Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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Daydreaming for Beginners: How to Boost Your Writing Speed by Fantasizing

A woman daydreaming

Thinking… by Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr

I’m Jessica’s Creativity, that little disruptive voice from her imagination that writes in purple text. In this post I’m gonna teach you how to daydream.

Last week I explained the theory behind how daydreaming can improve your writing speed. Now let me give you some tips on how to daydream effectively.

Why?

Because it’s likely been many years since you last daydreamed, and chances are the last time you tried it you were probably told off by a teacher, parent, school crossing guard, or sibling who expected you to keep a look out for mom while he raided the cookie jar. (There’s no need to feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there before.)

Now, as an adult, your sensibleness may have stopped you from keeping your daydreaming muscles active. So this post has some basic reminders for those who are not yet adept at the art of daydreaming. 

Pick a Safe Time and Place

Daydreaming can be great fun, but do not do it when your attention should be elsewhere. For example, don’t daydream while in control of a moving vehicle, bathing an infant, wandering across a busy road, fighting carnivorous dinosaurs, or disarming a nuclear warhead. That’s not an exhaustive list, but you get my drift.

Instead, you might try daydreaming while:

  • Showering (provided you’re not in a drought-affected area where extra-long showers may be a problem).
  • Washing dishes.
  • Doing housework.
  • Gardening.
  • Performing mindless tasks at work.
  • Eating lunch.
  • Walking (in areas where traffic isn’t an issue).

Look at your schedule and choose a few times during the week where daydreaming might be possible.

Don’t Set Yourself a Goal

The beauty of daydreaming is that you never know where you’ll end up, especially when you’re dreaming about your story. You might start off wondering how you’re going to reveal that your heroine’s Peruvian grandmother was the one serving poison sashimi all this time, and instead wind up solving the clue to your antagonist’s cryptic crossword.

That’s why you shouldn’t set yourself daydreaming goals. Don’t expect that you’ll come out of your daydreaming session with a specific answer, otherwise the pressure to perform will impose unnecessary limitations on your daydreams. Instead, allow them to flow where they will and enjoy the journey.

Having said that, do start your daydream with a problem in mind. Use a problem you’ve encountered in your writing as a launching point for your thoughts and then allow them to roam free. You might come up with the answer, or you might discover something completely different. Keep your mind open to all the possibilities before you.

Staring Out the Window is Fine

To start daydreaming, settle yourself in your environment and then start your mind rolling on the topic of your choice (like how your hero is going to escape from the marmot-infested pit he’s just fallen into). Don’t seek to control where your mind goes, simply give it little prods from time to time if necessary.

If you find yourself staring out the window with a blank mind, that’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Often it’s not the thoughts themselves that provide the ideas, but the spaces between the thoughts — those spots where your Creativity can jump in with random words and ideas. Make room for your Creativity and don’t seek to fill every little void with thought.

Relax and enjoy the sensations of your wandering mind.

Use Questions

Once you’ve started daydreaming, you may want to prompt your mind and your Creativity to problem-solve and explore.

You can direct your daydreaming by inserting questions like:

  • What if?
  • Why?
  • Then what?
  • What would the consequences be?
  • How can we make that idea bigger?
  • What’s the most unexpected/ridiculous thing that could happen?
  • Under what circumstances would I consider wearing a chicken suit?

Use gentle prods to keep yourself moving forward and exploring options.

Don’t Settle for the First Thing That Comes to Mind

Often the first idea or answer that comes to mind is the cliched response because it’s the easiest — it’s what most other people would come up with if asked the question. You want the more creative option which means you have to dig a little, looking for several more answers to the same question to find something original and worth pursuing.

In this speech by John Cleese (of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame) he mentions that although he is not as talented as some of his fellow comedians, he stayed at his desk longer until he found the unexpected ideas that kept things fresh. 

Try it yourself. How many uses can you think of for a brick? Your first few answers will be the usual — e.g. build a house, doorstop, fling through the window of someone you dislike. But once you get past those, then you start coming up with more interesting answers — e.g. heat it up and stick it in your bed on a cold night, use it to weigh down your hot air balloon. The longer you work at the problem the more interesting your answers will be.

The answers will come slower than the first few, but they’ll be worth the wait. There’s no need to rush your daydreaming. Spend some time exploring all your options, and when you think you’ve run out of ideas push for one more just to see what happens. Your Creativity may surprise you!

