Creativity Coaching Questions for Reflection
Gail McMeekin's '12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women'
An Exploration Through 3 Gateways
By Chris Dunmire | July 4, 2018
These reflections are based on my readings of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin, an executive, career, and creativity coach and licensed psychotherapist. I originally wrote these questions to help coaching clients reflect deeply on the material as they journeyed through the book.
McMeekin's 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is a treasure trove of knowledge and experience from successful creative women including Barbara Sher, Sarah Ban Breathnach, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Shakti Gawain, Chris Madden, Sigrid Olsen, Jan Brett, and C. C. H. Pounder.
Through three "Gateways", Engaging Your Creativity, Mastering Your Challenges as a Creative Woman, and Actualizing Creative Results: The Power of Positive Priorities, McMeekin explores the motivations, habits, and journeys of successful women artists, writers, performers, teachers, activists, and coaches intensely dedicated to their craft. Exceptional wisdom and insights will be gained by all readers of this book. My hope in sharing these reflections is that they add an extra layer of richness for those taking in this worthwhile work.
First Gateway: Engaging Your Creativity
Chapter 1 Questions for Reflection
- McMeekin states that “Creativity is not just for ‘talented geniuses,’ and is a tool we can all access and utilize.” Do you believe the “creativity factor” is equal among all people, or does culture, intelligence, or personality type play a part in a person’s creative ability? How do your answers reflect on your own creative productivity?
- What might you do in the spirit of “Experimenting with New Processes”?
- McMeekin observes that the “creative impulses of too many women are asleep — dormant or unacknowledged.” Do you find this to be true for yourself? If so, why do you think this is?
- Are you familiar with the creative work of any of the 45 interviewees from this book? How can you benefit from knowing more details about the "developmental stages" of their success stories?
Chapter 2 Questions for Reflection
- Characteristics of “creative inspirations” are described. How do you respond when an inspiration beckons?
- What are ways you play creatively? How does this creative play make you feel?
- Do you find communing in nature and the natural world to be a stimulus for your creativity?
- The need for a personal sanctuary for creative reflection is discussed. Do you have a sanctuary for creative reflection? What does it look like? How has it benefited you?
Chapter 3 Questions for Reflection
- Two types of risks are distinguished: impulsive risks and calculated risks. Do you understand the differences between the two? In what circumstances would you support impulsive risk taking?
- How does the story of Rosette Gault, the inventor of paper clay, affect your thinking on simple invention and innovation? Do you allow “experts” to decide whether something can be done or not before you try?
- McMeekin states “Artistic risks involve new dimensions of your self-expression.” Has this been true for you? What has been the outcome of such risks?
- How does limited thinking or the fear of being wrong short-circuit your creative goals?
Chapter 4 Questions for Reflection
- The necessity for a “fallow season” in agrarian cultures is discussed. How does this parallel with the patience needed for creative cycles and processes?
- Creativity cycles include times of emptiness, voids, and neutral zones. When these times arise, are you able to “trust that your inspirations will percolate again” when the time is right?
- Are you ready to “navigate into the darkness?”
- If you are a parent, how do you match up your creative work cycles with the stages of your children’s lives?
Second Gateway: Mastering Your Challenges as a Creative Woman
Chapter 5 Questions for Reflection
- Can you be “selfish” enough to give your creative expression priority status in your life?
- Do you recognize yourself a “type E” woman? If so, do you desire to change this?
- The thinking and communication styles of “diffused awareness” and “focused consciousness” are discussed. Which one predominately fits you?
Chapter 6 Questions for Reflection
- “Gremlins.” Can you name your inner saboteurs and their messages to you? How do they affect your creative expression?
- The practices of imaging and “Faking It Until You Make It” are described. Have you tried these, or are you willing to?
- What “daring actions” are you willing to try to overcome the fear of criticism?
- Note artist Carmella Yager’s advice about “Cultivating Self-Defense” in matters of handling criticism. How can you practice this?
Chapter 7 Questions for Reflection
- What guides or "encounters" with wisdom have facilitated the ease of your creative journey?
- How do your answers to the questions of the Creative Heritage Challenge impact or give you more insight into your creative life?
- As a self-coach, how can you keep yourself accountable in order to inspire growth and positive change?
- How useful has networking been to you? Have you joined groups or started your own networking communities?
Chapter 8 Questions for Reflection
- Do you understand the differences between “partnerships” and “strategic alliances”? In what circumstances would you consider a partnership or an alliance with someone else?
- Before considering a partnership or collaboration, will you be willing to do the Your Collaboration Profile Challenge?
- What types of alliances or partnerships would benefit your situation to free up your creative energy and allow you more time to create?
- Has the Internet opened up more possibilities for collaboration for you? What other ways can you connect and network with possible collaborators?
Chapter 9 Questions for Reflection
- How can you reframe rejection into something positive for yourself?
- How do you feel when you receive criticism? What are some ways you would objectively evaluate criticism to see if it has merit?
- What are some “societal scripts” that you’ve been taught and routinely fall into? Does this conditioning prevent you from accessing the power of your “inner warrior” to handle rebuffs and reroute criticism?
- Can you tell when you are making decisions based on desperation instead of strength? What can you do instead if you are heading down this path?
Third Gateway: Actualizing Creative Results: The Power of Positive Priorities
Chapter 10 Questions for Reflection
- What does abundance mean for you in your life? What Positive Priorities would support that vision?
- Do you notice how stress affects your creative life? Are you tuned into the ‘stress factors’ of your life?
- On “caring for your body and mind,” do you give attention to your own health and well-being? Is attention to self-care important to you?
- Can you identify and list your personal Positive Priorities?
Chapter 11 Questions for Reflection
- Gauge your burnout warning signs. Are you experiencing burnout right now? Have you in the past? How do you remedy this?
- In assessing your relationship to the creative process, do you find yourself having “piles of unfinished creative projects” sitting on your desk to do? After reading this chapter, will you take a new approach to seeing them through to completion or weeding them out?
- In understanding your creative style, have you noted any of the author’s list items to be a problem for you in your creative work? If yes, which ones? Can you name your personal “Serenity Stealers?” How do you cope with the unavoidable ones?
- Do you agree that “sometimes a negative choice serves a purpose”? Can you name the underlying meaning to some of your negative choices?
Chapter 12 Questions for Reflection
- What is your personal creativity creed? How would you answer the author’s five questions?
- On Setting Creative Goals, try using the author’s seven elements to guide your clients to “statements of intentions” that are specific, measurable, realistic, written down, time-limited, positive, and action-oriented.
- Try McMeekin's Daily Planning Tool as recommended for a month. How effective was it for you?
- Do you agree that “Procrastination is often indecision”? Do you find the Procrastination worksheet a good exercise to work through this indecision? What other reasons would you offer for procrastination?
© 2007, 2018 Chris Dunmire, All rights reserved.