Day 476 – The Saturday Answer.

The Friday Question was one for the end of the holidays to provide inspiration for next year’s holidays, and it was . . .

. . . If you could spend three months writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I struggled to narrow this down to one single location.

Cornwall and France featured heavily due to the coast line and the sea. Le Touquet winning out for its ease of access around the town and beach front for my wife.

The setting of your story probably had an influence.

Would James Bond have been quite the same if Ian Fleming hadn’t been in Jamaica? A Year in Provence really wouldn’t have been the same without actually being in Provence. Would Harry Potter have turned out different if it had been written in Sweden rather than Scotland?

I went for the place I feel calm and contented in order to write comfortably.

Maybe you need excitement and noise?

We are all different and if we weren’t we would all be arguing over the last rooms/house to rent in the same place.

Day 467 – Creative Like Bill Belichick, Pt.2.

So yesterday I suggested that relatives could take inspiration/lessons from sports and hopefully I will convince you today.

Bill Belichick is the most successful NFL coach ever because:

  • He stays focused on the overall goal and works hard to achieve it
  • He never goes through the motions and always trains with purpose
  • He makes sure that he puts the right players on the pitch at the right time
  • He doesn’t panic if things don’t seem to be working early on in the season and understands the importance of late on in the game and the season
  • He doesn’t waste time talking about the game

So how does this translate into being creative?

Be really clear about what you are trying to achieve.

Belichick knows the season is about winning the Super Bowl and so is the pre-season and the post-season. If you want to write a novel then that is the goal, nothing else. Prepare. Execute. Analyse to make next year’s performance better. It is hard work so put in the hours. Be focused and cut out distractions. Commit and achieve.

Practise with purpose and put what you learn into action.

A very underestimated part of what Belichick does is the practice field. The Patriots train with crowd noise. They train with old and scuffed up balls, removing as much of the grip as they can. They try to recreate conditions similar to the ones they will play in. All practice is purposeful.

It can be hard if you are time pressed for your creative pursuit but you need to practice. If you are a writer then try and find an extra couple of hundred words which are based on what you are writing, or will write in the next chapter. It might be character descriptions, or scene setting, or dialogue. If you are an artist you might need to experiment with colour, or sketch certain body parts, or try different techniques for applying the paint.

Use the creativity you need for that particular moment.

Don’t get distracted or show off. Use the skills to produce the elements you need to make that particular chapter, or picture, or composition, exactly as you need it. Be prepared and execute. If the scene is your chapter is heavy on dialogue, then make sure you have been practicing that element. Listen to good movies or tv, listen to or read good scenes from books and plays.

Don’t Panic!

Sometimes, particularly in the early stages, things might not go quite the way you had planned. It happens. Work out why and fix the issue. Sometimes there might not be a specific problem, you just didn’t execute well enough, so make sure you do the next time. Keep pressing on and know everything will come together late on in the season when it really matters. You may have zigged when you wanted to zag but keep the process going and remain focused on the end result.

Don’t waste time and energy.

Monosyllabic answers and repetitive phrases at press conferences are communicating that this isn’t where we win championships and Super Bowls.

As creatives we have platforms which can really boost the audience for our creativity in ways which no other writers/artists have had before, but it can also be a massive distraction. Social Media is the press conference. Learn from Bill. Don’t waste your energy and know it is taking time away from your main job. It is necessary, which why even he does them, but his conduct tells you that he knows what is important. The end result.

So Create Like Bill! And I hope to see you all in the Hall of Fame! (But don’t be surprised if Bill doesn’t speak with us!)

Day 444 – A Sense of Place.

I’ve been listening to a BBC Radio documentary on The Pennine Way.

It is a national trail which runs for 268 miles through England and up into Scotland, and the hills over which it runs is often called the ‘backbone’ of England.

The documentary describes the places and the people along it, the music, songs, and poetry which it inspires, the history and the culture of its length.

Many creatives are both inspired and captivated by what is right there on their doorstep.

Which places and people, history and culture, inspires you and how does it inspire and direct your creative output?

Day 433 – Idea Notebook.

Some writers seem to swear by a notebook. Others swear at the mere suggestion of one.

Most artists make sketches. Most musicians will record something on their mobiles – probably.

Have some way of recording your thoughts, ideas, research, and inspirations, is essential.

Too much happens to us on any given day to remember every idea we have.

I think it was Under the Dome which Stephen King had the idea for when he was still a teacher. He may even have written a scene or section. That became something special when he eventually returned to it after becoming one of the most successful novelists of his generation.

Whether you use apps on your phone, or a notebook, or both, keep them handy and use them. Read back through them on a regular basis.

Transfer those ideas as you develop them to a bigger notebook or your laptop.

Return to them and with a little TLC they will grow into something special.

Day 407 – Write Where You Are.

There are two points here.

The first is, literally, write where you are.

You don’t need a magic desk, or a sea view, or the sound of migrating Elk – to be honest I don’t even know if Elk migrate, but you get the point I’m sure.

Write in a notebook, write on your phone, write on your arm.

Keep your brain on its creative channel and don’t switch over to see what is on the other side.

I’m still learning this lesson.

The second point is, write where you are. Write from your thoughts, your experiences, the voices of the characters standing next to you.

Sometimes the people reading you will love it. Sometimes they won’t.

It’s like your favourite band. You don’t like every album they’ve ever made. Well not the same anyway.

You have preferred albums. This one blew your mind. That one made you wonder is a cover band made it because the original band members were still drinking cocktails in Tahiti.

They were writing where they were.

That’s all they could do. They could only write what was there with them at that moment in time.

That is all you can do too.

Some people will think it is your best work ever. Others will wonder if you are still in Tahiti.

So write where you are. (Which might actually be Tahiti!)