Posts tagged creativity
Self Doubt: The Enemy of Creativity

SylviaPlathQuote-01 I've been stalling a bit lately (in spite of the fact that I've made some writing strides over the last week), primarily because I'm afraid of going forward into the uncharted territory that is the second half of my book. Up until this point, Ourselves and Others has remained a creative account of things that actually occurred in my life. From here on, though it will continue to be a piece of autobiographical fiction, I'll branch out into some different circumstances that I have little to no experience with. I keep thinking, "What if I get something wrong?" or "What if this isn't really what this is like, and everyone thinks I'm a fraud? What if I'm not able to write this as it should be written?" Self-doubt pounces on me whenever it can.

But everything can be written, if you've only got the guts to do it. Like every other writer who's ever gone outside of his/her own experiences in a story (i.e. every writer that ever existed), I've simply got to believe in my own ability enough to try. If I try and fail, then so be it. At least I stepped past my boundaries and created something, which is more than I could say for myself if I stayed afraid.

Have any of you ever been afraid to write something you didn't know much about? Did you let it stop you or did you press through and end up with something awesome? Let me know!

Today's Prompt: Write a short story in which your main character moves to a different country. He/she arrives safely, only to have all his/her possessions stolen at the airport/bus station/etc. The character now is all alone in a new place, has nothing, and there's no going back. What happens?

Happy Writing!

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Write the Book You Want to Read

ToniMorrison Today's quote is simple and sweet. Write the book you want to read. If there's a story you've thought of and wished existed, the burden falls to you alone. No one else can tell your story. Until you write it down, the only place it exists is in your head--and it's not doing anyone any good in there, is it? So get it out on paper and share it with the rest of us. ;)

Today's Prompt: Write a story from first person perspective, with other characters, but absolutely no external dialogue. The entire story must be told strictly from within the character's mind.

Happy Writing! blogsignature

How Smartphones Killed the Sense of Wonder

MagicThings Children are full of questions.

Why do the trees have leaves? Why don't snakes have legs? How does the sun know when to go down? Where does the ocean end? Can I possibly annoy my mother more?

When I was a kid, an answer was an elusive, mysterious beast. So if a question approached my mind, I'd capture it; study it; formulate possibilities and scenarios at warp speed. Potential solutions would be discussed with curious friends and hypotheses spouted to my parents. Everything was awe-inspiring, because nothing was obvious. The world was full of magic things, waiting to be fully discovered. And when--if--the answer ever came, it arrived with a sense of triumph. So that's why. I was right! I figured it out! Huzzah!

Fast forward 15 years and ten iPhone versions later. Yesterday morning I sat in the living room with my daughter, building precarious skyscrapers out of wooden blocks, and I asked her a question. "Why does Mommy love you so much?"

Her answer? She grabbed my shiny iPhone 5s from the coffee table and chirped in her precious 2 year old voice, "I don't know. Let's google it."

Let's. Google. It.

Keep in mind that my daughter does not own an iPhone. She has no Kindle Fire or Nook. The intricacies of a keyboard still elude her, though I'm convinced she knows exactly what ALT+F4 does (and abuses it terribly). Google is as foreign to her as Spain. And yet, when she heard me ask a question, her immediate reaction was to "google it." So where did she learn that?

She learned it from watching me. Us. Her mother and father, grandparents and family friends. To her, this is how we answer life's mysteries. Instead of pondering and discussing them, we type a question into our smartphone and let the internet answer for us. Let me clarify that the internet is not the issue here--the problem is that we take the internet with us wherever we go (even to the bathroom), and we consistently allow it to do our thinking for us. We have gone from a world of dreamers and wonderers to a world that knows everything and nothing all at once. Our imaginations have given way to information. While information is an invaluable thing to have, we've lost something just as important: the desire to think for ourselves; to seek out the unknown by searching beyond our fingertips. I don't know about you, but it's been a while since I've really marveled at the magic of the world around me. Smartphones have killed the sense of wonder.

With the average american child spending eight hours per day locked into media, I do worry that in the future, that lack of curiosity will lead to a lack of innovation. Maybe one day nobody will bother to come up with their own answers anymore. Maybe everyone will be so used to having information given to them that they won't know how to create it. That's scary, and I can't do anything about it. But I can salvage my sense of wonder. Next time a question wiggles its way into my mind, I can resist the urge to pick up my iPhone. Instead, I can think. I can debate with myself. I can discuss with others. I can come up with my own answer--one that wasn't handed to me via the internet. And you know, perhaps that answer will be totally off base--but at least I'll have worked for it.