Don’t Overthink It

If daydreaming becomes stressful, then you’ve gone wrong somewhere. It should be an inspiring, entertaining, illuminating experience. If you find yourself forcing the thoughts, then step back and let your mind rest.

If there are no thoughts there, then just allow your mind to wander — like an arctic explorer across the snowy tundra (without the polar bears and the possibility that climate change is about to maroon you by slicing off a fresh iceberg beneath your feet).

Perhaps your Creativity needs the blankness of your mind to recuperate so she/he can give you an answer to your writing problem later.

Whatever the results of your daydream, by using these tips you can prime your Creativity full of ideas so when it comes time to sit down and write you’re both ready to get to work!

Tune in next week for a guest post by a fellow writer explaining how she uses ‘what if?’ to solve her writing conundrums.

In the meantime, what are your daydreaming tips? Share them with us in the comments.

 


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How Daydreaming Can Improve Your Writing Speed

A little girl looking out the window, daydreaming

“Daydreaming” by Greg Westfall via Flickr

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity (you can tell because I’m writing in purple) and today I want to convince you to daydream more often.

Last week we started looking at the subject of daydreaming.

Why?

Because it’s one of those guilty pleasures, something you were told off for doing as a child and then discovered valid reasons for doing in adulthood — just like putting your elbows on the dinner table, licking your knife, and avoiding mashed potatoes (can you believe your parents didn’t realize the dangers of carbs?!).

As a child, you may have been told that daydreaming was a waste of time. I’m here today to convince you that, as a writer, you can now say that daydreaming is a legitimate part of your writing process. Not only that, it might actually save you time.

Don’t believe me?

Go listen to this interview with Hugh Howey and pay particular attention around 12:20 minutes. Before becoming a full-time writer, he did a number of other jobs. He daydreamed while he worked, writing stories in his head so when he sat down to the page he was ready to go.

Daydreaming can be used to prepare your mind, so when you finally sit down to write the words are ready to pour onto the page. 

The act of creating takes time. Sure, there’s that moment of inspiration when an idea suddenly hits you, but one idea does not a story make. (I’m sure that’s a quote from Yoda, during his years as a writing coach.) To put together a story with plot, characters, location, and descriptions, your Creativity needs time to form them.

How often have you sat yourself down in front of the page and ‘switched your Creativity on’ expecting the words to come, only to find your Creativity needs time to ‘buffer up’ before providing you with the details you need? You end up staring off into space while your Creativity meanders through the streets of your imaginary world looking for clues, playing with plot twists, planting red herrings or finding the perfect outfit for your heroine’s big scene (don’t ever rush a diva while she’s choosing stilettos).

Let’s face it, that’s technically daydreaming. Your Creativity needs that time to create, so why not start your Creativity on the task a few hours early?

Get her/him working on story details while you commute to work, wash the dishes, go for a run, do some gardening, walk your pet python, or do some other mindless task. Then when you do sit down to the page your Creativity is already ‘loaded’ and ready to go. You’ve got an image in your head of what you want to write so all that’s left is to find the words.

If you and your Creativity can work out a system of regular daydreaming, then you can potentially speed up your writing time (even if it did lead to you getting off the train two stops too late, breaking your daughter’s favorite mug, getting yourself completely lost while exercising, mowing your petunias, and losing your pet snake down a storm drain). The inspiration and creation has already happened. When it comes time to write you become a scribe, recording all the progress you’ve already thought up, while your Creativity adds in extra details here and there as needed.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What if I forget the stuff I’ve daydreamed? The answer is relatively simple. Make quick notes about the things you’re thinking about and then make sure you have a regular writing schedule in place (daily would be ideal) so you can get those words down on the page as quickly as possible. The longer you leave the images in your head, the more flaky and stale they become…rather like pastries. So get those ideas onto the page while they’re still piping hot!

There you have it. If you want to speed up your writing, spend more time staring out into space daydreaming. It’s very simple really.

How do you use daydreaming to speed up your writing?

******

P.S. In case you haven’t heard, The Red Umbrella (my latest short story) is now available on Amazon. If you didn’t get the news, then sign up to my author mailing list for regular updates or check out my author blog.


