Category Archives: creativity

My Thinking Space


Thinking Space ChildSitting across from me at the kitchen table, five-year old Annalisa gently placed her hand on my forehead and pushed it away from my search for the Thomas Kinkade puzzle piece.  “Nana, please, you are in my thinking space.”  Quick, alert and gifted with spatial intelligence, Annalisa was assembling the only slightly contrasting sky at a two or three-to one pace while I struggled to put the chimney of the garden cottage together.  Hovering over the puzzle, I had encroached on her “thinking space.”

I love the concept of a “thinking space”. Out of that space come the thoughts that lead to action.  No action occurs that one doesn’t first see themselves doing it.  Like writing–one must see herself writing before she will do so.  Out of the thinking space come the ideas that produce the story.

Louis L ’Amour was often asked “Where do you get your ideas?”  He replied, “If a person does not have ideas, he had better not even think of becoming a writer. But ideas are everywhere.  There are enough in the daily newspaper to keep us writing for years.  Ideas are all about us, in the people we meet, the way we live, the way we travel, and how we think about people.  It’s important that we are writing about people.  Ideas are important only as they affect people.  And we are writing about emotion.  A few people reason, but all people feel.”  Education of a Wandering Man, Bantam Books, 1989, p. 85.Thinking Chair 2

Ideas are born in our thinking space.  For six years I traveled the panhandle of Texas as an educational consultant with Region XVI Education Service Center in Amarillo.  The panhandle is a little less than 26,000 square miles so it was not unusual to travel 700 miles a week going to various rural schools.  Ideas that began during that travel time were often not completed when I arrived in the driveway of my home, so I would remain in my car until the ideas solidified–pondering in my thinking space until one of the kids interrupted my reverie with, “MOM, I’m hungry!”  Oh, well, to my thinking space in the kitchen!

Ideas come and go even as we sleep.  Begin to collect them in a journal designated just for that purpose. What ideas have had you just today?

Linda Hutcherson

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Some Writing Rules to Live By


Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman

Mr. Gaiman is a novelist and screenwriter to name only two of his talents. Neil Gaiman’s work has received many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honored with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British Science Fiction Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards.  His work is somewhat quirky and offbeat.  His children’s work is whimsical with a slight twist toward the stuff of childhood nightmares.

The following eight rules are his rules for writing.

1. Write.

2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7. Laugh at your own jokes.

8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

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Writing Contest!


Typewriter Keys

Announcing

2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest

Now open for entries

 For one low entry fee you can now enter multiple categories

Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in EVERY category.

Go to:

www.Panhandleprowriters.org

Entry rules, procedures and format regulations are listed on the FiW Writing Contest page

Download FiW entry Application and mail along with your entry.

Entry fees can be check or Money order, or pay online using “Payments” on the PPW website.

Sponsored by the Panhandle Professional Writers

 

Writing Contests BenefitsPen and handwritten doc

It costs money; why should I enter? What benefit will a contest be for my writing and me? I’m not good enough so I’ll never win.

Those who are looking at entering writing contests frequently express these statements and questions. I know, I’ve asked most of them myself.

Having entered my share of writing contests let me offer some positive benefits from my personal experience.

1.Training for working with deadlines – Contests give a writer the opportunity to work under a deadline. Most contests will have strict dates for submitting an entry. This is good conditioning for working with agents, editors, and publishers who will place deadlines on your writing.

2.Provides automatic platform – A platform is your audience, those who will read your work. While your mother and “BFF” will gladly volunteer readership, contest judges can provide you with an unbiased and anonymous audience for your writing. And who knows, the judge may be an agent, editor or publisher.

3.Gain feedback – One of the most valuable benefits of a writing contest is the critique. To have the judge’s comments noting any mistakes, suggestions for improvement and yes, even praise can help improve your writing.

4.Build your portfolio – Writing contests are a perfect way to build your portfolio. When seeking an agent or publisher, a few writing clips, accomplishments and certificates may be the edge you need to seal the deal.

5.Increase your confidence – Entering a contest gives a writer the opportunity to gain confidence in their writing. Have you ever written something only to tear it up or hide it in a drawer? Have you ever said, “I could never write well enough to be published!” A writing contest provides an inexpensive way to test the waters of being an author.

6.Avoid scam contests – As with most everything, there are people who take advantage of others. Before entering a contest, research the person or organization holding the contest and make sure they are legitimate. There are a few contests that are no more than book selling scams. When your entry wins, it is accepted for publication in an anthology, with all of the other first place winners, then you must pay an outrageous price to obtain a copy.

Rory C. Keel

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Filed under basics, books, Contests, creativity, editors, genres, poetry, prose, publishing, story, techniques, writers, Writing, writing advise

GETTING THE CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING


Typing Paper SkullRecently, I saw a great post on one of my favorite websites, Writer Unboxed, by Barbara O’Neal titled, The 20 Minute Win.  In the article, O’Neal describes how she manages to stay on task with her writing.  She focuses on her work each day as soon as she can possibly get to it by creating a 20-minute window to write. She got the idea from the late Ray Bradbury who said, “A writer should begin writing before he lets the world in.”

