Guest post: The Zone by Karen Collum

Karen is another author I met on Twitter.  She writes for children and keeps a wonderful blog full of sage advice and humour for writers.  She’s also expecting an addition to the family very soon!  I love reading about her journey, and I wanted to share with you the perspective of someone who believes “you can make a difference”.

Creativity is at the very heart of my existence. People talk about ‘being creative’. For me, it’s not something I do but rather, it’s who I am. I am creative and I have been for as long as I can remember. That doesn’t mean I always knew I wanted to be a writer; to the contrary.

It took me many years to unlock the well of creativity that lay within and many more years to nurture, shape and gently tease it into existence in its current form as a children’s author. But I have been creative all my life. As a child I made up songs and stories. Assignments at school were tackled from a different angle than most. Even cooking is subject the force of my creativity (with oft-times dubious results…). And when I get to dwell in that creative part of me for a period of time, something wonderful happens. I enter The Zone.

The Zone is a place where time is meaningless, I feel no hunger or thirst and my mind is at its most agile and sharp. Hours whizz by in mere seconds as every part of my being works together to create something wonderful, something engaging, something meaningful to me. Hunched over my piano or my computer words, concepts, images rush over me faster than I can process. I close my eyes and let the intangible idea blossom into something concrete. There is no place where I feel more like ‘me’ than when I’m The Zone. And when I’m finished that burst of creativity, I’m elated, tired and somewhat wistful to go back there again soon.

Regardless of the outcome, the creative process is actually more fun for me than the finished product. Sure, it’s nice to sit back and bask in the accomplishment of having written a song or finished a book, but the process itself is what I crave, that place where I am totally committed to my imaginings as both master and servant.

A number of years ago I discovered something fascinating about being in The Zone. I became very ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which was extremely debilitating. My body ached every second of every day and night. I longed for a relief from the chronic pain but nothing worked. One day a song visited me that decided it had to be written. As I sat at my piano and began the creative process I was transported to The Zone. Somewhere along the way I realised something amazing – inside The Zone I experienced no pain. With the creative juices flooding my body and mind, there seemed to be no room for something as insignificant as pain. I relished those three or four hours of creative and physical bliss, until inevitably, my song was finished and the pain returned once more.

Nowadays, with a young and busy family, I don’t get to enter The Zone as often as I would like. But I know it’s there waiting for me. And sometimes, in the early morning light while the rest of the house sleeps, I hunch once more over my keyboard and tease an idea into life. For a brief moment I’m back in The Zone. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Being creative is not something I do, it’s who I am.

Can one person make a difference in the world? Australian children’s author, Karen Collum, thinks so. Optimistic, energetic and enthusiastic, Karen is passionate about books that celebrate togetherness, embrace individuality and empower each reader, no matter how small, to do their part in making the world a better place. Karen currently lives in Brisbane with her husband, three sons, two dogs, two chickens and an upside-down swimming goldfish named Gus.  You can find Karen at her website, her blog and on Twitter.

How about you, participants?  Have you entered that “zone”, where everything except the creativity goes away?  Where you can write on through anything?

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7 thoughts on “Guest post: The Zone by Karen Collum

  1. Pingback: Creativity workshop: the end, and thank you | Not Enough Words

  2. Pingback: Sunday again? Already? | Not Enough Words

  3. I am slowly recovering the creative part of me. It’s also expressing itself in baking and cooking which has been delightfully fun though only one of three dishes so far was inedible to me. My husband still ate it!

  4. Having been there very recently, after almost forgetting what it was like, this post was very timely for me! “The Zone” is a wonderful place – that letting go of consciousness to create is an awesome feeling.

  5. I empathize completely. I too have created some rather dubious dishes out of misdirected inspiration, but what really gets me in the zone is only writing — nothing else has the same effect. I love entering The Zone and will snap irritably at my family if they interrupt me while I’m in it! And I’ve been known to forget dinner/lunch if I’m busy writing. Oops? :-)

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