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Creative Action: Say Can

A girl looking very grumpy. Obviously she's been saying can't too often.

“Grouch” by Greg Westfall via Flickr

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity and today I’m laying down a challenge!

Are you a little petulant?

Do you say “can’t” too often?

Adults tend to associate the petulant use of “can’t” with small children who refuse to eat vegetables, take baths or enter indentured servitude.

But in my experience, adults are equally guilty of saying “can’t” when they really “could” if they got out of their own way, got off their high horse or got down to rainbow tacks (because brass tacks are sooo passé).

For example, have you ever finished reading a book and thought to yourself, “I can’t write something like that”?

Have you been blessed with the incandescent light bulb of an idea only to say, “I can’t do that idea justice, so I won’t even try writing it”?

Or what about the ever popular, “I can’t write today, because I promised to walk Aunt Mable’s tapir (or whatever common excuse you use)”?

If you spend your life effectively nipping yourself in the bud every time you come close to writing about something brilliant, you know what happens? You end up bushy with no flowers…because you nipped all the buds…

Yes…well…let’s pretend that little flop of a joke didn’t happen and move on, shall we?

Anyway, for this month’s creative action I want you to do one very simple thing which could make an incredible difference to your writing life.

Say can.

The next time you read an inspiring book, say to yourself, “I can write something inspiring like that.”

Why? Because you can. With your own unique writing voice and your own unique writing drive you can inspire someone with your words.

The next time you get a flash of an idea, say to yourself, “I can do that idea justice. I’ll try writing it.”

Why? Because you can. It may take time. You may have to learn some new skills and hurdle a few mountains in the process, but it’s possible.

The next time you’re tempted to find an excuse not to write today, say to yourself and anyone listening, “I can write today.”

Why? Because, you guessed it, chances are you can. Get out of your own way and settle yourself in front of the page. See what happens. Prove yourself right by writing at least one word. Then follow it up with one more. See?! You can!

Right, off you go! Say CAN!

And then don’t forget to pop back here and leave a comment telling us what you did. 😉


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The Secret to Surviving Non-Writing Days

A little girl amusing herself with paints. Today is obviously her non-writing day.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’m Jessica’s Creativity, and today I’m letting you in on a little secret!

A couple of weeks ago, Jessica published the first of a series of posts called ‘You Too?‘ The ‘You Too?’ series allows all you lovely writers to get together and discuss how you and your Creativities deal with those hiccups of the writing life. The first post was about What Do You Do on Non-Writing Days?

First, I want to say a big thank you to all those who commented with their tips on what to do on those days when you just don’t feel like writing! If you haven’t added your two pesos to the discussion yet (we take many different currencies here at Creativity’s Workshop), feel free to drop them into the comments box below.

The suggestions on how to spend your day were many and varied, from outlining your story to playing Sims. (I love Sim City! But my favourite game is Theme Park World. I could play that all day! For some reason Jessica uninstalled it. I’m still in a humph about that.)

All the suggestions had a common theme: If you’re not up to writing, spend your time on some other creative activity.

Herein lies the secret to non-writing days.

How Not to Survive the Day

It’s so easy to get down on yourself and your Creativity when you’re not able to write. After all, you’re a writer and you probably have a word count or page count or character death count to reach, don’t you?

But if you’re having a non-writing day, the worst thing you can do is get upset about it. Here are a couple of reasons why.

  • Becoming negative about the situation will focus your attention on what you’re not able to do. While you’re busy focusing on that, you’re preventing your Creativity from finding a different outlet for her/his energy today – and believe me there are plenty of outlets.
  • Your frustration sends a message to your Creativity that you’ll only accept some forms of creative expression (writing) and not others. Perhaps today is your Creativity’s painting day or sewing day or Sims day or tobogganing day, and you’re only just finding out about it now. (We Creativities don’t keep our calendars updated, so you’ll just have to take our word for it.)

So, what should you do?

The Secret to Surviving

Relax!

There is more to life than writing words.

