Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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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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Need Perspective, Motivation and Encouragement? Check Out These Posts

A motivation sign post. Keep driving this way for writing motivation!

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Over the past month I’ve been getting back into the routine of reading some of my favourite blogs (after months of traveling and what-not), and I really wanted to share the following posts with you. They’ve given me perspective, encouragement and motivation to keep writing. I’m sure they’ll do the same for you.

  • Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Illness by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. After I posted about writing with chronic illness I was very excited to see that Kris Rusch had also covered the topic. She’s got great advice on when to write and when to stop.
  • The Business Rusch: Perfection by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This is a must read for anyone who has been writing for years but hasn’t had the confidence to send their work out into the world. If you’re not already following Rusch’s blog, then get started now. Her experience is unrivalled.
  • Writer, Author or Storyteller by Liz Michalski at Writer Unboxed. The subject of viewing yourself as a ‘storyteller’ rather than a ‘writer’ is one that Kris Rusch also recently covered and I think it’s worth thinking on. I definitely feel more comfortable with the title ‘storyteller’ and it inspires me when I sit down to the page.
  • How to Unlock Your Creativity and Stop Feeling Like a Failure at Positive Writer. I love the Positive Writer blog and could just spend hours reading through all the old posts. It’s the best place for a pick-me-up to feel good about yourself and your writing again. This post reminds us that we all have our personal brand of creativity.
  • 10,000 Words in a Day? Impossible! by Milli Thornton at Charlotte Rains Dixon’s blog. This is a motivating introduction to the 10k Day for Writers event. It shows how accomplishing that kind of word count is possible and invites you to give it a try. After all, how many of our limitations are actually self-imposed?

Those are my favourites from this month. Now what about you?

Have you come across any writing posts this month that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.


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Guest Post: Listening to The Writer Within – Your Inner GPS

A horizon with an interesting cloud formation

Photo by .ash from everystockphoto.com

Right now I’m run off my feet doing last minute things before I fly off to the other side of the world. Therefore my friend and writing coach, Charlotte Rains Dixon, is here today to guest post. I shall leave you in her capable hands.

We writers talk a lot about our Inner Critic.  We do free writes to identify and personify it, and then we create dialogues with our Inner Critic to get it to quit bashing us and start behaving.   I recommend this process to clients all the time, and it can be incredibly helpful in silencing the harsh voices that sometimes keep us from writing.

But I worry that in all this Inner Critic eradicating an important point gets lost—and that is the process of listening to our internal guidance.

It’s been called our inner pilot light, our intuition, a gut reaction, a hunch, discernment, the still small voice within.  I like to call it your Inner GPS.  Because that’s what it is—your inner road map.

It’s also the key to the best writing you’ve ever done.

Remember the time that character walked on and instead of swatting her off the page, you let her talk?  That was your Inner GPS at work.  Or how about when you found yourself pouring your heart out to your journal for an hour?  Yup, your Inner GPS was guiding you.  Have you ever had the experience that a story or essay was channeled, because it was coming through your fingers onto the keyboard so fast?  You guessed it.  That was your Inner GPS.

Your Inner GPS knows what you want to write and how to write it, if only you would listen.  Your Inner GPS never steers you wrong, unlike the ones you buy for your car.  But too often we’re not open to listening to our Inner GPS.  I fear that sometimes we’re so focused on not listening to our Inner Critic that we turn off the flow to our Inner GPS.

How can you turn it back on again?  Here are some tips.

1.  Get Quiet and Listen.  Your Inner GPS is always there to guide your writing (and all areas of your life).  It’s just that most often we don’t bother to listen to it.  As with all forms of listening, remaining quiet is the key.  Sit peacefully for a few minutes before you write and see if anything comes up.  Go for a walk when you get stuck.  Sit beneath a tree and feel the light breeze on your face.

2.  Quit Looking Externally.    We are firmly ensconced in the Information Age.  Oh, are we ever.  Never before in the history of man have we had so much pulling on our attention—the internet, Smart Phones, television, to name a few.   Staunching the constant info flow into your brain will help.  Do you really have to know the latest report on that natural disaster?  Wait a few minutes before reading the news—it’s all pretty much recycled anyway.

3.  Tune Out and Create Spaciousness.   Raise your hand if you don’t have a Smartphone.  Okay, all two of you can ignore this tip.  For the other 25 gazillion, heed me: Look up from your phone!  Put it in your pocket and forget it’s there.  Next time you find yourself waiting in line or eating alone, instead of whipping our your phone to pass the time, leave it where it is and be where you are without its constant stimulation.  Doing this repeatedly over time will open up a spaciousness that will allow your Inner GPS to emerge.

