Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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Creativity’s Workshop is Taking a Hiatus

Last week I wrote about finding balance in your writing life and how true balance is the ability to adjust your mindset, goals, expectations, and routine as needed.

Well, thanks to a difficult few months with my health, I’ve decided I need rework my priorities and change my routine. I have some really exciting fiction projects on the go, but I’m struggling with them because I’ve had a few hard knocks since March. So, in order to make headway on my fiction goals and deadlines, I’ve made the difficult decision to temporary halt my blogging on Creativity’s Workshop.

If you’ve been following the weekly posts of De-Stress Your Writing Life then I apologize for not being able to keep to my routine for the moment. I’ve updated this summary post with links to all the De-Stress Your Writing Life posts I’ve written so far. 

I still plan to post here from time to time with updates and relevant information, but I won’t be keeping to a weekly schedule.

I will be working on my fiction during this hiatus, so if you’re interested in my progress as I work towards my next release then visit my author website

This hasn’t been an easy decision to make, but I’m hoping it will be for the best in the long run. Thank you so much for your attention and support.


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Voice Recognition – The Answer to Repetitive Strain Injury?

A woman holding her shoulder in pain.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Ever since I was in my early teens, I’ve been plagued with bouts of pain in my wrist, elbow, and shoulder because of ‘chronic overuse.’ For many writers this is the bane of their existence. Some also call this pain Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

I’ve been relatively pain free for the past few years, thanks to enforced rest due to chronic illness. Now that I’m getting back into the swing of writing on a regular basis, the pain is returning.

For a few weeks now I have been trying to improve the ergonomics of my work space but it hasn’t been enough, so I’ve had to think creatively.

A week ago I activated the voice recognition software on my computer to see if would make a difference. I’ve known about voice-to-text software for a while now but never had the inclination to set it up. Now, thanks to circumstances, I’ve been forced to do so.

I won’t lie, it does take a lot of getting used to. It takes a lot of patience to teach the computer my voice patterns, strange word choices, and Australian accent. However, it is worth it to reduce the pain.

I’ll be interested to see if this change in writing method also changes my writing voice. Instead of thumping away at my keyboard, structuring sentences as the words flow from my fingers, I now have to form my thoughts into coherent and clear sentences before any words can appear on the page. It may not seem like that big a difference on the surface, but for me it is a completely different working arrangement that is curbing some of my spontaneity as I try to retrain my brain.

I didn’t realise how natural typing had become to me. The words seemed to materialise, from an abstract thought in my mind to solid sentences on the page, all with very little effort on my part. Now my mouth needs to form each tiny the word and every individual punctuation mark.

I’m sure that soon this new way of doing things will feel more natural. It might even turn into me talking to my computer is if it were a child hearing a bedtime story. The possibilities are intriguing. It may even open up a whole raft of new story ideas.

In the meantime though, my writing may be a little stilted until I get the hang of this.

Have you ever try voice recognition software for writing? Do you have any suggestions or questions?


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Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1 is Now Available!

Cover for Baverstock's Allsorts Volume 1: A Collection of Short Stories The day has finally arrived! Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1 is now published on Amazon (and will be appearing on other online stores soon)!

If you’d like to see more details about the book, including the blurb, click here to see the release post on my author blog.

Speaking of which, take a look at the new layout of my Jessica Baverstock website. It’s guaranteed to make you start craving liquorice.

Seeing as this is my first release, there are a few things I need to cover in this post.

The Part Where I Get a Little Mushy

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to all of my readers who have been so supportive over the years, especially this month as I’ve prepared for this launch. I truly appreciate your beautiful e-mails, your encouragement, and the wonderful reviews some of you have already put up.

While reaching my childhood dream to publish my writing has been an amazing experience, an even more amazing experience has been witnessing the enthusiasm with which this book has been greeted by you all.

The Part Where I Explain the Cover

Now some of you will remember a few weeks back when I asked for your opinion on which cover I should use. Many of you offered very helpful suggestions via blog comments, the poll, e-mail, and Twitter. Thank you all for taking the time to do that! Your input was very valuable.

There were many persuasive comments for both covers, and Cover B (the cover without ‘Baverstock’s’) made the most logical sense. However, those who opted for Cover A described it as ‘unique’ and ‘intriguing.’ They saw the reasoning behind Cover B, but they were drawn to Cover A.

So in the end I decided to go with Cover A, because I’m interested in drawing readers who are curious, who are looking for something unique and intriguing.

Is that the right decision? I have no idea. But it’s a decision.

Over the years I’ve learned that there are very few right or wrong decisions in writing. There are often valid arguments and reasonings behind the different options you face. In the end the most important things are:

  • To actually make a decision, not allowing yourself to stall because you’re worried about making a mistake.
  • To make the decision based on a reason you can stand by.

