All writers have time before and after (and in-between) writing time. How should we use that time? Better yet, how could we use that time in a way that may be useful to the B.I.C. (Bum In Chair) time we are afforded for our writing?
How about we make a short list?
- READ MORE – This is the easiest thing a writer can do to assist their own writing skills. What you put in to reading, you get back tenfold as a writer. As your neurons are connecting in new and interesting ways with the stories you read on the page, so to is your imagination working in the background on your own creative avenues of adventure. Never underestimate the power that reading gives you as a writer.
- RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE A PART OF A BIGGER FAMILY – It doesn’t matter what we write, writers have great opportunities to commune with one another in many interesting ways. Join writing circles, both in-person and online. Help other writers and accept help from other writers. There is SO much you can do. Host them on your blog, either in the form of a guest post or an interview. Offer to beta read their work. Be creative…if you can think of something that would benefit you, chances are it would benefit your fellow writer.
- NOTE TO SELF – This sounds corny, but it helps. Really, it does. Leave yourself little post-it notes on your mirror. Today, I will write an amazing sentence! I will edit Chapter 16 today! Today I will finish my first draft! I am a great writer! I will be published! I am going to submit something today! An agent is going to ask me for a full! You get the picture. Write yourself positive affirmations about your writing, about your writing life…
- VISIT THE HARD STUFF – We all skirt that place in our minds where we fear to tread. You know those demons you carry but dare not write about. Go there. Go to the deepest darkest place you can find inside of yourself…and when you come back from the journey, write from there! Be fearless. Your heart has a story to tell. Listen to it. Be authentic.
- GO FOR A WALK – Yes. A walk. It’s simple. ♪♫Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking across the flo-o-or. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.♪♫ Do silent meditation walks through the forest. Walk downtown and listen to the traffic. Walk downtown and listen to music screaming in your headphones as you drown out the traffic. It doesn’t matter how you do it…a walk is a fantastic thing for a writer to take. Your mind forgets the niggling day to day things when you’re out for a brisk walk…it’s free to wander. You can get it working for you in writerly ways.
- TAKE YOUR SHIT SERIOUSLY – Write out goals for yourself. This is a bit like the post-it notes, but the mind is a terrible enemy of the heart. We have to repeatedly poke it to get it to do what we want it to do sometimes. Once your goals are on paper, see to it that you achieve them. You’re the only one standing in your way. Nobody else is going to give a shit if you succeed or fail. Do it for you. 200 words a day times 365 days is 73,000 words. Break your goals down into manageable bites if need be. I just showed you an example of this with a goal to write a novel in 1 year. Seems like a hell of a hard thing to do—write a novel in a year. Then you break it down into 200 words a day and you can’t imagine not being able to write a measly 200 words in one day. 200 words is nothing, right? This bullet point alone is almost 200 words. Do this many words every day for a year and you have yourself a novel. Treat your writing like it’s important—like your shit matters. Because it does. It’s yours. It’s the result of your creativity. That’s golden.
- SERIOUSLY, CHILLAX – Writing is fun. Writing is allowing your creative side to do cartwheels across the floor. Writing is liberating your inner-child to sing at the top of his/her voice in the library where quietude is mandatory. Writing is using every colour in the crayon box to colour in your horse, just because you want to. Don’t, for the love of god and all things holy, make it a chore. When you feel that writing is becoming a chore, step away from it. You’re doing it wrong. Go read some poetry—maybe Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss. Don’t be serious. But be serious.
- FIND WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE – Yes. Do it. Book yourself at an open mic event. Or get your own audience of friends and peers and read aloud from your work in front of them. Get yourself into a writing commitment with a seriously scarey deadline. Offer to teach a workshop at your local library. Do something that will put you out on a limb without a paddle, or up a river without a parachute. Make yourself breathless with fear.
- TAKE INTERESTING COURSES THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH WRITING BUT LOADS TO DO WITH CREATIVITY – You must have other interests? Macrame? Underwater Basket-Weaving? Photography? Stained-Glass Window Design? Theatre Arts & Drama? Oil Painting? Finger Painting? Bamboo Carving? Glass Blowing? Totem Pole Carving? All these things feed the creative monster inside. Learning new skills also gives you more to write about.
Behold! The cover for Ryan Hill’s debut YA Paranormal novel THE BOOK OF BART, coming May 22 from CURIOSITY QUILLS!
Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.
With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bart, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.
If Bartholomew wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.
