In my 20s I was busy working and raising a family. I had no time for anything else, much less any creative endeavors. But one day I realized that part of me was missing—my creative self. I knew I needed to do something to fulfill that emptiness within but I didn’t know how to start.
Literally, the next day I was browsing in a book store and a book fell off the shelf and landed on my foot! Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK became my inspiration for designing my creative life. I don’t think I even finished the book, but I read enough to make a list of creative projects I wanted to pursue. I chose one—writing—and thus began my creative journey.
What I’ve learned over the years is that creativity begets creativity. Practicing creativity in any form exercises and strengths our creative muscles. Think of your imagination as a muscle for a moment.
When I had ankle surgery and couldn’t walk on my right leg for three months, I was amazed at how quickly I lost muscle tone. When I measured my calf muscles in both legs, my right leg was one inch smaller! Your imagination is like this—if you don’t use it, you lose it. And when you do exercise it, you gain momentum over time. Read more
I had a writing date with a friend today who is a poet and playwright. As we set up our computers and writing space at the local coffee shop, she shared with me that she sometimes plays mahjong on her computer while working out a problem.
I said, “Huh?” I couldn’t imagine have a game open on my computer while trying to write. But she explained that when she has a problem she needs to work out in her mind, the clicking sounds of the mahjong tiles soothe her. I guess they create a kind of white noise.
So I tried it tonight. I download a free majhong game from http://ivorymahjongg.com and played it while thinking about the next scene in my book. What I discovered, besides the fact that mahjong is totally addicting, is that it did free me up to think about my plot. It felt as if I was keeping my conscious mind busy so my subconscious could get to work.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back from our writing to see where we want to go next. I often take breaks when I need to think about something—I wash the dishes, brush the cats, go for a walk, or even do some gardening.
Now, I’ve found another way to take a short mental break without leaving my chair.
What tricks do you use to access your subconscious writing mind?
How do you know when your novel, short story, or poem is finished?
I tend to work on a poem over a series of days or months. I’ll come back to a poem in progress days or weeks later and see a word or phrase that didn’t work because I was too close to it the first time I wrote it.
I listen as I read the lines to myself aloud to decide if something doesn’t sound right. If something doesn’t ring true or feels awkward, or if the poem just doesn’t feel complete or whole, I know I’m not done. Read more
Instead of fearing imperfection in your work, embrace it. Sometimes we have to get it wrong so we can get it right. I prefer to call it experimentation.
The discipline of any creative pursuit — writing, painting, photography — requires constant trial and error. In fact “errors” are precursors to original ideas. They reveal new directions, the unexpected, a twist.
Even athletes know this. Marathon runner Ryan Hall could have been speaking about writing when he was quoted in a New York Times article about his quest for an Olympic gold medal: Read more
As someone who is fascinated by the subject of creativity, I’m always looking for other perspectives. Here are a few articles I read this week on the subject.
Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in or that you’re, “a little weird?” Then you may be interested in this article, Being sensitive, moody and strange may be signs you’re a creative by Susan Biali, M.D. You’ll also see how important it is to follow your creative inclinations.
If you’d like to increase your creative production, check out Seven steps to take now to increase your creative output by Amy Neumann and Eliza Wing.
And in case you missed my post on Monday, you’ll find another idea for enhancing your creativity with the “What if?” exercise.
I’m going all MacGuyver on you today to tell you about a writer’s tool that you may want when you’re in a situation where you can’t carry a handbag or have limited pocket space. Or maybe you’re floating down the Amazon River or on a camp out with no electricity for charging small electronics.
It’s the Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid). I learned about it from the 43 Folders website and have made Hipster PDAs for students in my writing classes.
Advantages of the Hipster PDA:
- No battery required.
- Slim size makes it great for when you’re traveling light.
- Easy and inexpensive to make. Read more