As a self-publisher, decisions on cover art and blurbs are never permanent. Experimentation is a wonderful thing. You can try one cover, and then in a couple of years try something different. There will be plenty of time down the track to tweak and fiddle. The most important thing is to maintain momentum and learn as you go.

So is Cover A or Cover B the best one to go with? Ask me in a couple of years. I might have changed it by then.

The Part Where I Tell You What’s Coming Next

Cover for The Red Umbrella: A Short StoryThis release is just the beginning. After several years of setting up the infrastructure for my publishing plans and patiently working on my health problems, I’m finally at the point where I can start sharing my stories with you. The floodgates have opened!

Next on the agenda is the release of my next short story, The Red Umbrella. You’ll see more details about that on the Jessica Baverstock website. All going to plan, that should be available next month.

I’m also collaborating with another writer on a top secret writing project due to appear later on this year. I can’t tell you too many details about that yet, but we’re really excited at how it’s all coming together. It’ll be whacky, humorous and lots of fun. I’m really looking forward to letting you see what we’re doing in a few months’ time.

Of course, I have plenty of my own writing projects in the pipeline. They will continue to appear as they reach completion.

The Part Where You Make a Decision

There’s going to be lots of interesting news snippets and blog posts involved in my fiction releases, but they don’t really align with the goals of Creativity’s Workshop. This blog is for creative writers who want to read posts about writing and creativity. You may not be interested in the fiction titles I’m releasing.

Therefore, I will be running a blog over on my author website where I will post about my fiction stories, book releases and other things I think readers of my fiction will be interested in. I will probably only post there fortnightly, or as I have relevant news.

I may link from posts on Creativity’s Workshop to a few of the posts on my other blog from time to time, but if you’re interested in reading all of those posts then please follow the blog over on my author website so you don’t miss out on anything.

I’m also starting up a separate mailing list for those readers who would like to be kept informed of my fiction releases. That means I’ll have two mailing lists:

  • The Creativity’s Workshop Mailing List (No Longer Available), which is specifically for creative writers are interested in receiving weekly e-mails to help them maintain a creative and prolific writing life.
  • The Jessica Baverstock Mailing List, for readers of my fiction who would like to be kept up to date with my latest releases and special deals.

So if you’re interested on getting one of those newsletters, then click on the relevant list and sign yourself up. (Please note: If you’re following the Creativity’s Workshop blog or receiving the Creativity’s Workshop Newsletter, you won’t get all of the fiction updates.)

Phew! Okay, I think that’s everything you need to know at the moment. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them for you.

Oh, and don’t forget to pop over to Amazon and get yourself a copy of Baverstock’s Allsorts Volume 1!


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Positive Points and Secrets to Prolific Writing

A dog with glasses reading a book.

This is me, working hard. The stress has not been kind to me… (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

I spent last week head down tail up, working on several posts at once! Lots of interesting things were happening, so here’s a quick rundown in case you missed any of it.

Exciting Announcements on Creativity’s Workshop

Early last week I announced that this year I’ll be providing One-on-One Creative Coaching Sessions. I even recorded a little video of myself talking about how I can help you get your creative routine into gear.

If this is something you’re interested in, let me know and we can arrange a time to call.

Then later in the week I also announced my plan to blog my latest book De-Stress Your Writing Life. That means you can read it for free right here on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. The first post is going up this week!

I’ve also added in a donate button to help the project along. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic version of the book when it’s done.

Interesting Guest Posts

Over the weekend I also had two of my guest posts published on other blogs.

Firstly I posted on Kristen Lamb’s blog (of MyWANA fame) about Why Now is the Best Time to be a Writer. It gives five positive reasons why we’re living in exciting writing times.

I’ve had so many wonderful comments from this post. It’s been really amazing to encourage and uplift so many writers around the world with my words.

My other post was on Charlotte Rains Dixon’s blog called Shhh! Here’s the Secret to Prolific Writing. In this post I give some tips on how to combat Tortured Writer Syndrome and make your writing fun again.

Each of the five tips are ones I use myself almost every day to keep my writing flowing smoothly. I hope they do the same for you!

Phew! As you can see, I’ve been a busy little pup and there’s still plenty more to come this year.

How was your week? Let me know in the comments.


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Get Your Year Started With Some Creative Coaching!

Are you:

  • Suffering from writer’s block?
  • Overloaded with ideas and not sure where to start?
  • Wallowing in the mid-draft doldrums?
  • Struggling to find a creative routine that works for you?
  • Needing some motivation to get started in 2014?

If any of these describe you, then you need a Creativity Coach to get you writing again!

This year I’m offering 30 minute One-on-One Creative Coaching Sessions!

I’m really excited about offering this service. I want to help you be a creative, prolific and happy writer.

