Filling Up The Creative Well

​It really is true what Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way. If you do not regularly replenish your creative well, then your creative juices will ‘dry up’ and you will stagnate. Even if you seem to be on a roll, your project will skid to a halt because you’ve burned up all of your available resources!

What Julie Cameron suggests in her book is going on something called an ‘artist’s date’, in which one devotes some time to replenishing this dried-up well with fresh inspiration and ideas. This might involve going to the local art gallery, reading a book or even going to a new restaurant and doing some people-watching! You are meant to do this completely alone so that you can fully absorb the experience.

This week, for example, I wrote lots of nursery rhymes and nonsense poetry after devouring a collection of classical nursery rhymes in one sitting! On other occasions, looking at statues or taking a stroll through the park has triggered something within me. It does not matter what you do to fill your creative well, as all art is birthed from the same creative energy that flows through us all. 

I too have had sudden droughts while writing, especially when I’ve written a lot in a short space of time. While I believe that any of us can tap into the abundant energies of the cosmos, it is important to realise that we must be proactive in exposing ourselves to life’s wonders (a beautiful piece of artwork, trees rustling in the wind, a new exciting experience etc), which act as portals to that creative energy which you seek. Make sure that you take regular “culture baths” and always be open to new inspiration and experiences to fuel your creative projects!

Good luck, my fellow creators! And much love =)

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Just put pen to paper and see what happens!

Sometimes, you might feel like you don’t have it in you to be creative. But if you don’t bother showing up to the keyboard / notepad, then how do you know for certain?

This morning, one sentence fell into my head and I immediately began to analyse it. Deeming it to be rubbish, I ignored it for a few minutes, but it kept on floating around my mind, so I decided to jot it down as a meagre starting point for later.

However, as I wrote it down, something amazing happened. What I wrote immediately transformed into something better and I channeled down more words with great ease. That is the true alchemy and wonder of creating! Often it takes just one little nudge to start an avalanche.

So if you’re struggling to be creative, then don’t lose heart, for the slightest little thing could ignite you again. Be open to anything that motivates you, especially those thoughts that are inspired. Just go with your intuition, put pen to paper, and see what happens!

The Subtle Language of the Cosmos

Struggling to find inspiration? Just take a look all around you! There are so many things going on that can fuel your creative cogs. Life is unfolding and manifesting in a countless number of ways, so learn to read the subtle language of the cosmos.

Sometimes, it is almost as if the universe is speaking directly to you. Not with words, but through signs and circumstances, using a language that deeply resonates with your soul. Keep a lookout for these cosmic messages.

Whether it be the way a person smiles, getting caught out in the rain or seeing a piece of rubbish blow across the street, there is a whole multitude of different things that might speak to you. Creative people pay attention to such things and are often keen observers of the world around them, watching the strange dance of life as they express themselves through it. Everyone reads things in a different way and that’s what gives each of us our own unique expression.

I’m a firm believer that we channel down our creativity from somewhere higher – from somewhere beyond the mind. Creating is effortless when you surrender to the flow of life, as opposed to trying to create things forcefully. The creation process is so much more enjoyable when you have fun with it and let the magic unfold quite organically.

So learn to speak fluently in the subtle language of the cosmos. Watch life with a keen eye and you may be surprised by what is revealed to you! Good luck, my fellow creators. May it be that you successfully tune in to the cosmic radio station and receive its bountiful transmission!

Coming Up With Memorable Names

Coming up with names for your characters is so important. You want these namesakes to stand out and embody the very essence of your characters. Of course, there are some genres that tend to use common everyday names, but a lot of writers seize the opportunity to use more flamboyant names like Phillius McFlinn – because why not? You want your characters to be memorable!

At the moment, I’m writing a fantasy novel, so I’ve been running wild with names for the places, characters and creatures that inhabit my world. Coming up with names can be a challenge, especially when you think about it too hard. The best names usually come to me quite instinctively through some sort of divine eureka moment.

If you’re having trouble naming your creations, then don’t worry. The beauty of naming things is that names are interchangeable and altering the names of your characters can be literally the last thing you do when redrafting. So if you’re struggling to find a name for Sergeant Grim-face, then just call him Sergeant Grim-face while writing – or Bob – until you find a name that fits.

There are thousands of name generators out there, whether it be for fantasy, sci-fi or any other genre. There are also baby name websites that have an untold amount of name options for you to peruse, which is probably why kids nowadays are called names like Neveah and Atticus. Let’s not even mention Khaleesi..

