My name is
Darylynn Starr Rank
(Father wanted to call me Starr. Mother didn't. And so the compromise...
Depends on your definition of compromise...)
This is what I do...
I'm a writer.
I'm a therapist.
I am, or have been, referred to as a teacher, facilitator, instructor, professor, workshop leader, guide, guru, consultant, coach, group trainer — all for the purpose of pursuing the art of creativity.
As a writer, I write or have written newspaper columns, short stories, screenplays, poetry, diaries and journals, journals, journals, research articles, a book chapter, novels (not yet published), and most recently, and most profoundly at this moment in my life, a book about the process of getting to your creativity, "The Art of Becoming an Artist".
In my clinical practice as a therapist, I work with a glorious and wonderful array of clients, most of whom are profoundly creative beings. Artistic beings of one sort or another. Artists are my specialty.
As a teacher, facilitator, etc., etc., etc. (please see the list above), I give or have given a massive variety of talks, lectures, seminars, workshops, courses, professional development training sessions, private classes, weekend intensives, and online programs, dedicated to the pursuit of our creative process.
The combination of being a writer, of being a therapist, and of having been profoundly screwed up (please read section "This is who I am"..., is what lead to my unique vision/version of, first, my courses and, now, my book on "The Art of Becoming An Artist".
This is who I am...
Some basics about my life.
I was born in New York, then grew up in New York and Miami Beach, literally half and half. Nine years in New York, nine years on the Beach (though not sequential), until I went away to school at eighteen.
I was born, I learned to talk and, finally,
I learned to write.
From that moment on it was pretty much decided what I wanted to do with my life.
I wanted to write.
Which I did.
For a very long time.
I wrote poetry, and stories, little plays that I put on with my friends. I lived in my diary. And I read a lot. When I wasn't writing.
In school I did what budding writers are supposed to do. I worked on the school papers, the anthologies, was editor-in-chief of the yearbooks. My early poetry was published in a national high school anthology. I was very proud. My dearest friend in the world and I spent our summers sitting on the beach writing stories about magic people who lived under the sea.
Plus, I still lived in what, by that time, I referred to as my journal. (I'm not exactly sure at what age I matured enough to give up the childish word 'diary' and change it to journal. But I did keep writing in it.)
Then, when it came time to choose a university, it seemed perfectly clear. I was going to become a journalist, either a foreign correspondent or a critic (wasn't positive which would be more fun), and write novels on the side.
I applied to a school in Washington, DC. It seemed obvious to me that if you were going to become a reporter, DC was the place to start. Duh.
And off I went.
It was still all about the writing.
Which I continued to do. For the college paper. Writing papers for class was my joy. Still kept writing poetry (especially when I felt the torment part of life). And of course I continued writing in my journal.
Then suddenly, abruptly, at the ripe old age of nineteen, I stood up and announced to the world – my three dormitory roommates – that I wasn't going to write anymore.
That I needed to do something... useful.
Don't ask me...
Or, actually, you can ask me now. I get it now. But certainly not then. I just knew I needed to do something 'useful'.
Writing was not useful.
Please, every writer who has ever lived, accept my apology. Please.
Also, every person who has ever read, anything at all, really. Please.
I was nineteen, and, as it turns out, completely, I mean, completely, screwed up.
Revealingly (at least all these years later. Not then!), I went into Psychology.
Well, life kept happening.
I took a leave from school, lived in Brasil, traveled to Europe, met a guy from Vancouver traveling in a van, ended up in Vancouver married to him (still with him...).
I went back to school to get my degree. In psychology. Then grad school. Became a Therapist. Got a job at a street kid, drug treatment program (mostly heroin).
And I truly had stopped writing. From the very first instant of my "usefulness" decision.
I mean I'd stopped.
No poetry, or stories, no plays. No articles. Not even a journal entry. Or especially not even a journal entry. I'd stopped.
I stopped writing when and wherever I could. And hated it when I did have to write.
In hindsight, that was shocking. Bizarre even.
But there was something I find even more shocking. To this day actually.