It’s almost that time of the year again. The Alumnae Theatre is about to come to life, thanks to Dominik Loncar and his 9th Annual InspiraTO Festival!
Last year, I was fortunate enough to get one of the Playwright Mentoring spots with the festival. Dominik coached and mentored six recipients of this mentoring fellowship, and we each had a play in the festival (mine was PERFECT TIMING). When the call went out for plays to be performed in the neighbourhood surrounding the theatre, I jumped at the opportunity. So I actually had two plays in the festival (the second was WALK-INS WELCOME and it took place at a neighbourhood salon). It was an amazing experience and I learned invaluable lessons from Dominik, my dramaturge, my director, and my actors. I was able to be a part of each step of the process. Amazing stuff!
This year, I hope to attend as an audience member. The festival takes place May 29th – June 7th. I am just getting back from my Camino walk in Spain at this time, so barring any unforeseen circumstances I will be able to catch some of the plays near the end of the festival.
I suggest you take in this festival. It is filled with incredible talent…a real NOT-TO-BE-MISSED event. I was able to take in every play last year, and they were all fantastic.
Some of the details:
- This year’s festival is to showcase 21 ten-minute plays – 12 from the playwriting contest, one artistic director’s play and 9 from the new playwriting academy (this academy has sprung from last year’s mentorship spots – the brainchild of Dominik Loncar)
- There will also be site-specific plays (plays that take place in venues around the neighbourhood of the theatre)
- The festival runs from May 29th – June 7th
- Ticket sales will soon be announced – This is a hot ticket item, so get your tickets early!
A video of Dominik Loncar and Lumir Hladik discussing the InspiraTO Festival:
This past Sunday, I had a rebirth of sorts. Of the poetic kind. My relationship with poetry has always been dismissive, at best. I kind of use poetry, actually. I’ve always seen it as a sort of calisthenic exercise to lube up the writing mind. The result of my poet-ing has never been the driving factor. It was always about the process, just the playing with words to limber up for the real writing. The fiction.
As much as I used poetry, though, I have always had a deep love of it. I see its place and importance in the world. I just never took my own work in the medium very seriously.
Having been away from poetry for so long, however, I began to realize it might have been a bit more important to me than I was letting on. When you feel as though you can’t write poetry, you begin to see a disconnection between yourself and the world around you…the words around you. Poetry is playful. It gives the dabbler a feeling that they are grounded with their surroundings. Well, it made me feel this way, anyway.
On Sunday I went to POETRY SANCTUARY DAYS at the Uplands Writing Retreat in Goodwood, Ontario. This sanctuary Sunday was hosted by writer, poet, writing instructor James Dewar. James is a friend, a mentor, and a all-round great guy. He was the first to offer me a stage to showcase my poetry. Some years ago now, he gave me a Feature Night at the Renaissance Cafe in Toronto. That was some leap of faith! I’ll be forever grateful for it.
Before I speak of the great and energetic day of creation, I have to say that the location is one of the most beautifully idyllic places I’ve ever come across. The house is all windows, facing a pond, trees, a dock, nature. So beautiful. I stood at the window wondering how anybody could actually live nestled within such amazing beauty. It almost hurt.
James’s lesson on metaphor and simile was one of those defining moments for me. As he spoke, a fissure appeared in my thinking and the light came on. It was so exciting to see poetry in a new light. And we were not only able to take these lessons in and discuss ideas as a group of poets, but we were also given invaluable writing time. The day was structured so that there were hours of quiet time where we all simply lounged around the house writing poetry. The best workshops give writing time to the participants. With the lessons fresh in our heads, we were able to explore what they meant to us as poets. I was able to put what I had just learned into action, thereby solidifying the concepts in my mind.
We also had times when we sat in a circle and shared our raw and vulnerable new pieces of poetry. I heard some extraordinary pieces. Amazing to hear just bled words…so fresh, the ink not yet dry. There was definitely something beautiful and enchanting in each piece I heard. I was honoured to be there, hearing such lovely words.
A delectable lunch was hand-delivered by my favourite foodie, the glorious DEB RANKINE, The Fridge Whisperer…longtime friend and sometime partner in crime. Thanks, Deb…for another fabulous meal!
If you’re in the GTA, you really should check out these poetry sanctuaries. I feel lifted for having gone to one. Thanks to James, for a fantastic day in paradise!
Find out all about the event:
While you’re at the site, don’t forget to check out all the other things that INK SLINGERS has to offer!