Tag Archives: Creativity

Let’s Play A Game

Copying and sharing yesterday’s post from my home blog because I had the Grandest Idea to Inspire people to get writing. There are a few changes…

Dear Writers,

It has come to my Attention that there is a disturbing lack of Creativity within Contemporary Society as a whole. There is a sore need for Sparks of Imagination, especially for the young, those Dreamers of Dreams, Painters of Artful Things, Writers of Inspiring Works, and Creators of All Things Especially Wonderful. This is a sad State of Affairs, and I feel that something must be done.

Therefore, I have put on my Thinking Cap and have had the Most Wonderful of Ideas. I want to play a Game-one most Fun and Creative and Imaginative. I call it The Game of Wonderful, Sparkly Fun. The Objective: to bring to Life worlds most fantastic by writing stories.

The Rules (for there must be some Boundaries, or else Things That Might Not Need To Be Known happen, and that’s just Bad Manners):

1. You must address your story to someone as if you were writing a letter. The story does not need to be a letter but IS the letter, e.g. “My Dearest Lizzi, You will be astonished at what occurred to me today….I have discovered a plot against the Queen. Vickie is just beside herself in indignation at how anyone could possibly want to dethrone her.”

2. There are NO Rules as to subject matter. This is to Spark Imagination and Be Fun. Your Mind is your Limit. Whatever Thinks you can Dream, no matter the impossibility/improbability, are Encouraged.

3. Wanting to add/extend someone else’s story is not only Encouraged but Excitably Supported.

4. Good Taste must be applied as there are Things That Might Not Need To Be Known and Eyes that do not need to read/see Things That Might Not Need To Be Known.

5. Good Times must be had by all and sundry. Laughing is Wanted. So are Smiles, Hugs, and lots of Happy Faces.

Any and all are invited to Participate and will only add more to the Fun. Please feel free to send Invitations to play The Game of Wonderful, Sparkly Fun (to be known as The GWSF hereafter).

All “Letters” must be posted to your Blog and should be Shared Among All Things Social.

My dear Friends Through the Wires, I appeal to your Good Sense of Fun and your Sparkling and Glittering Nature to help Encourage this Endeavor of Magnificence.

I await your reply in Anticipation, and remain your Most Sincere Friend,

Jesi, M’Lady Poet,

Queen of The Light Fantastic (and Lovely Words)

 

Post Scriptum: Come join us on Facebook and post your “letters” there!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/thegwsf/

The Magic of Creativity

“I have seen landscapes… which under a particular light, made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge. Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants, and only giants will do.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 

I found this quote in an article I was reading about the creative force and I loved that last line in the quote. It reminded me of my youth when my family lived in the country. I would walk to the very back of our property and sit on a big wooden table with a spiral notebook and a pen and I would write. There was something very peaceful about it, and very inspirational.

The land that backed our property had a small pond surrounded by some wooded areas and hills. It was lovely. I don’t know how many times I wished I’d dared to climb over the fence and walk under the trees and to the pond. Of course, I didn’t. That was trespassing and would have been wrong, and if I’d been caught, my mother would have tanned my backside. But that pond and those trees were like a foreign land to me, and I often found myself daydreaming about magical places and wishing I could visit them.

One time I woke up in the dead of the night because something woke me. I didn’t know why but I was drawn to my bedroom window where I saw the largest full moon I’d ever seen. It was winter and the grass was all brown. I looked towards the back of our property and something pale caught my peripheral vision. I turned and looked to the left of the window and saw movement. It was fast. As the blur got closer, it slowed, and I saw a pack of what I at first thought was a pack of coyotes until the pack got close to the electric fence that separated our house from the back of the property. The leader stopped and sat down and I saw my first wild wolf. He was gorgeous. He sat for a while. I don’t know if he knew I was there or not. The pack joined him and then, as if called by something or someone, he turned and loped away, the pack following. There were at least six total. I have never forgotten the magic of that night.

There is something so visceral about Nature that it requires one to create something magical. I became a mermaid on my very first visit to a beach with crystal blue waters so clear you could see to the bottom. I spent as much time as I could in the ocean and if I hadn’t had to eat or use the necessary facilities, I would never have left the water. To this day I still feel as if I left a part of my soul in the ocean there at Playa del Carmen, and that trip inspired several poems.