What I also do is keep a list of any interesting names I come across, as well as those that I ‘invent’, because one of them might end up being the perfect name for Sergeant Grim-face! Having a stockpile of awesome names on standby can save you a lot of pondering when it comes to naming things.

So have fun with naming your babies! You don’t have to worry about your literary children getting bullied for their outlandish name (unless that’s part of the plot) – name them whatever you bloody well like! Seize your creative liberty and revel in playing God!

Utilise Every Spare Minute!

Do you have a long commute to work? An hour of peace once the kids have gone to bed? A lunch break perhaps? No matter how busy you are, you can always find time for what you love.

As J.K. Rowling said, you’ve got to fiercely defend your writing time and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately. Even if you just snatch a minute here and there, making notes on your phone or scribbling in a notepad, you will make progress before you know it! Every word adds up and if you stick at it, you will reach the finish line eventually! This way of thinking applies to any hobby or passion.

Many people despair about not having enough time to do what they love. Until recently, I have been skimping dramatically on my writing time. In fact, I wasn’t even showing up at the keyboard, so how on earth could I expect anything to happen? You’ve got to open up the space for your creativity to flourish.

Keep on creating, folks! Even if you’re going at a snail’s pace, each little bit of progress is better than none. This week, I’ve been taking my phone into work with me, typing away on my commute and whenever I have a spare moment, my imagination bubbling in the background, living and breathing once more.

Keep on pushing forward, enjoy the journey and have good fun with it. And don’t forget to have well-earned pit-stops along the way! If you whip your horse too hard, it will collapse with exhaustion, so go at a pace that is comfortable for you. “Without haste, but without rest,” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said.

Good luck, fellow creators!

Ideas That Refuse To Go Away

This week, when sorting through my writing notes, I made a very interesting discovery. In one of my journals, I found the initial seed of the idea for my first book, written two years before my supposed eureka moment!

Amazingly, this piece of paper had been completely forgotten about, yet the idea stayed in my subconscious and resurfaced two years later, as if for the first time! While the initial seed differed slightly from what I thought was the initial seed, it was the same idea in essence.

What I’ve learned from this is that some ideas are very persistent and will stay with you throughout your life, begging to be brought into the world. They may lie dormant for a time, but they always find a way to return to you. This is reassuring for a writer like myself who clings on to his notes for fear of losing his ideas – clearly such written prompts are not needed, nor are they re-visited much once written. Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep notes, as you just don’t know what notes might spark your imagination, but I’m merely pointing out how persistent our ideas can be.

Throughout your life, you may have many ideas, some great and some not so great. What I recommend is focusing on the ideas that really sing to your heart. Don’t give a hoot what others might think. If you’re going to express yourself, then it should be something that appeals to you.

You are the judge. You are the gatekeeper of your ideas, who gets to decide which ones are worthy and which are not. But how do you choose what should take priority? Oh, that’s easy! I think you already know deep down which ideas are special. They are the ideas that refuse to go away.

 

 

Crystalising Your Thoughts

It matters not where you write down your thoughts. Whether it is on the back of a napkin, a scrap of paper or a pre-ordained notebook, what’s important is that you capture your ideas in any way that you can. Most inspired thoughts fade quickly from your awareness, so it is always good practice to jot things down.

You just never know where an insight may lead you. One little sentence could be the beginning of a whole creative project, growing from a seed into a vibrant, fully-fledged piece of work. Some seeds take years to come to fruition, while others do not grow at all. But unless you cultivate your imaginings, then you are not creating the ideal environment in which they can thrive.

Sometimes, ideas are only worth writing down when you give them a little time to ferment in your mind. It can often take a bit of daydreaming before that inspired eureka moment comes along. Trust in your creative process and learn what is worth writing down and what isn’t.

We are all creative beings and we should rejoice in the fact that we can crystalise our thoughts and transform them into great works and projects. Whether you jot things down on paper or a digital device, always make sure there is a place where you can capture your brilliance.

Losing Your Creative Ability

Recently, I watched Kiki’s Delivery Service, an animated film about a witch-in-training. Aside from being a charming and highly original story (as most Studio Ghibli films tend to be), there was some very useful advice for creative people, imparted by Ursula, a really cool artist who lived in a log cabin in the woods. Here is what she says to Kiki, the young witch who has recently lost her ability to fly:

Ursula: Painting and magical powers seem very much the same. Sometimes I’m unable to paint a thing.

Kiki: You mean it? Then what? What happens?

Ursula: Kiki, please don’t move. It’s hard to draw a moving target.

Kiki: Without even thinking about it, I used to be able to fly. Now I’m trying to look inside myself to find out how I did it. But I just can’t figure it out.

