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Brewhaha Book Cafe

For Writers, Readers & Tea-drinkers

Author

mez_blume

Childrens/ Middle Grade Author & Adventurer

Announcing Novel in November 2017!

It’s that time. Can you believe it?

Camp NaNoWriMo is next month!

Which means that right now, all across the globe, tens of thousands of aspiring & already successful authors are getting in gear to write 50,000 word draft of their novels in the 30 days of November!

Bri & I absolutely Love this time of year. Like so many of you out there, we have become Camp NaNo junkies & true believers in the magic that happens when you have add a strict deadline & a sense of camaraderie to writing your novel. In fact, we love it SO much, we started our own spinoff called Novel in November last year.

This year, for Novel in November, our aim is to help you not only win at Camp NaNo (winning, by the way, simply means completing the challenge, not competing against other writers) but to wind up with 50,000 words you can be proud of… maybe even 50,000 words that you can brush up & send off to agents, publishers, or publish yourself in December!

But to do that, you’re going to need to do some preparation over the next 20 days…

Now is the time to GET READY!

To help you get yourself geared up & ready for success, we’ve put together a list of some of the best NaNo advice out there — from writers we admire & some from our own experience. Don’t get overwhelmed! It’s all about the baby steps. Aim to follow these, one step at a time, over the next week.

  1. Get intentional! Bri’s article Where Do You Start? will help you literally set yourself, your schedule & your space up for success.

2. Capture your idea & LOVE IT! Here are some exercises to help you with that.

3. Outline your story’s plot. Trust us on this. If you want to save yourself grief during NaNo and produce a coherent story you won’t spend months editing, a little planning goes a long way.

Not sure how to structure a story? Here are some great resources:

Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn shares 7 tips for writing your novel, including how to use classic story structure. She also explains the Snowflake Method of building your story’s structure scene-by-scene. And so many more goodies besides!

Nick Stephenson of Your First 10K Readers is co-hosting a webinar on story structure this Saturday. I highly recommend signing up to his email list for more details!

If it’s books you’re looking for, here are the two we recommend & why.

Finally, if you’d like to join us on this journey, you can sign up for Novel in November & get emails with our top tips & updates!

Happy Prepping, everybody!

Mez & Bri

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the deal with Wattpad?

I’m writing with a pressing question for all you readers, writers & bloggers out there:

What do you think of Wattpad?

If you haven’t got a clue what Wattpad is to begin with, it is (as I understand it) a social network aimed solely at sharing stories. So virtually, anyone can write anything & gain a following on the merit of their writing. For writers, this sort of networking has an edge on platforms like Twitter  & Facebook because, rather than trying to gain readers with 140 characters or fewer, you can actually connect with readers who have read your work & are hungry for more! Sounds pretty catchy, no?

As I venture into the mirky waters of online platforms, I know this one thing: my readers are out there & I want to find them, connect with them, & offer them the best stories I can magic up. I’m hoping Wattpad will prove a good avenue for doing just that (although its largest audience demographic is 13-18, which is a bit beyond my gamut. Then again, I’m nearly 30 & still love a good Middle Grade adventure, so you never know!). If you’re a teen fiction writer (hint hint, Bri), I’d think Wattpad would be a no-brainer for connecting with your audience.

So there are a few musings from me. I’m in experimental mode with Wattpad at the moment, publishing chapters of my historical fiction murder mystery (with a twist of magic), Manor of Mystery serially. If you’re a Wattpad veteran, or would fancy joining me on this venture, you can find the book (& my Wattpad profile) here: https://www.wattpad.com/user/mezba4

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Now over to you! Any experience with Wattpad, either as a reader or writer (aspiring author)? As the newbie here, I’m all ears for tips & advice for how best to connect with readers, so do please bring it on!

Yours gratefully,

Mez

Dear Brewhaha Book Cafe Subscribers,

Mez here, after a long, silent summer. I do hope the summer months have been filled with all manner of Story reading & writing delights… not to mention tea (because it’s never too hot for a cuppa, I say!).

A little summer update from us: I made the voyage from England to sunny Georgia for a five week visit, which meant that Bri & I actually had the chance to catch up face to face, drink lots of tea together, review each others’ latest manuscripts (in HARD COPY!), and talk about the future of this blog.

