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Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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Releasing the Creative Cleanse E-mail Course for Writers

Creative Cleanse for Writers

All month we’ve been talking about what to do when you’re not able to write. We discussed what you should do if you’re faced with a non-writing day, but we also looked into the causes of those stretches when we don’t want to write for weeks or even months at a time.

Too often, the reason why those non-writing days stretch into weeks and months (and maybe even years) has to do with mental, emotional and creative exhaustion.

I’ve faced periods of creative exhaustion myself and I’ve found the best way to get myself out of the creative slump is to follow the five step Creative Cleanse.

Over five weeks, the Creative Cleanse:

  • Provides your Creativity space to rest.
  • Cultivates a trust between you and your Creativity.
  • Fills your creative well.
  • Instils good writing habits.
  • Encourages you to get back into your latest writing project.
  • Helps you learn (or relearn) what makes your Creativity tick.

I know the Creative Cleanse has been effective for me and I’ve spent months considering the best way to share it with you. Finally the big day has arrived.

I’ve turned the Creative Cleans into an e-mail course (no longer available as of 2016) you can take whenever you’re feeling the symptoms of creative exhaustion!

What’s Involved in the Creative Cleanse?

At the beginning of each week of the Creative Cleanse e-mail course you will receive an e-mail with instructions for the creative activity you will be focusing on during that week.

The schedule for the five weeks is as follows:

  • Week 1 – Actively Do Nothing
  • Week 2 – Restorative Reading
  • Week 3 – Freewriting (using the Creative Cleanse writing prompts)
  • Week 4 – Choose a Project
  • Week 5 – Record Your Observations (using the Creative Cleanse Worksheet)

The Creative Cleanse PDF Cover

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.

At the end of your course, you will receive a PDF copy of the Creative Cleanse so you can return to the Creative Cleanse program whenever you wish.

 

 

(We regret this course is no longer available as of 2016)


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 3)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read Part 1 of this chapter here, and Part 2 of this chapter here.

Writing Feeds Your Life

While your life feeds your writing, it can also be said that writing feeds your life – it gives back to you in so many ways.

For example, it can give you:

  • A feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
  • A creative outlet for the inspirations and frustrations of your life.
  • An imaginative (and often compassionate) perspective on the events you witness.

Many writers find themselves feeling happier and healthier when they’re able to maintain a regular writing schedule. It nourishes their creative side, even giving them extra energy and motivation.

You may experience similar benefits when you write, but you may not have realised the connection until now.

So take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

  • When I’m writing regularly, how do I feel for the rest of the day?
  • Conversely, when I’m not able to write for a few days, how does that affect my mood and motivation?

The answers may surprise you.

Knowing that you’re a writer, and that you’ll therefore need writing fodder, can also influence the life decisions you make.

Here’s an example.

Choosing the Adventurous Path

No matter whether you’re a world traveler or so ill you’re confined to bed, a writer chooses adventure.

What do I mean?

A writer is someone who is curious – who wants to make sense of the world with their words. They are always searching for a way to take what they experience and transfer it onto the page.

They look for answers to questions that have never been asked. They find information and interpret it in fresh and interesting ways.

They explore new places, whether those places are actual locations or simply recesses of the mind.

They are constantly on the lookout for something to capture their attention.

This drive encourages them to ask questions like ‘what if?’ and ‘why?’ in the hope of discovery.

This curiosity and adventurous spirit leads them on many journeys – some of which only a writer could travel.

Taking the Writer’s Journey

Making writing a part of your life changes the way you view your role as a writer.

The term ‘writer’ is no longer something you need to achieve or earn, be it with a published work or a five star review. Rather, it comes to describe an element of you as a person, in the same way as terms like ‘daughter,’ ‘optimist,’ or ‘mango-lover’ may describe you.

The act of writing initiates a journey that you will continue for the rest of your life. There is no fixed destination, simply the wonderful sights and surprises you will pass in your travels as you investigate each fork in the road.

Understanding the Possibilities of a Writer’s Life

As you can see, the life of a writer does not just involve sitting down to a page and writing. It infuses every part of your life with a curiosity and depth of understanding.