I never even noticed it.
Not a thing.
It never occurred to me that I wasn't writing. Never occurred to me that I hated it. I did not notice that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the one thing I'd loved most in my life (at least until I met husband, Dennis...).
I was completely oblivious to the fact that I never wrote a thing. Completely oblivious to the fact that the thought of having to write filled me with horror.
I simply never noticed.
* * * *
The story of how and when I noticed, is what led me into my specialty of working with artists; of helping us all figure out the brilliant, complex, fascinating process of getting to our creativity. Of understanding why we do it less than we want to, or hardly ever, or not at all. Of understanding why or when we do do it. Why or when it makes us gloriously happy. Or profoundly, deeply miserable.
Of understanding what is going on inside us. And understanding how that is running our creative process.
The bottom line in my universe about doing my art?
If you ain't driving it, it's driving you....
This is a little bit of what I think...
The Basic Premise
My Course, The Book, My Life (really...)
When I started putting together the outline for my very first course, I decided to be as pretentious as possible.
No, not really. At the beginning I actually decided very little. It just sort of came. Baby step, by baby step.
But what I intentionally did do immediately, was to come up with the Three Principles of Art.
That is a bit pretentious, no? Ah, well.
Here is a brief introduction to...
Dari's Three Prinicples Of Art
Principle #3 - PROCESS, PROCESS, PROCESS
Process, process, process is divided into two major categories:
- Work at finding the things that help you do your art.
- Work at finding the things that get in your way.
Pretty straightforward, no?
The idea may be.
The 'process' is not.
But it's what we're about. And it really, really helps.
Now, there are two Corollaries to the principle of Process, Process, Process.
And I guess, if you were to ask me, they are two of the foundations of my belief system about the entire universe of creativity.
So here they are:
Corollary 1: Finding the things that help you do your art, and finding the things that interfere, are both everlasting processes.
Let me repeat.
You don't 'get there'. You don't arrive. You don't finish. The process doesn't go away. You don't solve the puzzles, conquer the issues, figure it out, and it's done. I don't think it's ever done. Any more than figuring out your life gets done. You don't solve your life. You live it. You work on it. It changes as you go along. With each new stage or phase or moment. Each step of your life brings new (you can insert any word you want here: 'challenges' is the current buzzword.) issues, and worries, joys, topics, people, learning, experiences, desires, adventures, fears, excitements, concerns, ambitions, and so on and so on and so on.
Well, each step of your creativity does the same.
Ongoing and everlasting.
Process, Process, Process.
Corollary 2: There is NO correct answer. There can be nothing prescriptive about the RIGHT way to do your art. By its very nature, creativity is about originality. Originality is an individual thing. It's about your thing. YOUR WAY. It has to be.
There are no shoulds, no rules, no regulations. No laws, or statutes, or edicts or proclamations.
It's art. It's your art.
You're the only one in this whole universe who can figure out how you need to create it.
How you need to get to it.
What you need to do to be able to do it.
There is no RIGHT way to do your art.
There is only YOUR way.
It's about you.
This is a list of where, what, and when...
Over the last fifteen years I have given my courses on "The Art of Becoming an Artist"* seventy to eighty times.
Some of the courses have been specialized for professional writers and artists of almost every different kind, or for other specialized professional (and artistic) groups such as therapists, college instructors, computer game designers, entrepreneurs starting their own business, school counselors. I've done the program for individuals trying to survive terrible illnesses in their family, and children wanting to spend time in their imaginations.
But perhaps, most importantly, I have done this tremendously successful and unique program with every kind of student, from ages seven to eighty-five, from pretty much every profession, occupation, career, vocation, and ‘non-career' I can think of, with an extraordinary array of nationalities, cultures, and heritages, who simply (or not so simply..) are yearning now, or have been yearning forever, to find the way to get to their art.
Any Art. All Art.
Writing, painting, dancing, sculpting, weaving, photography, acting, comedy, music, animation, graphic arts, computer game design, architecture, landscape design, quilting, people from all aspects of the film industry (remember I've lived in Vancouver, 'the Hollywood of the North'...), cooking, interior design, and so on, and so on, and so on.