And while we’re on that subject, we do apologise for leaving you in a lurch for so many weeks without hide nor hair of us. BUT, cross our hearts, we didn’t forget you. In fact, we have some exciting news to share about some changes on the horizon…

As lots you know, Bri & I are both working independently on our professional writing careers, & things have been coming along to the point that we feel it’s time we both host our own author pages (as Bri’s audience is mostly YA enthusiasts while mine is more Middle Grade).

What does that mean for Brewhaha? The good news: the cafe is not going anywhere! We will still be bringing you the best of our YA & Middle Grade book adventures, + news updates on our own work, + links to my new writing course (coming soon!) & our new author pages!

So thanks for sticking it out with us over the summer months. We’ve missed you, & we’re excited about getting back to sharing the wonderful world of Story with YOU!

We’d love to hear about your summer — any  book recommendations for us? Bring them on!

Yours truly,

Mez

Awesome Blogger Award

Thanks to Loonyloonyvish at Idlejabber for this award!! According to her own post in response to this award, it is  “an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. This is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”

Which makes Mez and me super flattered for being chosen!! Those of you following our blog may have noticed we are reposting our older posts. One reason is that we want to share what we consider our best writing advice (the stuff we’ve learned the long, hard way) with our new readers. The other reason: we are BUSY! Mez is in the middle of packing and editing and I have 50k words to write before she gets here, so we are going to answer the questions, but hold off on making our own questions and nominating others for now.

Who is your favourite superhero?

Bri: Confession time: I’m not a huge superhero fan. But if I had to pick, Catwoman. Not technically a hero, but she’s a girl, and a cat, what better for a girl who loves cats??

Mez: I always liked Spiderman as a kid because he’s more lighthearted than the other brooding superheroes who always seems to be wrestling with an identity crisis.

 

 

How do you go about forming a new post?

Bri: Intense planning and lots of thought. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

Mez: To start with, Bri & I will usually agree on a monthly theme. Then I try to write from  experience so that what I share is fresh, tried & tested & hopefully helpful to other writers walking the same path!

 

 

Describe your dream home?

Bri: In the woods, no neighbours, lots of windows, and a multi-floor library with a sun room at top. With a large theater room in the basement for watching movies on a huge TV.

Mez: I’ll happily live in Bri’s dream home if she’ll invite me! Only addition- put it in a tree!

 

 

What do you prefer: writing or typing? Why?

Bri: Typing. Definitely typing. Everything has to be typed anyway, writing it out just adds a step. Plus, half the time I can’t read my own writing!

Mez: While typing is the only way I can get a book done quickly, I don’t love screens. I really enjoy the planning phase of jotting down wild ideas in a journal. But when it comes to serious drafting, it’s got to be typing.

 

 

Is it appreciation, or the lack of it that motivates you to strive for perfection?

Bri: Probably appreciation. Though I can be a bit contrary about people telling me what I will or will not do (as in, you’ll change your mind about having children when you get older, I HATE hearing that, makes me want to prove people wrong), when it comes to my writing, someone telling me it’s good will drive me further than someone telling me it’s awful.

Mez: I’m a person who thrives on encouragement and words of affirmation. It’s very easy to deflate me with criticism, but I’m working on taking it graciously and using it constructively as all writers must!

 

 

What is your fondest childhood memory?

Bri: Playing in our treehouse. It had an awesome rope swing and we would ‘cook’ things over a ‘fire’ and pretend to be fairies or that we were that grand old age of 13!

Mez: Building dens in the woods with my brother and sisters, going for wheel-barrow rides with my Dad & the neighbourhood dogs, my mom’s amazing bedtime stories,  running a “restaurant” in the stream with my friend Katherine… I had a good childhood. Too good to choose just one memory!

 

 

When did you start blogging and why?

Bri: It’s been a little over a year now, and it was kind of funny because I had just decided to talk to Mez about us co-blogging because I’d read it could only help us when it comes to full on writers. And then Mez suggested it! Great example of great minds.

Mez: Need I say more? 😉

 

 

Which is that one flaw in you, however major it may be, which has become part of your identity?

Bri: Probably my procrastination. It is a part of who I am and I’ve given up trying to fix it, so I’ve just learned to deal with it. If I work best in the last hour of the day, that’s when I work. I’m much more productive at the end of a time limit than the beginning.

Mez: I’m a pushover. I hate disappointing people to a crippling level. Most everybody who knows me can tell you I have issues with the word “No.” But again… I’m working on it!

 

 

What do you prefer: fiction or nonfiction? Prose or poetry?