So How Does This All Work?

When you sign up for a coaching session, I will send you through a questionnaire. Your answers will help me understand where you’re at in your writing and what your current routines are.

From there we can schedule your call, either over Skype or via a landline.

During the 30 minute call, we will discuss the creative hurdles you’re currently facing and tailor solutions to your specific needs.

After the call I will e-mail through a summary of the points we discussed with actionable points you can use before our next session.

If you’re ready to get started, then click one of the options below.

Buy a single One-on-One Creative Coaching Session now for $80
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Buy a bundle of 3 One-on-One Creative Coaching Sessions for $220
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Before you sign up, here are a few things to may wish to note:

  • I don’t read writing samples or offer critiques on your work. During our calls I focus on your writing habits and routine so you can be prolific no matter what you’re writing.
  • I live in Western Australia (GMT +8) which means I only offer coaching during specific times of the day due to time differences. If you’re concerned about scheduling, please contact me first and we can work together to find a time suitable to you.

If you’d like more information, contact me directly via e-mail at Jessica AT creativitysworkshop DOT com.


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Greetings From My New Writing Room

Me sitting at my writing desk surrounded by a modicum of writing paraphernalia.

Moi in new writing habitat feeling very relaxed and creative.

The new year usually signals new beginnings, but for me 2014 signals a new house!

If you’ve been following my journey over the past month or two, you’ll know that my husband and I have just moved into a lovely little place within walking distance of the beach. If that isn’t enough, I now have my very own writing room (see picture above).

In typical writer fashion, probably about 1/3 of my belongings were books. It took me a couple of days to find homes for all of them, but I’m proud to say they’re all snuggly in their little alcoves now. The only bad news is I’ve filled up almost every space in our three bookcases. Looks like I’ll be sticking to library books and e-books for a while.

I can’t tell you what a difference it is to finally have a dedicated space for my writing and my books. I feel like I can now get down to business and start churning out some words!

Of course, not everything has gone exactly to plan. Yesterday afternoon I launched full-scale talcum powder attacks on the ants that insist on walking across my desk and over my computer. I seem to have won the first battle, but we shall see how things go over the coming days.

But that’s a minute wrinkle in my brilliant new writing room.

I’ve got lots of exciting plans for the new year. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see news of my new projects!

What about you? How has your year started out? What plans do you have to make 2014 a great writing year?


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Hold That Thought, We’ll Be Right Back

Woman relaxing on the beach

This is going to be me in a couple of weeks, but with whiter sand. (Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

We interrupt your blog surfing with the latest news from Creativity’s Workshop!

My husband and I are moving!

Yup, we’ve found a lovely little place by the ocean (literally 400 metres from the beach).

Not only is it set in idyllic surroundings, but the house comes with a spare room which will become my writing room!

Of course, this means packing and general pandemonium for the rest of the month as we plan to move in less than two weeks.

So Creativity’s Workshop will be a little quiet over for the next few weeks as we get ourselves settled into our new home. Then I’ll be back into the blogging swing of things to get your Creativity into shape for 2014!

I can’t wait. See you soon!


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Our Pep Talk Winner: A Kick in the Pants from ‘Mr T’

A coach giving his football player a pep talk. Don't you wish you had someone on hand to do the same for your writing?

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

If you’ve been signed up to the Creativity’s Workshop mailing list (no longer available as of 2016) for the past month or two, you’ll know that we’ve been looking at how to write yourself a personalised pep talk.

There are plenty of pep talks of every description on the internet, freely available to get you motivated and writing again. But the most effective pep talk is the one written specifically for you – the one tailored to your personal writing needs.

Unless you have a writing coach (which isn’t a bad idea if you want to take your writing seriously) the only person who can write that pep talk is you.

The process of creating a personalised pep talk involves identifying:

  • Your biggest fear,
  • What you need to hear,
  • What you wish someone would say to you,
  • Your favourite motivational quotes,
  • The most inspiring/comforting thing you could be told right now, and
  • What you feel you need in order to continue.

I asked those on the mailing list who participated in the exercise to send through their finished pep talks so I could publish one on Creativity’s Workshop.

The pep talk I’ve chosen comes from Tristan, who felt he needed some ‘tough love’ and decided his imaginary Mr T was the best person to give it to him. Without further ado, I present to you Tristan’s pep talk.

****

Biggest Fear: I haven’t completely worked out what’s happening in my story

What do you need to hear: That it will be written some day.

What do you wish someone would say to you: “I can’t wait to read your story.”

What are some of your favourite quotes: “Those who can – do. Those who can’t – teach. Those who can’t teach – become critics.”

What would be the most inspiring/comforting thing you could be told right now: “If you won’t write this story, then I will.”