I've done the program in colleges (e.g., Langara College, Vancouver Community College, Florida Keys Community College), universities (e.g., Capilano University, University of British Columbia), community centers, social service organizations (e.g. Family Services of British Columbia), businesses (including Electronic Arts, EA, the largest computer game designer in the world), non- profits, women's programs, hospitals, adult summer camps, online, and even a private tropical gated retreat. Many of these programs have been given as private courses in my home and in my enchanted garden.
The courses have been an astonishing journey for many of the participants. But no one more so than me. Developing the course, and writing the book, have been one of the greatest gifts of my existence.
*These programs have been done under a variety of names including:
Finding Your Creative Voice, Finding Your Creative Source, Getting Past the Blocks, Discovering the Writer Within, Writing – The Other Word for Adventure, Finding Your Writer's Voice, The Creative Therapist, The Creative Therapeutic Voice, Writing the Road Inside, Connect.
This is what some people think of it all...
(The teacher was) awesome. One of the best teachers I've ever had. The course was awesome. Probably the most stimulating course I've ever taken.
Amazing instructor. Very good and passionate. She is very knowledgeable. A course that deals with an aspect of writing that other classes do not talk about.
- Vancouver Community College
Darylynn is a wonderful instructor. She has the ability to help people begin, or resume their writing. The atmosphere was positive, safe and stimulating. What a fabulous course. Thank you Dari!
- Langara College
It combats head-on what it is that gives you a fear of writing. Dari is an amazing instructor.
Nothing short of brilliant!
I had no expectations and the course was great at bringing things out of me.
Excellent to draw out personal strengths and talents.
The opportunity to explore something I haven't done before.
- Capilano University
NOTE FROM DARI: Many of these quotes are comments made by students on anonymous course evaluations.
I found the class to be fascinating. To me, the biggest surprise was how Dari helped us all tap into ourselves to bring our true writers out. She was teaching us to write "truthfully", giving our writing depth, rather than staying on the surface of our ideas. Loved it!
- Capilano University, 2009
This course is excellent, and I would suggest it to everyone at EA.
The things I learned about myself and how I hinder my own creativity are invaluable.
Dari was an awesome teacher that got to us on many levels. She helped me. . . harness my creative energy into a form that should help me be more productive.
Things I found least useful in this course: "nothing."
- Electronic Arts – 2004, 2005
Dari was very supportive and understanding. She was very helpful when it came to our individual needs and wants. Dari was wonderful.
Loved it. Some great tools to use in the creative process.
This was the most enlightening experience! Dary was brilliant!
I loved the course.
- Langara College, April, 2007
This inspirational educational program was unique and inspirational. Her. . . background brought the individual participants to places far away and gently uncovered scripts and events that awakened each and every student. . . As we each traveled to different times, places and events we uncovered so many memories that awakened the whys and the reasons why one (was) blocked or could not write. . . This class will be remembered for years by each participant. No one missed a class, many were seen running to class. . . This indeed was about the most unique educational experience I have ever been exposed to. Thanks go to Dari who inspired each and every student. Each student at the conclusion of the program wanted more. . .
- Ocean Reef Academy Adult Learning Program, 2012
Sensitive to where each participant was. (I liked most) the way the instructor managed to give each individual FREEDOM.
Wonderful teacher and participants.
- Capilano University, November, 2008
This was the most enlightening experience! Dari was brilliant!
- Langara College, 2007
Great job Dari – I'm so glad that your course fills the need so many writers have. I'm glad that you're a part of our team! Thanks
- Vancouver Community College, Program Coordinator, 2007
I loved this course. It exceeded my expectations. I'm so glad that I enrolled at this time.
Absolutely fabulous, it helped me find a part of myself I didn't know existed.
Very good teacher.
Thank you for such a unique experience.
Thank you! I'm hooked to write more & more! A new beginning.