That may be a shocking thing to admit as a writer, but it’s the truth. Writing is not the only creative act you’re capable of. If the words aren’t flowing, spend your day on a different creative activity.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Paint. Liberally daub your paintbrush over your house, a canvas, or a passing child. Whatever takes your fancy, paint it.
  • Read. Feed words into your mind to keep your creative well topped up for when you return to writing.
  • Explore. Take yourself outdoors and visit a place you’ve never been before. Wander into a park and focus on each of your senses. Follow a squirrel or a duck for an hour or two.
  • Cook. Ignore your cookbooks and just experiment. Empty your pantry and start creating! You’ll be amazed at how many random concoctions are actually edible.
  • Sew. Even the act of mending can be creative if you start thinking of ways to improve your clothes. Why sew that neat little plastic button back on when a toggle or bottle cap would work just as well?

However you spend your non-writing day, look for the positives and enjoy the change of pace.

What’s your secret to surviving your non-writing days?


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Creative Action: Freewrite About Your Writing Fears

A little girl looking afraid. Is this how you feel when you're writing?

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Hi, I’m Jessica’ Creativity (you can tell it’s me because I’m writing in purple) and I’m talking about taking some serious creative action!

Today Jessica is over at Write to Done, blogging about how you can complete any project by using Completion Addiction! (I highly recommend you pop over there and shower her with celebratory pompoms.)

You’re probably already familiar with Idea Addiction – that irresistible high you get when a shiny new idea diverts you from your work in progress. One reason the high is so irresistible is because it distracts us from the fears we face on our current project.

All writers face fears of some kind – be it the fear that you’ll never amount to anything, or the fear that you’ve just ruined your best tuxedo by spattering yourself with fountain pen ink.

But there are two important things to remember when facing fear:

  • Number one, fear is changeable. Your fears change as you develop and learn. Therefore, they are not written in stone but are actually malleable.
  • Number two, fear isn’t permanent (unlike fountain pen ink, my condolences to your tuxedo). It can be overcome. It is a challenge for you to take on and conquer – followed by a feast and much dancing.

Fear can be combatted with something you naturally have at your disposal – words!

Discovering the Source of Your Fear

First of all, you need to discover why you feel this discomfort. Fear is your mind’s way of protecting you. If you’re standing on the edge of a sixty foot drop, or considering pitched battle with a pterodactyl, fear is probably a good thing.

But when it comes to writing, and other non-lethal activities, fear steps in too soon. It’s usually there because it doesn’t want you to get your hopes up, to be hurt by other people, or fall flat on your face in front of millions of adoring fans because you chose platform shoes instead of sneakers.

Fear can be nebulous to begin with. It tells you that you can’t write. It tells you the white page is scary.

It’s your job to start fighting back with your words.

Do you know what the best word to use with your fear is?

“Why?”

Seriously.

Try this scenario: You’re afraid you can’t write.

Now ask: Why?

Perhaps your answer is: You think you’re going to make mistakes and people will ridicule you.

Ah, we’ll now we’re getting somewhere. It’s not that you can’t write. It’s that you’re afraid to make mistakes. That’s something we can work with!

From there you can set about carving out a new mindset with your words. And as a writer, your words are your superpower. You can handle words and string them together to change a person’s mind – in this case, yours.

So, let’s give it a go shall we?

Follow these steps:

  1. Set yourself a timer for, say, fifteen minutes.
  2. Start freewriting (using a computer, a pen and journal, or even chisel and stone tablet if that method appeals to you). Do not stop writing until the timer goes off, even if it seems you’re just writing drivel.
  3. Name the fear or barrier you’re facing. (Are you afraid you’re a fraud? Do you think your work is rubbish? Are you worried other people will think you’re wasting your time?)
  4. Next, ask the question: Why? Channel your inner 3-year-old and keep asking questions until you get to the heart of the matter.
  5. Once you’ve discovered the source of your fear, then start writing about how it affects you.
  6. If you’ve still got time in your freewrite, begin sketching out a new way of viewing your situation. Use your works to challenge the fear and work on overcoming it.

This process won’t be easy, and it may take you several freewrites before you feel you’ve properly got a handle on this particular fear – but each time you face a fear and conquer it, you become stronger.

With that strength comes the confidence to take on the white page fright and come off victorious!

What fears are you facing in your writing right now?


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Creative Action: Spice Up Your Story with a New Character

An orange-coloured sky, all ready for your newly written character to appear.

Now all we need is a paraglider! Read on, you’ll see what I mean. (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity and today I’m inciting you to a writing riot!

Jessica has a song stuck in her head at the moment. It’s an earworm that just won’t go away!

