Clearing the Creative River

“Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing.

That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.”

  Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves

In the late 90’s through 2001, I led intuitive painting workshops and designed the teacher training for one of the founders of The Painting Experience.

During one of the trainings in San Francisco, I was asked what my favorite books on creativity were. Since the training was happening in my home town, I had the luxury of going to my bookshelves that night to take a look.

I was surprised by what I found and brought back to my students.

There were a few books on creativity in my stacks: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (who I studied with in Chicago in 1989), writing books by my writing teacher Pat Schneider, as well as Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg.

But the books I relied on most to support my creative practice were (and still are)

  • spiritual books from all traditions,
  • books about myth, mythology, stories from around the world
  • poetry

These genres remain soul food for me, along with memoir, and I suppose that’s why I always used quotes, and snippets of stories and poems in my teaching.

Women Who Run With The Wolves manages to encompass all of the above and more. It was the book that set me upon so many adventures when it was first published. I still have my well-worn, heavily marked up first edition hardcover. I even hauled it all the way to Mexico with me when I moved here from California. It’s the book I’ve given to friends most (even men) when they are looking for ways to express themselves, heal, grow, and do more art.

Since that training in 2000 where I was as surprised as my own students about the “creativity” books that have meant the most to me, there have been many more books on creativity written. At some point I’ll make a round up of these. I’m proud to have contributed my own books to this genre — a dream come true.

For now, this post feels like a deep bow to the teachers, healers, artists and writers whose books I rely on for so much nourishment. Thank you for helping my creative river flow, with clear moving waters. Thank you for your part in making my creative dreams come true.

The FLOW: 30 Day Journal Project is one way I am inspired to pay these blessings forward.

Today’s Journal Prompts:

If I invited my wildness out to play, she would take me…

If I were willing to be stone stupid, I would make…

If I weren’t afraid of being called stone stupid, I would…

I could stop censoring myself here:

Explore More

Today I want to introduce you to Chris Zydel, of Creative Juices Arts.

Chris and I share some of the same painting teachers, but didn’t study with them at the same time. We finally met in person and immediately recognized each other as creative soul sisters after connecting online many moons ago.

Chris teaches her own unique style of intuitive painting for people of any level of experience. Chris’ article, How To Become A Joyfully Gutsy Artist Show Off, illuminates the two paths of creativity: the process, and the product, and how to approach both with more ease and grace.

Read this if you love to create for the sake of creating, but wonder what the heck you’re doing with all this making and where it’s going. And if you’re showing or selling your art — or just thinking about it, then this is a must read. Thank you, Chris!

Join me for a whole year of journaling…

magic-book-275Magic Book  |  $34 

During the 30 Day Journal Project last year, so many people wrote asking for ongoing connection and contact. I wanted that, too!

The seed was planted for a year-long journaling workshop that isn’t time-consuming or overwhelming—or even require a daily journal entry.

Ooh! How does that work?!

How it works:

Magic Book brings you a whole year of journaling inspiration.

Once per month I share a new set of creative journaling prompts and a project to help you connect with your creativity in our online classroom.

Projects include simple, easy and fun ways to incorporate mixed-media art, collage, photography into your journaling.

Each month is like adding a new chapter to your magic book. You don’t have to do all of the projects. Even if you just dip in and out, you’ll be creating a whole new year of possibilities.

This is a simple way to stay connected with your creativity, me, and a community of kindred journalers. You don’t have go it alone!

Get access to Magic Book right here (you’ll have immediate access to the first seven lessons, and get five more once per month from August – December, 2015).

In Case you’re just popping in today for the 30 Day Journal Project: 


Day 1 on this project is all about creative beginnings.

Facing the blank page can be intimidating. So you’ll find help to get started.

I also made printables of ALL 30 days of prompts… (this is how I’m making my journal this year)

You can read more about the printables and how they work here >

Your Turn:

What are your favorite books about creativity? Go look at your bookshelves and report book. Are you surprised at what you’ve found? I can’t wait to hear what your go-to creative inspiration books are.

Pretty Graphic: FLOW: 30 Day Journal Project at

 This post is part of the 30 Day Journal Project.

Our theme for this year is: FLOW.

Every day for 30 days, a brand new set of  journaling prompts is posted right here.

Creative journaling is my number one tool as an artist and creative entrepreneur.

I designed this project to help you discover the magic that happens when you journal for 30 days.

30 days of prompts and ideas to inspire, motivate, and en-Courage you, with creative community to support you. That’s my intention.

Beauty & Connection

You may join our closed FB Group for this project here:

Each inspirational quote for the 30 Day Journal Project has a pretty visual graphic for you to print out and paste your journal, add to your Pinterest gallery, or share as you wish.

You are invited to share your experience in the comments—the dream is to collect your stories for an upcoming book about this project.

Use the hashtag #30DAYJOURNAL in your blog and social media posts so we can find each other and build our creative community.

Upcoming Workshops

Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook is the foundational course required for more in-depth study and the facilitator training.

The 7 Creative Powers is all about breaking through resistance and understanding the places we get stuck. For those who have already taken Dreaming on Paper or Creative + Practice.


by Lisa Sonora // share your thoughts... in the Comments { 11 }