Bri: Fiction, hands down. I don’t read nonfiction except for writing books or when I’m researching for a book. And prose. Now and then I find a poem I like, but it’s rare. And it’s usually poems that tell stories I like.

Mez: Fiction. Prose. Having said that, my favourite book is Surprised by Joy which is C.S. Lewis’s personal memoir. Ha!

 

 

Which is that one movie that you can watch anytime without getting bored?

Bri: Almost anything. I watch movies over and over. Aliens, Strange Magic, Ultraviolet, Delgo, and all of Criminal Minds are my go to when I want something on in the background. But really, unless I really don’t like it, I can watch any movie a zillion times and still enjoy it.

Mez: How many times have we watched the BBC Pride & Prejudice, Bri? And we’re planning on watching it again this summer while I’m in the States. There’s your answer!

 

 

A Time to Create. A Time to Critique. (are you putting a cork in your creative flow?)

Let’s get brutally honest for a moment. Writing — I mean really going for it — is terrifying!

Each and every time you sit down to put words on page, you’re actually transcribing a little piece of you: your wildest dreams, your deepest desires. So what if you don’t like what you see looking back at you? What if your reflection exposes you to be not the creative genius you’d hoped and imagined, but a failure and a fraud?

And that’s just the first cause of anxiety… (Who wouldn’t want to be a writer?!) As if looking at your own work wasn’t cringe-worthy enough, if you have any hope of publication, at some stage you will have to cast your story (that hard-laboured insight into your soul) before the eyes of complete strangers! Or worse: people you know!

To some extent, the anxiety is only natural: the nerves, the fist-fulls of hair and palm-to-forehead moments… it’s all part of the writing process!

 And yet, anxiety may be the very thing that’s putting a stopper in your creative process. You may be carrying a parasite: a little monster I like to call…

 The Horrible What-iffer

The Horrible What-iffer comes along to gawk over the shoulders of would-be writers as they attempt to plant their sapling idea into the soil of a First Draft. Then, just as that idea is about to blossom, the Horrible What-iffer strikes!

What if it’s over-the-top?   

         What if it’s too long? Too slow?  

  What if it’s not what the market’s going for these days?

         What if your characters are a bit flat?

                                                                 What if it’s just. plain. dumb?”

I guarantee, if you’ve ever tried to create anything, you’ve heard that measly, mettling voice of The Horrible What-iffer. His antics are enough to make Shakespeare want to drop his quill, crumple his parchment and curl up in a fetal position on the floor as he beats his brow and sobs “No one will ever want to read this RUBBISH!” (Hey, it might have happened for all we know!)

You see, the Horrible What-iffer is absolute death to your creative process as a writer. There is nothing more paralyzing to Creativity than self-critical thoughts. They drown out the sound of our creative thinking and lead to self-destruction and eventually quitting before you ever have the chance to know what sort of full grown tree your sapling story idea would have matured into!

Thus ends tragically the career of many a writer before it’s begun. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Don’t be defeated by the Horrible What-iffer!

You can be creative. You can be self-critical. But like Harry Potter and Voldemort, the two cannot co-exist. One will eventually have to kill the other. There is only one solution: You must destroy the Horrible What-iffer before he destroys your story… your joy of writing… YOU! Shakespeare did it, and here’s how.

Imagine a big, bald tattooed club bouncer. Make him as repulsively scary as you like. Now set him to work in front of the VIP Creative Party going on in your mind every time you sit down to draft. When smarmy old Horrible What-iffer comes whiffling along with his party-pooping, negative notions to gate crash, POW! Mr. Mental Bouncer gives him what’s coming to him. And your Creative Party can go on in peace! It takes practice, but it’s well worth the discipline to keep your story alive and moving forward.

But aren’t we writer’s supposed to self-critique? Isn’t it our job to chip away at our ideas until they become the perfected story we can present to the world with pride?

Yes… and No. We will never create the perfect Story. Aiming for perfection will again paralyze your creativity. But we can strive to write better & better stories all the time. And yes, that requires revising your story with a critical eye.

 The point here is this: make sure you’re bringing in a critical eye at the right time (ie. NOT while writing your FIRST DRAFT!!!).