(And may I remind you that we Creativities have to live in the same space as your earworms, so keep that in mind the next time you’re listening to your favourite music. Earworms are self-absorbed little creatures that barrel through your train of thought without so much as a by-your-leave. They’re also repulsively smug. I’m not being petulant…only truthful.)

The song is called “Orange Colored Sky” and the basic premise is as follows: The singer was toddling along the sidewalk one day when love struck her unawares. General chaos and destruction ensues, including falling glass and collapsing ceilings.

I assume this is all figurative, but you can never be sure. Her ‘love’ may have been a window washer… Or a paraglider.

What does this have to do with your writing?

Well, if you’ve got the feeling that you’re just going through the motions with your manuscript and your story needs some spicing up, why not introduce a paraglider?

Or not necessarily a paraglider, but a new character. Throw in a fresh person to mix things up.

This character doesn’t have to be a love interest (although if there is romance, beware of falling masonry). It can be a miserly aunt or a newborn with colic.

How? You don’t need to overthink the process. Try one of these tips.

  • Has someone briefly mentioned a relative or friend earlier in your story? Why not write about them?
  • Write a sudden knock at the door. Get your main character to open the door and then let your Creativity fill in the details. (Seriously, this can work!)
  • If your character is shopping, have them talk to the girl behind the checkout.
  • If your character is walking along the street, let them bump into a passer-by. If that doesn’t work, allow them to wander into oncoming traffic. Either someone will hit them or someone will rescue them. Voila, new character.
  • Get your character lost and then convince them to ask for directions.
  • If worst comes to worst, use the paraglider trick. Or if you’re worried everyone’s doing that nowadays, then have a hot air balloon land in your main character’s backyard.

Freshen up your writing and send your plot spinning in a completely new direction. Give a go!

How do you introduce new characters into your story? Do tell, we’re all dying to know!


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10 Treats to Keep Your Creativity Happy

A dog staring at the biggest bone he's ever seen.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity and today you and I are going to plan a treat for your Creativity. Ready?!

Jessica is currently on holiday in England for a couple of months. There’s sunshine galore (surprising for the UK, no?) and a plethora of interesting things to see and do. As you can guess, that means very little writing.

Is that a bad thing?

Actually, it’s exactly what Doctor Creativity ordered! In fact, taking a break and immersing yourself in a completely different activity is something you should do for your Creativity on a regular basis, even if you have no plans to toddle across the globe in the near future.

You see, your Creativity is like a sponge. She/he laps up idea juice ready to use when you give her/him a gentle squeeze. But after a while your Creativity becomes tired, parched and…well, cranky. Yes! I’m not the only one! I’m sure there are other Creativities out there just like me! We shall form the CCU – Cranky Creativities Unite!

Ahem.

With this propensity to fatigue in mind, the wise writer schedules time for creative treats.

Like dogs, dolphins and small children, Creativities perform well when coaxed into action by the promise of treats. Small outings or even a simple change of routine can replenish the creative well that keeps we Creativities functioning at our whacky best.

Here are ten examples of treats you could give your Creativity. I recommend at least one per month for a happy, healthy creative buddy.