We’ve covered a lot in this chapter, and plenty of it is theory. If you only walk away with one point, let it be this:

Writing does not need to be a chore. It can, and should, be a joy.

Too often we are exposed to the clichéd idea of what a writer should be. It sounds something like this:

Writers are recluses, socially inept introverts (who can even turn into hermits if they are not monitored).

They ponder things deeply, making them boring party companions and even worse spouses. They earn little and spend most of their time battling with writer’s block. They drink unhealthy amounts of coffee and while away their afternoons on park benches.

When things go badly, they become melancholic, turn to alcohol and eventually end up mentally unbalanced or contemplating suicide.

But as we have seen in this chapter, the realities of a writer’s life should be far different. You may feel something like the following description is a better fit:

A writer is a person who embraces life – who seeks to experience it in all its colours, complexities and inconsistencies in order to capture it on paper. They absorb information through all their senses, and constantly search for fresh sources of inspiration.

They make wonderful party companions because they seek to understand other people’s points of view. They enrich the lives of those they are close to by earning people’s friendship and respect. They spend most of their time jotting down ideas and words – after which they reward themselves with chocolate and walks in the park.

When things go badly, they find fresh perspectives and turn negatives into positives. They are hardy people, who make the world a better place with their words.

Doesn’t that sound like a happy and healthy person?

The writing life should be enjoyed, not endured. You do not need to suffer for your art. You can delight in your life and allow your writing to take you to mysterious, incredible and inspiring locations – whether they be real or simply in your imagination.

Now, let’s continue working together to help you find joy in your writing.
*****

Add your comment below. How does writing feed your life? How would you describe your writing life?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat.

Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion.

Thanks for dropping by.

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When Non-Writing Days Proliferate

Girl sleeping - she's definitely having a non-writing day...

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

This month we’ve been talking about non-writing days – those days when you just don’t want to sit down to the page.

All of us have days like that. As Creativity mentioned in her post last week, there’s no need to panic if you’re having one. There are plenty of other things you and your Creativity can do for that day.

A little rest and relaxation often does you and your Creativity wonders, leaving you refreshed and ready to get back to writing tomorrow.

But what happens when those non-writing days start to proliferate? What about when you’re having non-writing weeks? Or non-writing months?

When that starts happening, you know the situation is becoming more serious.

There could be several reasons why you and your Creativity aren’t interested in writing. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

Fear

The most likely reason is something has spooked you. For some reason you’re worried about sitting down and writing.

Perhaps your mind is spinning those ol’ thoughts about how your writing isn’t good enough and how you don’t have anything worth writing about.

How can you tell if fear is the cause of your problem?

Warning Signs

  • You wake up feeling great, but the very idea of writing suddenly makes you feel ill or tired.
  • You try writing, but you feel really tired. When you get up from your desk and do something else, you suddenly feel fine again.
  • You try writing, but your stomach is rumbling. You feel like you’ve just got to eat even though it’s only half an hour since your last meal.
  • As you try to write, you hear the voice of your Inner Critic picking holes in your words.
  • You find yourself editing your words as you write them.

If that’s sounding at all familiar, then your problem is likely fear of the page.

What Should You Do?

You’ll need to work through your fears, firstly identifying them and then deciding how you’re going to overcome them.

There are more details on how you can go about doing that in Creativity’s post Creative Action: Freewrite About Your Fears.

Physical Exhaustion

Another cause of writing problems is physical exhaustion. This often happens because we put our writing time low on our list of priorities and can only get around to the page at the very end of our day.

You’re never at your best when you’re physically tired, so your writing will naturally suffer.

Warning Signs

  • You feel tired before you start writing.
  • You feel tired while you’re writing.
  • You feel tired when you get up from your writing.
  • You fall asleep while you’re writing.

What Should You Do?

You need some rest. Go to bed early or have a nap. There’s no point pushing yourself.

Try scheduling your writing earlier in the day when you’re feeling fresher.

