Ranée

The Rising

Yesterday, I spent some time revamping my yoga routines and associated playlists. In a previous post, I wrote about how I was inspired by Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga to create custom routines focused on each of the seven major chakras based on her suggested sequences. I expanded my routines by adding Judith’s kundalini chakra breathing exercises to the beginning of each one and increasing the times holding poses so that each one is now roughly 40 minutes. This morning was the first that I practiced one of the revised routines (anahata, heart chakra) and I was pleased with the result. It feels more wholistic to me—an exercise for mind, body, and spirit—which is exactly what I was going for. If you’re curious about the routines themselves, I highly recommend investing in Judith’s book as well as the precursor, Wheels of Life, a guide to the chakra system in general. My custom playlists for each chakra are listed below in case anyone is curious about those. The idea to create them came to me when I wrote that the yoga instructor character in my book played pop music during her classes instead of “traditional” yoga/meditation music. So, essentially, her classes are based off of Chakra Yoga and the music she plays during those are these playlists that I made.

Muladhara, Root Chakra: The Ground Beneath Her Feet

  1. “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” by U2
  2. “Stand” by R.E.M.
  3. “Dig Down” (Acoustic Gospel Version) by Muse
  4. “And She Was” by Talking Heads
  5. “I’m a Mother” by the Pretenders
  6. “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones
  7. “Body Electric” by Lana Del Rey
  8. “Shelter From the Storm” by Bob Dylan
  9. “A Letter to Fear” by Fantastic Negrito
  10. “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King

Svadhistahana, Sacral Chakra: Hooked On a Feeling

  1. “Hooked On a Feeling” by Blue Swede
  2. “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone
  3. “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Beatles
  4. “Turn Me On” by Norah Jones
  5. “Undisclosed Desires” by Muse
  6. “Desire” by U2
  7. “Because the Night” by Patti Smith Group
  8. “Night in My Veins” by the Pretenders
  9. “Faith” by George Michael
  10. “Burning Desire” by Lana Del Rey
  11. “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith
  12. “Crimson and Clover” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Manipura, Solar Plexus Chakra: Light My Fire

  1. “Light My Fire” by the Doors
  2. “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
  3. “Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones
  4. “Into the Fire” by Sarah McLachlan
  5. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
  6. “Army of Me” by Björk
  7. “Mirror Master” by Young the Giant
  8. “(You Will) Set the World On Fire” by David Bowie
  9. “Uprising” by Muse

Anahata, Heart Chakra: Open Your Heart

  1. “Open Your Heart” by Madonna
  2. “What Is Life” by George Harrison
  3. “Between Two Lungs” by Florence + the Machine
  4. “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” by Elvis Costello & the Attractions
  5. “Tenderness” by General Public
  6. “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” by Jackie Wilson
  7. “Breathe (In the Air)” by Pink Floyd
  8. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper
  9. “Somebody to Love” by Queen
  10. “Love Is What You Need” by the Clarks

Visuddha, Throat Chakra: Good Vibrations

  1. “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys
  2. “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” by Cat Stevens
  3. “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” by R.E.M.
  4. “High Fidelity” by Elvis Costello & the Attractions
  5. “Silence Is Golden” by Garbage
  6. “Cosmic Dancer” by T. Rex
  7. “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos
  8. “Stop Whispering” by Radiohead
  9. “Drawn to the Rhythm” by Sarah McLachlan
  10. “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode

Ajña, Third-Eye Chakra: Beginning to See the Light

  1. “Beginning to See the Light” by the Velvet Underground
  2. “Digital Witness” by St. Vincent
  3. “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
  4. “Cosmic Love” by Florence + the Machine
  5. “Disillusioned” by A Perfect Circle
  6. “Light My Way” by Audioslave
  7. “Let It Be” by the Beatles
  8. “So Tonight That I Might See” by Mazzy Star

Sahasrara, Crown Chakra: Higher Love

  1. “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood
  2. “Kyrie” by Mister Mister
  3. “Like a Prayer” by Madonna
  4. “Say Hello 2 Heaven” by Temple of the Dog
  5. “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
  6. “One” by U2
  7. “Higher” by Creed
On Writing, Ranée

Disorder

Creativity requires a certain amount of disorder—a good kind of chaos, if you will, and I fully admit to being a bit Scarlet-Witchy (OK, more than a bit). However, in this post, I’m talking about the bad kind of disorder, the sort that comes from a lack of clarity and has nothing to do with creative spirit.