When O’Neal sits down for her 20-minute session, she sets the timer and writes whatever comes up.  Sometimes, it’s a blog.  Sometimes, it’s a scene that comes later in her book.  Sometimes, she even writes in a journal.  The point is, she writes uninterrupted for 20 minutes for the sole purpose of getting the juices flowing.Bottle of Creative Juices

This accomplishes two major things.  First, it warms up her writing muscles and gets her into her Writing Work Room.  Second, it reminds her how little time it takes to actually put words on a page if she will just show up to do it.

I decided to try it for myself.  The only modification I made was to shorten the sessions to 15 minutes.  I wrote the first piece in the allotted time. I started with this sentence: “Am I the only one who thinks the term baby bump is obnoxious and unflattering?”  When the timer sounded, I checked the word count.  Three hundred twenty-nine words.  About baby bumps.  I agree with Barbara.  It gets the writing juices flowing.  Can I sustain the pace of 1,316 words per hour all day – every day – when working on my latest novel?  Probably not, but that’s not the point.  The point is if I will just show up to write and get to it, I can actually produce words on the page.

What then shall I do with this newfound way to exercise my writing muscles and get the juices flowing?  Blog of course.  In the very near future, I will post these 15-minute writing exercises on my new blog.  After spending 15 minutes writing with no internal editing, I go back and spend a few minutes cleaning up the prose.  Then, since I’m in the writing groove, I find it easier to get to work on my latest project.   I have a short story with a February 1 deadline and then it’s back to revision hell with my first novel.   It’s a good thing I have writing to occupy my time.  Otherwise, I might end up watching reality TV.  Oh, wait, if I watch reality TV, I’ll have something to blog about!

Try Barbara O’Neal’s 20 Minute Win http://writerunboxed.com/2012/10/24/the-20-minute-win/ and see if it doesn’t get your creative juices flowing.

Matt Sherley

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Writing Exercises from Photos


When I was first learning to write fiction, one of my teachers laid out a series of random photos and told us to choose one, then tell a story about what was happening in the picture, or set our story within the picture.  I’m challenging you to do the same:

What happened here?  What happens next?

Tell the story of the people who live here.

What happened in this forest setting?  Was it good or bad?

What are they celebrating?  Or tell the story of one of these people.

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Creativity


To create.  To make something out of nothing.  “Everyone is obligated to claim their creative heritage. It fulfills us.”  Dord Fitz* We are all made in our creator’s image, it is what drives us to write, make music, paint, sculpt, act, etc.  The act of creation is very satisfying to the soul.  The finished product gives us a feeling of accomplishment like no other.  Whether it is a book, short story, article or a piece of visual art, it urges us on to do more and better works.

Subject matter?  Makes no difference, JUST DO IT!  Famous artist Robert Dash once told me, “It doesn’t make any difference what your subject matter is when you paint.   Just paint and your style will find you.”  The same is true in writing.   Set your imagination free and just write; the words will come.  Will it be perfect?  Probably not.  But the more we create the better we get at it, and the more we will grow.  The more we grow the happier we will be, and everyone we know wants to be happy.

Writing and painting are very similar.  We start with a blank page or canvas and begin writing or painting.  Do we have a plan?  Well that is nice, but sometimes it’s fun to just put on the page or canvas what pops into our minds or comes spilling out of our brains.  That is how Abstract Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism came to be.  Does it have to be realistic?  Heck no.

Can we fit a square peg into a round hole?  Sure if we round off the corners.  That is something we have to do sometimes because it is easy–the words just flow out of us.  And sometimes it is hard–the words will just not come.  The difficult times are what makes us grow.  They challenge us to think better, do more research, and  take another tack.  Speaking of tack, sailing a boat downwind is easy but you cannot sail downwind forever.   One cannot sail directly into the wind, but by adjusting the sails it is easy to tack and sail against the wind.   The same is true when writing.  We just have to find a different approach.

My dear friend and mentor MICHAEL WALLIS**, who gave voice to the sheriff of Radiator Springs in the animated movie “Cars” says; “Life begins on the off ramp.”  He urges everyone to get off the super slab and travel those old two-lane blue highways where one is able to observe life and meet people.  No one learns anything or meets anyone while travelling on the interstate.  So learn to meander the back roads where life is happening.  You will be happy you did.  It will kindle that fire of creativity within you!

What inspires your creativity?

Bob “Crocodile” Lile

* Dord Fitz was an artist, philosopher, creator, and genius who died in 1989. He taught thousands of people to claim their creative heritage through art.

** Michael Wallis has written twenty books, many of them best sellers.  He is a three-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize.  He currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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