Vision Boards are Scary. Scary Good.

(The following blog is actually from December 1st – I didn’t publish it on WordPress at that time).

 

It’s Week 6 since my first novel was released in Canada by Pajama Press. But it took six years to make that happen.  Originally, I had the idea that it would take ten years for things to happen. So how did I skip four years?

I think it was my scarily effective vision board.

Six years ago, I started to dabble with the idea of The Stowaways. At the time, I envisioned it as a life-long project, complete with a series of books and toys and a movie and this and that and… I am grateful to be on that road, though I laugh at myself when I realize how naïve I was back then, am probably still am.

However, the one thing I know I did right was building a vision board. I look at it now as it hangs over my writing desk and I think: the power of suggestion is very strong. Nearly all the images I tacked on there were alien to me – a book spine with my name on it, me in my own house, garden, and studio, part of a writing community – I had not even a whiff of those things when I made that vision board, not even a paragraph written!

But somehow, it all began to happen.

I can’t tell you how it happens, it just does. Maybe when I looked at that board every day before, during and after I wrote, its images became part of my DNA – “Do Not Avoid”. Because you can’t avoid your dreams, when they stare you in the face dozens of times a day.

Now it’s time for a new vision board. The old one is stale, the magazine cut-outs have yellowed and curled, and my goals have grown claws and begun to crawl on their own. I need to catch up, re-align, then slow down, and begin again. Writing book two is going to be just as hard as book one, if not harder.

The images I tack on my new vision board will reflect new goals, but the underlying theme will always be the same, and I won’t change the core image. It’s a photo taken through a studio window, looking in on a woman who is painting, surrounded by walls of her own artwork. I’ve altered the woman in the picture to look like me – brown hair, pulled back – so when I look at that woman, I see myself: focused, peaceful, concerned only with the art itself.

They say be careful what you wish for, because you never truly know where the road will take you. But if your vision includes that centrepiece, that image that grounds you, you will know that whatever happens, you are still you, your work is your work, and you are a limitless creature, regardless of the world outside.

A Walking Mantra

While waiting for sleep to overcome me last night, I was fretting about beginning my next novel: Will I be able to write another one? Am I a one-book-wonder? Am I losing muscle mass by sitting ten hours a day? Will I turn into a jellyfish? That sort of thing. I’m good at fretting, especially at 2am. It feels right.

The thing is, I’ve done so much fretting in my life that now I handle it much better. I know it’s worse after midnight, and I know it can often be mixed with unforeseen, hopefully brilliant ideas. So I now let the fretting run rampant, and trust that eventually the latent creative energy (which I believe causes my worries) will surface into some new idea.

Last night, my fretting suddenly jogged a memory of a mantra I used to repeat. When I was writing my first novel, The Stowaways, I would take a twenty minute walk every day to clear my head, usually when I had reached that point in the day where it felt like the cells of my brain were glued together with gelatinous oatmeal. With each step on the path, I would chant one syllable of the following mantra: “I-will-write-the-best-nov-el-that-I-can-and-I-will-acc-ept-what-ev-er-out-come-I-re-ceive.” That wasn’t the exact mantra, because I forgot it after finishing that novel, when it no longer mattered. But that was the gist of it. With every step of my walk, the oatmeal hardened and cracked off, and a bit of dialogue I needed to drop in and fix that plot hole would suddenly come to me.

For me, a mantra must encapsulate letting go of expectation to allow the natural path of creativity to evolve. I don’t believe my writing comes entirely from my own mind, you see. I believe it partially comes from allowing the universe to pitch a tent in my brain for a while, trusting that it knows how to tell a great story over a campfire. Then I just write it down as best as my skill allows me. The universe, after all, knows a lot more about life than I do.

My next novel’s mantra will be a little different. There are new pressures and circumstances in my life that I didn’t have before. I own a house now, I have others I am responsible to, and much less time to play with. So my walking mantra might go something like:

“I-will-trust-that-I-can-write-with-out-a-per-fect-cir-cum-stance-and-that-what-I-write-will-be-the-best-that-I-can-do.”

If you had a walking mantra, what would it be? Meg_Low_Resolution-19