Laura Rubin is the journaling powerhouse behind AllSwell Creative. We asked her for a quick convo to find out how she got into the business of inspiring creativity and how she stays grounded in this crazy multi-tasking digital age. Want to know more? Sign up for her June 7th workshop!
How did a morning of journaling on the beach grow into a passion project to inspire creativity in others?
I was in Montauk (NY) and I went to do a surf check. On the east coast, surf tends to be much less consistent. I got skunked -- there was no surf. Instead of of calling it a failure, I had my journal with me, grabbed a cup of tea, sat down and journaled “swell or no swell, all’s well”. That was the germination. I’d been in Costa Rica with a friend the winter before and between sessions he and I sat down on a porch, he was drawing and I was writing. We realized how absurd it was that we have two different notebooks when we both like the do the same things. The light bulb went off: I wanted one lightweight notebook where I could do both. I couldn’t find any, so I made one. I showed to some of my friends, they stocked it in their stores, and they sold out!
You also are the founder of creative consulting agency Left Left Right and editor-at-large for Whalebone Magazine. How do you draw the line between creative work and creative play?
I wear a lot of hats and I enjoy that. I have to carve out time to be creative for the sake of creativity without a goal. It could be reading, writing, researching a topic I’ve become obsessed with, maybe a specific tree or a writer I fall in love with. It’s a healthy interplay with my work. Sometimes explorations lead to a topic for an article and vice versa. Sometimes through my work, I discover something I’m interested in. For most of us, doing something without a goal is not very intuitive at the moment. It does take some discipline to be undisciplined.
Why is tuning into analog creative processes so important now?
We are all so plugged in all the time, myself included. The whole notion in AllSwell isn’t do as I do, it’s do as I say. I am talking as much to myself through this process as I am to anyone else. It was the same with the creation of notebook and realizing other people wanted them. The truth is we don’t even know how the experience of being plugged in is reshaping our neurological experience, shifting our paradigm. Creating time to put pen to paper is good for you neurologically, emotionally, and physiologically.
Do you listen to music while you journal? What sounds inspire you?
We recently launched music interview series called Mixtape, talking to creative people about their process and personal soundtracks. We see a theme with writers like Jamie Brisick, who don’t listen to music while they write. I find that music with words is a distraction, but instrumental stuff is really great. I usually journal sitting on my front porch and listening to wind in the trees and birds. I live in Venice! You don’t have to live in Big Sur [to enjoy nature]. It’s great if you do, but you don’t have to.
What do you want your students to take from the workshop?
Permission. Permission to try things. The deeper I’ve dived into creativity, the more I see a link to shutting off the judging part of your brain. In the creative process, [that part of your brain] shuts off so that you have the permission to try things. Hemingway said, “write drunk, edit sober.” I’m not implicating that you should get wasted, but it’s important to get a little bit loose and create without the idea of an audience to have a first draft. That’s true of any creativity. I look at life as a creative process. The way I’ve constructed my business, where I live, how I live. The way someone prepares a meal, sets a table, details a car. There’s a sense of creativity you can bring to anything, and the idea of it being a creative act imbues it with meaning. If you look at a tea ceremony in japan, the disparity between making a quick Lipton and the reverence of a tea ceremony is striking. You create a sense of ritual and meaning.
We still have to navigate traffic, go to the bank, do laundry. I don’t live in a perpetual heightened state of grace, but if we have a few of these moments throughout the day, it will increase the your quality of life. We get so caught up in the act of doing without recognizing the process of doing; add in the cocktail of digital distraction and it’s like we’re never actually in the room with ourselves. Between Instagram alerts and emails, when are you really in your body? For me, creativity and journaling is my meditation. I might not get to it every day -- we all fall of the wagon, just climb back on. Community is an important part of that, and that’s the great thing about these workshops.