What is it that sparks the magical/divine force of creativity within us? What gives us the inspiration to create something from nothing? We are magicians, sorcerers, gods. To crib Shakespeare, we have witchcraft in our lips, or rather, in our imaginations. We give birth to whole worlds complete with people, animals, nature, and everything that goes with it. How do we do it?

Creativity is a necessary tool for writers. If you’ve ever watched children at play then you’ve seen creativity at full force. I totally wish I could access my childhood imagination because it was awesome. I was only limited to the boundaries of what I could dream, and I dreamed a lot. I still dream, but most of the time now I find myself chained to day-to-day activities that want to prevent me from dreaming and using my imagination. Though, lately, I am discovering that certain tasks lend themselves well to daydreaming. Repetitive tasks, where the mind just goes blank at the redundancy, have brought to mind new ideas for me to use. Rocking my youngest son to sleep gave me new scenes for the book I’ve been trying to write, and I’ve even found some new stories in actual dreams when I sleep.

We’re all inspired by different stimuli. And whether we invent fairies and giants or rock monsters or the apocalypse, creativity is the force that drives us. Find something that inspires your creative force and let it rage within you.

For creativity compels magic, and only magic will do.

 

Jesi

What sense does that make?

Touch it. Feel it. Taste it. Smell it. Hear it.

Memorial Day weekend my husband and I took our kids fishing. This had been a planned trip since spring break but here of late, Texas has experienced a lot of rain. I am talking 20-30 feet of overflow in some of our lakes. Now in case you didn’t know, when a lake is flooded to a certain point, it becomes a hazard and is closed down which makes fishing impossible. My kids find this confusing because the past two summers, some of our lakes have been dried up to the point that fishing was impossible.

We planned a weekend trip to a lake town about two hours southwest from where we live. It was a rainy weekend (as most have been lately) and we weren’t a hundred percent positive that we were going to actually get to fish with the severe storms in the forecast. With our gear packed up, we headed out of town anyway because this was going to be a dual trip where we were getting to visit with my dad too.

Being such a big lake town, one would be surprised at how very few good fishing holes are accessible to the public due to the lake homes, boat docks and hotels/restaurants. After driven two hours from home, we had to drive out of the main town a good forty minutes further.

Now forty minutes outside of town lead us to a whole lot of nothing. Imagine a beautiful country side, with rolling meadows, lush greenery from all of this rain… yeah this isn’t one of those scenes. It was as if the rain had missed this area and life had almost dried up.

We stopped at the only bait shop, and it was generally the same as any other bait shop that I have ever been in – dark, dank, a bit (a lot) grungy and a hint of fishiness in the air. It was outside that really had my senses rolling: what I saw, what I smelled, what I heard (there wasn’t going to be any touching or tasting). All of this started tumbling around in my head, forming an opening scene. To what I didn’t know.

It stayed with me and I kept chewing on that first sentence, over and over, repeating it in my head, afraid that I was going to lose it. Finally, a few days later it was still with me and I had to get it out, it was just taking up too much space. Five minutes later I had 175 words written and I felt relief.

Part of being a writer is using our imaginations, knitting a world all of our own making that comes from deep within us. However, the key word here is part.

Part of writing is our imaginations. Another big part is our senses.

Sure we have knitted that story together, but how does it sound as you find your way through the passages? What can you see when you enter the pages? Do you smell something within the words? Can you hear the feelings of the dialogue? Will you taste what the protagonist’s tastes?

It is our job as the writer to build a world that the reader can feel like they are walking along with us as the story unfolds. It is fun, it is exciting, it is painful, it is hard; but we love it.

Here is what my fishing trip gave me… (Please remember that it is unedited and extremely rough.)

My Mother’s Daughter

The smell of poor smacked me in the face, much like my mother liked to do when this was my hometown.

Rotting wood structures stood as gravestones, dotting along the broken road. Each one a reminder of a life time once lived. I rolled up the windows in my car, even though I preferred the fresh air and the weather was perfect for it, the stench of wild animal piss and shit made my eyes water.

