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

The Fine Line of Focus

IMG_4819-1What is your favorite writing moment?

Mine has to be when I’m writing in response to a prompt (could be some detail in a story I’m working on or something entirely new) and I feel that special tug. Something has grabbed me, something that intrigues me, that seems meaningful, even if I’ve no idea what exactly or why. All at once I’m alert, curious to see what’s going to happen, energized, happy as a clam on its favorite rock when the tide is in.

Sometimes this happens after I’ve been free-writing, going with whatever wafts through my mind. Other times it happens when I’ve been concentrating on details of the prompt itself.

Once in the flow, both kinds of focus are needed to keep going: Continue reading

Writing Advice From The Sword: What Fencing Can Teach Writers

unpacking sabersWhat’s a writer to do when winter just goes on and on and it’s March and there’s still snow on the ground and minus temperatures? Take up fencing.

As a movement artist-educator I’ve always believed that changing and challenging your usual ways of moving is an effective and pleasurable way to energize yourself and boost your creative thinking.

Fencing is certainly making my brain sizzle. And there’s the bonus of getting writing advice too!

1. Don Protective Gear Continue reading

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

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

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

Playing With Words: Sentence Experiments – Writing Exercise

Shadows II by Jaume Plensa MMBA on loan from Georges Marciano

Shadows II by Jaume Plensa
MMBA on loan from Georges Marciano

Nothing perks up a piece of prose – and a writer – more than playing around with sentence structures.

A fun exercise I especially enjoy is to take a sentence that feels totally alien and try to write my own sentence in exactly that same style. Why? To surprise myself. To kick myself out of my same old same old ho-hum sentence habits. To discover new rhythms.

“I’m playing with words” Virginia Woolf

The Exercise Continue reading

One Core Essential Of Narrative Energy, And A Writing Exercise

man dancing with feathersYesterday, at the National Arts Gallery in Ottawa, we were walking up the ramp along the glass wall to the galleries behind two young boys with their mother.

An elderly, very smartly dressed couple started down the ramp. The man stopped as he and his wife were about to pass the boys. He leaned towards them. Pursing his lips, he started to Continue reading

Lost Moments Found: Writing the Moment of Waiting

flight to Bella BellaLike everyone else, my life is full of moments of waiting – at the doctor’s or dentist’s, at a bus or train station, for a flight, for my loved ones! Ideal times for writing, right? Not for me. I find it very difficult to write creatively unless I know I have a good long chunk of time ahead when I know I will not be disturbed. This is partly because, I have to admit, it takes me so long to settle down to writing, but also because I need lots of time to lose myself in my story. And how can I let go and sink into the story when I have to watch the time or listen for a flight or train number or for my name to be called? But what a waste of good writing time!

I used to travel a lot for work and couldn’t bear not to use the hours of waiting Continue reading