Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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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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Managing Your Creative Restlessness

Creatively restless people jumping over a hill...because that's what creatively restless people do.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

At the end of last year, Bonnie Glendinning put on The Thriving Artist Summit where she recorded interviews with artists from around the world. In these interviews the artists discussed how they make a living from their art.

Among the many fascinating interviews, was a gem of a quote that particularly resonated with me. Bonnie Glendinning said:

If you’re a creative soul, you were born restless.

With those words, suddenly a part of myself made sense.

Recognising the Restlessness

I’ve always felt a restlessness, a drive to write. The strange thing is, when I’m writing that drive doesn’t diminish – in fact, becomes even stronger. It seems it can never be satiated.

I always have more projects I want to work on, more things I want to accomplish. When I’m not able to accomplish them as fast as I would like, my restlessness gnaws at me.

Have you experienced this too?

I’ve tried several different methods of coping with this restlessness.

For a while I tried ignoring it. I was too busy, or too ill, to put my energies into writing. It was as if I shoved the restlessness into a box and clamped the lid down shut.

But that didn’t help the situation. In fact, denying that creative part of me just led to irritability and frustration.

So I tried to let it out. I thought if I poured my energy into writing, somehow I would fill that restlessness and it would begin to abate.

But the more I tried to fill it, the more restless I became until I felt almost frantic.

Bonnie’s quote brought me to a realisation: I was born restless and I will continue restless. It’s not something I can just fill up and be done with.

But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Coming to Terms with the Restlessness

My restlessness is not something I should hide in a corner or try to overfill in the hope it will just go away. It’s part of being creative. It’s a part of me.

I’ve come to realise that instead of viewing my restlessness as a frustration I need to get rid of, I should view it as a motivating force.

The answer is to let the restless keep me moving creatively, at a sustainable pace, because I will always be moving. I will always have more words to write, more stories to tell, more characters to bring into the world.

There will always be more. So instead of pouring my energy into removing the restlessness, I can use the restlessness to bring my words into the world at a pace my fingers will allow – accepting of the fact that there will be plenty more words waiting.

I know there will be some words that will never see the light of day. But if I turn up to the page every morning, then plenty of them will make their way into the world.

My restlessness is my companion. It has been there since I can remember and it will continue with me throughout my life. Now is my time to make peace with it and befriend that part of myself.

Where Will Your Restlessness Lead You?

If this description of creative restlessness is resonating with you too, what can you do about it?

  • First of all, start taking yourself seriously as a writer (or an artist). If you’re feeling this drive within you, don’t stifle it. Recognise it as an essential part of yourself. Tell yourself and the world that you are a writer.
  • Next, get yourself into a good creative routine. Find ways to regularly feed and exercise your Creativity. Write daily. Set goals.
  • As you progress, keep a positive mindset. Remember that your restlessness isn’t an enemy, but a companion to keep you motivated. Being a writer is a lifelong adventure. Continue learning and enjoy the journey.

When you put these three things into action, your writing will begin to take you in all sorts of interesting directions. You’ll achieve your goals, but you also may end up discovering new friends and achieving surprising things in the process.

We’re all restless. Let’s use it to propels us towards our writing dreams.

How do you deal with your creative restlessness?

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If you’re struggling to maintain a good creative routine and positive mindset in your writing, then get in touch and let me know how I can help. My e-mail is jessica at creativitysworkshop dot com.


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Is Your Creativity Out of Sorts? Try a Creative Cleanse

A woman looking thoughtful

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Your Creativity hasn’t shown up lately. In fact, you can’t remember when you last had a true burst of inspiration.

You’re feeling lonely and unfulfilled. Each time you sit down to the page you’re struggling to even form a sentence. You’re beginning to wonder whether your previous creative adventures were just a fluke.

You no longer feel like a true writer. A creative numbness has come over you and you have no idea how to find your way back to your inner Creativity.

If this describes you, then why not join us over the next 5 weeks and try a Creative Cleanse?

