Where’s the Write Spot?

Every second week I gather up my pencils and notebooks after breakfast and set out to find somewhere to write for the day. Preferably somewhere I’ve never been before.

“No one is immune to the impressions that impinge on the senses from the outside.” Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Could be a park, a café or terrasse, an art gallery or museum, a mall, a greenhouse…

I find working somewhere different helps spark off fresh, unexpected ideas.

The new chairs and benches on the Montreal streets this summer are attractive options too! I love the replacement of sidewalk flowers along McGill College Avenue with parsley and other herbs.

summer chairs along ave McGill College, Montreal

Sometimes I look up places I’ve heard about in advance, but usually I just set out and see what I come across. Montreal is a great place for that!

When I saw Continue reading

Need A Creative Boost? Wild Write!

This year I set out to write a ‘Blurt’ – what I now think of as a ‘Wild Write’ – every week. I wasn’t very precise about what I intended, just that I wanted to make the most of a few spare minutes by writing something new (most likely fiction) that I would commit to posting on my blog.

Why?

I was looking for a creative boost.

I needed to find a way to look afresh at my collection of stories and novella. I’d been working on them for quite a while and they had become just too familiar. I was hungry to get into new stories but wasn’t prepared to commit a lot of time to new material as my priority was to finish the collection.

I was nervous! Would I be able to write something quickly that could be made public? Was I crazy to go against the advice of people far more experienced than myself?

“Don’t waste time on a blog,” I’d read. “Focus on your ‘real’ writing.”

“Don’t post stories on your blog as they will then be considered published and no journal will accept them,” was another piece of advice.

But I decided to go ahead all the same.

With just over Continue reading

New Year’s Resolution? Blurt Writing!

Quebec City

Towards the end of 2015 I went for three days to Quebec City.

When I go away I like to write a story a day but I knew I wouldn’t have time to write much in Quebec City. There were simply too many interesting things to do there in too short a time.

So I decided to write ‘blurts’ – five or so minute writing sprints whenever I had the opportunity. While waiting in a line or for a coffee, or for my husband to finish the crossword…

I had such a great time with these blurts – so many surprises and rewards – that I decided I wanted to keep them part of my regular writing life.Quebec City

A huge plus is that they provide me with much needed zaps of creative energy as I continue to work on a longer manuscript, re-writing and editing work that I’ve re-written and edited over a fairly long period of time.

The problem? Even though I know there are plenty of five/ten minute periods when I could easily sit down and write, back home in my regular routine they seem to slide past without me picking up a pen.

How to keep myself writing blurts? Continue reading

End of Year Sharing of Writing and Creative Resources

In my last post of the year, I’d like to share some links to websites, posts and articles that have been particularly useful for me this year.

Some are helpful in terms of writing craft or writing life or creativity, others are inspirational, and yet others energizing. Some are just fun. Some are all of the above! All make me want to write.

Enjoy! Continue reading

Left Hand, Right Brain! Ta-Da!

Finally I gave in. My neck pain was so bad that I booked an appointment with a massage therapist.

The therapist told me that my body was out of kilter. My right side was dominating all my movements. The left side was doing nothing.

I checked it out.

I couldn’t even open my locker at the gym (one of those simple three to the right, two to the left, one to the right dial locks) with my left hand. And once my left hand finally found the right numbers, my fingers didn’t have the strength to pull the locker door open. The lock popped out of my fingers and I’d have to start all over again.

As I was making myself work the lock with my left hand, I remembered right-left brain theory: that each side of the brain works with the opposite side of the body, i.e., right brain and left side of the body and vice versa.

So if I concentrated on using my left hand/side, would that act like a vitamin booster for my right brain?

The right side of the brain is the creative side (left is more linear and logical and analytical).

The right brain is the creative brain and is responsible for rhythm, spatial awareness, colour, imagination, daydreaming, holistic awareness and dimension. It controls the left side of your body. The Thinking Business

My right brain could do with a little pepping up, so now I’m using my left hand as much as possible – stirring the soup (OKish), opening doors, chopping and peeling veggies (awkward). combing my hair and brushing my teeth (improving), painting screen doors (bad idea)….

Just wait! You’ll see! Any moment now I’ll be swept up in an amazing creative splurge!

