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Feeding the creative soul

Something interesting happened back in November when I decided to partake in NaNoWrMo. I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I was jumping in with two feet, totally unprepared with nary a plan or plot in sight. I just started writing.

Lots of people were very encouraging and many came back with ‘oh, I’ve always wanted to write a novel’ or something similar. When I suggested signing up to NaNo I got a very common response: ‘but I don’t have anything to write about/I don’t have any ideas’.  I honestly found this quite baffling, as someone whose ideas come so frequently they can actually be a distraction to my current WIP, I didn’t understand how this could be the case.

I wanted to cry out ‘but you can write about anything!! You could write about a laser-sword fighting rainbow unicorn vigilante if you want.(Actually that would be pretty awesome – someone should write that.)

It occurred to me that perhaps I took my creative side for granted; it’s always been there (ever since I was old enough to wield a crayon) and it spills into everything I do. But I think it goes much farther than being a naturally reliant on my right-brain. My Dad, a fellow creative soul, recently said something which resonated with me when we were visiting the National Gallery of Victoria together:

‘Looking at art really feeds the soul, doesn’t it?’

Yes. It absolutely does.

Nourishing the creative side with attention and stimulation is what will help to fuel the ideas when you are writing. It’s not just about studying the craft until your prose is worthy of an award or being disciplined enough to sit down and write each day. Those things are certainly important, but feeding the creative soul, nourishing the right-brain and giving the stories somewhere to come from is what will help you get an idea for that blank document that is staring you in the face.

Here are some of the things I find really helps get the creative juices flowing:

  • Go to an art gallery or museum and wander around, something might just jump out and grab you
  • Go for a walk – try to go somewhere with beautiful scenery, or just somewhere different to your usual environment. Observe and take in your surroundings
  • Look at photos – sometimes I just trawl through image sites (try Flickr, We Heart It or even just Google images) to get inspiration. Sometimes even looking back through my own photos will jog a feeling, or a memory which could be turned into a story, character or scene
  • Try a different medium – paint or draw, make something or get your camera out and snap some photos. Just see what comes out! You never know, there might be a story or character that’s just waiting for you to put coloured ink to paper
  • Go to the library – I find that being surrounded by books always inspires me, so looking through what’s on the shelves at the library might help to get you in the mood. Same goes for bookstores, or even just surrounding yourself with books at home
  • Read, read, read and read some more – I know this is common advice but it works, reading often and widely can inspire you to keep going when it seems all too hard

What do you do to get those creative juices flowing?

Pintrest for Writers

I think I was ‘pinning’ well before the concept of Pintrest (or even the internet, gulp) was around. As a teen I would fill scrap books with all of the clothes and makeup that inspired me, I’d add pictures of my friends and get them to add their own inspirations as well…little did I know my mother would hang on to said scrapbooks and embarrass me years later with proof that I did in-fact like puffer vests and platform runners (hell Spice Girls influence).

Irreparable emotional wounds aside, inspiration boards and Pintrest are great tools for writers! I’m a very visual person and I ‘see’ my characters rather than thinking of them in terms of words. An inspiration board is the kind of thing that I did when I was writing back in my teens. Now, I just use Pintrest.

The social and highly addictive site has grown quickly (to the tune of 48.7 million users at March 2013,  according to this article) with many of those being women. I say ‘many of those’ because each site seems to claim a slightly different statistic, but in many cases it’s evident that the vast majority of users are women. This is good news for romance writers as it means your target market is right there waiting for you!

There are a lot of articles on how writers can use Pintrest to market books, increase their online presence following etc. (check out this blog post and this one) but I like to keep it basic and use it for images that inspire me. Whenever I feel like I need to ‘see’ the world my characters are living in, I spend a little time looking at my board and adding to it.

I’ve set up a board for the novella I’m working on (One Last Wish) but I have other random things that I enjoy looking at, including Disney pictures, vintage romance book covers, and word-related funnies.

I highly recommend giving Pintrest ago (set aside some time, it’s a slippery slope) whether you use it to promote your work, increase your online presence or simply stick up images you like.

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