Why Creativity May Have Taken a Hike

When things are running smoothly, our Creativity is on hand to infuse our writing and everyday life with inspiration and fun. However, some of us haven’t experienced that feeling in a long time.

There are a number of things that could have a negative impact on our Creativity, such as:

  • A Busy Schedule – Our daily lives are usually filled with tasks and appointments that keep us moving swiftly through the day. If we have managed to insert writing time into that schedule, we may still feel under pressure to perform at speed and be efficient with the time we’ve set aside.
  • Fear of Failure – Negative emotions like fear and worry have a big impact on our creative life. If our expectations are too high, then our Creativity may just shuffle away and hide rather than disappoint us.
  • Overwork – Everyone needs rest, especially our Creativity. If we work our Creativity too long without refilling our creative well, then our Creativity has nothing left to give. If our habits don’t change, then our Creativity could be squeezed dry.

If you’re relating to any of the above descriptions, then you need to do something to change your habits now.

Respecting Our Creativity

I’m sure most of us watch what we eat and find time for exercise. We look after ourselves and every now and then we even pamper ourselves. We know we work best when we take care of our needs.

But a lot of us forget that our Creativities need similar care. It’s our responsibility to make sure our Creativity is as healthy and happy as possible.

It’s easy to lose touch with our Creativity’s needs. We become so focused on what we’re writing and the work we’re putting into the page that we don’t pay attention to the wellbeing of our Creativity.

Now it’s time to change all that. It’s time to give our Creativity some special attention.

Cleansing Our Creative Habits

To properly care for our Creativity, we need to do the following:

  • Provide Space to Rest – Creativities need downtime when they are not in demand, just the same as we do.
  • Cultivate Trust – Creativities need to trust that we will turn up to the page and respect the ideas we’re given (no matter how whacky those ideas may be). We need to regularly show our Creativity that we’re willing to spend the time it takes to work through the creative process.
  • Fill the Creative Well – If we want our Creativity to provide us with ideas, we need to be soaking her/him in idea juice. We need to be regularly refilling our creative well so our Creativity has plenty to draw on.
  • Practice Good Writing Habits – It’s a fact of life that some days our writing will be rubbish, but the habit is more important than the result. If we can prove to our Creativity that we will regularly turn up to the page, then our Creativity is more likely to grace us with her/his presence.
  • Work Towards Completion – Bringing an idea to fruition is a rewarding feeling. In order to reward our Creativity with this feeling, we need to focus our efforts on a regular project.
  • Learn What Makes Our Creativity Tick – Everyone’s Creativity is different. What works for one person may cause all sorts of problems for another person. We need to know what our Creativity likes and dislikes so we can cater to those unique needs.

How many of the above have you been able to do recently? It’s hard to remember all of these in an average week. That’s where the Creative Cleanse comes in.

What the Next 5 Weeks Will Look Like

The schedule for the next five weeks is as follows:

  • Week 1 – Actively Do Nothing
  • Week 2 – Restorative Reading
  • Week 3 – Freewriting
  • Week 4 – Choose a Project
  • Week 5 – Record Your Observations

It will take you 15 minutes to half an hour a day to complete the activities and I will be on hand to answer any questions you may have during the process.

If you’ve got any questions, just leave them in the comment section below.


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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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Allowing for the Ups and Downs of a Creative Life

A woman in bed with flu. If only we all looked this photogenic when we have the flu...

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’ve had the flu for the past week. An icky, throat-scratching, sleep-inducing lurgy.

Last week I had a decision to make. What should I do about writing?

Should I write through my illness?

The answer came quickly. Definitely not!

There were several reasons why.

The most obvious was that I wouldn’t do my best work. But more importantly, I thought about the implications of pushing onwards.

If an employer gives their employee time off work for illness, should I not also do the same for my Creativity? Asking my Creativity to continue working while I’m ill is tantamount to slave labour within my head.

