Three Ways to Fan Your Creative Flames (Online art lesson #42)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

This guest post by Paula Caffee Scadamalia will give you a lot of non-caloric food for thought.  As you go about your week preparing for and enjoying your feast of Thanksgiving, you might want to chew on these ideas.

Make time this week to fan the flames of your creative passions. 

One of the things I love about my visits to The Lodge at Woodloch is sitting by the fire pit in the evening after I’ve given my presentations. I’ve mentioned this before in the context of sharing stories around the fire, but I also love just staring into the fire, whether it’s the fire at Woodloch or the fire in our woodstove. Watching flames bend and twist, curl and straighten puts me into a trance where my mind can get quiet and then release new ideas or insights.

Watching the flames of the Lodge’s fire pit this weekend made me think about our creative flames and how we fuel them.

There is another difference between the fire pit at The Lodge and our woodstove at home, other than that one is outdoors and the other is indoors. It is the source of fuel.

The fire in the pit burns gas around lava rock. Our home woodstove, of course, burns split cordwood.

Once the Lodge staff turns on the gas to the firepit, the fire burns steadily and brightly for the rest of the evening because fuel is supplied to it continuously. That fire doesn’t need careful tending or refueling. It just keeps burning until someone turns a valve that shuts off the fuel supply.

The woodstove at home, however, needs regular tending — the cleaning out of ashes, the shaking down of wood coals, the feeding of more split wood. If Bob or I forget to put in more wood, the fire dies down and then burns out, and we have to start a new fire. Of course, it is much easier and less time consuming to keep a fire burning than it is to start a new one.

The same is true of our creative fires. Most of us don’t have a natural gas line to our creativity. It would be nice if we did. Then we wouldn’t suffer from creative blocks, or run out of fuel just as we near the end of a project, or get burnt out after finishing one. We could just keep creating steadily and easily, with energy and focus.

To keep your creative fire burning brightly:

  1. Make keeping your fire burning a priority. I know you’ve heard this before from me as well as others, but just like Bob or I have to make putting wood in the woodstove a part of our daily routine if we want to stay warm (we haven’t turned on our central heat yet), we have to make our creative work part of our regular, staying-creatively-warm routine as well. Schedule time for your work. Make it a priority that is just as important as staying warm.
  2. Feed your creative fires. A fire won’t burn without some form of fuel. You have to keep putting words on paper, or paint on canvas, or… well, you get the idea. The more you show up for your work, the easier the work flows most of the time. If we let resistance and procrastination keep us from feeding fuel to our creativity, then it gets increasingly harder to get the fire going again. The longer I’ve been away from my work the harder it is to get back to it, like trying to fan dying embers, it takes a lot more work to get the flame burning hot again. Much easier to keep the fire burning, if I continue to feed it wood.
  3. Clean out the old ashes of your work to allow for more fresh air. A fire can’t burn without a regular supply of fresh oxygen. Your creative fire can’t burn without a regular supply of new ideas from sources outside you — like museums, movies, books, travel, etc. Like Julia Cameron’s artist’s date, you need to get out and explore and play. Check those inner sources as well, like dreams, tarot and other oracles, daydreaming, and creative journaling. And clean out the ashes of former projects that maybe didn’t meet your hopes and expectations. They can choke the flames of your new work.

Just like the fire in my woodstove, your creative fire needs regular, consistent, committed tending. With regular feeding, good fuel, and plenty of air, the flames can burn bright enough to keep you warm all year long.

© Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011 Paula Chaffee Scardamalia   Intuitive and creativity coach Paula Chaffee Scardamalia publishes Divine Muse-ings, a weekly ezine. If you want to connect with your Muse for an inspired, gutsy and productive life, sign up at:

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One Response to Three Ways to Fan Your Creative Flames (Online art lesson #42)

  1. Ahhh! …I agree with Paula… and it IS hard to find time for more creativity, especially at the holidays. I wish I had a fireplace to gaze into, but I don’t. I sometimes let my mind wander when I take a walk. Maybe it achieves the same thing. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

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