Towards a Year of Creative Thinking

dancer's shadowSorting through the boxes and folders of lesson plans, lectures and articles I wrote during my years of teaching creative movement and physical theater, I found my notes for a discussion on ‘creative thinking for creative movers’.

A perfect reminder for the beginning of a new year – for movers and writers. Continue reading

Are Some Creativity Myths Holding You Back?

sunset and clouds over Lac BromeAre you letting some creativity myths stop you from getting down to the creative work you should be doing?

It’s so easy to use some of these myths as excuses – I don’t have enough experience, I don’t have any truly new ideas, I don’t have the right pen, desk, laptop, I haven’t planned it all out yet…

In a recent Globe and Mail article, Harvey Schachter examines how David Burkus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., describes – and rewrites – these myths in his book The Myths of Creativity.

I found myself mulling over three of the myths from a writer’s (or any creative person’s) perspective.

The Originality Myth

“Creative ideas are assumed to be original to their creator […] But history shows ideas usually develop Continue reading

Writing (Dancing, Singing…) From The Sole: A Warm-Up Exercise

bare foot on carpet I liked to make sure my little dog Brandy walked on several different surfaces every day – grass, packed earth, tarmac, mud, gravel… Needless to say, people thought I was nuts but I felt the sensory stimulation would keep him lively and perky. He did live to eighteen!

This exercise, based on the same idea, is a great way to ground yourself before any kind of creative work. I particularly like to do it before sitting down to write or when I’m stuck.

You can use any images, words or ideas that came to you during the exercise in your writing (free write, first draft, insert a new image/idea into something you’re already working on). Or you can simply use it to connect with the ‘now’, to be present with yourself and slip away from your controlling inner editor (or any outer editors for that matter). Continue reading

Characters, Backstories and Broken Wrist.

wrist in plaster castSometimes characters appear complete with full backstory. More often they don’t. Just as in real life, a writer has to hang around to see beyond first impressions.

Broke my wrist on Saturday. Went to emergency. Still there Saturday evening. Big tough macho fella comes in with bloody hand. Continue reading

Be Inspired: October Grab Bag of Exercises, Links, Ideas

Mother Earth, sculpture, Canadian entry at Mosaicultures Internationales, Montreal 2013

Mother Earth

I’m always excited and immensely grateful to come across links and ideas that inspire me to write and think and dream. Here are some I’ve been enjoying recently that I’d like to share with you.

Writing Warm-Up: a right-left brain exercise

  1. Touch your right thumb to your left little finger, let go, then touch left thumb to right little finger. Let go.
  2. Touch right second finger to left fourth finger, release, then left second finger to right fourth finger. Let go.
  3. Right middle finger to left middle finger. Turn hands over Continue reading

Quick-Thinking Witch Flies AND Has Fun! Dealing With the Unexpected!

Hallowe'en witch at Montreal's Botanical Gardens 2013

Montreal Botanical Gardens

A couple of days ago my husband and I were visiting Montreal’s Botanical Gardens with friends from the UK. As the sun went down, it quickly got cold so we took the ‘short cut’ through the greenhouses to warm up with the tropical plants. After a long, very pleasant walk through the greenhouses, we finally came to the last one which was filled with pumpkins decorated by school kids and a witch sitting knitting outside her house.

She was chatting away to herself, and to anyone passing by. Her nose was long and hooked, her voice high pitched, her laugh squeaky and very contagious through the little microphone. She stroked her oversize cat and Continue reading

Odd Connections and the Creative Process: Writing “Arrivals”

Arrivals notice boardI am so pleased to have my story “Arrivals”  in the new issue of carte blanche.

I started this story in response to an assignment given by Nancy Zafris in her workshop at Kenyon Review Writers’ Summer Workshop in June 2012. Nancy gave the group a list of sentences. We were to choose one as the closing line for a story.

We were given one or two assignments every day for the whole week of the Kenyon Summer Workshop. This assignment Continue reading

Inspiration and Intention: Writing New Stories On The Road.

walking the reflexology labyrinth at Coastal Maine Botanical GardensA change of environment can often work wonders in helping stimulate new ideas, new inspiration, new ways of seeing oneself and the world. New stories too.  Perhaps it’s because a strange place makes one hyper-sensitive to new sights, sounds, impressions… That’s why Continue reading

Freedom and Structure in Revising a Story: Matt Bell’s Revision and Rewriting seminar at Grub Street

sculpture Monica (1985) by Jules Lasalle in Musée Plein Air de Lachine

Monica (1985) by Jules Lasalle
Musée Plein Air de Lachine

There I was, with a first draft I loved, a folder bursting with a massive amount of material I’d developed in search of what that first draft was truly about (none of which felt right), and absolutely no idea how to pull my story together or move it forward.

This was not a new experience for me. It always seems to happen with my favorite stories, the ones I feel really invested in, the ones I know have to be finished.

Unless my first draft is short and gives me a clear idea of where it’s going, my attempts to dig deeper into the story end up with me bushwacking my way through tangled undergrowth with no idea of whether I’m heading north, south, east or west. I have more than a few stories floating unfinished on my laptop’s hard drive (on my brain’s hard drive too). I’m not even talking about a novel here, just stories of maybe 2,500-5,000 words.

So – what next? Continue reading

Writing Political Fiction – ‘The Brothers Wolffe’ in “Everything Is So Political”

Everything Is So Political, ed. Sandra McIntyre, Fernwood PublishingI am very proud and excited to have my story “The Brothers Wolffe” included in the recently released anthology “Everything Is So Political” edited by Sandra McIntyre and published by Roseway/Fernwood Publishing.

I didn’t set out to write a political short story. Somehow, that never works for me.

With “The Brothers Wolffe” I was simply writing in reaction to an image on a postcard that I noticed in a café in the UK when I was visiting on holiday.

The postcard showed two men sitting side by side, knees agape, hands on thighs, looking Continue reading