I’ve earned my Creativity’s trust over a long period of time, and I didn’t want to blow that now.

I’ve taught my Creativity that:

  • I’ll be patient when she’s having an off day.
  • I’ll give her time to play around with ideas, no matter how crazy they sound.
  • I’ll not laugh at her first ideas.
  • I’ll face the page every morning whether she’s there or not.

Now I promised my Creativity that if I wasn’t well enough to do paying work, then I would also class myself too sick to write.

Like many writers, I have a damaged relationship with rest. I keep pushing when I should stop and allow myself to recover. I decided my flu was the perfect time to practice a healthier approach to relaxation and recovery.

My decision was quickly followed another question: What should I do with my blog for the week?

I did have a blog post mostly written. With a bit of polishing I could put it up. I was also thinking about a question I really wanted to ask my e-mail subscribers. I had a number of things to do! Should I just push on and do them?

I decided to break my blogging schedule and my e-mail schedule and wait until I was feeling better.

Why?

Because I value you guys too much. I know that each time I post a blog or send an e-mail, I’m asking you to spend something worth just as much as money – your time. I’m requesting your attention for a couple of minutes while you read my words.

I take that request seriously, and therefore I want to make sure each post and e-mail is worth your time.

I took a week off and rested completely so I could return ready to give you my best again.

What do you think? Did I do the right thing?

How do you make decisions on how to spend your time when you’re ill?


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How the Act of Writing Changes Your Ideas

A man writing while sitting atop a rock. I hope he doesn't drop his pen.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Outlining is great. I love it.

I have a noticeboard above my desk with three different storyboards in varying stages of completion. I map out story arcs. I put a lot of thought into something before I write it.

However, last week something happened during my writing that really shook me up.

How do Words Get on the Page?

First of all, let me take a slight detour past an excellent post you have to read. It’s by Charlotte Rains Dixon entitled How Words Get on the Page. I was going to save this link up for my recap at the end of the month, but it was just too good to wait. Go read it now!

Her main point is:

…magic happens when we engage with the words. That writing gets done when we write…So next time you’re stuck, try writing instead of staring out the window. Trust me, it actually does work.

It’s true. Words get on the page through the act of writing. That’s the only way.

We can have the most incredible ideas floating around in our head, but it’s only once we get them onto the page that we see them in all their glory.

Sometimes an idea that seemed pretty ho-hum in your head comes into its own when it finally appears on the page. At times like that, you can be shocked by the strength of the end result.

I Didn’t See It Coming Until the Last Word

Last week I started a new writing project.

Yes, I’m editing my short story collection of self-pubbing later on this year (in fact I’m looking for beta readers this month so if you’re interested then let me know). However, I’m finding that during the editing process I need to have another first draft on the go to keep my words flowing.

Anyway, the concept of this new writing project had been on my mind for some time. It was a quaint idea but I wasn’t sure if it would actually work on the page. The only way to find out was to write it down.

So I started writing. The first day I only wrote 100 words or so of very ordinary stuff. My inner editor jumped in and reminded me this concept was a long shot.

The second day was a whole different experience. I wrote just over 500 words. In that time a brand new character sprung into life with all the elements I’d been thinking about and one notable addition.

She had a deeper motivation than I had ever realised. That motivation suddenly made the whole premise of the book fall into place and gave me a stunning character arc.

And I mean ‘stunning’ in a very literal sense. I was stunned, short of breath and on the verge of tears. Not the happy, excited type of tears either. They were tears of empathy for this sudden creation. I had, in a very short space of page, uncovered a deep emotional centre to my new character.

The concept I’d been carrying around in my head was okay, but when the words came onto the page the idea became a whole different thing – a much richer and more touching story. I would never have seen this aspect to it if I’d spent that time outlining instead.

So, while I’m still a great believer in outlines, the truth is words get on the page through writing. I can discover so much about characters and plot on the page as I write.

