Carol Collett

Life as I know it

Archive for the tag “Creativity”

The Slow Road or Adjusting on the Fly to a More Realistic Goal

So on October 2 I started out on the #FirstDraft60 challenge started by Kaye. You can check it all out on her blog. The planning month went okay-I wasn’t too far behind, really.

But when Kaye and I met for our weekly writing session last Thursday we both admitted that neither of us was comfortable with the November 30 deadline to complete our drafts. This gave rise to an adjusted challenge.

Welcome to #FirstDraft120.

Sigh…big, huge sigh. This, this is doable.

Sunday, Kaye posed some questions for reflection. They made me think. One thought was that my answers might be a little too much for a simple comment on her post. I think these are good questions for any goal adjustment, not only writing. Just tweak the questions to fit the situation.

So here are Kaye’s questions and my answers.

1. How was your writing going before the challenge’s end date was extended?

Honestly, slow. And difficult. Not flowing at all.

2. If you weren’t going to meet the original end-date goal and knew you needed more time, but had that date of November 30 hanging over your head, how did that make you feel?

Stressed and defeated. That simple.

3. Now that we’re taking more time for this challenge, how do you think that will affect your writing-both your writing time (work) and your writing craft (story)?

I think my writing time will be more relaxed which typically leads me to be more productive and creative. Hopefully this will help the story come to life a little more in my mind.

4. What are you looking forward to most about having more time to write? What do you think will be the most challenging about the extended deadline?

I’m looking forward to less stress and more relaxed writing. The pitfall for me will be, as always, procrastination.

Do you have a goal or deadline that you know you’re not going to meet as originally planned? Do you have the luxury of giving yourself more time? How might you tweak these questions to help you explore that option?

Sunday Round Up and Goals for Next Week

Last week was mostly a bust. At least after Wednesday. I did meet my word count goal of 4k words by bedtime Tuesday. I actually had over 5k! I did blog three days. But on the work out front? Big old fail. I did do my back PT exercises one day and about five minutes of a yoga video one day. But I was sick most of the week with a sinus infection.

So, let’s move from the land of unmet goals to the land full of possibility, AKA next week.

  1. I want end Friday with 10k words on my Camp NaNo project.
  2. Thirty minutes of yoga three days during the week.
  3. Walk thirty minutes three days during the week.

No reason I can’t meet those goals.

 

And, speaking of Camp NaNo, we have an awesome local leader who has planned many events for us throughout the month. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to attend one event. This morning she had us to her house for yoga and write. Three of us participated. We spent about forty five minutes doing some very gentle beginner yoga. Many years (a couple of decades actually) ago I practiced yoga on a daily basis. I realized today how much I miss it.

After yoga we did a thirty minute word sprint. So awesome to write with friends. Great fellowship.

 

Returns

Hi 2014. Welcome to the world. I’m glad to see you, but I’ve got some super important and high expectations from you. Just so we can get off on the right foot together I’ll share some of them with you.

To be clear, 2014, you’re my year of returns. Here’s what that means to me. During our time together I’ll be returning to my creative roots.

I’ll be returing to the basics of my faith as a follower of Jesus-not church doctrine-but the gritty mess of what it means to walk in Jesus’ footprints.

You still with me, 2014?

I’m also returning to simplicity, to a lack of extravagance, to the absence of drama.

I’m returning to seeking honest and real friendships by being an honest and real friend to those in my life who can return that to me.

Have I scared you off yet, 2014? No? Good.

Now, lets get moving. We’ve got a whole lot of returns to make.

Writing Prompts

Do you use writing prompts? I love them for creative exercise. Here’s a fun one I copied directly from Poets & Writer’s email newsletter:

Choose three people who you know well and write a detailed character description of each one. Now change the gender, name, and a few physical traits of each one. Begin a story with all three characters standing in the rain outside of a house on fire.

If you use writing prompts, where do yours come from?

Ahhh…A Clean Desk

I spent the better part of two hours going through the clutter hiding the top of my desk. Wow! What a difference just a tiny bit of organization makes in  my outlook. I can now work in that space.

I also cleaned and organized my computer desk.

Looking at my nice, organized writing space makes me feel like…well…writing. Woo! Hoo! Love opening the curtain behind my computer desk so I can see the evergreens behind the house. Something about that view feeds my creativity.

You probably noticed I didn’t show pictures of the rest of the room. That’s because the clutter I moved from my desk had to go somewhere. Cleaning and organizing project for later this month-buy some bookshelves and de-clutter and re-organize the rest of my office.

What does your writing/creative space look like? Is it organized in a way that inspires you to work? Or at least doesn’t hinder? What about your space feeds your creativity?

Contemplations of Purpose

In Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle writes:

To serve should be a privilege, and it is to our shame that we tend to think of it as a burden, something to do if you’re not fit for anything better or higher.

Later in the same chapter:

When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist.

When I think about a muse or my creativity or whatever you want to call that within each of us, I wonder about why it is that humans are drive to art of one form or another. I’ve read several different theories from several different people, but I won’t review all of those here. After thinking about it for many years, I realize for me it’s in response to how I experience my life.

A friend and I talked at lunch a couple of weeks ago about the content guidelines for some Christian publishing houses. I told my friend that I didn’t strive to teach some universal truth, I just wanted to entertain with my writing.

I realize this is not the whole truth. Of course, I want to entertain, but I want something more. I want to touch something deep and human within a reader. I want to connect with another human being who will respond to my stories whether it’s with “Yeah, she gets it.” or with “She’s an idiot and has no clue.”

I want to be able to do as Ms. L’Engle says and serve the work.

Manipulating My Muse

In the introduction of MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, Carolyn See advises “a discipline of a thousand words a day, five days a week.” What does she mean “discipline?” Isn’t writing all creative and ethereal?

In the early days of my dream of a writing career I developed the idea that writing, like all art, must be mystical, dreamy, maybe magical even. I would think about characters and what their lives were like. I would jot down notes in the ever present idea notebook. But I never wrote stories. I wrote scenes and snippets. I wrote two or three sentences of plot points I wanted to incorporate. But I still didn’t write stories.

My problem? I sat around waiting for my muse, whatever that was. I thought the story would just flow out of my fingers onto the page and I would bask in its perfection. I wasn’t as egotistical as it sounds, I just thought my muse was something outside of me that I had to wait on to take over my characters and plot ideas in order to create the story.

I was wrong.

I’ve learned I can manipulate my muse. Gasp…my muse is a tool within me that I can control. Sacrilege!

One quite effective way I can manipulate my muse is to change up the time of day I write. My day job is long and stressful. I tried to write at night after work, but I was always so tired I couldn’t even think. After reading a blog post by Mike Snyder on The Master’s Artist about how he decided to get up early to write, I followed his lead.

Getting up early for me means 3:30, an absolutely unholy time of the morning, but since I have to leave for work at 6:00, that’s how it has to be. The big surprise is that I can write longer and more easily in the early morning.

How do you manipulate your muse to work for you? How do you jumpstart your creativity when your writing stalls?

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