I pulled up and scanned the place, not much had changed of my childhood home. Her car sat, where I saw it last, in what used to be a make shift dirt driveway. Now, waist high weeds and grass snaked its way up the flattened tires and through rusted out holes in the bumper.

The question was fleeting, “How does she get to the grocery store?”, before I reminded myself that I didn’t care. She could starve. I was here for one reason.

To get the girl, my mom’s most recent addition to our family tree.

I am not sure if I will make anything of it, but I enjoyed the quick trip my senses took me.

What scene can you come up with by using just one of your senses? Pick one and give it a go, let me know in the comments. 

senses

Till next time,

~AJP

Seeking A Little Less Noise

 

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I think most of us can agree there are a million things going on in our world to keep us distracted from our writing.  Some are concrete distractions, like our family, our work, or our health. Some are less concrete but certainly no less distracting. I’ve seen variations of the joke above all over and find it to be quite true. Whether distracted by research we might be doing, by news and op-eds, by social media like Twitter and Facebook or by anything else in the expansive network of online time-sucks, sometimes we just need to disconnect.

Shortly after the release of the Avengers-Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon, the movie’s writer/director, deleted his Twitter account. Immediately after, the Twitterverse exploded. Why did he leave? Was it from some of the vitriolic responses to the movie? Was it the negative response to a tweet he sent about the Jurassic World trailer? Was it feminist backlash about the Black Widow character? I, of course, knew it must have been my post here last week about Black Widow. 😉 Hey, Joss, no hard feelings okay?  🙂

I really liked Joss’s response to his exit from Twitter. He essentially said if he was going to get writing done, he needed a break from the noise.  I am sure as a celebrity the noise is on a whole different level, but it’s not hard to see how anyone could be impacted by the onslaught of opinion and activity that is found on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately there’s a lot of highly negative energy along with the fun. James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, posted a message on Facebook asking for a little more kindness out there. But whatever the nature of the noise, kind or hurtful, it is still a lot of noise that can distract from our creativity, like writing.

But even if we aren’t spending a lot of time on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, time spent browsing articles or blogs can be noise too. I try to read blogs, both of friends who I follow regularly and other helpful ones I find on Twitter or though other recommendations. While I can find inspiration and direction for my writing in some blogs, I can also just get really distracted from what I ought to be doing instead – like writing my own blog, or focusing my energy on my current work in progress. When I’m creatively stuck, it’s easy enough to play around looking at what other people are writing instead of doing the hard work of just pushing on through with my own.

Confession time – one of the biggest things that keeps me from unplugging is the convenience and accessibility of my ever present iPhone. I tweet, I blog, I read other blogs, I browse Facebook, I watch videos, I used to play games, I text, I play on the internet and I just generally live on my phone.  My son asked me once if I could go a whole day without my phone. Sadly, no I don’t know that I could. Sometimes though I just have to put the phone down – not just to play with that kid and the other kiddos, but so I can get rid of the distraction. I don’t need the Twitter/Facebook/Wordpress notifications that call to me. I don’t need the instant access to the internet I always have (and love!).

What Twitter and blogs and my phone ultimately have to offer is a lot of noise. I know that I can use a little less noise, especially when trying to open up my creative side.

What about you? What is noise to you? What is most distracting? Or do you need the noise? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments.

Have a great week!

7 Ways To Spark Creativity Today

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Having a rough time getting started on a new project, or continuing on an existing project?  Feeling stuck trying to decide what to blog about?  Searching for your muse and finding her apparently out to lunch?

We all find ourselves stuck from time to time, so it’s always good to keep some ideas on hand to get our creative juices flowing.  Here are seven of my favorite ways to spark creativity or to push myself a little further when I need a push. Books have been written full of such ideas, so it is hardly an exhaustive list, but hopefully one may speak to you.

