Tag Archives: nurturing creativity

madness

Here’s something I wrote for Creative Madness Mama. At first I felt like I had no idea what to say, but I started anyway and before I knew it, words flowed out. That’s the way it is with writing prompts, why I like them, why writers who feel stuck should practice with them………
I wish I were creatively mad. Perhaps then I wouldn’t worry so. But when I think about it, creative madness does have me. Why write about a family in the early 18th century and become so engaged with them that you take the story backwards instead of forwards to write about the grandmother? Why take the story backwards instead of forwards? Why spend your days imagining what a character might have said or how she/he would react? Why read biographies and social commentaries and memoirs and funny old almanacs and recipe books? People around me rise at 7 am, go off to work in a cubicle. I can stay at home in my pajamas and daydream about other centuries and people who aren’t real, or who were real but now are gone. That’s crazy, that’s madness. That’s creative……………..

 
The best part of creative madness is when I know I have the story. It’s when the characters become as real as someone I live with. To leap off the reams of biography and commentary about Louis XIV and know him when he was 22 and vulnerable and wanting to live up to an ideal was crazy and incredibly liberating. I became very fond of him in Before Versailles. I hope you become fond of him, too…….
Do you ever experience creative madness? 

care4

So more about the care and feeding of your writer……morning pages. They are the creation of Dorothea Brande to help her writing students learn discipline, and Julia Cameron included them in her Artist’s Way as a tool. You wake up in the morning and you write, long hand, three pages. Morning pages can be used to help you begin writing, they can be used when you’re in a stall, and they can be used to calm down fear. The idea is that you just pour whatever is inside onto the pages. Some say it drains away the negativity. (Much of morning pages is whining.) Some say ideas began to crop up now and then. Some say if you go back to the pages after a period of weeks, you can find a little gold, evidence of your talent or an idea for a story.

I once took a creativity course in which we had to do morning pages for six weeks. At some point near the end, we sat down with our pages and reread them. We had notecards on which to write anything interesting. There was a lot of drivel in mine, but also some really descriptive touches that pleased me very much and helped me later write about the death of my sister. The late Ray Bradbury used the idea of morning pages as a leaping off place. He woke with dreams still in his head and wrote the images, which became the seeds of stories. He learned to trust that not-quite awake state as a place to mine his imagination.

If you’re stalled, I can see stopping the work for a time, but doing morning pages faithfully. You’ll be writing, likely about your stall, and you may actually write past your complaints and fears back into the story you’re working on. And if you’re not disciplined, begin with morning pages. Do them every morning for six to eight weeks, then step back and see that you have been disciplined. And there will likely be a little gold to encourage you onward.

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

care

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?