Time and Creativity

Happy New Year!

Another year of storytelling is at my back and another year of storytelling possibilities stretches out in front of me. Which is a good thing. Mostly.

As you may be aware, holiday celebrations can bring up strong emotions. And for me, New Years is an annual review where I suddenly discount accomplishments (new home! new baby!) and focus on projects left incomplete (WIP novel).

So I am going to give you the pep talk that I need to hear in the hopes that there are others of you out there that need it too. So pardon me while I slip into my enthusiastic camp councilor voice and cheer you on and present your merit badges.

Congratulations friend, you have successfully prioritized creativity in your life for another year! This is a huge accomplishment in a world that can seem uncaring. You were able to tune out the siren call of twitter arguments, piles of laundry, and dumb cell phone games to keep appointments with yourself to create.

You have learned so much this year! You are a more skilled writer, careful reader, and thoughtful commentator than you were twelve months ago. And while you might not have a certificate to show others all that you’ve learned, it will show up in the work you produce from how onward.

You are creating around you a tribe of creators. By giving to creative communities, sharing yourself, and your ideas you have tricked brilliant people into hanging out with you! Ideas that have rattled around in your echoey head for years are suddenly spoken aloud and met with encouragement, thought provoking questions, and given new life.

Hopefully these three badges will help balance the scales as another New Years passes without having written ‘the end’. Now is the time to celebrate, appreciate, and dig in your heels for the year to come.

Happy New Year!

Celebration In Story

This time of year is filled to the brim with celebration and ritual. There are holiday parties, special foods, and time spent with family. The holidays evoke feelsings of nostalgia, joy, and (for many, a huge amount of) anxiety.

True. But how does that help with writing? The holidays provide rich sensory experiences and extreme emotions that are just ripe to be stolen borrowed for inclusion in your narratives.

The richness of a scene set in the midst of a celebration will add more depth to the world you are creating. Hidden in all the sights smells and sounds are clues about culture, character and society. And as I was reminded on the Mom Writes Podcast: All stories need world building.

And we haven’t even cracked the bottle on the heightened emotions of holidays. Celebrations often occur annually which causes wistful thoughts of years gone by. And ceremonies that mark special life benchmarks (weddings, graduations, funerals) foster feelings of resentement or superiority as comparisons are made. Essentially celebrations are time of self reflection and self assessment which can rear its ugly head in all kinds of ways, which is great for adding drama.

Below I have written a few writing prompts that I hope might trigger something useful for your project.

“Why cant I just have a normal Christmas?” He saidDescribe what his concept of a normal Christmas is and how his reality is different. Who (or what) are obstacles to his version of normal?

“Happy Effing New Year,” she muttered as people jumped and cheered around her… How does the culture you are writing about celebrate new year? When does this celebration occur? (During the planting of crops? The orbit of New Venus around an alien star? Or on December 31st?) What goals do your characters hope to achieve in the new year? Are they haunted by disappoints from the last year?

“I have been waiting for this birthday my whole life!” …How were birthdays celebrated in the childhood of your characters? Have they held on to these traditions or run from them? How does the culture feel about aging in general? How do your characters feel about getting older?

Merry Christmas and happy writing to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving

A quick break from the regularly scheduled programming to express my gratitude for my creative community. (Yes, you are a part of my creative community.) My life would be poorer without the people in it who support, push, and encourage me every day. I am inspired by the bravery and compassion I see you all bring into the world. You make me feel safe enough to create and share. Thank you.