- Langara College, October, 2006
Hello! I'm one of the students in the Venture Program. I just wanted to send you a belated email to thank you for your instruction! Without that session, I wouldn't have arrived at my business name! As you can see, I've registered my domain name, and I'll be incorporating my company soon! It's all so exciting. I look forward to working with you in the future! Take care! ps. I am the MASTER of using way too many exclamation points. But they really do apply! (oops)
- British Columbia Institute of Technology, Business Development Program, 2003
Safe atmosphere. No judgment. Excellent encouragement.
It helped me find my voice.
I have done other similar courses which were rather discouraging. This class was very inspirational.
Very interactive, open style. Not didactic or restrictive.
Completely safe place to "go there".
- Capilano University, March, 2007
Dari is an incredible teacher and should be used as an example whenever necessary. Most definitely worth the effort.
- Vancouver Community College, June, 2009
What did you like best about the course?
- Community Education and Developmental Services, June, 03
Thank you for your guidance, your wisdom, your careful tending to fragile flowers, your nurturing, your encouragement, your drawing of flowers into daylight. My flowers seem to have grown legs. My daffodils wish to go on a bus tour of London while my tulips fancy a backpacking adventure in Peru. My orchids... well, my orchids are unfolding, though some of the petals look a little odd. They're unusually shaped for petals. I think they look more...like wings. Thank you so much Dari!
- E-mail from student, 2008
This was the most enlightening experience! Dari was brilliant!
Thank you very much Dari, you have inspired my creative path more than you can possibly know. Thank you.
Fabulous instructor! Fabulous person! 'Enthusiasm'-beyond, very passionate!! Not long enough, however she extended for us!
Far beyond expectations - most inspirational course ever taken!
These past few weeks have been informative and enlightening.
Very warm & accepting atmosphere. Learned that maybe I can write.
Created a lovely safe environment to discover aspects of what keeps me from writing.
Dari created a very safe environment. Thank you so much.
One of the best courses I've taken. Very participation oriented but if you didn't wish to share that was respected. Very approachable, engaging, understanding, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the course material. I really enjoyed the course and would recommend it to everyone.
- Langara College, December, 2007
I have been meaning to e-mail you a big "thank you". . . I just wanted to say that I am extremely thankful that I signed up for your class. The whole environment/atmosphere was great, to say the least, it really is nice to get together (with strangers!) and experience different pieces of writing. I've never partaken in anything like this before, and so it has been very enriching for me and my personal relationship to writing. I've learned to look at my own writing in ways I hadn't thought of before. I think maybe it truly is the best way to become a better writer, to be warmly encouraged and never discouraged. I think that this is the way classes should be in school, I surely would have benefited from it earlier on! Who knows, maybe in a few years' time, kids will be taught this way.
- E-mail from student, March, 2008.
Great instructor, has deep insight and personal experience to help students achieve objectives. Would recommend!!
The course was excellent.
Not only creative, but also providing an organized form to help structure creativity.
She (Darylynn) was INCREDIBLE. She has affected me and the others in such a strong way I cannot even express. SO grateful for the experience.
Dari is an amazing person and she definitely opened my eyes to the wonderful world of writing -- I will always remember her :)
I really enjoyed this course -- Ms. Rank was a fantastic teacher, encouraging, supportive enthusiastic. I would highly recommend this course to anyone embarking on their own journey to discovering the writer within.
Dari shines bright like the sun. . . Thanks, excellent class!
This class was great. I'm only sorry that it didn't last a bit longer. I feel encouraged to take further courses at Langara and beyond. Highest praise to the instructor.
- Langara College, March, 2008
"Very supportive. Good philosophy for leading such a group of budding writers. Feel like she was able to convince me that this writer's life is possible and will happen for me.
- Vancouver Community College, 2007
This course helped me find some direction. And with life's trials giving me some challenges, this really helped me through. Thanks so much.
I loved this course. It exceeded my expectations - it was a totally self-exploring and wonderful experience. Dari is a fantastic instructor and I loved her style and approach...truly a unique and special experience for me. Thank you, Dari.
A longer course, maybe 3 months instead of 2. A second course following this one, not sure what it would teach but it'd be nice.