What am I looking for: Someone to share my story with.

Pep Talk:

Hey you! You sitting in that chair looking all self-pitying. I know what ‘cha thinking. You got this story in ‘yer head that ‘cha know is the best idea you eva’ had and you’re just waiting it out until you understand the sucker.

Well how long you gonna wait, fool? Once you know what ‘cha story’s gonna do, why would you write it? It’ll be boring man. Like driving down a highway wich ‘er elder sister who don’t let ‘cha turn off the road and frolic in the sissy flowers. Stories aren’t written on brain stems, fool! Stories are written on paper! Now get those words ‘offa your brain and onta that E-lectronic device.

Get it done man! Before I come and <use your imagination here>!

****

Well, I don’t know about you but I’m certainly feeling motivated. I either want to write or run away and hide. I’m not sure which yet.

I want to say thank you to everyone who participated, and a special thank you to Tristan for letting me post his pep talk.

Now, what do you wish someone would say to you? Why not try writing yourself a pep talk in the comments?


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Things I’ve Learned from 3 Months on Holiday

Suitcases at a bus stop

We didn’t have quite this many bags, but it felt like it at times! (Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

If you’ve been thinking that the blog has been a bit quiet over the past couple of months, you’d be right. I’ve been basking in the sunshine of the UK (no, seriously, we did have sunshine).

As with everything in a writer’s life, there’s plenty to learn from each new experience. My trip to England hasn’t been any different. Here are a few of the things I learned during the months of July, August and September.

Let Yourself Rest

By the time I landed in the UK, I was completely wrecked. I’ve had an emotional year dealing with illness and other situations. Add to that the stress of travel and you can imagine the state I was in by the time I reached our destination.

For the first couple of weeks I felt like a shell of myself. I’d overdosed on television during the flight (I won’t tell you how many movies I watched but the combined length of the flights was 17 hours) so I didn’t want to watch anything, listen to anything, read anything or write anything.

Rather than panicking that there was something wrong with me (the way I’ve done in the past) I just let myself rest. I stared at my parents-in-law’s garden, went for very gentle walks in the nearby fields and generally bludged around. I forgot the idea that I could actually be productive during my visit. I just let myself be.

It was the best thing I could have done. Slowly, imperceptibly, my Creativity awoke from her stupor and gradually returned to form. A little patience and some self-love brought me back to reality when I was ready.

Reading Really Does Restore

Some British friends of mine leant me a few books, so I was able to spend time with my favourite writers – P.G. Wodehouse and Gerald Durrell. I was also introduced to new writers through the book Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down which started life as a blog.

Through the pages of these writers, I once again fell in love with the written word. Their writing filled me with words, turns of phrase, characters, details and general literariness (the spell checker approves of that last word, what a shock!). It reminded me why I love writing and inspired me to return pen to paper.

I think we all go through spells when our Creativity becomes parched and we get to the point where we don’t love writing like we used to. During those times it’s so important to actively refresh yourself with books and other creative things that refill the well.

With that in mind, I came up with the Creative Cleanse. Those who were subscribed to the Creativity’s Workshop mailing list would have read through it during the month of September. If you participated in it and enjoyed the experience, please let me know.

Writers are Strange People

My parents have become accustomed to the strange ways of writers because both their children are writers. They’re used to our sudden dashes to the page when we’ve thought of something we need to write down. They’re used to our ‘what if?’ brainstorming sessions where we discuss anything from microscopic life to conquering the universe. They’re used to us disappearing for hours on end while we craft something new from a blank page.

However, my husband’s parents have never lived with a writer.

It is not until you see your life through another person’s eyes that you realise how different your habits are from the ‘norm.’ Of course, there’s no such thing as ‘normal,’ but it was interesting to see how a writer’s habits appear to others.

For example, if you are a person whose book collection fits in a drawer, you may wonder why your daughter-in-law needs 7 notebooks, a Kindle and several novels for a three month stay. Almost one third of my luggage was made up of books. How many other people travel like that?

Sudden disappearances for an hour or more scribbling in a notebook can seem concerning, especially when you realise that the person scribbling is recording what’s happening in their life while in your home. Naturally, with no previous experience in the matter, you begin to ask yourself what they could possibly by writing about.

I found I had to be very open about what I was doing, even reading excerpts from my journal, so that my hosts understood that my times of solitude were due to literary needs rather than emotional sulks.

It’s not until you travel and meet different people that you realise how many things you take for granted about your everyday habits and expectations. That realisation should always influence our characters and the worlds we build in our stories.

Those are just a few of the things I discovered during my recent trip away. There are a few more special things I experienced during the past couple of months that you’ll hear about in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, what about you? What things have you learned about yourself and your Creativity in the past three months? Comment below and let me know how you’re going.


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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.