Happy Wondering,

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This isn't a writing post, but for those of you who check in for my daily quotes and prompts, here's Today's Prompt:

Think of a question you don't know the answer to. Create your own answer, and write a short story explaining it. Don't use any search engines until after your story is complete!

Backyard Books: Using Reading to Enhance Your Writing

  Once, my backyard was Narnia. The trees had minds of their own; resident pets spoke in voices only I could hear. In my hot-and-cold Louisiana winter, snow never came because I had defeated the White Witch, the Pevensie children by my side. And in the fall, when our bonfire pile grew high with sticks and scraps, it wasn't just a pile. No, it was the Lonely Mountain, and my charge was to defend it from dragonfire. From the ground, Smaug looked like a harmless sparrow in the sky, but I knew better. The fate of the Lonely Mountain—even of Middle Earth—was in my hands. I wouldn't let it burn.

That was my creative reading, manifested in the veritable wonderland behind my one-story suburban house. Now that I'm older, I can't go scrambling up piles of sticks or whispering to the trees. I can't pass off pebbles as the dwarf-king's gold, but my mind still builds around the words I read, even if my body is at rest. When immersed in a book, I imagine the scene, the characters—even myself included in the pages. 

I am a creative reader, through and through. And that exercise of my imagination makes me a better writer. Creativity is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So when you read, don't resign yourself to being an outsider. Instead, take part in the story by accessing your imagination. Let yourself be transported to a different world and see if it doesn't make a difference in the world to which you belong. You might just find that the next world you create is just a little better than the one before.

Today's Prompt: Read a chapter in another author's book or a short story. Now imagine yourself as a key player in that story, and write it again from your perspective. How is the story different now that you're there?

Happy Writing!

KC

Quote of the Day--Alice Walker

retroflowerwreath How many of you novelists out there got your start writing poetry?

*Raises hand*

For me, it was awful, teenage-angsty poetry about death and blood and my oh-so-horrible feelings and stuff. Happily, I eventually transitioned into poems that read more like this and less like Poe on Xanax and whiskey. Now, as Alice Walker says, I've gotten into writing novels, and that poetry is deeply engrained in everything I write.

I love language; I love the way I can harness it and use it to express exactly what I need to express. Poetic devices make that process infinitely more sophisticated. To be quite honest, I don't know if my writing would be worth anything if I had no sense of poetry. Guess it's a good thing I do!

How about you? Are you a poet, or have you ever considered yourself to be one? How does that affect your writing?

Today's Prompt: Write a narrative poem from the perspective of a teenager. Now turn that poem into a short story, using at least three lines from your poem, word for word, in the text.

And today I have a small bonus for those of you who are currently writing novels and would like to share, no extra writing required:

Go through your novel and find a particularly poetic passage or line that you'd like to share with all of us. Post it in the comments!

Happy Writing/Passage Finding!

KC

Quote of the Day—Lucy Maud Montgomery



In yesterday's post, I said I would find a quote that inspired me. This is what I came up with. Lucy Maud Montgomery (through Anne Shirley) puts this desire perfectly into words. This is why I write or sing or do anything creative. Just reading this quote makes me want to sit down at my computer and "add some beauty to life." Color me inspired.

So (if you're creative) why do you pursue your art? 

Today's prompt: write a short fiction piece that takes place in a world in which laughter does not exist.

Post your story in the comments. Happy writing!

KC

Quote of the Day—Jack London

How many of us are guilty of this? I've definitely been subject to the whole "I haven't written in a week, but I just haven't been inspired" thing. Many of us writers don't have bosses looking over our shoulder, making sure we do our work. No one is making schedules for us or giving us ideas. We are self-propelled, which is a good thing, but can also make productivity harder to achieve. Sometimes that lack of accountability can equal procrastination, laziness, and a whole lot of excuses. Well. No more excuses! Find inspiration somewhere, whether it's in your own brain or in a song, a movie, the work of a writer you love. Just go out and get it! In fact, today I'm going to look for a quote that really makes me want to write. Tomorrow I'll post it as the quote of the day.

Today's prompt: In the spirit of London's quote, force inspiration to come to you. Write a short piece of fiction set in a place generally uninspiring: the Office of Motor Vehicles.

Post your response in the comments!

KC