If you’re a creative type like me, periodically, you will undoubtedly face the inevitable reality of an inability to create.
In the literary world, it’s called writer’s block.
Because sometimes, no matter how hard you try, whatever idea you are trying to manifest, it will just refuse to cooperate.
It’s just the way that our incredible brains work.
But while many artists, writers, and other creative types will use things like cannabis to help overcome their block, it’s not always 100 percent.
Sometimes an extra push can be helpful.
The people at Pilgrim Soul realize and understand the mental blocks that creative people experience and have crafted a tool to help.
And they recommend you use it while you are high.
The Pilgrim Soul Creative Thinking Journal
The Pilgrim Soul Creative Thinking Journal is not your typical journal.
Self-professed stay-at-home amateur cultural anthropologist and Pilgrim Soul founder Shawn Gold created the journal with contributions from writer-comedian Adam Gropman, author Elana Frankel, and OCTOPUS executive producer Sam Cohan.
Instead of writing down thoughts, feelings, and opinions as you would in a regular journal, Pilgrim Soul’s book is filled with a diverse assortment of mental fuels to help jump-start your creative engine and get ideas flowing.
Pilgrim Soul’s Creative Thinking Journal comes packed with more than 200 pages of exercises designed to give a little push to your creative senses of imagination, focus, awareness, and reflection.
I recently received a copy of the journal, some colored pencils, and a block of High Ideas Scratch Notes.
Being an artist, one of the first exercises that I did was the Squiggle Birds creative warm-up.
Sometimes I want to draw something, but I don’t know what I would like to put down on paper or my Wacom tablet.
A creative push is always appreciated.
In the Squiggle Birds exercise, you start by drawing random squiggles on the page.
Then, you flesh out the squiggles by adding beaks, eyes, feet, and tails until your previously indistinct lines look like birds.
The journal states that, according to Harvard Medical School’s Srini Pillay, M.D., doodling improves attention and memory, and keeps you awake, focused, and refreshed.
That must be why I paid better attention to my professors in college by drawing in the margins of the notes I took during class.
Some teachers might have seen it as goofing off during class, but I always felt more focused on the information they presented when I was doodling.
According to Pillay, doodling encourages a deep, hidden connection to the unconscious, a concept that the Squiggle Birds exercise embodies by activating and utilizing the brain’s pattern recognition capabilities.
It makes sense to me.
As a musician, I am no stranger to poetry, having written many songs and lyrics to accompany various self-composed instrumental pieces over the years.
But there are times when the words don’t come very easy, and making them rhyme can be a challenge at times as well.
That may be because I am particular about the little details of the word structure and how they all come together.
I can easily be my own worst critic, but that’s because I know that someone else will be if I won’t.
But as much as I self-censor and self-edit, it can be beneficial to throw caution to the wind sometimes and just let things flow.
According to the Pilgrim Soul journal, judgment is the number one killer of creativity, but freeing yourself from judgment is rocket fuel for your imagination.
The journal states that abandoning self-censorship is a healthy act of creative imagination that can result in something good.
So in the interest of creating something good, the Horrible Poem exercise prompts you to write a bad five-line poem.
Here’s what I came up with:
Here I sit, struggling to write
On days like this, it’s really a fight
With a pen in my hand and a book in my lap
I’d really just rather lie down for a nap
This fifth line breaks meter and time
How good or bad that poem is, depends on a person’s personal bias and interpretation.
I’ll let you be the judge.
Name That Strain
In the modern cannabis market, there are thousands of strains from which a discerning consumer can choose, even though some of them may actually be the same strains or not actually what’s on the label.
But we’re not here to talk about that.
In the interest of improving your linguistic dexterity and intuitive inspiration, the journal presents an exercise that asks you to name several cannabis strains based on their effects.
“Cannabis strain names are often silly and fun, with the best ones also somehow evoking the prescriptive qualities of the strain,” states the journal. “As cannabis is a product lending itself to colorful and out of the box naming, this is an excellent exercise in creative imagination.”
The strain names I came up with were:
Calm & mellow: Chill Pill
Very creative: Brain Juice
Logical & focused: Mind Massage
Social & fun: Social Bud-R-Fly
Removes aches & pains: Cannacin (Cannabis + Anacin)
Laugh & smile: Silly String
Since I am not a cannabis grower, if any cultivators want to use those names for their proprietary strains, they are up for grabs.
If they’re not already taken.
The Branding of Names
For every fictional book that you’ve read, there is an author who has devoted time to creating characters, naming them, and devising their backstories.
The desired result of the process is creating characters who are more believable and writing a fuller story.
But names can tell a story all on their own.
Pilgrim Soul’s journal says that anthropologists see naming as only one of the chief methods for imposing order on perception.
“Screenwriting teachers will tell you that the first major decision you make about a character—their name—defines them from the get go,” states the journal. “Somehow we become our names and our names become us. Developing a believable fictional character has our brain integrating memories and learned patterns with creative choice, which is at the heart of creative imagination.”
An example is a description that came to mind for a fictional woman named Ethel McMurtry.
To me, Ethel is: a 5′ 1” tall woman in her mid-60s with short curly graying hair and thick glasses…has two sons and one daughter, all grown…keeps a clean house that is moderately full of knick-knacks…a good cook whose specialties are a potato casserole and apple strudel.
I’m pretty sure that Ethel and my mother would be good friends if they lived on the same street.
If you happen to be in Ethel’s neighborhood and decide to stop by, she’ll probably have some freshly-baked banana nut muffins for you.
A Creative Pilgrimage with Pilgrim Soul
The Pilgrim Soul Creative Thinking Journal is jam-packed with such a variety of exercises and creativity prompts that I will be working through it for quite a while.
If one were to complete a single exercise every day, it would take more than half a year to complete the entire journal.
Even still, you can redo exercises whenever you wish, but you might need some extra paper.
In addition to a wealth of exercises designed to stimulate your creative side and spark imagination, the back of the journal contains some adult coloring pages and various perceptual illusions—all intended to expand your mind and help unleash your creative genius.