Saturday, January 10, 2015

Writers: Give Yourself Some Rope

As writers become bloggers, writerly advice is dispensed ad nauseum, as if we are all the same, all fitting into some mold called ‘writer.’ If we do such and such, we will be successful at . . . take your pick.


We are all too different to fit into one way of doing things (Oh, and by the way, this might just be a life lesson as well). I don’t want to fall into that trap of using the tried and true method of list making today. You know, do these 5, 7, 10 things and be a successful writer (blogger, author, dieter, skier, pool player . . .). Whatever!

So, in this New Year, why not open up your creativity without trying to do anything?  

Okay, that was easy, now what?

When I go into my creative mode, I try to remain as open as I can to the influx of new ideas and things that come into my world, how I view the world around me and the people I come into contact with. I try to just observe and not do anything for awhile. Not that I succeed all the time, and I have some miserable failures, but I see it as a mindset. Acceptance is a big part of it—believing in yourself as a path into your own creative mind. Don’t let anyone devalue your unique way of doing things. Play.

If you are stuck in your writing (or dieting, exercising, etc.), and you go to all the dos and don’ts that others have said will make you unstuck, it just might make it worse, because then guilt sets in. I tried this and I’m still stuck, I must be a moron.

Logic works well for science but can be deadly when applied to the artistic creative process. As some of you who have followed me for a while may have noticed, I can be all over the place in my blogging—from talk of perfumes to exploration of the Beat Generation to roses, thorns and the Munsters. It opens doors, it breaks down resistance in the mind.

Why? Because inspiration comes from exploration. I try not to limit myself because it might appear weird or strange. (I can be weird and strange so why hide it?)

Conclusion? Approach life/art with openness—with allowing. Don’t block your creative side with labels and structures that limit or rein in your creativity—give yourself some rope (It’s okay to hang yourself metaphorically, you learn from your mistakes—they can be some of the best teachers.).

For me, what works is to dip into the waters of the metaphysical (the non-physical or beyond the physical that our senses perceive), where freedom from the logical part of the mind can be found. Logic seeks to label, sort and box one in with “safe” structures that are tried and true—“be safe, do what is known to work, don’t venture into the unknown.” 

Uh . . . no! Not when I need to open up my creativity.

Of course I’m not talking about craft here. Writers always need to keep learning their craft. Writing is not just about spewing your creative ideas willy nilly onto the page. Characters and unique situations cannot just spill out without structure that readers understand and relate to. That’s where logic comes in so you can lay out your story with depth and intelligence—or simply as a romp for some momentary fun.

But if you are a writer who works with insights that go deep, you have to explore and not be afraid of what you find around that next dark corner, to those unexplored places that need the light of your consciousness. Go there, see it, feel it, understand it—then write it.

So, what am I exploring in this New Year to stimulate my creativity? Shamanic Journeying. Yes, you heard that right. Logical mind; step aside. I’m going out to play now without heeding your limiting roll of the eyes. My next blog post should be very interesting, right? 

To be continued . . . .

What do I write? 
I explore the paranormal and the possibility that past lives and the unconscious impulses they leave behind (or project before) us—that drive us; lead us into situations that cause us to work through these unfinished elements—this process of allowing is especially effective for my writing.

My first novel, Dance the Dream Awake is about Tessa Harper, a woman plagued by nightmares that drive her to go to the Yucatan in Mexico where the Mayan past that haunts her dreams is uncovered, exposed and healed—paranormal, romantic suspense. It awaits re-publication in 2015 with Black Opal Books.

Along with that novel, Haiku Dance, an erotic love story (inspired by the pillow book of
Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji) that takes place in historical ancient Japan, in the Heian era, has also been accepted by Black Opal Books. This is the past life of two of the characters in my first book and the impetus for the sequel in book three, Dance the Edge that I am currently working on. It will be the final love story, with HEA (Happy Ever After required for a traditional Romance), even though it will be another paranormal romantic suspense of the sizzling variety.

Yeah, I’m all over the place, as per encouragement of @DonMaass in his newest book, Writing 21st Century Fiction.

So, what do you do for inspiration and to stimulate your creativity? Tell me in 25 words or less—just kidding, take as long as you like…I’m giving you enough rope.


Unknown said...

Love this blog, Cora!

For me, finding any quiet moment and a bit of confidence, mixed with a cup of coffee or tea and some inspiration from my various muses (I'm poly-musey) can get me going. At least I find my spot in front of the keyboard and start. But just this morning, at 4:45, I was watching an Ancient Aliens segment on my Kindle that dealt with how humans think, how we get brilliant ideas, how people like Einstein came up with their theorems, etc. Dreams! Revelations from "other-worldly" experiences. Very interesting to ponder. Some researchers are looking into what the brain does when it is calm, not focusing on daily issues, problems or human stimuli. Meditating. The Alpha Waves spike.

Hmmm. I think that's what happens when we write our stories straight from the heart - sort of in a relaxed, trustful state of mind. The story finds us - in its truest form. Truly genre-bending storytelling.

Cora said...

Beautifully said, Kris. Thank you for your input. I have nothing to add to that.

Sheri Humphreys said...

Interesting post, Cora.
I trust my subconscious, and so far it hasn't let me down. Every time I start a new scene, I have to let it "percolate" for a day, and I find ideas popping into my head. What seems pretty crucial to the process is writing daily or almost daily--keeping the characters and story wandering through my brain instead of locked in a closet.

Anonymous said...

Wow, good post. Glad to have your permission to bounce. With 4 new short story anthologies recently opened already this year, I'm all over the place. Which leads to the all-important question: Does white chocolate have fewer calories than milk chocolate? It tastes lighter.

Cora said...

Oh, I need to add, I love your term, "poly-musey' which perfectly describes all my many inspirational sources.

Cora said...

Good point. I have to admit I don't write every day. I do spend time thinking about my story every day or working around the story so it can percolate quietly in the dark. For me, there are times when pushing too hard to write has the opposite effect. I get frustrated and then a log jam occurs. I have to let go of the reins and let the horse just run free and play for awhile. Whatever works for you, is what you should do. One size does not fit all.

Cora said...

Apparently the farther away from the chocolate bean you get, the more sugar and milk you add, which makes it higher in calories. So I imagine milk chocolate is few calories than white chocolate. And dark chocolate has the fewest calories of all--and is best for you. Good luck on getting into those anthologies.

Liv Rancourt said...

Hey Cora, congratulations on your Black Opal contracts!! I must have missed your announcement, and am excited for you. They're great to work with, and their authors are really cool. I loved the Tale of Genji when I read it in college, and am looking forward to your treatment of it.

Cora said...

Thanks, Liv. Yes, I'm excited about being with Black Opal. I also have several friends with them.