Taking Creative Action

Do you have an idea floating around in your head – an idea you’re not sure will actually work on the page?

Have you tried writing it down?

Spend some time this week putting that idea into words on the page. Not just conceptial words, but actual narrative. Give your Creativity some space to experiment and watch what happens in front of you.

It may not happen right away, but I guarantee it will eventually give you some kind of insight you wouldn’t have got any other way.

What about you? Have you had a similar experience when putting words on the page?


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Should You Brainstorm With Other Writers?

A pile of light bulbs with one bulb lit up, causing the viewer to wonder if light is contagious.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Most of us prefer to keep our writing ideas close to our chest until we’ve spent a lot of quality time putting our thoughts on paper.

Even then, we may be hesitant to let other people see our work in case they say something we don’t feel comfortable with. Often we don’t show others our work until it’s nearing completion.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach. If you feel you need to keep your ideas to yourself so they can grow in protected shelter, then that’s fine.

But each project is different. Sometimes there are ideas that dangle in front of us saying ‘write me one day’ but don’t grow any further. No matter how many different ways we look at the idea, we just can’t get a handle on the next step.

If you’ve got one of those ideas hidden away, why not try brainstorming with other writers or creatives?

Does It Actually Work?

I am writing this post minutes after witnessing brainstorming in action. My brother is a talented writer who has been focusing on crafting engaging loglines. Today, while my father and I were standing in the kitchen, he read out a logline he’d had tucked away for a while.

I’d heard the logline before and thought it was brilliant, but it was the first time my father had been exposed to the pitch. He latched on to the idea and started throwing out extra elements to weave into the concept.

It wasn’t long before all three of us were creating a complicated world in which this story could exist. Within half an hour we’d gone from logline to a basic outline complete with a surprise twist for the ending. The energy in the room was electric, as if ideas were drawn from the air to our creative static. We were three very excited people with three very happy Creativities.

My brother is now in the next room scribbling down all the stuff we talked about, finally able to do something with a logline he’s had for months.

Pros and Cons

As with any decision to do with you Creativity and your writing, you need to decide what works best for you. Weigh up the following pros and cons to see if you and your Creativity would be comfortable in a brainstorming situation.

The pros are:

  • Brainstorming can reveal potential in your ideas and take you in directions you would never have thought of by yourself.
  • During the process you may find plot holes that you wouldn’t have noticed until much further down the track.
  • A brainstorming session could lead to writing collaborations if your fellow brainstormer is excited about the project.

The cons are:

  • You may feel overwhelmed by all the ideas being discussed and start to worry about the scope of what you’re committing to.
  • You may feel like your fellow brainstormers are running away with the discussion and leaving you behind. You may eventually feel like the story no longer belongs to you.
  • Your fellow brainstormers may feel a sense of ownership over the story once the session has finished.

Brainstorming Reminders

If you want to try brainstorming ideas with others, then keep the following pointers in mind.

Choose the right people

If you want someone to brainstorm a story with you, then that person needs to be:

  • Experienced in writing, story and character building. They need to have at least some of the skills of a writer/storyteller, otherwise their suggestions may not be strong enough to build on (and trust me, in a good brainstorming session the story builds very fast).
  • Flexible and respectful. Brainstorming sessions can become a little heated at times when people have conflicting ideas on where the story should be headed. You want to be working with a person who respects your right as a writer to have the final say over where your story goes.
  • Willing to participate. If they don’t feel comfortable giving out ideas that you might use and publish, then it’s better not to start brainstorming at all. You don’t want to end up in legal problems sometime down the track.

Speak up for yourself

Remember, this is your story and you’re the one who will be working on it (unless your brainstorming session leads to a writing collaboration). So speak up when you feel the story is going off track or you don’t agree to an element that’s been suggested.

Remain engaged in the process and don’t let the other brainstormers run off with your story and leave you behind.

Keep an open mind

At times the discussion will go into areas you hadn’t envisioned for this story. Don’t discount these detours right away. They may help you find a whole new story or a story element which is stronger and more exciting than your original concept.

