A writer’s notebook is a collection of works in progress. Sometimes an idea will arrive in an instant, while other ideas can take long periods of time to emerge. A writer’s notebook is a place to capture thoughts, feelings, and observations that stimulate the imagination and have the potential to serve as a source of inspiration.
Listed below are some works in progress.
- An Artist’s Journey: In 2005, I interviewed artist Jerry Wennstrom. The interview explored a liminal frontier of transformation in Jerry’s life as well as his artistic expression. It is a remarkable story of an artist’s quest to pursue creativity to broaden and expand what can be known, felt, and lived.
- Art of Improvisation: Improvisation is the art of being alone with your own creativity. Keith Jarrett is an artist the exemplifies the art of improvisation in music and everyday life. This article explores the nature of creativity, improvisation, and the art of living a creative life.
- Dark Night of the Soul: A dark night of the soul is a frightening and humbling experience. To be in the midst of a dark night is to become immersed inside a liminal frontier that challenges our will to survive. This article is personal reflection on how creativity is our most valuable resource in finding our way through periods of overwhelming darkness in body, mind, and spirit.
- Transformative Writing: Writing has transformative qualities. It can help us to move through periods of difficulty in life, inspire acceptance of painful experiences that cannot be changed, discover sources of inner resilience, and achieve a sense of equanimity in life. The transformative writing series explores the qualities that makes writing a source of personal development and growth.
Writing About the Liminal Frontiers of Experience
My own notebooks are filled with liminal experiences in which writing was a form of survival. I have completed three unique yet interconnected career paths in my life. In 2015, I left a successful career as an entrepreneur to risk an entirely new path. And yet, I know that this path is not new; it has been waiting for me my entire life.
A liminal frontier is a period in life in which profound change confines our thoughts, ideas, and emotions inside a crucible of doubt, rumination, and uncertainty. Liminality imposes a crisis of identity, meaning, and purpose. Inside a liminal frontier, we are alone, lost, and at risk. In other words, liminality is dangerous; there is no guarantee that we will find our way through it.
Periods of liminality in life are perfectly normal. Extreme periods of liminality, such as a dark night of the soul, can threaten our survival. Less threatening periods of liminality, such as a career change or retirement, can generate significant anxiety, depression, and despair.
My work exists where liminality intersects with creativity. In other words, experience has taught me that creativity is our most valuable resource in grappling with the vicissitudes of life. Liminality is a form of potent mystery that is too large for the human imagination to grasp. Without exception, liminality exposes us to danger, risk, and trauma.
However, liminality can also generate new potential in life. It is often said that it is by moving through the difficulties of life that greatest rewards are found. Although liminality is an existential threat, it always offers the possibility of becoming more fully human and more fully alive.
The Purpose of a Writer’s Notebook
How can a notebook be used to broaden and expand our creative reach?
Use your notebook to breathe in the world around you.
(Ralph Fletcher in What Should I Write About?)
Experience is the only thing we can truly own in life. Writing is an attempt to understand and take responsibility for the relentless confluence of situations and circumstances that coalesce into something we call, “our own life.”
The idea of using a writer’s notebook to, “breath in the world around you,” is a compelling metaphor. Breathing is both natural and necessary. There is no possibility of life in the absence of breath. For a writer, the act of writing is also natural and necessary. There is no possibility of feeling fully alive in the absence of writing.
A writer’s notebook is an open environment to capture experiences we find relevant, interesting, and valuable; it is not a journal or diary, even though it may include this style of writing.
Writing can sometimes be an act of survival. The essential purpose of a writer’s notebook is to provide a liberating space to cultivate wellbeing. In a creative sense, the act of writing originates in an innate irrepressible desire to explore the essence of identity, purpose, meaning, awareness, and experience.
A writer’s notebook may contain more than writing. It may also be a space to draw, sketch, paste, and color. A notebook entry can take various forms, including brief jot notes about something of interest as well as creative synthesis of past entries into something of value. In other words, the content of a writer’s notebook is an array self-generated raw material for the creation of art.
The contents of a writer’s notebook are never abandoned; that is, past entries become a source of contemplation, reflection, and creative potential. There is no possibility of, “write and forget.” Through a transformative reading practice, past notebook entries always become something new an unexpected when they are reclaimed inside the present moment.