Mental Exhaustion

Creative acts, like writing, require brain space. If your brain is already crammed full of thoughts from your day, or your brain fuel has already been spent on other activities, then writing will be a chore.

Writing is not something you can usually do on autopilot. It requires concentration and emotional investment. If you’re not able to give that, then your writing will show it.

Warning Signs

  • You find yourself writing To Do Lists rather than your novel.
  • You can’t remember your main character’s name, defining physical features or personality quirks.
  • When you sit down to write, you feel like it’s the first time you’ve stopped all day.

What Should You Do?

Make sure you’re not using your writing time as your sole down time. Find times in your schedule where you can pause from your busy life to walk in the park, read a book or have a good soak in the tub. (If you’re looking for more suggestions, try the e-book Tips for Those Contemplating Insanity.)

Mental exhaustion should not be ignored as it can eventually lead to other problems (such as prolonged fatigue and breakdowns). Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and giving your mind as well as your body regular opportunities to rest.

Creative Exhaustion

Creativities also need their down time. Without regular refilling of the creative well, your Creativity may find her/himself winding down – perhaps even too tired or stressed to continue producing the ideas and inspiration you’re relying on.

Warning Signs

  • Ideas do not flow regularly and freely.
  • Ideas become clichéd and lose their variety.
  • You don’t receive sudden, random sparks of inspiration at awkward times (in the shower, just before bed).

What Should You Do?

Your Creativity needs some attention – perhaps even a holiday. Take the pressure off. You may even have to remove some deadlines.

Find yourself some creatively refreshing activities, like reading or traveling, to rejuvenate your Creativity and refill your creative well.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Creativity

As you can see, if you’re suffering from a proliferation of non-writing days, don’t ignore them. Don’t keep pushing.

Take a little time to look for the cause and then start making some changes.

If you’re having trouble with mental or creative exhaustion, then you’ll love the announcement I’ll be making next week. Stay tuned!

What about you? Have you experienced any of the above symptoms in your writing life?


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 2)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday. You can read the first part of this chapter here.

Life Feeds Your Writing

Some people like to keep their writing and their everyday life separate. Work, family and other responsibilities are in a completely different category to the act of writing (which may only be performed in the very early hours of the morning or in the depths of the night).

But living life as a writer means that your life feeds your writing. Once you recognize yourself as a writer and relax into that role, you will find yourself interacting with the world in ways that enhance your writing.

Here are a few examples of how your life can infuse your writing.

Embracing Details

As a writer, the world around you acts as your personal database of details. This includes the:

  • People you meet,
  • Places you visit,
  • Words you encounter,
  • Emotions you experience,
  • Food you taste,
  • Textures you touch,
  • Sounds you hear, and
  • Aromas you smell.

The act of writing is often simply the capturing of a truth and transcribing it onto the page. Every day you encounter the truths in your world – from the words your children mispronounce to the softness of your favourite beach towel. Each of these details is precious and will potentially find its way one day into your writing.

The details you notice will be unique to you. Different writers notice different things. Some focus on place. Others pick up on the nuances of personal interactions. Still others translate the emotions they experience into the food they crave.

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you have to describe everything or notice everything, but an awareness of details brings a richness and depth to your work.

It also enables you to have information ready to hand when you sit down to write. The small details stored away in the back of your mind come to life as you describe the smell of a rose or the crunch of ice in your character’s mouth.

Noticing Themes Around You

Part of the reason words may bubble inside you is because you seek to express your feelings on a subject you are passionate about. Perhaps a particular historical era interests you. Maybe you wish to explain the injustices you’ve seen in the world. Or you might wish to provide a voice to a group of people you feel have been misunderstood.

These writing themes can be found all around us as we interact with the world every day. Just being present as a writer and paying attention to your surroundings can give you the opportunity to discover the words you need to bring that subject to the page.

Some themes you might encounter are:

  • Love
  • Injustice
  • Misunderstandings
  • Human rights
  • Cultural differences
  • Disabilities
  • Politics
  • History
  • War
  • Childhood

The list is as long as you make it. Each of these can drive you to the page in search of a way to express your thoughts and feelings on the matter.

