Tuesday, March 8, 2016

6 Ways to Encourage the Creative Process in Writing

When Emily Hayse gives writing advice, she knows what she's talking about. She's a fantastic writer of novels, novellas, and short stories, with a determined work ethic and a thoughtful creative vision. Her stories contain a bold love for adventure and noble-hearted characters, and her latest novel, which I had the pleasure of beta reading, has been the biggest treat yet. I asked Emily if she would come to My Lady Bibliophile for a guest post. Welcome, Emily!



Keeping your creativity can be a tricky thing. After all, writing is a constant act of producing: pouring everything you’ve got onto that page. On top of that, it is easy to fall into writing ruts, to form clich├ęs, and to burn yourself out. And yet we are expected to be fresh, original, and entertaining all the time. All of us experience those moments where we can’t seem to put anything worthwhile on the page. It feels like our well of inspiration has simply dried up. While sometimes that just happens (we all have our bad days), here are a few tips to make those times fewer and farther between.

Surround yourself with quality. When I read a good book, or even watch a well-made film, nine times out of ten my first urge is to write, whereas if I’ve read a cheap book I feel at best nothing, and at the worst. I am sapped of both inspiration and energy. What you read shows in your writing. And the quality of what you read will (eventually, if not immediately) affect the quality of what you write.
 
Challenge yourself. In his book The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell talks about challenging yourself in areas where you are weak, and he says this: “…be sure to push yourself beyond what is comfortable. Well beyond. Because you can always scale back later. But if you don’t allow yourself the fullness of exploration up front, you may miss the rich vein waiting for you just a few more steps ahead.” Great plots, characters, and books don’t come from writers staying inside their comfort zone.

Choose the unexpected. When you think of a plot, a character, or a circumstance, choose of the option that the readers would least expect.  What if the little old lady next door wasn’t really going to the bridge club every week…what if she was planning a robbery?

Enjoy other things deeply. Strangely, for a profession that is portrayed as (and often looks like) a person sitting alone at a desk, writing is far more about living life than most jobs. If you are out loving other things, you will rarely lack the passion it takes to write well and to write creatively.

Try new things. Some of my greatest creative breakthroughs have come when I’ve been brave and tried something new. At times it is attempting that story concept even when I’m not quite sure I can pull it off, or engaging in games I have never played, or trying food I have never eaten. More than once I’ve had a film I wasn’t very interested in watching totally open up a new story or plotline.

Learn (or utilize) a different art form. I play a few different instruments, and I enjoy drawing, horseback riding, and dancing, among other things. Something I’ve learned from years of participating in other arts (and trust me, riding dressage is an art!) is that it works almost like cross-training. When you learn and create art in other forms it stretches creative muscles that aren’t used as often in writing and stimulates your creative juices in general. And the good news is, you don’t even have to be all that good at any of these other art forms for it to work. The simple act of participating is enough to get your brain stimulated creatively.



What inspires your creative process? Thanks for coming on today, Emily! Be sure to check out Emily's blog over at The Herosinger and follow her on Twitter for more creative inspiration. :)

6 comments:

  1. Such an excellent post, Emily, and one I really was encouraged to read, as I've had really long writing break with tiny writing spurts in between, and feel a little intimidated to work on any major project - but I just loved what you said about challenging yourself so as to grow and get out of your tiny comfort zone (something I easily do). Also I love what you said about gleaning that inspiration from real living and the art of creating things and experiencing things - so true! Sometimes I find I am divorced with my daily life from my creative life, but really they should blend more and I should seek to gain all the inspiration I can from the one towards the other. Thanks for that reminder!

    Blessings,
    Joy @ joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm so glad it was encouraging! I definitely understand the feeling of being intimidated by getting back into a major project...it's a good thing that with writing no one has to see the beginning result! :)
      For a long time I didn't get the concept of incorporating the daily with the creative life, but it has made things so much easier, and all my best ideas have come from when I've been going along doing normal things.

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  2. Great tips. I really want to try writing something different even if it seems out of my comfort zone. I can't win if I am scared to lose!

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  3. Great post, Emily! I especially love what you said about enjoying other things, living life, and being involved in many different kinds of art. Also, I've found it to be so true that the style of the books I read regularly is naturally mirrored in my writing. Reading quality books makes such a difference!

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    1. Oh yes! A well rounded person makes a well rounded writer. ;) And what you read can be SO IMPORTANT. With so many people you can tell what their normal reading diet is when you read their writing. It shows, for better or for worse.

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