4.  Don’t Worry About What Others Think.  Your Inner GPS tells you to don a red tutu and dance in the backyard?  Do it!  The more you follow your Inner GPS, the more it will speak to you.  And remember, you’re a creative type anyway, so everyone already thinks you’re nuts.

5.  Write.  Write anything and everything: journal entries, novels, short stories, essays, memoirs, blog posts, whatever your Inner GPS instructs you to do.  Putting words on the page on a regular basis is a sure path to accessing your inner guidance!

Follow these five tips and you’ll be writing up a storm with the assistance of your Inner GPS, and it will be the best, most natural writing you’ve ever done.

Charlotte Rains Dixon****

Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of the novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.  She is a writer and writing coach and blogs at www.charlotterainsdixon.com.

****

So what about you? How do you turn your Inner Writer back on?


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Prompted Writing: Will You Help Me?

An elderly lady's cane

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

To celebrate the launch of Punch for Prompt, I’ve set myself a project for the month of March: Create 4 pieces of writing based on Charlotte’s writing prompts.

You’re welcome to join the project and have some writing fun of your own! It’s very simple:

  1. Punch for a writing prompt.
  2. Write.
  3. Polish.
  4. Post.

The prompt I got was ‘Will you help me?

I must confess, I don’t follow Charlotte’s instructions when using writing prompts. Instead of writing straight away, I play. I allow my Creativity to mull over concepts and explore possibilities before I start actually writing.

What thoughts did my Creativity and I have when presented with this prompt?

Usually those who ask for help are helpless – small children, the elderly, displaced mice. But what if we turned that on its head?

That led to this short story.

Will You Help Me?

Grace MacDonald felt the 83-year-old muscles in her back, already protesting the morning walk, grumpily spasm as she spent the energy needed to stand up straight. Her focus changed from the speckled cement footpath below her feet and walking cane to the jeans and checked shirt of the stranger standing in front of her.

“I beg your pardon,” she said, conscious of the squeal from her hearing aid as she pushed it deeper into her ear.

“Will you help me?” said the man.

It had been many years since anyone had asked her such a question. In her school teacher days, students were always asking for help. Then there were her own children asking. Before she knew it, there were grandchildren asking. And then, yes, the last request for her help had been from the lips of her husband. Two days before his heart attack, his weakening fingers getting the better of him, he asked her to help him with the top button of his shirt.

Fifteen years ago had been the last time someone asked her for help. Since then, she’d been the one doing the asking.

“Help you? What with?” Now that she had straightened fully, she could get a better view of him.

He was a large man. ‘Strapping’ they would have called him back in her day. He towered over her, his muscular shoulders twice as wide as her frail frame.

She pulled her knitted blue cardigan tighter across her chest. What on earth could this brute of a man want help with? She glanced behind him. The butcher’s was only 200 metres away. If she called out…

“I’m looking for a street.” He slid a beefy hand into his shirt pocket.

Her heart sank. This area had changed so much over the past twenty years. When her children had gone to school, Ashville was a town in its own right. Now the area was swallowed by urban sprawl. Homes had been demolished and trees cleared to make way for apartment buildings and new roads. Everything was different. She could barely find her way to the corner store and back, let alone give directions.

The paper crackled in his hand as he unfolded it. “Berkshire Rise is the name,” he said.

“Oh.” A relieved smile touched her lips. “You’re very close. It’s two blocks that way.” She gestured up the road behind him.

“Wonderful.” His face softened. “I’m looking for an old house. Number 14. Do you know it?”

She nodded. “A beautiful house it was. Jacaranda trees in the front garden. But it’s not there anymore. Torn down for some new development.”

His big mouth drooped. “No. Really? I’ve come all this way and…” He ran a hand down the side of his face. “I was born in that house. Hoped I could come back and see it one more time.”

A breath caught in her throat with a wheeze. “You’re not one of the Sikes boys, are you?”

“Yes, Billy Sikes. That’s me.”

She laughed. “I remember you. You used to come and play in our backyard with my children. I even have a couple of photos of you in the album.”

“Mrs MacDonald! Of course! You made the best lemon meringue pie I ever tasted. Photos, eh? I’d love to see them.”

“Well, so you shall.”

With that she slowly turned around and walked him back to her home, all the way helping him recall the distant childhood memories he’d hoped to find.

It felt so good to help again.

*****

Now it’s your turn. Punch for Prompt and see what you end up with. It’s great fun!

Next Friday I’ll be posting my next piece. Stay tuned.


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Announcing Punch for Prompt!

A screen capture of the Punch for Prompt page on Charlotte Rains Dixon

What makes a good writing prompt?

Yes, an imagination-sparking phrase or paragraph is essential. But for me the delivery method is just as important.

From my experience, a writing prompt needs to be used as soon as it is first seen, otherwise its effectiveness wears off.