You may be looking for a way to:

  • Make sense of the world.
  • Explain the other side of the story.
  • Envision an alternate history.
  • Motivate people to change.
  • Share your experiences.
  • Provide an escape.

All of these are strong reasons to write – and they will form words within you until you just have to write.

These are just two examples of how your life can feed your writing. You personally may experience many more examples. The point is, by allowing yourself to interact with the world as a writer you open up a vast array of opportunities for words to form within you and begin to bubble.

*****

Tune in next week for more of this chapter.

In the meantime, please add your comment below. How does your life feed your writing?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

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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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De-Stress Your Writing Life – Living Life as a Writer (Part 1)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

So we have our most basic definition of a writer as being ‘a person who writes.’

Is this now the part where we start talking about word counts, grammar rules and plot points?

No.

In fact, did you feel your stomach tighten when I mentioned those three things? Did you start to feel a heaviness come over you?

The writing life often causes stress because, as writers, we feel the need to fill a certain quota of words in order to qualify for the title, or obey specific writing rules, or conform to a pre-set structure.

Doesn’t writing involve at least some of that?” you may ask.

Maybe. But we’re going to ignore that for the moment.

Instead, I want you to focus on the act of being a writer. And I want you to focus on that role without actually writing anything until you want to – until you are drawn to the page. I don’t want you to write a single word until you feel the words within you itching to get out.

Does that sound a little strange?

I have my reasons. Would you like to know what they are?

The Bubbling of Words

Too often we view writing as a chore. Perhaps this happens during our school years where we are forced to meet word counts and create essays on subjects that hold very little interest for us. Writing becomes about the end result rather than the joy of the process.

Yes, the process should be a joy. For many writers, the act of writing is a fulfilling activity they look forward to.

“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.” Sharon O’Brien

As a writer, you too can find the sweet spot within you where words seem to force themselves out through your fingertips, rather than you having to go in search of them.

The sustainable writer is one who has plenty of places her writing could take her – perhaps too many to properly pursue in her lifetime. Words are her constant companions, the means by which she describes and understands her world.

Writing becomes as natural, and as necessary, as breathing. At that point, sitting down to the page and writing is the equivalent of sitting down and taking a few deliberate breaths.

For me, the sensation is one of words bubbling up inside of me until they have to come out. In fact, the thing that finally motivated me to switch from hunt-and-peck typing to touch typing was the drive to find a way for my fingers to keep up with my brain.

So how does this bubbling come about?

The secret is to first understand your mental, emotional and creative needs, and then actively fill those needs.

For me personally, I need the following things:

  • A belief in myself that I am a writer and my words are worthwhile.
  • A belief that my words never have to be perfect, but just have to exist.
  • A regular creative routine which encourages me to turn up to the page every morning.
  • Fascinating facts and people to fill me with writing ideas.

You may find your list is similar, or there may be other elements that specifically apply to your situation.

We will focus on the positive beliefs and creative routine in future chapters. For the moment, let’s look at the last element mentioned – the idea fodder.

*****

Tune in next week for the next instalment of this chapter.

In the meantime, please add your comment below. What are your mental, emotional and creative needs? How do you keep your words joyfully bubbling inside you?

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online


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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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De-Stress Your Writing Life – A Writer is a Person Who Writes (Part 2)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

You Don’t Have to be an Expert in Anything

You might be thinking, but I don’t have special knowledge about anything. Why would anyone want to read what I write?

Let me lay out some interesting thoughts for you:

  • The act of writing is often more about the emotion behind the facts than the facts themselves. Sure, facts are important, but there are always books, websites and people you can consult to learn more about a subject. You don’t need a fancy degree or special training to feel emotions. If you’re human, you’ve got all you need.
  • In reality, very few people (if any) have learned everything there is to know about a subject. An expert is simply someone who knows more about the subject than those around them. Everyone has something they could call themselves an expert in – whether it be horse training, flower arranging or lancing boils. Sometimes the smallest of experiences can technically make you an ‘expert.’
  • Someone with specialized knowledge in one field often has very little knowledge in other areas. A writer, on the other hand, tries to know a little bit about everything. When it comes to information, it’s far better to know a little piece of everything than to know everything about just a little piece.
  • Fresh eyes on a subject can lead to better writing in the long run. An expert can miss the obvious when explaining things to the uninitiated. Someone who has had to learn the ropes from a clean slate often understands how best to explain the subject to those who follow.
  • Good writers are always learning. There is a wealth of information out there at our fingertips. If you need to find out specific facts, there are always avenues you can pursue. So start writing your passion and then research as needed.