Here’s why you can’t Create & Critique at the same time:

 

The writer wears two different hats: The Creator Cap (that corresponds to our creative right-brain hemisphere), and the Editor Cap (which alerts our analytical left-brain hemisphere). New writers often try wearing both hats at once, but this is a fatal error. Each one has its time to shine. The left-brain helps the right-brain turn all of its fluttering fancies into some sort of coherent plan. But then it’s time to swap hats and let Mr. Editor left-brain take a backseat while Mr. Creator right-brain drives. Eventually, after the drafting phase, Mr. Editor left-brain will return on the scene to analyze, problem solve and tweak away to his heart’s content while Mr. Creator gets some well-earned R&R.

And so you see, the balance between Creativity and self-criticism is like a dance! But it’s entirely up to you, the writer, to make sure criticism of your work isn’t self-criticism (product of the Horrible What-iffer), and it isn’t stepping on Creativity’s toes. That would only throw off the whole process and put you back from achieving your goals.

So next time you sit down to draft, put criticism in his place, or you might just have to call your mental bouncer on him!

The Art of Asking: putting the Quest back in Question

One of my all time favourite albums is This Side by the blue grass band Nickel Creek. I’ve stolen quite a few maxims from them as well. This one’s my favourite:

Only the curious have something to find.

It’s true, isn’t it? Think of the most creative person you know. That person who always sees shapes in the clouds and pulls stories out of thin air. That person who sees the world, not as it is, but as it might be. That person who’s forever asking the question “But what if…”

Maybe that person you know was just lucky to be born with a creative soul. But then, aren’t almost all children born with a sense of awe, a readiness to absorb information &, most notable of all, a billion questions on their lips?

The problem with many of us struggling artists is not a missing ‘creative gene’ but rather a loss of our childlike sense that life is a Grand Adventure. Thinking we’ve seen it all, we stop looking (see Part II on the Art of Observation). Not wanting to appear ignorant, we stop asking questions. We become jaded, & our imagination just doesn’t work like it used to.

But what if we could revive that lost art that comes so naturally to children…        the Art of Asking?

There is a direct correlation between Curiosity and Creativity. The one fuels the other. So if you let Curiosity dry up, you can bet your Creativity will sputter out & wind up rusting in the junkyard of your busy, uninspired mind… unless you choose to embark on a quest that can reverse the hands of time & get your Creative mind banging on all cylinders again.

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3 Ways Asking Sparks Creative Thinking

In his book for cooking up Creativity, Five Star Mind, Tom Wujec explains the revitalizing power of asking questions like this:

Inside the word ‘question’ is the word ‘quest’,  suggesting that within every question is an adventure, a pursuit which can lead us to hidden treasure.

1) Asking questions excites your mind out of its drowsy state by laying an open road before it.

Just like Bilbo Baggins startled from his stupor by a troop of adventuring dwarves, your brain secretly longs for a mystery to solve, a quest to fulfill. Asking questions is an invitation for the brain to step out of its routine & into an adventure.

2) Asking questions gets your brain moving. 

Wujec explains that a question puts the brain in a state of irresolution, a bit like an itch that demands scratching. And believe it or not, your brain LOVES this irresolute state! If you don’t believe it, just look at the masses of Sudoku & crossword puzzles sold in your local bookstore. The brain sees the challenge & sets right to work to scratch that itch. Before you know it, your creative mind is on fire!

Irresolution is a potent fuel, a source of energy & motivation. – Tom Wujec

3) Asking questions gives you a target & helps you aim. 

Here’s where you can apply the Art of Asking directly to your writing, & especially when you feel utterly & hopelessly stuck. Asking the right kind of questions can be the hand up you need to get you unstuck & on your way again. So just what are the “right kind” of questions? 

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The Quest for better Questions

The best questions drive us to see the bigger picture, not just the immediate problem.

For example:  Instead of Why is my protagonist so BORING?! Try What do I already know about this character?  -or- How might this character respond in another situation?

The best questions are open-ended, inviting not just one answer, but many possible solutions.

For example:  In what ways can I make my protagonist more interesting? or more believable?

Then scribble away! You’re only limited by the size of your paper.

The best questions may not lead you to a final resolution… They may even lead you to ask yet more questions! 

That’s OK! In fact, that’s the point! For the creative writer, it’s not the answers but the Art of Asking that counts. Merely asking keeps the creative mind in motion & childlike wonder alive. Mastering this art will take practice — so much unlearning to do before we can have the humility to learn afresh! But the pay-off is enormous! Just consider all the books on your shelves that began with a simple, silly question:

“What if you fell down a hole in the ground & landed upside-down in a fantasy world?”

