Thursday, July 30, 2009

Creativity for Writers

When I notice fellow authors winning prestigious writing awards and getting great reviews in Publishers Weekly and other influencing book review magazines, I realize what makes their work noticed. They think outside the box and take a chance on writing an unusual and meaningful novel. I then ask myself what can I do—what can you do—to bring you work to the light and set your book title on the Best Seller list.

I believe a major factor is creativity. Recently I read an article on the Internet called 10 Tips for Creativity, I reviewed it and asked myself how this could apply to writers. So many of us face deadlines that drive us forward and doesn’t leave us time to be unique. We think inside the box because it’s easier. Getting our books into the bookstores is prime. Though we certainly use original ideas to create our story, we excuse ourselves by saying there are only so many ideas in the world, and we accept that statement rather than challenge ourselves to delve into our deep creativity.

Below is a list of 10 things to remember about creativity:

1. No one is exempt - research shows that anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work.

2. No guilt and give yourself permission to think - Don’t feel guilty about using your time to sit, to think, and to surf. This is part of writing and research. Read books on creativity for writers and experiment. Don’t assume someone is not working if they are sitting idle.

3. Make time for creative thought - Find places that are relaxing and comfortable for you to take time for uninterrupted and focused creative thought. People produce creative work when they are focused, not when they are scattered and interrupted. While time pressure can stifle creativity, research supports that it is not the deadline that stifles; it’s the distractions.

4. Capture ideas - Good ones often come before or after work—in the shower, in your car, before you go to bed, etc. Find ways to remember them without logging on or extending your work day. I keep paper and a pen with a lighted tip on my bed table. Many times I awaken to jot down an idea that came to me before falling asleep. Walking and exercising is another place that stimulates ideas for me.

5. Collaborate - The most creative teams are those that have the confidence to share and debate ideas. If you don’t want to write as a team, use each other to brainstorm, and don’t toss out ridiculous ideas. Sometimes these ideas can stimulate others or can be toned down to become useable.

6. Be patient - The first draft of a novel is not saleable. Allow time for several ideas, iterations, and drafts before picking one. Then use that idea and expand it. Challenge it.

7. Be tenacious — Creativity depends on the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells. Manage your energy and find ways to renew.

8. Be curious - Explore, experiment, and find different ways to approach the novel. If you usually write in third person, experiment and give first person a try. It’s more difficult, but it might be the best way to approach your novel. Ask others how they do it.

9. Get out of your comfort zone - Try something you’ve never tried. From third person to first person is one POV, but you can find others. Perhaps you write in longer chapters. Try shortening them which means having a hook at the end of each will challenge you to write more creatively.

10. Be happy - Creativity is should give you a sense of joy. If you’re struggling with it, then you will lose the freshness of your story. You’ll put yourself back in the old box. Approach creativity like vacationing in a place you’ve always wanted to go. When you get off the plane or ship, everything is new and exciting. Writing should arouse the same feeling kinds of feeling in you. Smile and get creative.


Lea Ann McCombs said...

Great advice! Thanks!

Teri D. Smith said...

You mention books on creativity for writers. Could you give the titles? I have a lot of books on the craft of writing, but I can't think of one that specifically deals with creativity.

It's a subject I love though. Since we're made in the image of our Creator, part of what that means is a slice of creativity.

Kathleen L. said...

very good list, Gail. I appreciate the permission to sit and marinate in ideas. That's work, too, isn't it? Thanks!

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Glad that you enjoyed the information and found it helpful.

Terri D. Smith - I'm going to add your question and answer on the blog itself because others might like some ideas.


Kristi Holl said...

Gail, I found your list very encouraging. I tend to think of "those really creative" writers as set apart somehow from ordinary mortal writers. Your list shows that we can all reach higher. Making the time and finding the quiet may be the biggest challenges!
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog

Julie Musil said...

Such useful advice. Thank you!

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Thanks, Julie. I'm glad it added some good ideas for you.