Standing At Waters Edge

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Standing At Waters Edge

Immerse yourself – A Fresh Approach to Living in the Creative Flow

In Standing at Water’s Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion (New World Library, June 1, 2008), psychologist Dr. Anne Paris draws on her extensive experience working with artists to explore the personal fears that thwart creativity. Arguing that creative blocks and procrastinations are actually the artist’s attempts at self-preservation when facing normal psychological issues inherent in the creative process, Dr. Paris suggests that success comes from understanding the deep hopes and fears that profoundly influence creative capacity.

Throughout the book, she focuses on the most challenging part of creativity – having the courage to fully immerse one’s self in the artistic state. “To allow immersion requires taking a leap of faith into uncertainty and vulnerability”, she writes. “Most of us find it frightening to consider taking this leap into the unknown as our trust in others, and our selves, and the world has been chipped away at (or traumatically obliterated) in the course of life. To experience the immersive connection that generates creativity, one most recklessly and without defense dive into the water, letting go of conscious control and manipulation.”

Rather than presenting creative immersion as a lonely, solitary endeavor, Standing at Water’s Edge shows how crucial positive, supportive relationships with others are to the process. Dr. Paris describes three types of relationships that strengthen our psychological core and encourage us take creative risks:

Mirrors: People in our lives who reflect us: they see our strengths, our uniqueness, and our talents and strengthen us by appreciating what we have to offer.

Heroes: Those we look up to and admire; they inspire us to reach beyond our safety zones.

Twins: People who comfort us by sharing similar struggles and triumphs.

Her book also explores the important role that childhood experience plays in creativity and offers specific advice for psychologically navigating every aspect of a creative project. She offers the following practical tips for connecting deeply with creative pursuits:

Make creative immersion the goal. Rather than focusing on production or performance, focus on having an immersive experience. In other words, if you reach toward accomplishment, you are keeping your experience on an external, evaluative plane. Because you are observing yourself and judging your performance based on external measures, fears or inadequacy or failure are more likely to surface. By switching your focus to internal experiences, you are more likely to find a path to your creativity.

Accept movement in and out of immersion. Know and accept that movement in and out of immersive states is normal, natural, and all part of the overall process. Stop blaming and criticizing yourself when you are not immersed. Disengagement is a necessary part of creation. Because immersion generates a “new you,” you must periodically step back to integrate the new experience. Learn to relax and accept that states of disengagement can be psychologically difficult. Every artist experiences them; you are not alone.

Engage in alternate realms of immersion. Experiences of immersion are strengthening and enhancing no matter where they occur. Immersion in artistic pursuits is but one realm of possible immersive experience. Other possible realms include intimate relationships, spirituality, experiencing other art, new learning, parenting, psychotherapy, athletic pursuits, and play. When you disengage from immersion in your artwork and need regeneration and strengthening, you can turn to immersive connection in another realm and experience the support and comfort there that you need to reenter artistic immersion.

Regardless of which stage of the creative process they are currently experiencing, Standing at Water’s Edge is sure to offer creative people the encouragement, support, and inspiration they need to start – and finish – their greatest projects.

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Please contact Kim Corbin, Senior Publicist at New World Library -, (415)884-2100, ext. 18

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