My youngest daughter, with her learning disabilities, needed routines more than any of my other children had. It took adapting my mothering styles and at times that provided a great deal of inner friction. No matter what I tried to tell myself, change was difficult.
As a little girl, if I told her we needed to do some errands, she needed to know how many stops that involved. If I mentioned four places, I better stick to just four unless I wanted a less than peaceful ride home and a little girl who struggled to make sense of what happened with what mom had promised. As she grew up, she didn't like unexpected changes, quick decision making times, or changes to her routines. In comparison, I have learned to be flexible and adapt to changes - or have I really?
Embracing alternative creativity and the changes that involves hasn't been easy and at times I dig my heels into the ground and don't want to change. I like what I am familiar with, whether it is a genre to write or technology I use. Branching out makes me cringe at the worst of times and hesitate too long at the best of times. I long to hide out where I feel safe - in the familiar.
Several of my grandchildren issued challenges that would force me to try and write in new genres. I resisted. I insisted that the only thing I wrote or even knew how to write was non-fiction. At times I doubted my ability to do that well.
Yet they persisted and told me to just try. I felt like my daughter must have when I changed her routines - afraid, frustrated, and filled with uncertainty of what to expect. Write poetry? Write fiction? Totally out of my comfort zone.
But grandchildren pull on the heartstrings. I didn't want to disappoint them or stifle their creativity by refusing to adapt. What did I have to lose? Nothing but a bit of time and effort to attend a few workshops and do some research. What might I gain if I adapted what I wrote? A whole new world of possibilities, time with a grandchild, and the opportunity to try something new.
The next challenge for me to move beyond the status quo and adapt hit when the COVID restrictions tumbled into our lives and I had two new books to promote. Those restrictions prohibited me from holding a book launch at any venue. Craft fairs and trade shows, which I had planned to attend and sell books at, were cancelled. In person speaking engagements disappeared so no book sales coming from that avenue either. I needed to adapt or let the books sit on the shelf unknown about and unsold.
What have I learned as I contemplated these adaptations and my less than willingness to change? Adaptive creativity means:
1. Being willing to step out of the comfort zone I've snuggled into or out of the box I often erect around myself with the idea that it'll keep us safe and our routines unchallenged.
2. Being part of a group, such as Inscribe, provides other like-minded writers to learn from, be challenged by, be encouraged by, and who offer support in various forms.
3. Learning a new technique, skill, or improve ones I already have. It might mean asking for help with something I don't understand or attending a workshop or conference to learn from others further along in this creative journey.
4. Being willing to enjoy the journey of discovery instead of stress about needing to change. I might just be surprised as the adaptations turn into new outlets for creativity.
5. Above all else, being willing to give all those fears, plans, and creativity to God. This should be the first step but why do I so often relegate it to the place of, 'when all else fails'. I need to let God transform my thoughts, my heart, and my life, including the creativity and perceptions.
Adaptive creativity means allowing myself to apply techniques I already know into new scenarios. Sometimes it means simply experimenting with new scenarios, asking questions, using my imagination, and challenging the status quo I've wrapped myself up in. What new scenarios lie ahead? Only God knows and I pray I will be willing to listen to his directions and adapt accordingly.
Carol Harrison lives in Saskatoon and now writes more than non-fiction thanks to those adaptations she implemented by accepting challenges.