From the Desk Remix! – Lots of Fish but only One Shark.

I think being creative is often the easiest part.

Generally, I have no shortage of ideas and inspiration, whether it is writing or art.

The problem comes in that they are often like a shoal of fish and I am in the middle of them.

Even sharks find grabbing hold of just one of those fish difficult.

And even if you do grab hold of one, then there are still all of the others whirling around you.

The last few days has been one of those periods where I’ve been lost in the shoal.

What am I doing? What should I be doing? Should I continue with this, or begin anew with that?

There is a lot of advice out there, I think given by people who aren’t in the actual middle of a shoal of fish!

My general way of dealing with the situation is to keep going until you hit a mini-breakdown – I am not recommending this as an actual practise by the way! – then you stop doing everything.

After a couple of days of thinking, reading, searching, prayer, listening to the voices in your head as well as the loud music, the fog begins to clear.

I am listening to Anberlin even whilst writing this.

After a couple of days of thinking, reading, searching, prayer, listening to the voices in your head as well as the loud music, the fog begins to clear.

It is probably more sensible, however, to:

  • take a step back
  • refocus on your priorities for your creative work
  • assess the projects you are currently dealing with
  • choose the one which is the most important/pulls the hardest at your creative muscles
  • set out a clear time frame for completing this one project
  • list, in order, the other projects to be completed if you decide to complete them

Stephen King recommends that, once you have finished your first draft of a novel, you place it in a drawer for at least six weeks, then revisit it, read it, and start editing.

This will work with ideas and inspiration as well.

Keep a notebook and write down all of your inspirations and ideas, but set a day/time when you will revisit the idea, and see what its impact on you is later on. This also stops you (me!) from chasing every fish in ths shoal!

Discard What You Don’t Need.

This is an easy piece of advice to agree with.

Until we open a drawer, or look in a cupboard, or try and find a file on our computers.

There are lots of reasons and theories about how and why we accumulate so much stuff and our parents, spouses or partners, and professionals, telling us to cut down or not buy more to begin with.

The same can be said about our creativity.

We accumulate.

We accumulate attitudes, ideas, ways of doing, which over time can leave us in a mess.

Every now and then we may have a tidy up but how many times do we discard.

The writer Stephen King was stern in his advice to ‘kill your darlings’ – those characters, paragraphs, ideas, which are you need to discard.

It is difficult to determine what we don’t need.

Creatively, surely the more skills and techniques we have the better we become?

Yes and no.

The more skills we have the more versatile we can be, but they can also lock us into a particular way of doing things which maybe limiting.

In art, think of how differing brush strokes created whole new movements such as the Impressionists

In music, think of how discarding notes from a chord helped to produce the deeper and heavier tones of Rock/Metal.

But what do we discard?

Discard whatever is holding you back.

Creatively experiment by removing things.

If, as a writer, you spend ages writing descriptive passages because you find them difficult, then discard them. Be simple and straight to the point. Your reader will help by filling in the gaps.

If, as an artist, you struggle to draw faces then don’t draw them. Most fashion designers don’t. Go further and don’t draw the bodies either.

Discarding isn’t always about getting rid of something.

It is about making space where you can choose to bring something new in.

Replace lines for dots, chords for individual notes. A human character for a non-human character.

And remember you can discard your thoughts.

You don’t need to remind yourself of what you can’t do.

Discard.

Remind yourself of what you can do.

The ‘Chicken and the Egg’ Guide for Creatives?

It is a common catchphrase – which came first, the chicken or the egg? – which appears to have a simple answer, either way, until you come to justify it.

Apparently, it was Plutarch which first posed the question in the 1st Century AD, addressing the problems of origin and first cause. Aristotle, writing four centturies earlier wouldn’t even have considered the question as he believed there was no true origin.