  • Take a Trip to a Museum. A little piece of history is a great spark for ideas. Each item has a story to tell, a journey that has brought it to this place and time.
  • Visit a Local Site. Have you noticed how rarely you visit your local landmarks and quirky spots? How many interesting nooks and crannies are near where you live? How many historical sites with stories just waiting to be told are within an hour’s toboggan ride from your house?
  • Read a New Book. Keep up the intake of literary goodness. If you want your Creativity to provide fresh words and ideas ,you need to keep up a steady flow of literature. (Isn’t that the perfect excuse to buy a new book? You can thank me later.)
  • Read a Favourite Book. Books that stick in our mind usually have a special what’s-it that draws us back again and again. Rereading those books can help infuse that element into your own writing – like standing too close to burning incense or yak dung…but in a good way.
  • Watch a Movie. If you don’t have the time to indulge yourself with a whole book, why not take a couple of hours to immerse yourself in a good movie (figuratively of course, although I don’t think you can drown in DVDs)? If you need tips on what to look for in a movie, try thinking like a scriptwriter.
  • Go to a Play. Live entertainment is a buzz to watch. Great plays suck you into the performance and make you feel like you’re a part of everything that’s going on. Your Creativity will exit on a high!
  • Take a Walk in a Park. Sometimes your Creativity just needs some space to restore herself/himself to equilibrium. Staring at those tall things with green hair – they’re either called trees or punk teenagers, I can never tell which – has a calming effect. It’s healing to not be in demand, even if only for a short time.
  • Visit an Inspirational Friend. If you’re privileged enough to have one of those friends that gets your creative juices pumping and inspires you to jump straight to a pen and paper, then organise regular visits. Remember to take chocolate or gifts or money so it’s a rewarding visit for all.
  • Go to the Library. If you find being surrounded by books has an uplifting effect, then pop over to your local library and sit among the shelves. Spend a quiet hour or two stroking book spines and reading pieces here and there. You can even take a few home with you, if you ask permission first.
  • Have a nothing day. Every now and then have a day when you do nothing. Just be yourself. Potter where your interests take you but don’t put the pressure of productivity on yourself. Enjoy just existing. Your Creativity may curl up and sleep, but perhaps that’s exactly what she/he needs.
  • Buy Your Creativity Something Nice. I personally love journals and pens, but they have to be the right journal or pen. I’m fussy. If I’m not happy, I won’t grace the pages with my presence. Is your Creativity the same? Why don’t you two go shopping and find the perfect item?

Well there’s the list. If you’ve been counting, you might have realised I sneaked in an extra number 11 treat. But this list is only the beginning. You can add anything and everything that your Creativity finds rewarding.

So comment below. What will you and your Creativity add to this list?

Remember, try to fit one in every month to keep your Creativity happy and healthy…and less cranky.

****

If you and your Creativity are struggling to get through the day, take a look at the free e-book Tips for Those Contemplating Insanity.


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How Much Time Are You Giving Your Creativity?

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity, and I have a video to share with you today!

Jessica recently came across this brilliant 2 minute video. Anyone interested in their Creativity should take the time to watch it.

Unless you’re a minimalist hermit living in the Himalayas, you’re probably trying to fit your creative projects into a schedule that already holds important tasks like sleeping, eating, cleaning teeth, making a living and watching reality TV.

So how much time do you devote to your creative projects?

This video gives you a choice:

  • You can give your Creativity the minimum amount of time to do a task…but then you must accept the average result, OR
  • You can set aside extra time to do the task, and give your Creativity the room to properly create.

Both options require sacrifice. The question is: What will you sacrifice? Your time or your project?

It’s your decision.

So what do you think? Make a commitment and let me know in the comments.

*****

A quick note from Jessica: My plans have suddenly changed and I’m traveling overseas sooner than expected (in three weeks! Eek!). I’m looking for some guest posts help me through the next few weeks while I get my plans sorted and recover from jetlag. If you’re interested in guest posting here on Creativity’s Workshop, take a look at the guidelines and then send me an e-mail.


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Creative Actions: Talk to a Child

A boy lying on a pumpkin...or should that be 'lying over a pumpkin'?

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity (that’s me smiling down at you from the blog header above). Today I’m inviting you and your Creativity to take creative action!

Every month Creativity’s Workshop encourages you to take creative action by doing something special with your Creativity.

So far we’ve covered crazy research, finding inspiration on Pinterest, declaring yourself a writer with nifty posters and making a writer’s day with a simple message. These are all activities where your Creativity can come to the fore and directly dabble in your everyday life.

This month’s Creative Action requires the following:

  • A young child
  • An open mind
  • Patience
  • An active Creativity

I think it also requires a bag of marshmallows and a yoyo but Jessica insists they’re optional. Sigh.

The Purpose of This Month’s Action

Everyone has a unique viewpoint and voice. When you are able to incorporate these two elements into your characters, you take them from being just words on a page to actual people who talk for themselves. (Your next problem with be getting them to follow along with your plot, but that’s a battle for another day. You can’t have everything, you greedy writer you!)

Your Creativity plays an essential role in crafting your character’s viewpoint and voice. This month’s action will give your Creativity some extra idea fodder to work with.

So what is the action in question?

Instructions

This month I’m encouraging you to have a conversation with a small child.

The goals of the conversation are to:

  • Notice the word choices and grammar hiccups that are inherent to small children, and
  • Discover how the world looks from a child’s point of view.

