by Maya Chendke | Featured Contributor
That pretty much summarizes my first pass at being an author.
Maybe you dream of writing, too. Maybe it’s an idea for a novel or the hopes of assembling your memoir. Or maybe you journal regularly or want to experiment with creative writing. But there comes a point where action either happens, or it doesn’t. It’s a moment where your dream connects with reality, or fades in to memory or writer’s block.
Here is how I opened up the “sunroof” of inspiration – in yoga terms, my crown chakra – as the conduit to my first novel, Awake but Dreaming, and how it can drive your creativity, too.
Deciding to write can feel overwhelming. The process is different between people, and in one person, it can be completely different from one day to the next. I had the idea for Awake playing in my mind like a movie all through my teenage years. I daydreamed plot twists and fleshed out the deepest quirks of my characters when I should have been paying attention in calculus.
But it wasn’t until a serene summer away in my early twenties that I finally got the inspiration (and courage) to start writing it out. I was in a happy, positive setting, surrounded by awesome friends, and I found myself opened up to a creative force far bigger than anything I’d known before.
I started typing, and stayed pretty much in an over-drive state for the 18 months. I wrote fervently or edited during any spare moment I could get. Whatever flowed in through my brain, flowed out through my fingers with ease. Baby, I was ON, and living in a little bubble of joyful work. When I opened up my MacBook, I communed with magic – everything just poured from my brain to the screen.
From my first clicks to seeing Awake printed and in my hands, it took three and a half years. What an amazing, satisfying time.
Mommy, I’m Broken
Then I decided to go to business school and my lifestyle shifted. By necessity, I became more single-minded and deadline-oriented, and that made the metaphorical sunroof of wonderful words slam shut. I went from writing a book to barely being able to write a blog post. Cue the shame, judgments, and rage; for several years, I fought to crowbar that inspiration window open again.
But I’ve come to realize that this thing we call “inspiration” is really the connection between our personal energy and our divine energy. It’s not a thing that happens with a scented candle and scheduled writing time. Inspiration gets let in when your personal energy is good and thriving, and when you feel connected to something bigger than yourself – whether that’s a story, a purpose, a higher power, or something else outside of your own head. Inspiration grows and gets stronger when you feed it with bliss.
Getting Back On Track
After the four years of biz school and little-to-no creative flow, I started fresh by founding a marketing consultancy I named “mPath Creative Consulting”, and I teamed up with amazing like-minded women at the Horsefly Group. And I started to feel the next story come to me – naturally.
As an entrepreneur with mPath, I’ve built something that also lets me be an “innerpreneur”, to explore the things that bring me blissful moments. I spend more time horseback riding, reading, and hugging my cat, and I’ve being able to re-open my idea sunroof, which you yogis out there refer to as the crown chakra. Get ready for the cheesy sentiment: I feel connected to…love.
Creativity is love. Love is creativity. Before I made that connection, it was agony that I couldn’t crank out another book in a hot second. My head hurt for four years because I was trying to pry it open with brute force instead of doing the things that would make me receptive to it.
So how can you learn from my challenges and get your head to open up and receive?
See It For Yourself – A List of Good
Something that’s helped me disarm the writer’s block is to start a list of the things that make me happy or grateful. Acknowledging and appreciating that I am connected to something bigger tunes me in to myself, and also helps me recognize the ideas that flow through me.
Here’s a sample of the things that give me bliss:
- Rehabilitating my rescue horse.
- My lavender-scented eye pillow.
- My cat sitting on my chest.
- The smell of Blue Bottle coffee grinding.
- The perfect song to loosen up my ideas (see below).
- A new notebook.
Once I make these little lists and say a quick “thank you” for being able to experience these joys, I feel the roof retract and ideas start to trickle in. It shifts my mindset away from judging my writer’s block, and I loosen up and create.
I have two more books on the go now, and these moments of peace and gratitude are how I keep the ideas flowing.
If you want help setting the mood, here’s a go-to for me from a favourite of mine, Sugar + The Hi Lows.
Marketing consultant, entrepreneur, writer and horse mom Maya Chendke is going through a powerful start-up year. Her company, mPath Creative Consulting, works on website, marketing, content and social media projects that flex her signature hybrid style of creative/analytical. She is also part of a virtual anti-agency, Horsefly Group, where she leads clients with clever ideas and her color-coded iCal.
Her entrepreneurship track record includes a couple of start-ups and a self-published novel (Awake but Dreaming). A rogue introvert, you’ll spot her at start-up meetings sporting riding breeches and a messy bun as the Woz to her Jobs-like partners (or the Sandberg to their Zuckerbergs).
Maya has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management where she was a standout presence in the male-dominated business school environment. She has a certificate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Summer Institute for General Management and a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University.
She loves to help people make the most of their marketing budget and has an addiction to analytics. She is always on the lookout for great talent and great projects and loves to facilitate introductions.
In her downtime, she’s diligently rehabilitating her rescue horse and reads ~20 books a year. Tweet her @mayachendke