By the close of the Sixteenth Century the Christian world didn’t even consider the dilema as God made, or created, everything. By the Twentieth Century Evolutionary Biologists decided the answer had to be the ‘Egg’ as they calculated that the first hard shelled egg – not laid in water – couldn’t have happened until about 312 Million years ago.

So what has 2000-312,000,000 year old debate have to do with creativity?

To answer the much more pressing question of whether I am procrastinating or not!

If the egg = researching for searching for the creative impulse and chicken = actually doing the creative thing, then you are looking at the problem as I am.

I am new to art and, although I have always loved looking at art and watched lots of documentaries on art movements and artists, I am acutely aware of the lack of reference points and natural triggers I possess when I come to do the creative action.

So I research. A lot.

The it struck me, this morning as I glanced at my still empty sketchbook pages for the day, that most of the time I had for the action of creativity was in fact being taken up by the research to obtain the creative triggers, to then be creative.

So which comes first?

Creative Action?

Or Creative Thought?

Ironically, as a writer I would definitely tick the box of Creative Action. I usually start with the thinnest sliver of a starting point – maybe a few words or a person walking or entering a building – then I write. As I write the Creative Thought occurs and I get the next scene or chapter developing in my head.

As an artist the process is definitely the reverse.

Perhaps it is because there are more elements to taking action? What type of surface, what type of meduim, brushes or palette knives, sketch an outline or simply apply the paint?

In general though, how does your creativity arrive?

If you are a person of faith, or an evolutionary biologist, then you maybe decisively fall on one side or the other of the debate. Or perhaps you give the answer of certitude ‘well, it depends . . . ‘

I appear to have a foot in both camps.

My faith make me certain that the chicken came first, and if it turns out the egg was created before the chicken, then the whole creation thing happened anyway, so the principle is still proven.

I beleive that creativity comes from the Creator.

So my creative thinking process is, as I have begun to suspect, an elaborate means of procrastination.

But taking time to think and research has definitely furnished me with many creative ideas and actions!

However, if I fill in the time sheet of thought versus action, then the beginning of the Bible would go like this:

In the beginning, God took five and a half days to do research then realised it was almost the Day of Rest, so he decided to do a final bit of research and then wrote in his planner to definitely create something first thing on Sunday!

(Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath – just in case you were wondering.)

So, maybe you are like me and you are certain you’re pretty sure you know which comes first?!

Then again both options are creative, so what does it matter?

Or maybe this brings us onto another age old debate?

If a tree falls in a wood with no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Or, are you only being creative if there is an end product to prove it?

Go and be creatively thoughtful or creatively creative, and I will join you.

Changes.

Change happens all the time.

For the most part we probably don’t notice.

This last year, the changes have been much more obvious for most of us.

I expect we all have reflected a good deal on our lives and what we do with them.

I continue to stumble through writing, still convinced that this is what I want to do, despite the fitful bursts of words.

I have begun to engage with visual art.

One of my earliest memories is of painting.

I always watch art programmes and read about art history.

I know how much colours effect me, so I began to play with colours once again.

Music is never far away.

Faith holds me together.

I am hoping to share an expression of my current creative pilgrimage.

Part of the journey is realising that you always have been and will continue to be ‘on the Way’.

Acceptance, Revelation, Contentment: Exploring Your Character’s Inner ARC – ScreenCraft

Ken Miyamoto discusses a character’s Internal ARC (Acceptance, Revelation, Contentment) using the feature film FIRST BLOOD as an example.

Source: Acceptance, Revelation, Contentment: Exploring Your Character’s Inner ARC – ScreenCraft

Great examples – not just from First Blood – in this article to show you how to develop your character along with your plot in the story – both are vital!

Your main character and your story plot need to be developed together.

Tips for Screenwriters from a Professional Story Analyst – Coverfly

Tips for Screenwriters from a Professional Story Analyst – Coverfly
— Read on www.coverfly.com/tips-for-writers-from-a-professional-story-analyst/

Great pointers from story analyst , Micah Goldman.