Writing is a journey of discovery and brainstorming is a wonderful chance to branch out into the unknown. After all, you’re only spending an hour or two on this journey, so what’s the harm in seeing where it takes you?

Keep notes

Either keep notes during the brainstorming session or write everything down as soon as possible after the session. Ideas flitter away quicker than you expect, so make sure you’re capturing them (perhaps even create an audio recording so you can go back and check points).

After the session, you’ll still have residual pep from the experience and you may find extra ideas appearing as you write. Don’t miss this opportunity to go further with your story. You can always cull your notes later when the calmness of reason returns.

You don’t have to use everything you discussed

Just because you and your friend talked about something, doesn’t mean you have to stick with it. Once you get back to the page, it’s just you and the story. Remain true to where that story needs to go, even if it diverges from what you decided during your brainstorming session.

What you come up with in the frenzy of brainstorming might not work in the coolness of hindsight. That’s okay. The session got you the fire you needed and gave you extra ideas to play with. But the journey doesn’t stop there. It continues onto the page and throughout your writing process.

Is It Worth It?

Whether brainstorming works for you and your Creativity is a matter for you to decide. Hopefully this post has given you an opportunity to think about the subject.

If you’re not sure whether it would suit you, perhaps try brainstorming a small idea with a trusted writing friend and see how it goes. If you feel comfortable, you could try something bigger next time.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever tried brainstorming ideas with others? Are there any points I didn’t cover? I can’t wait to hear what you have to say on the subject.


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Early Drafts – To Share or Not to Share

A beautiful handwritten manuscript. I'm sure we all wish our writing looked like this!

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Ark

There seem to be many opinions on whether to share the early drafts of your work or not. And as with many decisions in writing, there’s no absolute right or wrong answer. You have to discover what works best for you and your Creativity.

Of course, you’ll have to share your draft with readers at some point, but the question here is whether you should wait until you have a polished draft you’re happy with, or whether sharing earlier (less polished) versions can be helpful.

So here’s a list of pros and cons for sharing early drafts of your work. Think about them and consider what you and your Creativity feel is the best decision for you.

Pros

  • Early feedback can save you a lot of writing time down the track, e.g. by pointing out plot problems before your story is too polished.
  • You can test out whether your story concept appeals to your audience or whether the idea doesn’t yet capture attention.
  • Other people’s enthusiasm for your story can spur you on through the difficult times.

Cons

  • As soon as you show your work to someone, your perspective changes. Now you’re writing for an audience, not just you. (And as said before on this blog, first drafts are just for you.)
  • The feedback received may discourage you and your Creativity. It may be much harder to approach your draft with enthusiasm and positivity after hearing what’s wrong with it.
  • Your critiquer may put pressure on you to see the next draft. (This could be a pro or a con depending on what you find works for you.)

Everyone is different. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. In the end, the decision should be based on what works best for you and your Creativity.

What do you find works best in your situation? Do you protect your early work and keep it safely to yourself, or do you get feedback in the hopes that you’ll save yourself time in the long run?

Remember, if you are asking someone for feedback on your work, you can be specific and ask only for overall thoughts or gut feelings on character development etc. Problems can arise if the reader doesn’t know what you’re looking for and gives feedback on areas you’re not ready to hear opinions about. Communicate your needs clearly so both sides know where they stand.

So what do you think? Are there any pros, cons or other points you’d like to add to the discussion?


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Words Are Not Stone

German words preserved for us through history

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity and today I’m talking about words.

There are very few words I hate.

Most words have their uses, like ‘snot’ and ‘condescension’ and ‘shrill.’ But there is one word which I absolutely cannot stand. It’s one of the most damaging words in the creative world.

What is it?

Perfection.

What’s so bad about that word? Well, nothing if you’re describing a baby’s toes or a spectacular sunset or the straightness of a picture on your wall. But when it comes to the production of anything creative, perfection is a very bad word.

