As we try to occupy ourselves in isolation, has it been productive for your writing or not?
There is an emotional component to this particular imposed isolation that is subduing creativity. Our emotions have always influenced our mood and in turn our writing. Strong emotions, such as anger or depression subdue our creativity while feelings of love and happiness enhance it. Our concentration is in short supply or our focus limited. To pour out these feelings in words can dispel some of them.
You may find it is helpful to journal at this time to help lessen your heightened state of anxiety. It is also a record of our experience for future generations but maybe, also, the genus of an idea for a future work/narrative/story.
As writers we use many influences, experiences, emotions and personal knowledge in our narratives and this extreme situation may give us remarkable ideas. Think positively and use it for inspiration.
I think this particular writing tip is also relevant. With some sort of goal or deadline, even if it is only 20 minute sprints in writing can help us.
Set your writing goals for every writing session
Outline your aims for a writing session in order to keep yourself focused. It may help to write down what you want to achieve in the next chapter or scene. However, remember, to give yourself elbow room. It is okay to depart from your scene summary if you feel the story should go (or wants to go) in a new direction. Personally, I let the story flow but some writers find writing a pre-scene enables them to maintain a clear sense of direction for each scene in relation to their story arc.
Maybe hook up with another writer and set a time to write virtually. Find a writing prompt and time yourself. There are ways to encourage your Muse, find the one that works for you.
We have all had to find creative ways to fill our time since the isolation began. Some of us can immerse ourselves in stories and that is a good thing. However, have you found any new outlets to indulge your artistic Muse?
My friend showed me an app for paint by numbers and it has become my latest obsession. I try to pick the most intricate so it takes some time to complete them. Here are a few results I shared on my Instagram.
Of course I am still reading and writing but it is good to have some other way to express my creativity. I also updated my bathroom counter this weekend. A job I have been putting off for a few months!
As writers we are always honing our skill and learning new styles and types of writing aid our creativity. I attended two workshops on 29th February, both gave me the opportunity to improve my writing.
As an author, we welcome constructive critique of our work, it is how we grow. So a group of local authors and I spend the first few months of each new year working on our current work in progress. Some are the result of our NaNoWriMo participation, while others are whatever story/novel/project we are working on currently. The premise of these monthly workshops is to read a certain number of chapters each month of each others work, then using track changes edit, suggest and comment on the plot arc, continuity, premise etc. Having a number of different reader’s feedback allows us to identify any inconsistencies and correct them. Obviously, we do not have to take every suggestion, it is after all our work but if there is a consensus of opinion throughout on a specific part, then we can revise and improve them. This allows us to create the best story possible prior to publication.
My project is my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift. Currently 75,102 words, 201 pages, 39 chapters and epilogue. Publishing date September 2020.
The second workshop, I attended was a poetry workshop held by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in anticipation of Poetry Month in April. I have to admit that poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity a bit! We covered several types of poetry: monorhyme, enclosed rhyme, simple 4-line rhyme, coupled rhyme, chain rhyme and alternative rhyme. After an explanation of each style, we then had five minutes to create a rhyme in that style using randomly selected words. The words chosen for the chain rhyme were: after, banana, crafter, panorama, would, bandanna, could, dessert, should. Yes rather a mixed bag and it had everyone struggling, but that’s the point – we cannot learn without effort. I managed this:
Alice’s happy thought was about the contest after
As she ate her second banana
Her final piece as a genius crafter
Showed a glorious textured panorama
Comments from friends confirmed she would
Win the coveted bandanna
Her gumption knew she could
A promised reward when she won – a dessert
Even though her diet negated she should
I even managed to include the ‘extra’ point words of happy, genius & gumption in that one.
What workshop have you recently attended. What did you learn about your writing?
I spent our ‘extra’ day, 29th February indulging in two writing workshops. One was a novel workshop, which will span four months. A group of writers email a number of chapters of their current work in progress for edits and suggestions to each other and then email them back for revisions.
The second workshop, held by The Writer’s Foundation of Strathcona County, was a monthly creative workshop, covering many aspects, styles and types of writing. As we are approaching poetry month in April, we covered different types of poetry. I have to admit poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity. We covered six styles. I am sharing my attempt of a coupled rhyme (rhyme in pairs AA BB CC). The words we had to incorporate were chosen at random. Clock, rock, storm, born, wall, tall. Five minutes later I achieved this:
The fisherman looked at the clock
Then walked to the big rock
He knew it was time with the storm
For the creature to be born
The waves rose up as a wall
And there the beast stood so tall
Do you have a certain style of poetry that you prefer?
Lavinia by Ursula K Le Guin – my review:
To be immersed again in ancient Italy was a joy for me. I learned Greek & Roman literature in school and was transported back to the world of gods, mythology and mystery.
A wonderfully written narrative, anyone would enjoy.
I have been the advocate of prompts to spark imagination ever since I began writing. In fact my first ‘real’ piece of writing was the result of a three word prompt. Here it is:
Fire, Clock & Certainty.
Fire light flickered on the walls and ceiling as Joan sat with a glass of her favorite red wine. Watching the flames lick the logs and send little sprays of ash and sparks upward, she tried to calm her mind. It was a certainty that Thomas would be angry with her once he knew of her accident. The clock ticked as its hands made their gradual path towards 9 o’clock and the inevitable argument.
Joan had tried to cover up the dented fender with a casually placed cloth but Thomas would immediately know something was wrong as she had parked in his place in the garage. Such a creature of habit, her husband he had rules and very particular likes and dislikes. His routine had to be strictly adhered to or there was hell to pay. She knew he would go over the top with his recriminations and probably ban her from driving for months.
The clock struck nine and she heard the garage door open as Thomas drove up to it. Straining her ears she heard his car drive forward and then shriek to a halt. His place was taken up by her car now he would be mad. A slam of the driver’s door told her he was walking through to the kitchen and she could feel his presence enter the lounge.
She squeezed the trigger slowly as the instructor had told her and Thomas’ face flew apart. No more shouting, no more rules, no more living in fear. Watching Thomas’ foot twitch as the life left him gave her a rare feeling of joy. No more tormentor.
Since those humble beginnings, I have continued to use prompts, whether words or pictures to engage my Muse. At Christmas, I was given a Word of the Day desk calendar and will utilize the words to create a short story or poem. These is the result of the first 10 days of January. As you can see the words are unique and gave me more of a challenge.
Jensen stood in line with the other candidates listening to the bloviate speech of the head of the facility. As he exalted the program’s cathexis in their training, noting one man stood out above the rest. Jensen saw the commander’s eyes glance towards him and he an epiphanic sensation went through him – he would be the one, it was ineluctable after all, and his tests had all proved top marks coupled with his deportment in any given scenario. Jensen knew his was palmary among these excellent candidates in the chrononaut program.
His first glimpse of the other universe as he emerged as the first time traveler was an elaborately set table with a kinara lighting the room with a redolent kolacky set in the middle.
As writers we are always immersed in our own creative world, full of locations, characters, plot lines and scenarios – whether imaginary or real. However, sometimes our brains become stagnant, unresponsive or just plain tired. To leave our current ‘work in progress’ can help us greatly to refresh and regroup. That is where prompts come into their own. With an unrelated word choice or image, comes new insight and fun. They maybe a quick ten minute exercise or, as so many do, take on a life of their own propelling you into a story you had not previously imagined. Three prompts I found lent themselves to the creation of a novella.
The easiest way to use a prompt is to let the initial thought flow and just let it take you wherever feels right. It maybe result in a poem, short story, a character study, a word association or something else. Many will be forgotten and not saved but some ignite that creativity to renew.