Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Fiction Binoculars

When Monday is a national holiday, it gets a pass.

zoom-lens

One of the most important things creativity can be used for is not necessarily pushing your own views, but zooming in on something that needs more attention. In Joe Compton’s Amongst the Killing, it was how multidimensional the pain of loss can be and that it can cause self-destruction. In Jason Greensides’ The Distant Sound of Violence, it was recognition of how undervalued life can be and the spiderweb effect that can have on others, directly and indirectly. And in my book Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, it was the irreparable damage that can be done when someone is continually taught they’re worthless or wicked.

These messages aren’t meant to get you down. They’re meant to bring attention to things that aren’t talked about often enough. They’re meant to make you think about those who go through things you can’t imagine, to help you feel compassion for things you may never truly understand (hopefully). And they’re meant to warn you of situations you may not have seen coming before, situations you may be better prepared for after you read about them, even in fiction. They’re meant to help you reflect in an introspective way and to see more in others. Imagine how flat our lives might be without reading about others in places, relationships, and cultures so different from our own.

The best fiction makes us feel as if we’ve lived another life. And the best fiction of all makes us question any one-dimensional opinions we had before reading, especially ones we weren’t aware we had.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Ambiance Travel

Somehow I thought Mondays would become extinct in the new year. No such luck.

travel-via-creativity

I couldn’t find a quote that expressed my point accurately so I made my own. 🙂

We would all love to go and write wherever inspires us, both in general and for specific works. Maybe you’re writing something that requires a dark atmosphere, or maybe your piece takes place on the beach and the sound of ocean waves would make a difference to your descriptive powers. Maybe you’re dying to visit a fantasy world and write there for a while. Even if your ideal surroundings are nearby, you can’t always be where you want to when you want to.

Enter YouTube!

I recently found some videos that have been making a big difference in my writing motivation. Sleep Ambient HD is technically meant to help you relax and sleep, but take a look at the images, especially the moving ones, and listen to all the great sounds that would come naturally in each place. Have a video up on your computer full screen while you write in your notebook, or put your Word/Pages/Scrivener doc next to your chosen scene. Hear the sounds of the area and see it while you write. I’m loving the ability to feel like I’m in these places while I sit in the comfort of my own home. I like the autumn bridge video, the forgotten shipwreck, the clear Caribbean ocean, and this entire playlist, particularly gentle balcony rain. I like them all, but these are especially useful for me right now.

If you want to sit by the fire, Virtual Fireplace has loads of fires in different atmospheres. I’m in love with this pub fireplace scene, I’m using this very soft crackling fireplace a lot, or how about the Green Dragon Inn from The Hobbit?

Speaking of fantasy, the channel ASMR Rooms lets you spend time in Harry Potter settings! Spend time at Hagrid’s place, the Gryffindor common room (or Slytherin for that matter), or in the Great Hall…at Christmas!

Pair any of these videos and their ambient sounds with music you love and you’ll experience a kind of inspiration you’ve never felt before.

There are tons of channels that make these kinds of videos and I’m so happy they do. I feel like I can spend time in whole other worlds whenever I want. There are so many times I don’t have time to go somewhere or I’m not able to, whether physically, monetarily, time wise, or because it doesn’t exist in real life. Now there are no limitations to where I can go and get inspired for my writing. Even if I want that coffee shop vibe at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday, I can have it. Just press “play”.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Clearing Your Mind

Hello Monday. You’re unexpected.

creativity fill

Sometimes when I’m overly stressed, I can’t concentrate on creativity easily. It’s not a flowing process, so I need to cleanse my brain’s palette. There are two ways that I do this:

  • I make lists of everything I need to do. One of the things I constantly stress about is forgetting what needs to be done, and that can even keep me from sleeping well. Luckily there’s a simple solution: always having to-do lists. That’s easy enough!
  • When I get overwhelmed and have a hard time clearing my mind, I write haikus. I typically look up pictures of nature or the beautiful landscapes in Morrowind and write haikus about them, which is especially gratifying since haikus were originally intended to revolve around nature. Somehow this has a calming effect on me and clears my mind enough that I can let creativity take over.

A couple of weeks ago I asked what others do to relax themselves when they’re overly stressed, and I’m going to do a video about that soon. I got some great suggestions, so hopefully they’ll help you too! In the meantime:

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Creativity is Subtraction

Mondays are very sneaky, aren’t they? Just as you get used to living in the weekend, BAM, Monday wakes you up at 6 a.m.