I’ve spent some time this week migrating content that I’ve written for my current story from my notebooks into Scrivener and, in the process, I’ve come to an important realization—I should not be writing when I’m depressed or stressed out unless I’m just writing about how I’m feeling. I haven’t got much of substance to show for the months when I’ve been trying to write while feeling bad; the little that I do have is a jumbled mess. All of the more organized threads that flow into actual chapters were written prior to depression and anxiety setting in. It is exceptionally difficult for me to maintain a decent level of concentration and to organize myself when I am depressed or anxious; that’s always been true. The difference now is, I’m aware of it. I know now that this was the real reason I could never finish a book let alone really get one started—my emotional struggles caused me to lose focus to the point that I just couldn’t get it together.

The other lesson I’ve learned is that I need to follow my own advice and when nothing good is coming or I’m just not feeling like working on a particular project, then I need to write something else, whether that something is journaling, writing a blog post, or working on another creative project. With regard to the latter, I’ve been forcing myself to stick with one creative writing project at a time out of fear I’ll never finish anything if I don’t make myself plow through, but I’ve realized that, by doing this, I’ve been hampering my own creativity (and as I noted above, the real problem for all those years was depression, not my tendency toward chaos-witchiness). I hate doing the same thing all the time; I get extremely bored and end up feeling constrained. I certainly need some structure to keep me on track, but instead of forcing myself to push on when my heart’s not really in it, I should instead embrace my own dynamic nature, be flexible, and work on whatever project I feel like on a given day (employ an organized chaos, so to speak). My hope is that by changing things up, I’ll avoid stagnating and will instead keep the embers of my creative fire burning.

Along the same lines, while my story ideas tend to be nonlinear, with scenes/flashes coming at random, I need to write in chapters. If I have a scene in my head, then I will write it but I also need to write what goes around or with it, connecting the dots. This will save me having to go back and fill in loads of blanks later and will help to keep me organized. I mean, even when Wanda was completely disrupting people’s lives, she still provided a substantial amount of structure. The least I can do is turn random scenes into full-fledged chapters (the fact that I have already done it is proof I can do it again).

So this will be my new process once I’ve moved over the stuff I’ve got in my notebooks. Maybe I’ll even consider going back to writing on the computer. Ha! Sorry, but computer writing for creative projects is reserved for revising . . . unless I find a good electronic approximation for a pen and notebook that can be transferred straight into the computer and integrate with Scrivener, but that’s another topic for another day.

On Writing

The Writing’s on the Wall

Or, as the case may be, in the song, in a perfectly brewed cup of chamomile tea, in your dreams . . . Literally, anywhere.

A while back, the topic of discussion for Paper Cuts, our monthly writers’ group, was inspiration. Our conversation got me thinking about ways to maximize or play to your different sources of inspiration. I’ve put together a short list below, but since, as I’ve noted above, inspiration can come from almost anywhere or anything, feel free to note your specific sources in the comments and I’ll suggest some ways to make that work for you and your writing. Note that all of these are also good tactics for battling the beast known as “writer’s block.” However, keep in mind that your triggers shouldn’t be a distraction from your writing; if you find that you’re spending too much time setting the mood and not enough actually getting down to business, then your source of “inspiration” is really just a procrastination strategy and you should let it go.

  • Music. If, like me, you’re inspired by music, then why not listen to music while writing? Put on a record, create playlists to accompany your work, or just allow some ambient music to play in the background. Going to a concert, orchestra, symphony, or other musical event is another way to tap into your source.
  • Atmosphere. If you find that there’s a certain type of atmosphere that’s conducive to your writing, then create that environment for yourself or seek out that ideal writing space (library, coffee shop, etc.). If you need a cup of coffee or tea in your favorite mug, a glass of bourbon, candles, certain smells, a particular writing implement, absolute quiet, a blanket, whatever it may be to get you ready to write, then make it happen.
  • Dreams. If you’ve ever woke up from a dream thinking, “That would make a great/weird/cool story,” or if you often find yourself getting ideas from dreams you’ve had, then try keeping a dream journal. As soon as you wake up, jot down all of the details you can remember from any dreams you’ve had so that you can use those notes to generate future content.
  • Nature. I often find that going for a walk in my favorite nature preserve/park stirs up new ideas and images for me. If you’re also inspired by nature, then do your writing outdoors or choose a spot facing a window with a view. If, like me, you’ve got a particular place with which you feel a connection, then go spend some time there and see what comes up for you.
  • Images. Put up pictures or artwork in the space where you write so that those visual cues are prominently displayed where you can see them as you work. Alternatively, go to a museum or art gallery or watch a film that you find inspiring.
  • The Zone. If you’re inspired when in “the zone,” then try meditating on your project before getting to work to help you get into that highly creative space and tap into your subconscious. You can also do some automatic writing to see what ideas flow up from beneath the surface.

Again, these are just a few strategies that come to mind for me. I welcome your thoughts to build upon this list.