Why have a Creative Practice?

What If... a page one of of my Creative + Practice sketchbooks

I am in love with demystifying the process of creating.

How we make things. How we solve problems. Investigating the particular ways we get stuck and how we get back to work.

I am in love with exploring how the creative process works, and then sharing what I find.

Helping you navigate the mysterious realm: where ideas come from—and how they turn from idea into tangible products and outcomes.

To best show you the Why of having a creative practice, I’ll share from my private journal, which is where this work happens. Then I’ll show you how to try it out for yourself.

This is in service of helping you learn a bit more about the course I’ve developed to help people get from idea to action — consistently. It’s called Creative + Practice, and I hope you’ll check it out after you read this.

Why have a Creative Practice?

I was answering this question for myself, when first designed this course. The way I begin all new work is to play with the ideas in my sketchbooks, using writing prompts, but also playing with paint, photography, collage, and whatever else wants to go on to the page.

Here’s what came forth when I asked: Why have a Creative Practice?

Every day, when I open to a blank page, I have no idea what is going to happen. The only thing known is the date and time (and I have to go look that up on my phone), and I start from there, dating the page.

Then the pen touches the paper, and I watch what flows forth.

What we need when approaching the blank page is a sense of curiosity.

What’s going to happen? What wants to emerge? I wonder what will end up on the page at the end of ten minutes?

What we need when imagining the beginning of a creative practice is courage.

It takes a daily act of bravery to move toward something that pulls you, especially if you don’t feel good at it, or worthy of it.

Creative practice helps develop resilience to the fear of the unknown.

The thing is, the known is an illusion.

Designing a certain plan with definite outcomes is what we want and crave.

a pile of Lisa Sonora Beam's sketchbooks

 Over the years of doing creative practice, I’ve come to love the blank page. A fresh start. A fresh sheet of paper. Beginning with a sense of openness and surrendering to the mystery of not knowing.

Where else but on a blank piece of paper can we dare to surrender freely to the unknown without consequence?

We practice here, on the paper.

The blank page is a mirror, reflecting back our own inner mysteries.

Making the unknown more known.

Inviting what lies just below the surface of our awareness to flow forth.

We create a safe space to venture into the unknown when we are free to create without judgment, without the need for what we make to be important or remarkable or beautiful.

This is the laboratory of invention, where we take away the pressure to have to know what we’re doing or what the work means.

The blank page is a metaphor for life and how we live. How do we approach the blank page when we say yes to the unknown and make our mark?

The blank page becomes a map of our life, a guidebook for the dreams we carry, created in the moment as we go.

We don’t have to know the outcome, we don’t have to know the how or what or why.

When we learn to listen deeply to the inner voice, when we begin to follow the images that intrigue us, we are always led to where we most want to go.

Where we dream of going. Where we would go…if only…we weren’t afraid to trust in the heart’s longings.

— parts of this essay excerpted from Sketchbooks: My Personal Creative Practice

Your Turn

Now…I invite you to take just a minute and journal with me.

Go get your note book, sketchbook, diary, a random scrap of blank paper, and something to write with.

I’ll wait.

Ready? Good.

Write this prompt at the top of your page:

What If…

Now, as fast as you can and without thinking, start writing a response to that question.

If you find yourself thinking instead of writing, wondering what to say, then do this:

Write the question, What If…?, over and over again across your paper until something else comes.

When you find yourself thinking or your writing comes to a stop, write the question again in the same way, until the writing flows again.

Fill one page with writing. Then see what you’ve got.

If you want to keep writing, go on! But one page of very fast, stream-of-conscious writing will uncover some new ideas.

This is part of what we do in creative practice.

We learn to mine our subconscious for new ideas, inklings, potent questions, radical wonderings, inner guidance.

There is so much in there!

Really, everything we want, is in there somewhere. We just need some tools and methods for accessing it.

Once we have access, we can use it to make changes, heal, create, share, launch, express, dare, produce.

Having a creative practice is a lot like keeping a rich and fertile compose which nourishes everything we make, dream, and do.

If you found this post useful in some way, I do hope you’ll check out Creative + Practice.

It’s a couple of decades worth of creative process exploration, excavation, practice, and road-testing with others, condensed into an 8-week e-course journey.

9 Responses to Why have a Creative Practice?

  1. Ashley April 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    This: “What we need when imagining the beginning of a creative practice is courage.” So true. Actually, this is the very thing that I struggle with. Lack of courage is what keeps me away. There is this place that you have to be willing to visit when you make art – its the place of uncertainty & vulnerability. You have to be brave to go there.

  2. Cindy April 17, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    As I read this post the my little critical person pops up and says right. Every time you write, it’s always the same crap, bubbling up from the depth of no where.. I tell my self I thought I got rid of that and I really want to write something inspiring and uplifting for once in my stinkin life. LOL
    I feel that is the one thing that stops me from connecting to my creativity is that little person who sits on my shoulder and tells me what are you trying to prove you are not creative you don’t have any wonderful ideas to share or anything to write about and why bother…But as I write this little maybe to much info post the “what if” prompt is powerful…and all your prompts for that matter…Lisa your prompts have really helped me to start writing and find that creative soul that is waiting to express life.. I get kind of excited when my 15 min are up and I am like damn where did that come from.. Thank you for sharing your gift and helping me slowly break thru the wall of fear and my own judgement. I will admit I am not as consistent as I want to be but my journal sits on my table now, not tucked away in the closet. Thank you 🙂

  3. Debra Marrs April 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    Ever since I found you, Lisa, and discovered what’s possible in a creative sketchbook/journal, I’ve been inspired to be open and curious too. “What if” is now at the top of 8 pages, awaiting my next sessions this week. Thank you!

  4. Karen N April 3, 2014 at 4:54 am #

    Hi Lisa. This is the first time I have responded to your blog although I do follow it and have a couple of your books. But just wanted to say I really loved this exercise. So powerful!! It really brought out some strong statements I had been hiding from myself regarding moving forward as an artist. Many thanks 🙂

    • Lisa Sonora Beam April 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

      Thanks so much, Karen for being extra bold and sharing here! It really means a lot when people let me know that they are indeed *out there* and reading, and even more, doing some of the prompts…

      And gigantic thanks for buying and reading my books, too! I really appreciate that support.

      Suggestion – keep doing this prompt for several days, weeks, or even a month…it will take you deep. Keep me posted, and best wishes to you on moving forward as an artist. There are people out there who need the work that only you can do.

      That goes for anyone reading this!

  5. Michelle Casserley April 3, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    Thank you Lisa,

    This is the first writing i have done in a couple of weeks and your post reminded me to keep it so simple!
    I see a few major themes reoccurring, nothing I didn’t know but things I have been pushing aside.
    Beautiful exercise, now I’m going to go play with colour on the page with some of your DOP techniques. I am a few weeks behind xx

    • Lisa Sonora Beam April 6, 2014 at 12:01 am #

      Michelle, yes – Simple is so powerful.

      I love the way playing with the prompts brings so much to the surface. In my experience “revelations” are pretty much always something I would label as incredibly obvious. But it does take time for the subconscious and conscious to sync up – again, that’s my experience.

      • Michelle Casserley April 16, 2014 at 1:52 am #

        That is my experience too Lisa, its always obvious once it has been connected!


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