First, a note about this post’s title. I admit to a serious case of brain freeze. I simply cannot come up with a good title for what I am hoping will be a more or less regular feature on this blog: a roundup of links to the very best of what I’ve been reading or watching online about writing, reading, creativity, and, occasionally, eating chocolate. WRCE is basically the initials of the blog title. Completely banal, I agree, so help me out here and suggest something better (anything you suggest is bound to be better).
In no particular order, these are the best articles I’ve read this week:
I could praise this post till the end of the year, and still think it deserves more. This is one of the most inspiring and insightful pieces of writing on creativity. Diana Bauer of A Certain Simplicity writes about the relationship between creativity, talent, and the fundamental importance of technical discipline. I can sum up her post in three sentences, but if you don’t go on to read the whole article, you’d be missing on what may be the most important thing you read about creativity.
She starts out with a statement which I believe does wonders in calming jittery creative nerves. “Not being able to do something well does not mean that a person does not have talent.” So relax, people.
But, she says, “so many people don’t make it over that first hurdle because they believe that in order to start, they have to magically produce some sort of talent they don’t believe they even have, when what they should be doing is starting to understand the technical part of the art which they might be interested in.”
Thank you, Rose Deniz, for suggesting this article.
Suzannah Freeman on Write it Sideways tackles the struggle to get back on track with your writing when you’ve been away (whether physically or mentally) for a while. She starts her post with the following sentence, which grabbed me, because it describes me to a “t” (although I’m still not as disciplined as she is): “If you’re anything like me, it only takes a few days away from your regular writing routine to throw everything in your life out of whack.”
And then she outlines six tips for getting back on track. I particularly identified with her suggestion to “organize your surroundings”. I can never think straight or otherwise in a messy room.
Darcy Pattison of Fiction Notes writes about what she calls the “messy and unexpected” nature of her writing process. She says: “Once I know the direction that I need to go, I don’t mind letting go and doing the unexpected.”
In my opinion, this is a very important balance between the never-ending “debate” between the outliners (in which the writer outlines the novel/story) and the pantsers (in which the writer does not outline the novel/story and just writes “by the seat of his/her pants”) in the creative writing world. I don’t think that you have to choose one method of writing over another, but believe that both can contribute positively to your writing.
This is the third lesson in Mark McGuinness‘s free 6-month online course for creative professionals, called The Creative Pathfinder. I have tremendous respect for Mark’s articles because they are not only well-written, but are extremely helpful as well. It’s obvious that he puts a lot of thought and effort into each article. Case in point, his third lesson in the Creative Pathfinder course.
In this lesson, he outlines different definitions of creativity and suggests how these definitions can help creative people. He starts out by stating the obvious, and then points out the not-so-obvious that makes all the difference. This is an example of what he has to say:
Creative thinking is often the first thing we think of when we think of creativity. But any real creator knows that creative thinking isn’t worth doodly squat unless you do something with your ideas.
On the other hand, if you focus too much on execution, you can get caught up in foolish productivity, busy all the time yet somehow never creating anything remarkable.
Warning: Mark’s articles usually run a little long, but from experience, they’re worth reading to the very end.
So how do (successful) writers balance writing with the rest of life? Laurie Halse Anderson of Mad Woman in the Forest, has three valuable lessons. These are: seek out kindred spirits, be clear about your true priorities, and take charge of your life.
But these lessons aren’t as simplistic as they sound. Laurie’s post is excellent inspiration for writers and other creative people to read over and over again. Thank you, Debbie Ohi, for suggesting this post.
An interesting premise. I’ll be the first to admit to usually just sleeping/hibernating, dreaming, cooking, eating, movie-watching, and generally doing anything but building when I get hit with writer’s block. I’ve been trying to deal with it more creatively and have written about this before here.
But Christopher Rice on Fuel Your Writing has a new take on how to build when life gives you (writer’s) block. “The goal”, he writes, “is to analyze why you’re bogged down with writer’s block.” If you think that sounds like a therapist’s take on writer’s block, read the rest of the article to discover just how this analysis helps move your writing project forward, and why analysis works.
And now, over to you. I’d love to know what you’ve been reading lately about writing and creativity. And don’t forget to suggest another title for this feature.
Update: As per the suggestion of the wonderful Nadia El-Awady, the winner of the best suggestion for the title gets a batch of what she generously calls my “world famous brownies”. But alas, the winner must be a resident of Cairo, Egypt and be willing to arrange for pick-up in 6th of October in order to receive the prize.