“What if you walked into a wardrobe & found yourself in in a winter’s wood?”

“What if an ordinary boy discovered he was actually a wizard?”

Do you dare to begin the quest? Who knows where your questions may take you…

 

If you enjoyed this article, check out Got Creativity Parts I & II.   Sign up for email notifications so you never miss a writing tip!

 

The Art of Observation: how to seek & find creative inspiration

Moment of truth. Have you ever put off writing because you just didn’t feel “inspired”?

I wager most of us (myself included) would have to plead a big fat guilty. Fact is, lack of Inspiration holds a high position on the list of excuses wanna-be writers make for not writing.

Fair enough, you may say. Inspiration is a key ingredient of Creativity, right? You can’t create cold. You needs a catalyst to get the stone rolling; a spark to ignite the flame; a bolt of lightning to strike life into Frankenstein’s monster before he can rapturously proclaim “It’s aliiiive!”

But what if the bolt of Inspiration you’re waiting for never comes?

The word “Inspiration” comes from Latin that literally refers to the act of God breathing -or inspiring– life into being… breathing a soul into mere flesh & bones. Prime example: in the book of Genesis, God breaths life into Adam (the 1st man) & thereby infuses him with God’s own attributes, including & especially Creativity! Then he tells Adam to get up & start using it! Look around at all those stars, plants & animals… Give them names… Grow gardens, build houses, write sonnets, procreate & fill the earth with the fruit of Creativity, & all from that one little initial spark of Inspiration!

So here’s what I’m driving at. If you’re alive reading this, you have the same gift of Inspiration Adam had– a soul to drive you, 5 senses to take in the world around you & a brain to make some sense out of it all *(you might say that’s the bare bones of how Creativity works).

So why do we feel we’re lacking Inspiration? Maybe we’ve just forgotten how to find it. Maybe our 5 senses need a dusting off. Maybe instead of waiting for lightening to strike us right where we sit, we need to become storm chasers… or more aptly, Inspiration Chasers (you can just hear the epic theme music cue, right?).

I’m talking about The Art of Observation. If you’ll master it, I guarantee inspiration for your craft will never again be hard to find. But be warned: once you learn how to look, you may find Inspiration lurking literally everywhere… more than your brain & notebooks combined can possibly contain! Leonardo da Vinci summed up this principle well. He said,

l’esperienza fu maestra di chi scrisse bene. (Experience was the good writer’s teacher)

When we experience the world, not passively, but through the kind of active observation that would make Sherlock Holmes proud, we have all the inspiration we need to fuel our creative writing. How’s it done?

3 Tips for mastering the Art of Observation today:

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1) Be prepared to be surprised!

Inspiration comes in funny ways & when you least expect it… only you should be expecting it everywhere all the time. For instance, last week I was invited to a Sunday lunch. Only when I arrived at the lunch did I discover that I was one of ten guests & the only one under the age of 75. The afternoon was spent loudly articulating every word for those hard of hearing & repeating myself to the one lady with memory loss. A waste of an afternoon when I might have been reading Rilke or waiting in meditation for the inspiration bug to bite? Ha! I came away with mountains of it!

I soon discovered my lunch companions were a kaleidoscope of mannerisms, dialects, peculiarities & brilliant senses of humour, to say nothing of the wonderful narratives they shared from bygone days that might as well be fantasy lands for someone my age! Their lives were rich, their perspectives so different, & they were so very willing to share all that wealth with anyone willing to listen… on that Sunday afternoon, that someone was the privileged I.

Anyone you meet, if you look & listen long enough, has something unique to offer as fodder for fiction.

And the very young & very old in particular seem to overflow with inspiring tales and insights. So don’t shun new company. Go where people are. Strike up chats. Be a listening ear. Hear the untold stories that walk right past you every day. They might just inspire the plot for your next fiction piece!

2) Gird yourself with the writer’s weapons. en garde!

Once you’ve learned to look for inspiration in every new environment, you’ll want a way to catch it & keep it before it flits away (beware the writer’s curse: Inspiration always strikes whilst in the shower or behind the wheel! Do not attempt to write or type in these situations!!!).

Keep a handy little notebook & writing utensil of choice on your person whenever possible. One of the best habits you can form is keeping an observation journal. Write down your first impressions of a person, place or object. What made them or it stand out? How do they differ from others around them? Jot down physical traits, speech (tone, pace, notable turns of phrase), attitude, movements, expressions… sky’s the limit! Just get it down & don’t assume you’ll remember later on.

