Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 Secrets of Creativity You Already Know But Might Have Forgotten

Most writers worth their salt already know everything on this list… but sometimes we need a reminder. I came across this yesterday during a short-lived bout of cleaning. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.

There are cycles of creativity

Just as there are seasons in a year and cycles in preparing, planting, nurturing and harvesting, there are creative cycles. We are not always in the harvesting phase — we do go through the dormant cycles of winter that feel as though nothing is happening. When we honor this, we complete the cycle and move on to the planting and harvesting phases.

This is something I've struggled with lately. I've been in a dormant phrase with my writing for many months now, and can't seem to pull myself out of it. This has been a welcome reminder that at times we must let our creativity lie fallow, and replenish itself for future projects. And that it's OK to do so.

Creativity takes time and silent space

Known to writers as Butt-In-Chair time — staking out regular quiet time. Make an commitment to yourself and your writing, whether it is every day or several times per week. Many writers feel guilty when they take to the time to engage in their work. It may mean letting some things go, not overcommitting, and saying no.

As the saying goes, "I say no to many things, so that I may say yes to what gives me life." We need strong boundaries so that we have energy and time for our creations.

Work from your strengths

"If you were to spend 80% of your effort to become good at a weakness you might improve that area 20%. But if you were to spend that sane 80% of your effort to improve an area of strength, you might improve it 100% or more!" ~ Cheryl Lackie

When we focus inordinate amounts of time and energy on our weaknesses, it can be easy to forget our strengths. But don't lose sight of what you're good at, or why you enjoy writing in the first place.

Fear is a companion of creativity — make friends with fear

Unless you're a thrill-seeker, you will likely experience some degree of fear when you venture out into unfamiliar territory. You can pause, examine it, slow down for a moment. Just don't let it stop you—after all, the only way past fear is by facing it.

Fear is a jolt of energy. put it to work by channelling that energy into your writing. Expect it, redefine it, use it. Just don't let it get the better of you.

Stop criticizing yourself

We can defeat ourselves before we start by constantly feeling we come up short. I know I've found myself thinking like that far more often than I'd like. You can polish your work and improve your skill, but you don't have to label yourself wrong or a failure in order to do so.

When you have to do something perfectly, you will rarely try something new because you can't do new things perfectly on the first try. Do your best, but don't hold onto it something until it's perfect because by that time it could well be outdated.

Adapted from "The Top Ten Secrets of Creatively Successful Women" by Iris Fanning

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Light and Dark

Summer is finally loosening its grip, and fall waits just around the corner. The last of summer's endless heat is always a welcome time in Arizona, and every year autumn is too brief for my tastes. Shorter days, cool nights, clear blue skies and golden yellow aspens… it's the perfect time to be in Arizona.

Light and darkness both have their place in the cycle of the year, in our lives, and in the lives of our characters. Don't get too caught up in one, because each always leads to the other. Both have their time and place. The challenge is to understand and appreciate what each has to offer. Derek Murphy over at CreativIndie has a wonderful article on this theme that's definitely worth a read.

I've been working to get Last Night in Ghosttown ready to debut on Smashwords. No (re)release date just yet, but I'll do my best to get it back on the virtual shelves sometime this month. All of my other projects have been backburnered recently for some soul searching. As all I turned up in the course of my searching were a few existential dust bunnies and an odd sock or two, I suppose I'll just keep on keeping on and continue writing at my own glacial pace.

How do you stay balanced between light and dark? What role do each play in your writing? In your characters' journeys?