“Freedom lies in being bold.”
Writing dangerously is all about becoming bolder. Here’s how my handy Oxford Compact English Dictionary defines the word “bold:” 1) confident and courageous; 2) audacious, impudent; and 3) (of a colour or design) strong and vivid.
Confidence, courage, audacity, impudence, strength and vividness — can we bring these to our writing? Of course, we can! What practices can help engender these qualities? That’s exactly what illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien (AnneSibleyOBrien.com) has been sorting through in her own creative work. In an earlier post called “Sparking Creativity,” I described some of the techniques she’s found most helpful. Recently, I came across a few more practices she’s employed that I wanted to share here:
Put the work first: Make fueling and fulfilling your creativity a top priority. Whatever the demands on your time or challenges that life throws at you, figure out a way to keep you writing center stage — carve out the time and space to let the magic happen.
Do warmups and visual exercises: “Putting myself in a playful frame of mind and experimenting with other angles and approaches opens up possibilities for what goes on the page,” notes Anne. Creating a playful writing mindset might mean using Julia Cameron’s idea of “Morning Pages,” to loosen up our brains, or reading poetry with lots of word play, or taking three words from the dictionary and weaving a story around them for 10 or 15 minutes. Or even coloring in a coloring book to relax and stoke ourselves.
Focus solely on this one thing, no distractions: Once you are in work mode, stay in the zone. Save emails and social media for later.
Do extensive roughs: “Allow for ‘accidents’ and discoveries.” In our work, I think this means going for messy, unruly drafts that may take us to exciting, unpredictable places.
Do the finals over and over: For us, this translates into zealously pushing our writing to the next level, polishing and repolishing it until it shines.
Find models of excellence: Constantly be on the lookout for inspiration from other creative souls. As Anne observes: “anyone who holds themselves to a higher standard helps me do the same.”
Practices to ponder as we all write on.