For starters, it’s so transient. One person’s idea of perfection is another person’s description of Absolute Bilge. Don’t believe me? Look up Amazon reviews for your favourite book. Perfection is unachievable.

In fact, the pursuit of perfection is the most efficient way to choke the life out of your Creativity. 

I think the hardest part of writing is not the routine, or the ideas, or the characters, or the plot twists, or the descriptions, or the comedic moments (including the stomach-churning worry that no one will laugh at the right places). The hardest part is convincing yourself that your first words don’t have to be perfect.

Years ago, when Jessica first started writing, she believed (like most budding writers) that stories sprang into life like watered seedlings and flowed onto the page like fresh honey on a warm summer’s day. (What do you mean I’m mixing my metaphors? Mixed Metaphors are my favourite kind; like Mixed Nuts, only less salty.) Once on the page, she believed words quickly solidified into the finished product – set in stone, as it were, for eternity. (Three metaphors in one paragraph! I’m on fire today!)

She was unfortunate enough to write several stories that flowed fully formed onto the page. Why unfortunate? Because it slowed her learning of an important lesson: Words are not stone.

Words are free. They can be changed, quickly and easily with a stroke of a pen or a tap of a keyboard. Gender, tense, season, location, emotion, interaction – all these things can be changed with simple word selection.

Words are not stone. They are clay, to be moulded at your whim.

Words are beads to be chosen, strung together and then restrung over and over until you’re happy.

Words are finger paintings – messy and beautiful and expressive. They are to be played with and smudged.

Words are spices to be dashed across your most recent creation to enliven and enrich your tastes.

Words are beacons, shining their light into the nooks and crannies of subjects.

Words are yours, to do with as you wish.

And the best thing is, words can be changed – anytime, easily. If you don’t like them, choose new ones!

Be not afraid of words, for you are their master. And if they do not appear correctly the first time, keep playing and scribbling and painting and scattering them until they eventually come out right.


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The Fear of Being Wordless

The Atacama desert

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’m one of those writers who bubbles with words. I’m always scribbling in a notebook. I’ve lost count of the number of notebooks I have ‘going’ at any one time. Each has its own purpose. They are there to collect my words as they bubble up inside me.

Except when the words dry up.

One of the greatest fears a writer has is the fear of their words disappearing.

What happens if one day I sit down at my desk and nothing comes?

That happened to me just before leaving for Malaysia. I had so many things to do, to finish, to check before I left that the words just dried up.

I didn’t want to write. I didn’t even want to read.

No bubbling.

Nothing

I was empty.

I no longer felt like me.

Who was I without words?

Accepting the Fear

I’d been in this situation before. This time, I decided, I was going to treat it differently.

Instead of dissolving into a panic and wondering a) where my words had gone and b) if they’d ever come back, I would trust.

I know my Creativity. We’re friends. We’ve been through thick and thin together. Through torrents of words and wordless deserts.

She looked tired. I looked tired. We needed a break.

No pressure to write. No pressure to read. A proper break.

I still felt strange – like a part of me was missing – but I accepted it. I had been here before and I would make it through to the other side, not by forcing myself but by relaxing.

The Niggling Itch Returns

The desert lasted through Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday someone tried to snatch my bag. The emotion of the day and all that had gone before was overwhelming. I wrapped up our belongings in my husband’s jumper and carried them home sobbing.

I didn’t want to write about what had happened, not even to tell my family. I’d had enough.

But then, sometime early Monday morning, while barely awake, Creativity and I felt the merest hint of a bubble. And then another, and another.

By breakfast time a short story was already forming, based on the bag snatcher from the day before. Reaching for a notebook, we set to work. Eight pages of notes followed.

The words were back. And they were back with a vengeance.

I grinned. My Creativity grinned.

With a little trust and acceptance we’d made it through another wordless desert.

Have you ever experienced something similar? How do you deal with your wordless deserts?