KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

A Group “Artist Date”

It’s been years since our group worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together, but we return again and again to some of the practices we learned from it. The “artist date” is one—time set aside to do something out of the ordinary, purely for the delight of it. The idea is that a creative life needs to be nourished, and that new experiences of beauty and art can infuse us with a sense of vitality that stimulates our own creativity. Ideally, we would have an artist date every week; in reality, it rarely works that way. But when life feels drained of its color, an artist date is pretty good therapy.

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Usually an artist date is an individual experience, but sometimes it’s fun to have one as a group. And because it’s harder than it sounds to take a break from our obligations, a group artist date helps make it happen when it seems out of the question individually.

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These are pictures from an artist date we set up for ourselves last week. It was time for a break from the routine, and we were captivated by the idea of a paper-crafting day. Maybe it’s the connection with the tools of writing, but making books and other objects with beautiful paper is like a mini-vacation for all of us. We have helped children and grandchildren with countless creative projects, and our group has even worked with a Girl Scout troop to make handmade books, but on this day we assembled all kind of papers, notebooks, stamps, glue, ribbon, awls, patterns, and scissors to see what we could come up with for ourselves.

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As we settled into exploring the materials our conversation quieted. We spoke in fragments when we spoke at all, absorbed in what we were doing. Even writers—perhaps especially writers—find it necessary to take a break from words from time to time. It was satisfying to work with color and texture, and to see the variety of results when we were finished. But the process must have been more important than the outcomes, because I forgot to take photos of the completed projects.

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What’s your idea of a good artist date?





Creative Starter

This is a jar of sourdough starter. It has a complex, yeasty aroma that lets you know something is going on in there—not particularly appetizing in itself, but interesting and not unpleasant. In baking it gives a depth of flavor you can’t get any other way.

Jar of Sourdough Starter

The starter is wonderful to use when I want to make bread, but keeping it available requires some tending. It’s a living thing, and the only way to have it on hand is to feed it regularly. Food in this case is flour and water. I stir it in and let the brew ferment for a while. The action starts in the depths, heaving lumpy air pockets toward the surface until a fine layer of bubbles breaks through. Once things settle down it’s ready to store and use.

As long as I pay attention to the starter once a week or so it remains alive and healthy, responsive when fed. It adds both flavor and leavening to the dough I make. But if I let it go too long between feedings it weakens and turns lifeless—not much good for bread or anything else.

Sometimes it feels like a lot of work to keep a starter going, but if I want to have the option of making sourdough it’s a lot easier to feed than to start from scratch. Beginning again requires more ingredients, time, and tending. It also involves letting the batter absorb airborne yeast, which I didn’t know existed until I learned to cultivate this magic ingredient. Fascinating that this fermenting concoction can take part of what it needs right out of the air.

When conditions are right, creativity works the same way.

We all know the effort of starting from scratch when life requires creative work of any kind. To keep my writing life going, I’ve had to make new starter countless times. But this summer my hope is to regularly feed an ongoing project and have some loaves coming out of the oven in a few weeks.

Working at it most every day is one of the ways I intend to do that. Staying with a project keeps it alive. But the other kind of replenishment that keeps the work going I feel less sure about.

Julia Cameron insists that creativity is nourished by Artist Dates—outings that break from the routine, pursued simply for delight. It keeps the work alive by keeping the artist alive.

The theory is great, but here at the beginning I can’t help but suspect the Artist Date approach could be yet another way to avoid getting the work done. At the same time, I want to keep the yeast alive. What I really want to do is earn that creative food.

I know from experience that following through on Artist Dates is harder than it sounds. Granting myself that kind of permission, not to mention coming up with good ideas for outings, can be a stretch. But perhaps I’ll give it a try. After all, it takes both flour and water to feed sourdough starter.

How do you feed your creative starter? And if it’s been too long, how do you go about mixing a new batch?


Clearing the Mind for Creative Work

Lately I’ve rediscovered the value of morning pages, a tool that Julia Cameron describes in The Artist’s Way. The idea is to write three pages in a journal upon waking, spilling whatever comes to mind in stream-of-consciousness writing without analyzing, censoring, or questioning whatever finds its way to the page. You just keep writing without pause.

What usually happens for me is that the disarray of daily life comes out, with its untended details and unresolved issues. Beneath those are the more substantial concerns, which show up too. The emotional leavings of recent events filter through, self-doubt makes regular appearances, and there are the perennial issues that appear again and again in different contexts. Everything gets put on the page and released as the pen keeps moving.

As a result, my mind becomes clearer. Without the low-level noise of background thoughts it’s easier to concentrate. In sweeping out the clutter of concerns, creative space opens up. Morning pages don’t count as getting my writing work done, but they help clear the way for accomplishing what I want to do. They don’t even have to be done in the morning to be effective.

Morning pages are one way to empty ourselves in order to make room for creative work. What ways have you found to open the space within for your writing?