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Your Homework Is To Make Mud

Written by: Maria Koropecky, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

I told my writers in my creative writing coaching group to “make mud.” They laughed but I had a rhyme to my reason and a method to my madness.


It all stemmed from a conversation I was having with one of my writers who figured out she was getting stuck in her writing because she was too focused on the end results rather than on the creative process.

I see this results-based thinking come up often with my coaching clients and in myself. We’re taught to look at our results, starting with grades in school and scores in sports and it escalates from there.


If we’re not achieving or accomplishing or having anything to show for our hard work like everyone else seems to, we feel like there’s something wrong with us, which makes us turn up the production dial even more, though often yielding little difference.


On top of that, many of us also throw in perfectionism and control issues into the mix.


As writers, we measure things like daily word counts, publication credits, social media following, the size of publishing deals, and who the bestselling authors are, and then we project those big numbers into our own projects before we even start.


It’s exhausting trying to keep up, but I would like to turn that thinking on its head and instead ask, “What if we approached creativity like children do?”


Kids don’t care about number-crunching, or whether or not they colour in or outside the lines, or if their painting will hang in a fancy gallery, or who wrote what. They also don’t care if they make one, big, sloppy mess either!


Kids just like to play and make things – especially if they can touch things and get their hands dirty along the way.


And have you ever noticed that kids don’t walk in a straight line? They go up, down and around, exploring every little thing in sight. It looks like way more fun than what we adults do, (be-lining with coffee and cell phone in hands, from home to office then to the grocery store and back home again, never looking up).


So, on that note, I invited my group of writers to be creative for the sake of being creative and not to think about achieving some end results.


“Make something artistic and be messy – like finger painting or cooking without a recipe or making a new essential oil blend,” I suggested. “Be hands on and make something tactile and creative. I want you to make a mess… make mud! Just have fun! Splash, swirl… don't care about how it’s going to turn out. Just let your creativity out and enjoy the process and if you end up making mud, all the better! Oh, and then journal about it.”


This homework assignment met with some resistance and it even seemed counterintuitive to me as I said it out loud off the top of my head. What would happen if someone actually, purposefully set out to make mud from the beginning?


After thinking about this idea in the following days, I realized how freeing this approach really is.


It dawned on me that writing and creativity (at least in the beginning) are not about results or an end game; writing and creativity are a way of being. Let that sink in.


As it turned out, I unexpectedly had a chance a couple of days later to do the ‘make mud’ homework assignment myself. I had just manifested a free juicer – yay – which gave me an idea, and as much as I like the idea of a juicer, I also get intimidated by anything new that looks too complicated. It often takes me a long time just to open the box. I’m also not big on the clean-up part that often comes with creative ventures.


Nevertheless, I made a juicing station in the kitchen, rolled up my sleeves and started to play with my new toy. “Who cares what the juice will taste like?” I said to myself. “This is about experimenting. This is about letting myself make a mess. This is not about making an award-winning health drink.”


I foraged around the kitchen and found the following ingredients: ¾ of a cucumber, 1 small carrot, 2 sticks of celery, 1 apple, and 3 strawberries.


One by one, starting with the cucumber, I cut them into chunks and fed them down the chute. Lo and behold, the juice came out the spout!


It worked! I was having fun and I was being messy!


The problem was, I didn’t make very much juice with the first assortment, so I had to add more cucumber and celery, plus I threw in a pear and some cranberries.


Some of the cranberries bounced out like popcorn and some of the pulp sprayed up the back splash on the kitchen wall – I guess that’s what that’s for.


In the next go-round, the juicer started making a strange noise! Oh no! So, I shut off the machine, unplugged it and took it apart to check for any jams and clogs. Everything seemed okay but unfortunately, I put the top on the wrong way and it was difficult to detach again. I didn’t let that discourage me though. I eventually wrestled off the top, put the whole thing back together, and soon the juice was flowing again!


And guess what?


To my surprise, I made enough to share with my mom and even though the colour of my concoction was a muddy, yellow-greenie-brown, it tasted delicious! Cheers!


But what if my first attempt at making juice wasn’t tasty? What if I did make mud after all? I decided I still would have been okay because it was a fun experience anyway and I’d do it again with different fruits and vegetables the next day.


I’ve personally learned there’s no need to put any pressure on creative projects at all. I’ve also learned what not being attached to results means! From now on, I’m keeping things light, I’m keeping it fun and am being open to whatever comes next.


How about you? Are you a writer who wants to write a book but are having trouble getting over some creativity blocks like perfectionism and needing to have some guarantees from the beginning? Would you like to join us in the next Spiritual Practice of Creative Writing Coaching Group starting soon?


Send me a message and let’s book a time to chat. In the meantime, go and make some mud!


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Maria!

 

Maria Koropecky, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Maria Koropecky is many things: a Creative Writing Coach, Author, Writer, Storyteller, and Crystal Mapper. She is well aware that 81% of all people want to write a book someday and, as a result, has set out to build a creative writing coaching business that is geared towards helping writers, artists, and introverts discover their own gold, breakthrough writer's blocks, and write the book they've always dreamed of writing so that they can leave a legacy. Maria's own forthcoming novel, Closer to Indigo, the first book in a trilogy, was inspired during her solo backpacking trip across Spain at 50. It follows the journey of a single woman as she searches for love, her life being lit up and guided by the colorful characters she meets along the way. Maria feels confident she can help other people in the world, who have also gone on an adventure of a lifetime, to write and share their stories with others. Maria also has a wealth of qualifications that inform what she does, ranging from an Honours BA in English Literature to certifications in Life Coaching & Mentoring, to Spa Therapy as well as Crystal Reading. Her mission is to encourage new voices to enter the arena.

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