You might try talking about:

  • School
  • Home
  • Favourite colours
  • Favourite toys
  • What they would like to be when they grow up
  • Disgusting things they’ve recently found in their back garden

Be creative with your conversation but try to talk as little as possible. Let your small friend do the talking. After all, you’re listening for their unique ways of speaking and thinking about things.

When you return to your writing, don’t use the conversation verbatim (treat this conversation with the same thoughtfulness and confidentiality as you would a conversation with any other person), but be inspired by the flavour of the discussion. Let their childish viewpoints and voice infuse your mind with ideas. Use your fresh perspective to create a new character or give an existing character a more distinct voice.

Now potter off and find yourself a small child.

Note: Make sure the child’s parent is happy for you to have a conversation with their child.  This is not an excuse to kidnap children in the name of Creativity.

Now, over to you. Do you remember any of the quirky words or phrases you used to use as a child? Can you remember your perspective on things when you were young? Let us know in the comments.


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Boosting Creativity With a Change of Scene

A girl considering what she's going to try cooking next. Yum, the possibilities.

This is how I’m feeling right about now… (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity (that’s me in the blog header) and today I’m writing about our creative plans for the next four weeks.

To be honest, we’ve been feeling a bit creatively stale for the past few months. Dealing with illness and being cooped up indoors tends to stifle creative expression while also spoiling the beginnings of a promising tan. So, it is with great enthusiasm that I make this announcement:

For the next four weeks Jessica shall be taking in a change of scene. Not on holiday (that comes later in the year), but through the adventure of house sitting.

Four weeks in a completely different environment is a heady opportunity for a Creativity. The possibilities for creative shenanigans are endless.

I must stress that I do not mean we will be playing practical jokes on the owners of the house (we don’t know them that well yet) but there shall be plenty of playing with words, ideas and anything else I decide to turn my creative attention to (including a garden, what fun!).

This creative boost has been set off by the plethora of new stimuli. There are new books to browse, new rooms to write in, new kitchen appliances to experiment with, new decor to admire and a new pet to interact with (or should that read ‘a new pet to beat in a dastardly battle of wits’?). Everywhere I look there’s something I haven’t noticed before and house sitting gives one plenty of time to savour the experience.

But, although all this playful curiosity is bubbling along happily, Jessica has set some goals in order to get the most of out of our month of creative mayhem.

They are as follows.

Have breakfast in the sunshine every morning while journal writing.

Have you ever experienced the sensation of being drawn to a place or an object with a creative fascination? That’s what happens when your Creativity falls in love. Me? I’ve fallen in love with a beautiful little nook in the back garden.

There is a paved area surrounded by lattice work, creating a snug space which is still speckled with sunshine. The autumn weather is behaving itself at the moment so I’m looking forward to starting the morning in the great outdoors.

Well, I’m looking forward to it now that Jessica has sprayed the chair, table and general vicinity with bug spray to kill all the creepy crawlies. Poisonous spiders do tend to inhibit my creative flair.

The journal writing gets a lot of the writing bilge out of the way before we sit down to the serious work of playing around with blank pages, which leads to the next goal.

Write for a couple of hours each day.

Well, this isn’t a new goal, but new environments provide fresh incentive to recommit to previous plans. Going from a household of six to just two means there should be more time and room for writing.

Let me just add here that while Jessica believes there are far less distractions here (by that she obviously means people) she has not taken into consideration all the fascinating knick knacks and books which are catching my attention every time she looks away from the computer screen. There’s a book called Tilt on the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that I’m finding particularly interesting, if only for it’s clever title.

Jessica’s already realising that concentrating here may be harder than she thought. Still, I’m enjoying myself intensely!

Create at least four successful new recipes.

Remember those kitchen appliances I mentioned earlier? Well, they’re giving me so many ideas for meals that we’ve had to make a list!

Already we’ve invented ‘Green Cashew Paste’ which works well as a topping to both chicken and lamb with further variations to come. Who knows what we’ll end up with next!

Being loosed on a kitchen does wonders for my confidence and my creative spirit, which then translates onto the page later on. It’s like doing creative push ups with tasty treats to end your exercise.

It’s freeing and enjoyable and yummy!

So, that’s the plan for the next four weeks. Let’s see what we can get done!

What about you? What are your creative plans for the next four weeks? Do you have any goals you’re working towards?