3) Distill your observations into literary descriptions

You could stop at step 2 & still reap the benefits of observation: your mind & notebooks would be that much richer with potential characters, settings or intriguing objects. But if you aim to write to the next level, why not go a step further?

A good writer does more than string together a load of adjectives when describing someone or something. She chooses those descriptions– nouns & verbs as well as adjectives & adverbs–- that capture the essence of the thing or character.

Remember, your readers have the gift of creative thought as well. They can fill in the gaps. What you the writer must give them is an impression on which they can build their own images of your created world.

And here we come to the beauty of writing. The writer captures inspiration in order to distill it and create something new to inspire the reader. You might call it recycling inspiration.

But it all begins by putting to death the old excuse that you’re “waiting for inspiration.” Instead, practice the Art of Observation! You’ll soon find Inspiration is yours for the taking & for the making!

STAY TUNED FOR GOT CREATIVITY part III! SIGN UP TO OUR EMAIL LIST SO YOU NEVER MISS A WRITING TIP!

4 questions to determine whether you’re feeding or starving your Creative energy

We all know it when we see it. We all want a little more of it… but what exactly is creativity anyway? Tom Wujec, creative thinking guru, hits the problem on the mark in his book Five Star Mind:

“Creativity is a familiar stranger. Trying to define it is like trying to capture a puff of smoke with your fingertips.”

How can it be that Creativity is at once so familiar–we recognize it in others all the time–and yet so strange and slippery when we try to pin it down for ourselves? We come to believe that Creativity is some sort of mystical super power with which only the select creative geniuses among us have been so fortunately graced. While they receive visions, the rest of us ordinary people dig around in the mud hoping to strike creative gold. And dang, it’s hard work!

If only there were some 5-step process to awakening your inner creative genius! If only you could be as creative as _____ (fill in the blank: that writer who seems to strike gold every time they breath)!  If only…

If I’m honest with myself, those “If only” thoughts require a vast amount of energy. Energy that might be converted into…I dunno… creative thinking? Because when it comes down to it, Creativity might be indefinable, but it is not unattainable.

I want to argue that you already have creativity. You are a creative person.

And no, you don’t just need to squeeze your eyes shut and recite the mantra “I am creative!” until you magically pop out a bestseller. I’m not talking about deluding yourself into thinking you’re creative, or even faking it until you make it. I’m suggesting that everybody’s got the ability to be creative.

Having said that, your Creativity won’t look like mine. Just think about it: we are each of us created uniquely. Doesn’t it make sense that what we create and how we create will be equally unique to each of us? What inspires you to create might not do beans for me. And now, finally, we begin to get closer to why Creativity evades definition: it is by nature always adapting, evolving, developing along with us, individually & uniquely.

Ok. So the closest we can get to defining Creativity is to accept that it defies definition–it looks different for each one us. But we still haven’t resolved how we can maximize our creative energy, whatever that means!

Well in Parts II & III of “Got Creativity”, I’ll give you some tried-&-true tools for shaking that Creative muscle awake & getting it buzzing again.

But just for now, here a couple of questions to help you determine whether you’re nourishing your own Creativity… or suffocating it.

Are you giving yourself the space & time to be Creative?

When it comes to stimulating Creativity, the problem is often not too little but too much. How often, in a quiet moment alone, do you savour a bit of mindless musing rather than reach for your smartphone & start flicking? How often do you sit back & stare out the window on long journeys or your daily commute rather than clicking on the radio/ipod/news app/etc.?

Psychologists tell us that when our brain is in information processing mode (ie. flicking through our phones or surfing the web for “inspiration”), we virtually shut down our ability to create. However, when our brains are in task negative or “boredom” mode, it’s like those creative neurons can finally clear the floor & get their dancing shoes on!

When it comes to Creativity, boredom is your friend. It’s a dying art. Letting your mind wander without any external stimulation might even intimidate you. But making that space & time for musing is the vital first step to waking up your own Creativity.

Be brave! Give it a go!

*(Creative photographers Phillip & Eileen Blume talk about the goods & evils of modern technology for Creative thought in this inspirational TedX Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOPVLuopnV0)

Are you bogged down trying to write for the Market?