But if your writing prompts are delivered by blog post or by e-mail, chances are they’re not arriving at the time most suitable for you.

That’s where Punch for Prompt comes in! It displays random writing prompts whenever you need at the click of a button!

But how did this all come about?

The History

Several months ago, Charlotte Rains Dixon mentioned she had a backlog of writing prompts and wasn’t sure of the best way to provide them to her writers. Thanks to a sudden moment of clarity while kneading cookie dough (doesn’t it always happen when your hands are wet or slimy or floury?), I realised that the answer to her problem was some fancy coding! We could feed the prompts into the back end, add a big button and each click would display a random prompt.

Of course, it’s rather complicated to build something like that, so I enlisted my brother’s help (he’s the brains, I’m the brawn) and we set to work bringing the idea into reality.

And here we are, months later, finally ready to share it with the world.

How to Use Punch for Prompt

When you’re ready to sit down and start writing, make your way to the Punch for Prompt page on Charlotte Rains Dixon’s site. Punch for Prompt button

Simply click the button and read the prompt that appears.

If you don’t like that prompt, click again for another.

Once you’ve found a prompt you like, click on the Copy to Clipboard button. Open up your word processor, right click on the page and from the menu select Paste. Your prompt should appear on the page and you’re good to go!

It’s really that easy.

If you enjoy using Punch for Prompt, let us know! We can keep you in the loop for any further updates.

Please note: The prompts currently shown in Punch for Prompt are all written by Charlotte Rains Dixon. I’m still working on the list for Creativity’s Workshop and hope to have my own Punch for Prompt page soon.

Stay Tuned for More Punch for Prompt Goodness

Starting next Friday, I’m planning on taking a four week break from my Myths of Innovation posts and doing something a little different. I’ll be taking four prompts from Charlotte’s Punch for Prompt and seeing where they lead me. Short stories, poems, weird characters. Who knows where things will end up. Tune in next week to find out.

*****

P.S. In other news, I’m now on Twitter! @JessBaverstock


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Sharing Posts Which Have Impacted My Life

A couple sitting on a beach, in the sun, letting go of stress

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’m on holiday in Malaysia this week (warming up!) and I’m being very strict with myself. No stress about blogging allowed. So, instead of writing my own post, I’m going to share a list of posts from other people’s blogs which have resonated with me – either by teaching me something important or by continually returning to my mind.

  • Cooking Nights with the Old Folks from The Kitchen’s Garden (Cecilia’s blog) – I adore this heartwarming description of Cecilia’s stint as a night nurse at an old age home. I dare you to read it without having tears in your eyes and a grin across your face by the end of it. (Spoiler: I’ll be posting an interview with Cecilia very soon!)
  • Exit, Pursued By Bear on Maureen Johnson’s blog – Not only is this an hysterical post about quitting your job, I was so excited to see pictures from Arsenic and Old Lace (one of my all-time favourite movies) included. After reading this I don’t feel so self-consious about my penchant for old movies.
  • What to Do With Contradictory Feedback (And 2 Star Reviews) on Jody Hedlund’s blog – I’ve often noticed how a book can get completely contradictory reviews and planned at some point to collect some for show. Now I don’t need to! Jody put together a list of reviews for her latest book which bears this out, making this post a very good reminder for anyone who will receive feedback on their work.
  • Say Hello to Your Critic on Charlotte Rains Dixon’s blog – This post helped give a face to my Inner Critic, and then know what to do with him.
  • Beautiful People Do Not Just Happen on A Beautiful Ripple Effect (Carolyn Rubenstein’s blog) – It starts with a gorgeous quote and then helps us to learn something about ourselves.
  • How Battered Old Paint Pots And Writing Haikus Taught Me To Be More Creative on A Big Creative Yes – Dan Goodwin has a way of perfectly encapsulating creative concepts in word pictures. This is one of my favourites.

Take a moment to click on one of the links above and share your thoughts with the blogger. We all appreciate an extra comment on our writing.


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Interview and a Week Off

In a couple of days I’ll be heading off to Malaysia for a visa exit. I had planned to write about the second chapter of The Myths of Innovation and post it on Friday, but I have so many things left to do before the flight that it’s not going to happen.

However, if you pop over to Charlotte Rains Dixon’s blog you can read the interview she did with me. There are some great photos included.

Next week I’ll put up what I had originally planned for my 100th post. Stay tuned.


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Charlotte’s Friday Mini-Critique

This Friday’s Mini-Critique on Word Strumpet is based on excerpts from my short story Buried Jewels!

Click here to read the critique.

Click here to read the entire short story.

Charlotte writes a free mini-critique every second Friday. Why not give it a go? It’s a great way to learn more about your writing.