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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How to Activate Your Creativity

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Writers are a different kind of animal. We can be sitting in a crowd and see things other people (normal?) don’t notice. Emotions, facial expressions, the simple act of society. We absorb and take note of these instances to use in later scenes. But sometimes creativity is an elusive critter and we must hunt it down, stalking it with eagle-eyed intensity.

I needed to compose a short story about one of my characters in Wilder Mage. I had no clue how Sable discovered she was a mage. She wasn’t in a talkative mood and I was bone-dry.

I was raking the yard that day musing on several scenes and rejecting them just as quickly. The air was still as a church when, thirty feet in front of me, the wind kicked into a maelstrom of dust, leaves, bits of grass, and corn stalks. A dust devil, a monstrous one that reached the tops of our cedar trees. It was so large and violent, the wind roared like an animal.

It came up the drive and across our wide lawn, hissing and
swirling. I didn’t hesitate but ran into the middle of it. The air was cooler, the projectiles small and inconsequential. The miniature tornado sailed on through a fence and into the pasture.

I laughed as it passed and was exhilarated because I knew I had my opening scene to Out of Magic, Sable’s discovery that she was something different.

Life events shape our writerly world. Sometimes it takes a whirlwind to start the process. Other times creativity hits when I apply pen to paper, longhand scribbling.


It is a brain function called reticular activating system or RAS. Writing longhand sets in motion the creative portion of the mind, the RAS. It is a portal into our subconscious.

Now, I didn’t know any of this highfalutin' brainy stuff until I wondered why it was easier to write on a spiral notebook while on the treadmill. Really, where would any of us be without Google, am I right?

No wonder I have mounds of notebooks, a veritable hoard lurking in every part of my house awaiting the next magic to hit my RAS.

Tell me about one of your scenes. How did you arrive there? And do you write longhand sometimes?  

8 comments:

Toni said...

So many of my imaginings are filled with magical beings, elemental beings and numinous events. I'm afraid to write them down. They could be used in my committal hearing!!!

Huntress said...

@ Toni - so true. And if the authorities ever acquire my server info, they would arrest me on suspicion of plotting murder.

Kathleen Valentine said...

I used to write long hand but age and arthritis have caught up with me and I cannot hold a pen for very long. Right now I am working on a story set in a seaside vacation town with an amusement park and all kinds of tourist traps but it is the off-season and only a few of the locals are around. A young woman following a lead for a magazine article ends up there and hears their stories about the ghosts that haunt the town. It's creepy.

Liz A. said...

I avoid writing longhand as much as possible. It hurts too much for me to do it for long.

Mostly, scenes come to me in the shower. Lately, I have to hunt for them. But I'm editing a novel, so I'm not really looking for new scenes at the moment, anyway.

Jennifer Lee Rossman said...

Writing longhand is difficult for me, but sometimes it makes the ideas flow better. Now if I could just read my writing!

Darla M Sands said...

I do write longhand on a regular basis, if only to do Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" journal entries (Morning Pages is the term she uses). And in the case of fiction it sometimes does make the story flow more naturally, it seems.

Great post. Happy writing!

Huntress said...

@Kathleen - Your premise sounds interesting! Regarding writing longhand: Ouch. That would make it difficult. Another trick you might try is to type without looking at the screen. I look away or keep my eyes closed. It is something I use when longhand isn't practical.

@Liz - It can be inconvenient when Muse visits us in the shower. Or going 50 down highway.

@Jennifer I totally agree. Doing 3 -4 mph on treadmill sometimes requires a translator.

@Darla - I didn't know the science behind it until I Googled it.

Brett Minor said...

My son and I met a stranger wandering around at our favorite spot in the woods. A place we had never encountered another soul before. We didn't even think anyone had ever even been there.

This encounter gave e the inspiration for my character learning some vital information. He observes something deep in the woods where the people thought they were in secluson.