Creativity unleashed: begin in 2012


My first novel, Blood Orchids, debuted in December. This has been a lifelong dream, and a process on a thousand different levels. It’s also caused a bit of an upheaval in my personal and professional life as I resolve issues of being a therapist in private and public practice, and a writer of suspense mysteries.

What is emerging is a changing of the focus of my practice, as I respond to creative people of all stripes who ask how I was able to write four novels in the last couple of years while working full time in a profession that many consider draining.

The answer isn’t simple, easy or pat. I  struggled, and for years, reading books on how to create, write, achieve, follow your bliss, do your dream, blah blah blah. I attended seminars. I did everything recommended, and a lot that was my own invention. I used a lot of the good stuff in my work with others. Nothing was wasted, but not all of it worked.

And in so doing,  I amassed a Book of Secrets. These “secrets” are the bits of gold among the sand I amassed as I panhandled the River of Life.

15 years into the fun of unlocking creativity, I'm able to share my Book of Secrets.

Notice this rich language in the above paragraph? This language is the stuff of story, and legend, and mythic endeavor. This language, carefully chosen, conveys the “magic” of creative unlocking. (this principle is based in Narrative Therapy, which I did a post on my counseling blog not long ago.) You will see me continue to invent phrases, code names, invocations, prayers or “spells” as part of this process. This is all part of the unique “magic” language that lets your inner child out to play–and your creative self is nothing if not a child: strong-willed, adventurous, easily fatigued, curious, and sensitive.

Or however she/he is for you… mine is thus. You’ll discover more about yours if you join me on this journey.

So here’s the beginning: start your own Book of Secrets. Buy a binder or other large-ish place where you can store clippings, drawings, notes and papers. This book will hold, in one place, the archives of your creative recovery. Why is this important?

Because it just is.

No, I can do better than that. On the bad days, on the days of the slog, the rejection letter, the caustic review– days of the quench of the Internal Censor and the berating lecture of the Superego, The Book of Secrets is a place they can’t see into. It’s protected, enclosed, and it’s very existence is revolutionary. Keep it safe, and keep it secret–even from your own critical mind.

Sound too woo-woo? Believe me, you’re going to need every trick the Book can contain to outwit, outlast and outplay the internal and external enemies that are out there to kill your inner artist. So join me on the adventure of starting 2012 by unlocking your creativity–and the first order of business is, create your Book of Secrets.

I got a cheap plastic binder (because one of the fears I have is of spending money on wasteful things that don’t work, and this was just an idea.)  I collaged images on it, images so powerful that just seeing them sparks something in me, something with fragile wings that wants to experience flying.

That’s what I did, but you can do it another way. Paint it, carve it, pulp it out of rejection slips, sculpt it, video-blog it. It’s YOUR book and your process.

This week, get it started. Get your Book, decide how you will title/decorate/create it. DO IT. Then, tell me how it goes. Up for the challenge?

C’mon. I dare ya. I promise I’ll be a little ahead on the path, cheering you on.

7 Responses to “Creativity unleashed: begin in 2012”

  1. Janene

    I love this idea, Toby. I have a file on my computer with little tid bits I’ve picked up or phrases/imagery that came to me out of the blue. I like the thought of a book. It’s more inspiring when you can hold something in your hands. I hope the book is doing well, too. It’s awesome.

  2. Carla

    Vita? Controversial figure who began life under peculiar circumstances and finished in the same vein, leaving behind troubled and/or wounded friends and family. She’s so an interesting warp, but… inspirational figure?…..only for gardening.

    Mostly secrets should stay just that and mostly one is one’s own worst enemy… is known universally.

    • toby

      Yes I agree. I hope to burn all my journals so my children aren’t burdened by them!

  3. Donna McNicol

    When I was writing before my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I had a notebook like this. A place to store all those little thoughts that pass too quickly, all those little notes taken from every day life. It’s now in a storage unit while we travel.

    Now that I have resumed writing, I am thinking of using Evernote for this purpose. It will allow me to save things from my computer, tablet and phone. I can snap a photo, drag a website, paste an image or just write some text. Hmmmm…definitely going to have to think about this.

    Thanks for the push!

    • toby

      Evernote… I’ll have to check that out! I like the physical book, but I spend most of my time on computer now. I wonder how a virtual one would work? Thanks for considering, and I loved tweeting with you. Hope you like Orchids!

  4. Pam

    Perfect timing! Yes, I’ll join you, Toby, because I can’t do it alone. Last year I did an experiment to see if I could finally find my niche, my passion, my purpose: I started a blog called SkatingThru2012. Buoyed by the commitment to show up and write something at least once a week, I also wrote and published two books–Nf re’ the unexpected power received when I quit smoking and a novel I wrote (in ’84) to deal with rape-anger. In that process of becoming an indie author, I discovered that the world really needs me to have a handle, a badge, a genre or it doesn’t quite know what to do with me. I’m joining you on this journey to see if I can discover my niche.

    This isn’t my first dance. I’m now on my third career… professor, therapist, now…?