What about becoming an expert in writing itself? While there are many qualifications you can get for writing, most writers learn simply by practicing the act of writing. There are plenty of books and blogs on the subject which can provide you further information, and many writers offer coaching or editing services for a fee.

But when it comes right down to it, each manuscript you work through will provide you with more experience, leading you to become an expert in the more important aspect of all – your writing and creative process.

You don’t need qualifications or special knowledge to start stringing words together. Just do it and see what happens.

You Don’t Have to be a Recluse

You do not have to wall yourself off from society or deliberately strand yourself in the middle of the Pacific to get in touch with your inner muse.

While it is true that the writing life can be solitary at times as one beavers away at the latest work in progress, contact with the world at large is encouraged – for your mental health if nothing else.

Many writers work their magic on the page during lunch breaks, kiddies football matches and in those wee hours between dawn and breakfast. They still interact with their family, some hold down day jobs and the majority are addicted to social networks.

It is possible to continue a ‘normal’ life while feeding your love of writing.

You Don’t Have to be a Coffee Addict

Contrary to popular opinion (and classic writing cartoon strips), caffeine addiction is not a writing requirement. I myself am completely uncaffeinated and have been for years.

While I would be the first one to up and move my writing to a café for an afternoon (decaf latté please), these kind of beverages do not a writer make.

Grammar and spelling on the other hand…

Not All Writers are Weird

You do not need some strange personal fashion, hidden family skeleton or verbal tick to be a writer. Yes, writers can be quirky individuals, who stand out from a crowd and attract attention like vegemite attracts fruit flies, but most writers don’t look anything out of the ordinary. Chances are you walked past several on your way to work, sat next on one on the bus and lunched with at least one during your recent family get together.

There isn’t some special dress code or mandatory eccentricity rating you need to pass before being allowed to call yourself a writer. You can stay just the way you are.

So, are you convinced that the ranks of the literary are not that heavily policed? If you want to write, and you write regularly, then you are a writer!

The next question is: What is involved in being a writer?
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What’s holding you back from calling yourself a writer? Leave a comment below and let me know.

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

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You Too? What Do You Do on Non-Writing Days?

A writer taking a break from writing

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Today I’m starting a new series of blog posts, tentatively titled ‘You Too?’ In these posts I’ll pose a question that relates to a common writing problem and leave it to you, the reader, to answer it.

The aim is to get us all talking about how we each overcome the difficulties of a creative writing life. It’s a time to share our tips on how we keep ourselves creatively active.

Today’s question is: What Do You Do on Non-Writing Days?

While a regular writing routine is very important and writing every day is ideal, we all face days when we don’t want to write.

For whatever reason there’s something holding us back. Perhaps it’s fatigue. Perhaps it’s a particularly stressful day.

So the question is, what do you do on those days?

  • Do you throw your hands up in the air, figuring this just isn’t your day and you’ll try again tomorrow?
  • Do you push yourself through, trying to write at least a few words to keep up your rhythm?
  • Do you replace your writing time with a different creative activity? (E.g. painting, drawing, origami?)
  • Do you grab a book and spend your time reading instead?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you do?


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De-Stress Your Writing Life – A Writer is a Person Who Writes (Part 1)

Title artwork for De-Stress Your Writing Life

This year I’m blogging my book De-Stress Your Writing Life. You can read it for free on Creativity’s Workshop every Friday.

I was in my mid-twenties when I made a shocking discovery: Not everyone wanted to be a writer when they grew up.