Ursula: You know, could be you’re working at it too hard. Maybe you should just take a break.

Kiki: Yeah, but still if I can’t fly …

Ursula: Then stop trying. Take long walks. Look at the scenery. Doze off at noon. Don’t even think about flying. And then, pretty soon you’ll be flying again.

Kiki: You think my problems will …

Ursula: Go away? That’s right. It’s going to be fine. I promise.

[A few hours pass by]

Ursula: When I was your age, I’d already decided to become an artist. I loved to paint so much. I’d paint all day until I fell asleep right at my easel. And then one day, for some reason, I just couldn’t paint anymore. I tried and tried, but nothing I did seemed any good. They were copies of paintings I’d seen somewhere before … and not very good copies either. I just felt like I’d lost my ability.

Kiki: That sounds like me.

Ursula: It’s exactly the same, but then I found the answer. You see, I hadn’t figured out what or why I wanted to paint. I had to discover my own style. When you fly, you rely on what’s inside of you, don’t you?

Kiki: Uh-huh. We fly with our spirit.

Ursula: Trusting your spirit! Yes, yes! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. That same spirit is what makes me paint and makes your friend bake. But we each need to find our own inspiration, Kiki. Sometimes it’s not easy.

Kiki: I guess I never gave much thought to why I wanted to do this. I got so caught up in all the training and stuff. Maybe I have to find my own inspiration.

This scene in the film spoke absolute volumes to me. Until a few days ago, I too had lost my creative spark and it is so frustrating to lose that natural flow, but there are usually reasons as to why it has happened, such as pushing yourself too hard or losing belief in yourself. It feels as though your connection to the cosmic radio station has gone faulty and you can no longer tune in properly, having to put in so much effort to produce something that once came so naturally to you.

But the advice in Kiki’s Delivery Service reminded me that we all get creative blockages and the best way to combat them is to take a break, switch off and relax. Such creative droughts are not the end of the world and I have certainly bounced back from such situations before, though it can feel like you’ve lost your creative talent forever. Indeed, you could not be blamed for fearing this, but take it from me: once your spirit has been lifted and the blockage removed, you will soar once again.

Trust me, I’m a writer.

Crystal Dragon Jesus

Recently, I discovered something called TV Tropes, which is an amazing tool for writers. It is essentially a wiki database for all the different elements you find in books, TV, film and other media, covering everything from narrative devices, character archetypes and genre components. All of these concepts are collectively known as “tropes”.

It is so fun just to browse this website, even if you’re not a writer, and enjoy these tropes in all their glory. It seems that every conceivable literary element and device has been given a name. So far, my favourite one is “Crystal Dragon Jesus”, which is when a fictional religion features in the story. Another great one is “Magnificent Bastard”, which refers to super-intelligent and cunning villains (a chess-playing mastermind who always seem three moves ahead).

There is a button at the top of the page that allows you to view these tropes at random, but many entries cross-reference each other and you’ll probably find that your curiosity will get the better of you, especially when the likes of Crystal Dragon Jesus are mentioned so casually in passing! Somewhere on the website, you can also access the periodic table of storytelling, which features some of the most widely-used tropes.

Each entry also includes examples of where these tropes are featured, which is handy for research or if you happen to be searching for a “Weirdness Magnet” or a good example of the “Hand Wave”. Curious, aren’t you?

Whether you’re a writer or just appreciate how stories are put together, then I definitely recommend checking out http://www.tvtropes.org. I, for one, have definitely been converted into a troper! As a writer, it is reassuring to see that you are using tropes that people know and love.. it may daunt some people to know that nothing is original, but everyone uses these tropes in their own unique way. Tropes are the fabric with which stories are woven, forming a common language between writers and their audiences.

Like A Lamb To The Slaughter

Today, I mortally wounded one of my characters, which was difficult for me to do because I have grown quite attached to him. But unfortunately, he was always meant to die… in fact, the whole reason I invented him was so that his death could illustrate an important plot point.

Like a lamb to the slaughter, I nurtured his character precisely because I knew he would be sacrificed. But as the story unfolded, I grew to love his character and found him difficult to let go. He came to life on the page much more vibrantly than I had expected.

I even considered keeping him alive and sacrificing someone else, as it would have been interesting to explore his potential further. But surely the fact that he will sorely be missed is testament to the character I have created? After all, don’t we all have unexplored potential when we die? If he leaves behind a noticeable hole and his absence causes heartache for the reader, then surely that is a job well done writing-wise!

During the writing process, a story can change direction and alter. Characters who were doomed to die can be spared, while others might be bumped off instead. In this particular case, I followed through with my original plan.