YES. One way I personally interpret this – and I feel there are many ways to read it – is that editing is also creativity. In order for me to write and not edit as I go, I’ll include cliches and wrong words in the first draft of a novel or short story or even poem. I’m trying to get my ideas down, and in novels, twists and turns and psychology. Those are the most important things in the first draft. When I edit, I accentuate my writing style. I delete all unnecessary words and cliches. When I add something, it’s necessary, and when I change something, it’s to make it original. I adjust the character’s voice to sound like them in particular. I consider editing part of the art of writing.

Another way I interpret this is the very reason I love flash fiction, and the shorter the better. I recently wrote two 16 word pieces. I started with something 21 words long and whittled it down to 16 words with careful consideration of tense, anything that slowed it down, every word counting for more than it’s worth, and meaning behind the meaning. I came out with something much stronger than the 21 word version.

My opinion is that creativity is many things, and nothing can be left out. Creativity is subtraction (careful wording), addition (fleshing out characters), multiplication (creating series), and division (anthologies). It’s the only kind of math I care to do.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Do Share

Monday is only acceptable if you take the day off.

contagious creativity

I love this concept. In this day and age, with all the social sharing we can do, this has never been more true. We can share small works, especially passages from our current WIP and haikus and photography. Whether it’s through something formal(ish) like Wattpad or relaxed like Instagram, we can share our work and our ideas instantly and for free. I’ve never shared a whole book for free, only short works, but I do have a book or two in mind to share permafree.

Think about this too.

Libraries, art galleries, restaurants – these are all ways to share creativity, free or not. Whether it’s a novel, a piece of art, or a fusion dish, it’s something meant to bring beauty and inspiration, thought and emotion to us. Those who enjoy it get inspired to create something else, whether it’s something similar but with their own spin, or something completely unrelated. It’s because we can share our visions, our drafts, our final products that others catch the creativity bug. It’s about sharing and appreciating and interpreting. It’s about opening ourselves up to everything and deciding for ourselves what we’ll be and what we’ll create because others have shown us more than we could ever imagine. So share and share alike. I know I will.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Risk and Failure

Monday keeps coming around again, but I didn’t send it an invitation…

creativity-risk

This is so extremely true. Creativity isn’t about waiting for inspiration to strike, it’s about living in an inspired state. That’s how I see it. Some times are more creative than others, but if I don’t allow myself to live in my creativity, I start to lose my place in my writing. I literally can’t remember what I’m doing with a current work in progress.

That being said, taking risks and failing can be SO HARD! When you’re very attached to your work, it’s a part of you, so a risk is actually scary and a failure is devastating. This is what it’s like:

Risk: Let me try going in this direction with my story, I think that will work well. Yes, this is great, now I’ve spent a month on it and it’s really exciting. Oh wait, I hate it. Oh my goodness, it’s total garbage and doesn’t work at all. Oh no, now I have to start over!

Failure: I hate myself. I hate my writing. I hate everything I touch. I’m not worthy of a pen.

Yes, it’s that dramatic. But when we take these risks and we fail and we cry (and cry again), we also learn what went wrong and whether it could or couldn’t be avoided. We unveil another layer of our creativity, another secret to our inspiration. And finally, we learn that it’s worth it, through all that pain and torment, to do it again and again. And again.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Comparison as Development

Oh Monday, why are you so persistent?

creative-ppl-color-1

When I read a book, whether it’s in my genre or not, I constantly think about what I would have done differently. I don’t mean that in a critical way. I mean that I wonder whether I would have included certain details, whether I would have expanded some sections, what my own word choice would have been. It’s not a criticism of the author, it’s an exploration of myself. I wonder how different the book would be if I’d written it, what differentiates me from the author I’m reading.

Exploring differences is just as important as exploring similarities, only differences define you more clearly. They draw a line, whether a thin one or a thick one, between you and thousands of others in your genre. Thinking about what a book would have been if someone else had written it, or what a movie would have become if someone else had acted in it or directed it, is all part of expanding your creativity and your artistry. The more you can say, “I would have done it this way,” the clearer your own style becomes. And the more you can say that and still see why the author chose to do it the way they did – well, the broader your view, the more distinctive your own voice becomes.