Great course to dig inside yourself as the title (Discovering the Writer Within) suggests!!
- Langara College, December, 2008
Ms. Rank's interest in and participation in CONNECT is both serendipitous and essential for the successful completion of the program.
- Connect Program, Riverview Hospital, March, 2003
I believe that Darylynn is an individual who has committed her life to encouraging
others to reach for their dreams and to helping them discover and navigate the
journey which leads to those dreams. She has been a very positive addition to our instruction team and I hope that she continues to enjoy teaching with us for many years to come.
- Excerpt from Reference letter from Capilano University, 2009
My passion for the written word has always fueled my desire to be a writer but I have long feared where the first steps might take me. Now, thanks to you, I can see that it doesn't matter as long as I let them move me forward.
For opening us to a new world of creativity, imagination, and boundless possibilities.
ln a gentler way than Socrates, you allowed us to dig into our hidden treasures...
Ode to Dari
Dari oh Dari
What a great Nari (women in Hindi)
Opening up doors
Letting out words
Words that enlighten
Words that make me cry
Emotions coming out
That stayed hidden inside
Until you pointed to that little keyhole
And guided my hand
With the key.
Revealing deep truths
Digging to the roots
And spilling out the
- Card from students in private course, May, 2006
What a great course - it would not have been what it is without such an amazing teacher. Dari Rank is a very fine asset to Langara. Education systems need more teachers like Dari.
This is a very unique course & certainly helps to expand creativity. Thank you. I enjoyed the course very much.
- Langara College, June, 2006
Thanks so much, Dari; you're the very first person to respond to my news. . ." (poetry reading, radio interview, and publication.) "Please 'take credit' for getting me on my feet -- and getting me to risk -- risk believing in myself as a writer, poet, creative artist, etc. Thank you for so many many things.... Carry on carrying on Dari Rank. You're a midwife to so many newborn (or reborn) baby-artists, as well as being an amazing artist yourself.
- E-mail from student, 2007
Dari is the best teacher I have ever had and the course was fantastic. It completely surpassed my expectations.
I really enjoyed this course, and came to it with no expectations. I have found it rewarding and extremely useful and would recommend it to anybody who is in the same position as I was at the beginning of the course. Brilliant and Dari is a fantastic teacher.
- Vancouver Community College, October, 2008
I also wanted to say thanks. I do believe things happen for a reason - I was called the day before class and told the one I'd signed up for was cancelled so I asked if there was room in yours. After the first class I knew there was a reason for that. The format and content was exactly what I've needed (for years) to help get me over my fear and ambivalence, and the push/pull feelings I have around myself and writing. . . . I felt supported and inspired and not as scared. I have had plenty of panic thoughts but at least now I have some tools and know there are people, lots, that feel a lot like I do. . . I have wanted to be a novelist my whole life so at least now I have a bit more gentleness with myself around the idea, more courage to at least try. . . thanks again.
- E-mail from student, December, 2009
I was looking for inspiration – and got it!
Very interesting. I plan to explore further.
Thank you. I have so much creativity within me. I have made the excuse of time. I will re-evaluate that.
- Kwantlen College Talk, October, 2004
It was amazing it was left me speechless, deep thoughts. AMAZING.
We all feel inspired to develop our creativity to the furthest degree.
- Community Education & Development Services, Workshop: Helping the Helper: Develop Your Creative Side, 2009
Darylynn is a wonderful person!! She really changed the rest of life. But I wanna talk about this to Darylynn in person. Anyway, I can recommend this course with all my heart!
Dari is amazing and facilitates and teaches wonderfully.
This class was fabulous! It should be mandatory. What a wonderful experience I've had.
Darylynn really did help me "find my creative voice"!
- Langara College, December, 2003
Dari is a wonderful teacher - actually she lets people teach themselves about themselves. Great respect for all of us. Good work.
This course has been truly energizing for me. Dari has created an open, supportive atmosphere that has only benefited my writing.
Thank you again, Dari.
- Langara College, September, 2005