1) Change Your Perspective

I recently was listening to the radio and that classic Beastie Boys song from my early teenage years, “Fight For Your Right”, was playing.  The big chorus is that you “gotta fight – for your right – to pppppaaaarrttty!!” I can remember being at a middle school dance where everyone was singing along.  I didn’t really party, or fight for my right to party, but it was a bit of a shock for me to realize that I was no longer of the generation to fight for my right to party. I’m the parent my children will one day feel the need to challenge for their freedom. A shift of perspective can be eye-opening!  Are you writing a story told from a teenager’s point of view? Play with the idea of seeing the story for another character, like the parent’s, point of view. Maybe your character is a doctor, think from the perspective of the patient.  You may not use the perspective in your story, but it could add depth to overall effect of the scene.

2) Turn it Upside Down

Sometimes my kids bring home art projects that aren’t always clear what is featured in the picture or what is happening.  More than once I’ve had the picture upside down and didn’t realize it. What if you take the story you are writing and flip it?  Start writing the ending and move backwards. Take the scene and flip it, change it, move it around. If you are writing a poem, play with the form, or take a form and make it new by coming at it from another direction. Who knows where you’ll end up.

3) Make a List

I don’t know about you, but I can seldom go to grocery story without a list because inevitably I will forget the one item I went to the store for in the first place. Why not try making a list to jumpstart your creativity?  Make a list of what you’d like to happen in your scene and write with the list in mind.  Or write a list of words you like that would be cool to work into your story. Write a list of emotions, of colors, of locations, of types of animals, whatever floats your boat. Write a list of boats. Maybe you won’t use any of it, but writing the list may spark an idea or get you moving in a new direction.

4) Take a Break

Once in college I remember writing a paper, a big paper, and being the English major I was, I had put it off until the last possible minute.  (I told myself I worked better on a deadline, but truth be told I was just a procrastinator.) This particular deadline was looming and I was stuck. I remember I finally just had to walk away from it. I didn’t take a long break, because there was a lot to finish, but just taking a short break, leaving the room and taking a moment helped me return with a new energy, and a fresh perspective. Sometimes we need to leave, take a walk, go to the museum, make a cup of tea, sweep the floor, or whatever takes our mind off the place where we got stuck. Maybe what we did in the meantime was stimulating, like the walk or the museum, or maybe it was just white noise, but either way taking a break can get you back on track.

5) Read the News

I haven’t had an actual newspaper in a long time, choosing the virtual news so readily available, but however you get your news, there is a wealth of story ideas all over. Read a personal interest story and spin out that idea into a whole new take on the original story. Check out a celebrity gossip story and base a side character on some ridiculous quality you see. Pay attention to a story about a natural disaster and set your story in that event. The possibilities are endless.

6) Follow Your Senses

I was recently out to dinner and tasted a bite of a fried chicken dish that immediately took me back to my childhood, growing up with my grandmother’s amazing fried chicken. Our five senses hold so many memories and associations. Think of one of those memories or associations wrapped up in one of your senses and then use that as inspiration.  Write a story about the feeling you get thinking of the bright yellow walls that colored your grandmother’s kitchen and always felt so warm. Listen to a song that always brings back memories and use those feelings to color a scene. Is there a smell that is always especially foul to you? Make your villain carry that scent.  Play with all the senses and see where you end up.

7) Look at a Picture

Several years ago, my mom, my sister, my cousin and I met for an informal writer’s group.  We mostly ate brunch and drank coffee and caught up on our lives, but occasionally we would work from a shared writing prompt to each write something to share at our next meeting. One time we took a picture on the wall, gave the couple in the picture a name and we were to write a story about the couple based on the picture.  It was great fun and every time we go back there, it’s fun to think of the stories we wrote about the picture.  You can find the picture on the wall of your favorite coffee shop, in a book, in a museum or on a site like Pinterest, but wherever you find the picture, look for the story living there. What is that girl with the pearl earring thinking?  What would happen after the soldier kissed the girl in Times Square? Sometimes I just take the mood of the picture and use that to influence the mood of my piece.  Pictures can build tons of creative possibilities.

These are just a few of the many ways to spark your creativity. Do you have favorite ways to get your creative juices flowing? Tell us about it in the comments! Did you try one of these?  Tell us about it in the comments, we’d love to hear (or see) the results. 🙂

Have a great – and creative – week!

~CJS