“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.”
Dorothy Parker: American poet, author, critic & satirist
At the beginning of the New Year almost universally people’s thoughts turn to the next twelve months that lie ahead, and for most writers that brings a fresh determination to write more and write better. However, there is one hitch as, of course, writing involves far more than just getting words down on a page – otherwise, every dictionary compiler would be topping the bestseller lists. No, there is another ingredient and, unfortunately, it is one that can often prove elusive – that of creativity.
Creativity – the very word is jam-packed with a sense of possibility, of pushing the boundaries and experimenting, the sheer excitement of invention. However, for writers the goal of trying to produce something truly creative can create huge pressure, because what do you do if the spark just isn’t there? It’s the difference between filling in a dating form and arranging to meet up with someone based on how many ticked boxes you have in common, and the electric spark of attraction between two people meeting for the first time. It’s not enough to have all the right ingredients for a love match – there has to be chemistry.
And yet this is just the problem because it is not something you can simply organise to happen. Creativity by its very nature is mercurial. Sometimes it comes easily, sometimes it’s like forcing a camel through the eye of a needle – it just ain’t gonna happen! But do not despair, there are ways that you can sneakily lure creativity to show up.
TIPS TO CAPTURE CREATIVITY
- Go on a creativity break. Take a couple of days to dream and plan at the beginning of the year, jotting down ideas as they come to you. Ideally, go away somewhere, although you can also do this in your own home. Dial down and let inspiration flow.
- Turn off technology. Are you, like me, a bit of an email or text addict? Technology is the enemy of creativity as it clogs your brain with non-urgent stuff, not only using precious time that could have been used for writing, but replacing it with a ‘busy’ mindset that can drive creativity away.
- Work up a sweat. According to Psychology Today magazine, ‘Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind—it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid.’ Research has shown that people who exercise four times a week show improved levels of creativity so get out there and get moving.
- Free-writing. If you’re having trouble getting into the zone, try free-writing for 10 to 20 minutes about anything that comes to mind. Don’t stop to polish what you are writing or to make corrections – it’s just to get your brain into gear, the writing equivalent of the warm-up exercises athletes perform before a big race.
- Let your mind wander. The trick is to engage in an activity that doesn’t demand too much mental engagement so that our thoughts can free-fall – try walking or jogging, gardening, taking a bath/shower or even washing up. Agatha Christie used to munch apples in her bath when mulling over her complex murder plots!
- Ring the changes. If you normally write in the morning, write in the afternoon or evening, try writing longhand instead of typing, take a notebook and write outside or in a café, pair up with a writing buddy for an afternoon…
- Try something new & interesting. It can range from something simple like following a new recipe to going to the theatre or taking a trip abroad. Fresh experiences are another key to kick-starting our creative side.
- Take risks. Play with ideas and see where they lead – have fun with your imagination and who knows what might happen?
Illustration: Light-bulbs ©qimono (pixabay.com)
#Carry on the thriftiness
Ouch, Christmas (& several birthdays) have been and gone and our bank account has taken a significant hit!
#Edit my book, write more short stories & get article commissions
Third People’s Friend story accepted – the writing team apparently really liked the warmth in my writing – yay! – but the book has been at a complete standstill. I feel so disappointed in myself that I constantly put it at the bottom of my priorities – think it’s probably a confidence thing. Two articles accepted & particularly enjoyed writing the second one about a night shelter for homeless women – such an inspirational charity. Now getting very frustrated as I have a great interviewee, but can’t seem to find a suitable magazine for my pitch – too many celebrity features nowadays!
#Do up the bathroom & loos (on a shoestring budget!) Managed to get all the big bathroom items in the sales – some fantastic bargains, but even so I’m worried we’ll be over budget. Finance is so stressful…