In a Strange Place: Writing Lesson From The Woman In Gold

Since April 2 this year, Gustav Klimt’s painting Adele Bloch-Bauer I, the Woman in Gold, has been the centerpiece of a special exhibition at the Neue Galerie in New York.

In the painting, Adele stands radiant, hands delicately curved towards her chest, wearing a dazzling bejewelled dress, dark hair coiffed high.

On a lower floor of the Neue Galerie, in a passage near the toilets, hangs a related display of pictures. These were created by students in Vienna, the original home of the painting, who were asked to imagine Continue reading

Seeing Strange: The Horse With No Eyes

Notre Dame Cathedral, Vieux Port, Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral, Vieux Port, Montreal

I’m waiting for a friend in Place d’Armes, the plaza in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal’s Vieux Port.

A great place to wait! So much to enjoy!

Narrow cobbled streets, the imposing cathedral, the surrounding historic buildings (which include Montreal’s oldest building: Saint Sulpice Seminary dating from 1687), a guitarist and singer performing under a shady tree, tourists…and of course, the calèches – the horse-drawn carriages festooned with flowers or feathers.

calèche opposite Saint Sulpice Seminary, Vieux Port, Montreal

Three young kids break away from their parents as they catch sight of the queue of calèches, shrieking with delight. They run across the plaza towards the horses, eyes shining, arms open.

Halfway across, the smallest, a boy, freezes, a terrified look on his face. Continue reading

Waiting: A Writing Lesson From A Samurai Bullfrog

bullfrog

I should be writing. Instead I’m sitting at the water’s edge of the pond, watching an enormous bullfrog.

IMG_8963

He (she?) is sitting there, immobile. He’s waiting. Like me.

Except he’s waiting for insects and I’m waiting for ideas about how to end the story I’m working on. It’s a little story and I’ve spent far too much time on it, but I can’t seem to let it go.

“Better times come to those who wait.” So they say. Not necessarily. It depends on how you wait!

I’ve never been good at waiting. Usually I get too impatient and try push things ahead – which is when something inevitably goes wrong, whether I’m writing or trying to change a hotel room because I don’t like being next to the ice machine. I take the story somewhere it really doesn’t want to go and find myself blocked; I end up in a room with a brick wall two inches from the window.

But there’s waiting…and waiting.

What about active Continue reading

A Smartphone? Waiting Is My Dreamtime!

Central Park, NYCCentral Park in New York City. Pink and white blossom all around us. Yellow forsythia. Brilliant blue sky above. Earlier my husband and I had delighted in all the fresh spring colors. Back home there wasn’t seen so much as a spike of crocus or daffodil to be seen.

But now was no time to admire nature. We had to get ourselves across Central Park to our hotel in time to get the shuttle to the airport. I had the map (a paper map!), I knew where I was going…except we somehow kept finding ourselves back on Fifth Avenue!Central Park, NYC

For the first time ever, I wished I had a smartphone. I was sure an app of Central Park would be able to get us through the maze of winding paths in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, as my aunt used to say.

My sister is always trying to persuade me to get a smartphone. Think of all the things you could do while waiting in a queue, she says. You can read the newspaper, find a book or magazine to read, surf the web.

But now, I tell her, I can gaze into the middle distance and suddenly realize what a character in my story should be doing, overhear something interesting or notice Continue reading

Writing Lessons From Three-Letter Words

From WordPress today, a challenge to write a post without using a single three letter word.

I am never able to resist a tightly restrictive challenge!

As soon as I start, I find three-letter words wanting to jump into every sentence I write. I have to include them: not but and the who can are all (*numbers below refer to these outlawed words)

Is there a writing lesson in this challenge? What am I to do in my writing today if I want to keep to these designated guidelines?

  • stay positive (#1*: “I do want to go….”)
  • agree (#2: no objections)
  • state things simply, in short sentences. Insert a period where this word might normally go (#3)
  • give your writing a punch by omitting this word (#3 again). Instead, stack up clauses using commas.
  • experiment with multiples (#4: some, several, those…)
  •  be vague or personal (again #4: “I tripped over a…”  “I tripped over your…”)
  •  go high-falutin’ (#5: “whomsoever aspires to write a post without using…”)
  •  delete whenever it pops up (#6: is it actually necessary in your sentence?)
  •  find those fancy verbs or employ (!) simple forms of verbs (#7)
  •  divide (#8: “everyone except Marianne…”)