Creative tips from Jocelyn

Jocelyn de Kwant, a regular contributor to Flow Magazine, has been writing about mindfulness, creativity and living a simpler life for years. Now she made a book in which she uses creativity as a tool to be more mindful, called Creative Flow. 

How did this book come about?
“I’ve always wanted to make these kind of books, and so when a publisher in England who was looking for someone to write about creativity and mindfulness in a light-hearted way asked if I would be interested in working with them, I said yes. Together with the publisher, we thought about what the best direction to take would be. Also I knew that I really wanted to work on the book with illustrator Sanny van Loon – I knew it would be a good match. I wrote it in English, and the wonderful thing is that the book has now been translated into other languages; it is currently also available in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Finland, and will be coming to Russia, Portugal, Sweden and South Korea, too.”

What is Creative Flow about?
“It’s a collection of insights aimed at making you feel good. There are of course plenty of books about that or that tell you how you can be mindful, but I wanted to translate it into practical assignments, like a workbook of sorts that you can really get stuck into. I think people often feel way too rushed—I even feel that way myself; This book is actually an exercise on focusing on the simple everyday things that you would normally pass by.”

How did you come by these insights?
“Twelve years ago, I suffered from a burn-out and from that moment on, I’ve spent a great deal of time writing and reading stories about this subject so that I never experience it again. In my book, I’ve put a creative twist on everything that I’ve learned along the way.”

How does this work exactly for you?
“It’s about stepping out of your ‘automatic nature’, about taking a step back. I’ve been trying to be mindful for ten years, and I notice that if I do something creative—write something or draw something, for instance—I’m able to let myself go, to release myself from my to-do list. It’s not about making something beautiful, but about the relaxation and having fun. That’s why there are all kinds of drawing, writing and movement exercises in the book.”

Which tip is your favorite?
“When I notice that I feel rushed or harassed, I try to hone in on the sounds around me; I listen to and register what I hear, because sounds come and go—they are only there for a moment, for that moment. That really helps bring me back to the present. Another thing that works is looking at something attentively. Your brain automatically fills in a lot of details for you, but if you look at something really closely, you see a lot more and discover something new.”

Do you want to create more books?
“Yes, I am already working on the next one. It’s still in the development phase, but it’s going to be about nature, my favorite topic. It’ll be another practical book with lots of insights and projects.”

Creative Flow, A Year in My Mindful Life, by Jocelyn de Kwant, and illustrated by Sanny van Loon.
Photography Jocelyn: Milan Vermeulen