‘Your voice is the soul of the screenplay.’

So what is your voice and how can you show that on the screen or the page?

Writing A Character Series.

Check out this excellent Guardian newspaper article interviewing a host of essential authors writing in the detective genre.

Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Val McDermaid, Ann Cleeves, and others talk about how they came to write their series and the impact of doing so.

www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jun/27/me-and-my-detective-by-lee-child-attica-locke-sara-paretsky-jo-nesb-and-more

Three Wishes When You Are Stuck In The Middle.

Via Seth Godin.

We all get stuck.

And it’s not always in mud with some friends to get us out, as in the playground game.

Normally, when we are in a creative ‘stuck’ there aren’t other people to ‘free’ us.

If you have a group of other creatives around you who can do this, then never let them get away from you – if they move city, so do you!

Seth Godin has the antidote to ‘stuck’ thankfully.

It is simple and priceless.

Read it in his own words.

I think you will agree – enough said . . .

. . . Now I’m off to do it!

Chase Jarvis – Creative Calling – Pt.2

Last week I shared some takeaways from the first session of Chase Jarvis’ Creative Calling Bookclub – if you missed it then click here!

Week 2 was about focusing on the I.

  • I – Imagine what you want
  • D – Design a system to do it
  • E – execute the plan
  • A – Amplify

So Imagine what you want.

Then be creative and take it further – take it as far as it will go. Push the envelope. What does the want look like now?

As a writer my want might be to get book(s) published. I can push this further to, publish enough books to mean I can write full time. Plus, I want to publish a fiction book one year and a non-fiction book the next year.

Let’s keep being creative!

The fiction books I want to write will be a series and some stand alones. The non-fiction books I want to write will be sport based, focused on the teams I follow, spending a season with each. Other creative arts as well.

More creative!

Let’s not worry about bestsellers but add in a podcast and still sharing writer’s knowledge to help others on the journey. I’m pretty keen on music as well – and art – so maybe the odd book or the podcast can cover these subjects?

Where does this all leave me?

Planning!

I might not be a full time writer yet, but I can sure plan as if I was!

I can set out a three, five, or ten year plan – or all of them.

What books do I plan to write first? Fiction series – more chance of catching a book deal when there is the easy sell, several more similar to the one an editor/publisher might like. I want the fourth book I write to be non-fiction.

I’m going to develop a podcast alongside those first few books – writer’s craft and the other creative arts I’m interested in. Part of this development is to start talking with other creatives in these different fields. This is preparing the way for the non-fiction books.

All the time I’m developing and adding to the blog/website.

The timeline is the guide for me to get my butt in the seat researching and writing! It all might be completed slightly sooner or later. It almost doesn’t matter. I can adapt and adjust, so long as I keep researching and writing.

Whilst doing all of this I need to keep learning and take on board new stuff.

For this Chase Jarvis recommends the following – DEAR.

  • D – Deconstruct
  • E – Emulate
  • A – Action
  • R – Review

In all of the areas I have identified I need to Deconstruct – Look at the best in craft in the type of fiction and non-fiction I want to write. Listen to the best podcasts similar to what I want to produce.

Then I need to Emulate – I need to practice all of those good things I deconstructed from the best in the business.

I need to take Action – by analysing what I have produced and checking it against the guides and teachers from that original deconstructing.

Finally, Review – go back to the beginning and start all over again, with the new writers/podcasters who have risen to the top since I last looked.

Now it’s your turn!

What’s your 3 or 5 of 10 year plan?

The 12 Stages of the Screenwriter’s Journey – ScreenCraft

Applying the twelve stages of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey to The Screenwriter’s Journey.

Source: The 12 Stages of the Screenwriter’s Journey – ScreenCraft

This a great article from Ken Miyamoto – no attempt to summarise this – you have to read the whole thing for yourselves.

I hope you get as much from it as me – remember ‘screen writer’ can be shortened to simply ‘writer’!