I thought dreaming of being a writer was as ubiquitous as wanting to be an astronaut or a ballerina. Didn’t everyone fall in love with the first typewriter they ever saw, copy their favourite books into notepads and ‘self-publish’ their work at age 5 with cardboard and sticky tape?

As it turns out, the answer is ‘no.’

Who knew?

With this discovery came a realisation: My childhood dream wasn’t just a childish notion. It was an insight into my true self. And I was in the happy position of being able to fulfil that dream.

How many people can say they accomplished a wish they had from childhood?

If you are reading this, then you have the urge inside you to write. Maybe it appeared early in your life, or maybe it’s just emerging now. The important thing to realise is: This urge is valid and deserves to be nurtured.

If you feel an affinity with the written word, then you have an exciting medium in which to express yourself. In our day and age, writing and have those words read by others is easier than ever.

I Put Words Together, Therefore I am a Writer

Before we go any further, let’s define the term ‘writer.’

The simplest definitions is: a person who writes.

It can’t really be that easy, you say. There’s much more to it. You have to take it seriously and have stuff actually published.

Those are all possible aspects of being a writer, but the term ‘writer’ at its most basic simply means ‘a person who writes,’ the same as a cleaner is a person who cleans, a planner is a person who plans and a drawer is a person who slides horizontally out of a desk or chest of…oh, wait, scratch that last one.

If you feel the need to write words, to express yourself in written form, then you are – at heart – a writer.

But aren’t there more requirements?

Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

You’re Never Too Young to Write

As soon as a person is old enough to start talking, they can start spinning stories.

One of my favourite literary treasures is a small, handmade booklet created by a close friend and her young daughter. My friend transcribed her daughter’s quirky but riveting story onto the pages and then they chose appropriate pictures to include. Yes, from the first sentence you can tell her age (not yet old enough to start school), but that doesn’t mean her words are any less valuable in the reader’s eyes – in fact it adds extra meaning to them.

Some might say that a young person cannot fully understand the world and therefore their writing will fall short of what their older counterparts accomplish. With all due respect, that’s complete hogwash for several reasons.

  • There is no reason why a young person’s voice is any less valid than an older person’s. They see things from a unique perspective. Yes, it may be naïve and perhaps even ill-informed, but it’s a voice that should be captured, if only so that person can look back on their words later in life.
  • A youthful perspective reveals aspects of a subject which may be missed by other writers. At the very least, their perspective may help older readers relate to a younger generation by seeing the world through their words. Young people also have a pure and innocent way of looking at the world which often shows fascinating depths to the subjects they cover.
  • What human has ever been able to fully understand the world? As we grow older, we will better understand certain aspects of life and the areas we live in, but we will never understand everything. If we’ve always lived in the same place, we won’t fully understand what it’s like to live in another country. If we’ve lived in other countries, we’ll never fully understand what it is like to spend our life in one spot. You see how it goes. We are all inexperienced in something, but that hasn’t held other people back. Why should it hold back the young?

Young people should be encouraged to share their stories and their writing voice. The earlier they start, the more opportunity they have to learn.

You’re Never Too Old to Write

If we flip the coin, similar things could be said about older people. An in-depth knowledge of technology is not necessary for writing. Remember the good ol’ paper and pen?

Older people have memories to record and insight to impart. Never sell yourself short by underestimating what you have accomplished in your life. Each lifetime has its own wealth of experience.

Writing also provides an important purpose in life. After retirement, it is common to feel a sense of loss from no longer being tethered to a day job. Starting on a writing project (memoir, novel, a collection of poems) can provide a new and exciting channel for your energies.

What if you’re not in the young category or the older category? If you haven’t got the message yet, let me say it again: There is no age limit to writing. If you’re breathing, you can be writing.

Tune in next week for the second half of this chapter.
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Do you call yourself a writer? What are some myths you’ve heard about the writing life? Leave a comment below and let me know.

*****

Like most writers, I have to be frugal with my funds. So if you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like to read more, I’d be grateful if you could leave a little in the kitty to help keep things afloat. Everyone who donates will receive a free electronic copy of the book once it has reached completion. Thanks for dropping by.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online