Monthly Archives: June 2012

more care

So how do you care and feed your writer?

First, you think about where and what part of you writing comes from. Dorothea Brande, a teacher of creative writing, maintains that a writer has two parts, a creative part/child and a critical part/adult, and that the two should not be mixed, that the intellect will always go for the critical part and eventually shut down the creative. So begin to see the divisions in yourself, the part that is excited about writing something and the part that shuts it down. The part you must feed, you must nurture, is the part that is excited.

You begin to pay attention to it. Is it quiet? Is it happy? Is it busy on a project? Is it grieving because you aren’t letting it work? Do you have a child? Do you have a pet? Do you have a plant? You have to care for each. Treat your creativity the way you would one of those.

The critical part of you will be useful later, in revisions, and in the business of writing, which is selling. But it isn’t useful in the creation, and it is so risk adverse that it will keep you from ever doing anything. For this and far, far more, see Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande.  More on the care and feeding of your writer next week……………

Here are the rules for the care and feeding of a writer that I presented at the Writers’ League of Texas‘s Agent/Editor Conference:

1. Relax

2. Remember fun

3. Lower expectations

4. Set boundaries

5. Be alert to what nurtures

6. Find your discipline style

7. Incorporate the physical



So I’m going to make a small presentation at the Writers League of Texas’s Agents/Editors Conference June 22-24. I told the league I would talk about the care and feeding of writers.

In among discussions of marketing trends, online presence, pitching to an agent for 10 minutes, I want to talk about the care and feeding of creativity,  the delicacy of creativity, which can skitter away when it is commanded to perform.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow says all creativity comes from safety.

I’m going to try to remind writers to nurture their creativity, which is at the core of everything they do, but which gets forgotten or marginalized. We’ll be talking about muses, morning pages, artist’s dates, negative reinforcement, and discipline. Next time, I’ll tell you what I said……

What do you say?


The black swallowtail sat so still that I thought perhaps she was dead, but when I approached she fluttered away. Watching her weave through the great-grandfather of a camphor tree that dominates the yard, I fretted. My husband has a bird feeder, and birds were everywhere, and I didn’t want to witness an assault. Once, I opened my front door and saw a bird after a butterfly. It was a grim struggle, the small butterfly moving here and there, the much bigger bird intent and echoing every move. Life and death played out among my front trees. How frivolous butterflies are, such a flash of creativity by the Unseen, the way flowers are. How practical and ugly they might have been manufactured in order to fit into the intricate ladder of nature; instead they’re silk-winged dancers en pointe until the day they die.

Are we a flash of creativity by the Unseen? Why do we forget to unfurl our wings? What do you think?