As a budding writer, it’s all too easy to try and catch whatever winds the market is blowing to fill your creative sails. But don’t be caught out. Trying to perform for an ever-changing market will soon leave you in the creative doldrums.

One of the key ingredients of Creativity is passion. That’s why your creativity looks different to mine! The thing you’re passionate about, the thing that energizes & excites you, that’s the fuel for your creative fire. So keep a weather eye on the Market if you must, but don’t fret over it. Keep a journal & jot down ideas that excite you. Write what you are passionate about. Because chances are, there’s an audience out there that’s passionate about the very same thing!

Are you an Explorer?

More on this in Part III, but suffice it to say for now, Creativity happens when our minds are allowed to wonder, to inquire, to explore… No wonder kids seem to have Creativity coming out their ears!

Remember those good ol’ days as a kid, mixing up mud pies with whatever ingredients you could find in the garden? Sure, to Mum or Dad it might have looked like you were picking berries, tearing leaves and digging up earthworms. But in actuality, you were gathering mundane ingredients together to make something new & wonderfully disgusting. But that is the essence of Creativity! Like a mud pie chef, as writers we gather together our plot, our characters, our settings… we toss in a bit of our favourite books, a pinch of life experience, and… voila! Something totally new results!

So dare to take a second look at the world around you. What others see as mud you may come to see as a scrumptious pie.

Do you learn from hiccups?

Creative writing is quite a lot like cooking (& not just mud pies). You throw together the ingredients you’ve gathered, hoping to make a delicious, harmonious stew. Not every ingredient will blend & enhance as you hoped. That’s ok! The key is to let your creative ideas simmer. It takes time, trial & error. Sometimes it takes getting it wrong before you know how to set it right.

Remember, Creativity grows with you. It’s a journey, and a right fun one if you’ll except the hiccups as all part of it!

Stay tuned for Got Creativity Parts II & III! Sign up to our email list so you never miss a writing tip!

Don’t wait for “Someday” to start writing

This is one of Bri’s earliest posts on the blog. I’m bringing it back now because it’s such a great motivator for all of us procrastinators out there… those dreamer, wanna-be writers who need to change mindset and become REAL writers. So read on, and get ready to turn “someday” into TODAY!

“‘Someday.’ That’s a dangerous word…It’s really just a code for ‘never.’”

Quick! Name that movie! If you guessed Knight and Day, you are correct! If not, well, better luck next time.

Have you ever used that word? “Someday, I’m going to…” Most of us have, and since you are reading this blog, I’m assuming the rest of the sentence has something to do with writing.

When is your someday? Is it after you graduate? After the kids graduate? Maybe you are planning your someday for after you get a raise or even after you retire.

For us writers, I’m willing to bet our someday almost always has to do with having more time. Let’s face it; writing takes up a lot of time! And worse, it’s focused time, alone time. It’s don’t-you-know-I-can’t-write-and-carry-on-a-conversation time. And who has that kind of time?

However, I think someday needs to be today. Seriously. If you wait around until someday comes around, you take the chance someday will never come, or if it does, isn’t what you thought it was. There will always be demands on your time, but when something is important to you, you make time for it. If writing is important, make time now for it.

Try this. There are 168 hours in a week. Can you find two for your writing? You’re a writer, you’re supposed to be creative, so think creatively! Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head (or, er, the hours I’ve been composing this in my head…)

  • Rent a movie for the kids once a week and write while they watch
  • Go to bed an hour later twice a week, or get up earlier (unless you are like me and you turn into either a zombie or Dr. Jekyll one hair away from morphing into Mr. Hyde. In that case, please sleep!)
  • Here’s something radical: don’t go on social media for a day! Every time you start to go on social media, do some writing instead
  • Carry a journal and a pen with you everywhere and anytime you have five minutes, do some brainstorming or outlining. Use your lunch hours and all that time waiting around for appointments or people
  • Make an appointment with yourself and keep it as if it was a doctor’s appointment
  • Anything else you can think of! Like I said, be creative. For most of us, the time is there if we make writing a priority

Get a calendar and flip ahead to a year from today. Writing just two hours a week, you can have a 50,000-100,000 word first draft done on that date. That’s better than finding another year gone and you still no closer to your writing goals, don’t you think? Revise it in the next year, and voila! Time to start looking for agents instead of waiting for someday.

Want to start writing but need help?  Ask us your questions in the comment below, or email us at sippitsisters@gmail.com!

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