, subconscious place. The bamboo needles glide against each other with a steady rhythm, the yarn pulled with such precise tension on each stitch that it’s a wonder so little thought actually goes into it. It’s like hitting a stride on a run, where the mind falls way and all that’s left is the repetitive sound of feet on pavement or needle on needle.
That’s the place I like to get to with my writing. It’s all the same at first: clumsy. You blunder through a first draft the same way you blunder through the first few rows of a new scarf. It’s a little messy, disorganized, unsteady. You accidentally drop a stitch, or use a cliche. You knit instead of purl, or write unnecessary scenes into your piece.
When first knitting or writing, you’re rediscovering your rhythm, tapping into that place where your mind isn’t telling you what to do or how to do it. Where you get beyond the useless thoughts of, “This is too hard” or “I don’t remember how to do this well.” You blunder until your hands just move, effortless, and you aren’t thinking from the everyday mind.
I bring this up because I think writers need other creative outlets in order to fuel their writing. Knitting puts me in the right mindset for writing. It forces the ego to shut up for a bit, opens the door for ideas that are cooking under the surface of logical. Knitting makes it easier for me to slip into that place while writing.
But there’s also photography. This creative outlet moves me into a writing mindset in different ways. Good pictures tell a story. They breathe. They make both the photographer and the viewer think differently or more deeply about life. Good writing does this, too.
To some degree, we’re all storytellers, aren’t we? Not just writers, but painters and photographers and crafters. Poets. Essayists. Bloggers. Jewelers. Aren’t we all trying to tell a story about not only our lives, but about life in general?
Staying too long in one medium without a spark of inspiration from another source can cause stagnation. If you start to hate everything you write, maybe it’s time to pick up a camera, learn a new skill, or hit up a poetry slam. Give yourself a new outlet for your creative mind. You may be a writer, but chances are that’s not all you are creatively.
This is the last full week before NaNoWriMo starts and I’m working hard to outline and plot the novel I’ll be writing next month. In the midst of this planning chaos, I came across this month-long photo challenge on Pinterest.
I’ll be embarking on this photo challenge at the same time I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo for one reason: extra writing inspiration/motivation. Photography forces you to look at surroundings with a fresh perspective. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll share the pictures or if I’ll just use them to generate ideas and propel my story forward while I write. Either way, it will provide me with another source of creativity and another way to tell a story. Maybe not the same story, but a story. And that’s what really matters.
Do you ever mix creative outlets? What else do you do besides write? Share with me in the comments!