“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw
“Each day is a new day.”
An article in The Writer magazine (December, 2016) on jump starting creativity caught my eye recently. In it, author and creativity coach Cathy Pickens described “rambling” — exploring new environments and activities outside the writing realm as way of refilling our creative well. While rambling can look like “goofing off” to other people — it’s not. If you want to fuel your creativity, she believes that you have to “give yourself permission” to do it and then make it a deliberate part of your writing practice.
By incorporating forays into new situations into your pursuit of the writing life, you gather new experiences and impressions that can spark ideas later. The knowledge and observations you gain and the connections you make all feed your writing and enrich it. The idea behind trying new things far a field from the page and our daily practice isn’t to master a new skill. “It’s about learning how to take risks and learning that it’s OK not to be good at something,” notes Cathy. “I’m not going to be a master at everything I try, but I am going to be serious about mastering my craft as a writer.”
“Rambling” opportunities come in all shapes and sizes — here are a few ideas you might considering trying to refill your own creative well:
Reading “Special interest” magazines: Whether it’s a magazine on meditation or dog breeders or crafts or opera, just browsing at a newsstand or the library can open up whole new worlds to you. You may find a creative tip from an opera singer or a gifted meditator that can enliven your writing. I once picked up a magazine on cigars and found a fabulous interview with an actor who talked about risk-taking in the creative arts. What a find!
Reading outside your genre: Sometimes in our drive to master the genre we’re in, we can find ourselves in a creative rut. Letting our reading range more widely often enriches our work. I’m not a mystery fan, but I recently read a few Agatha Christie novels that started my creative juices flowing. Her character sketches and use of dialogue to convey both personality and plot were really inspiring and gave me some new ideas for my novel.
Taking a course: Getting into new spaces and psychic places can be a great way to refill your creative well. Instead of taking a writing class, why not explore something new and different, like pottery or woodworking? Isabel Allende finds that beading is a way of bringing color and rhythm into her life that spills over into her writing.
Alright, writers, let’s ramble! And then let’s all write on.