creativity

Creating Space

I don’t need to wax poetic about the fact that life is busy, and continues to be happen-y or busy or full as long as it extends. I won’t even go on about the fact that it’s sometimes vexingly difficult to find time for creative endeavors…particularly when we’re often convinced that there are Much More Important Things To Be Doing. Life hits hard sometimes, and we can so often be left examining the cracks in the pavement, stubbornly planting our creative gardens in the tiniest spaces. And that’s okay…even from those ittybitty spaces, big things can grow. Creating space is about seizing any opportunity we can to express ourselves–to think, dream, paint, write, sing, dance, move…to exist in that place where we are the makers. I’ll just leave this little image here in closing–my notes from a meeting where I was fully aware of the agenda content and discussions, but let myself also free-hand doodle through the facts, figures, and bullet points (I had SO much fun looking back over them). In the Venn diagram of life, there are many odd and wonderful places where the colors of “daily routine” and “creativity” intersect. Where do you create the space for imaginings? Where do you make the time to create? I’d love to hear in the comments. Be well all, and happy creating! <3

notes2

 

 

#TastyTuesday Writing Prompt

tastytuesday.jpg

Nothing brings people together like food. We all need it–there’s no getting around that fact. Beyond simply existing as sustenance, food is such a wonderfully rich expression of our humanity–we share our cultures, our family traditions, our own joy in the creating and sharing of something that does far more than keep us alive.

Which brings me to the matter at hand: your oh so yummy, #TastyTuesday writing prompt! Getting to know our characters can be as simple as knowing their favorite foods. Food is also a way to ground difficult or abstract narratives or complex worlds…showing what keeps your characters sustained and living contributes to world-building in the most relateable, practical ways. Think about the following questions for your main characters:

  • What is your character’s go-to comfort food when stressed?
  • What meal do they absolutely dread but know they can expect (and that they must partake of for fear of alienating others, hurting feelings, etc.) during family, civic, or social events?
  • What types of meals do your characters associate with major life events such as deaths in the family, civil unions, or celebrations of birthdays or career achievements?
  • What would be considered a super-rare delicacy in your character’s world? Is it a chocolate bar in the trembling hands of a world-weary dystopian society rebel? A rare, cave-dwelling fish or a moonflower that can only be harvested on the night of a lunar eclipse? Would your character have ever tasted such a thing, even?
  • What food would be your character’s biggest “guilty” pleasure–as in, something they are embarrassed to admit to liking as violently as they do because it’s considered icky, weird, gauche, or any other number of reasons?

Have some fun thinking about these little things a bit and maybe even write a drabble, paint or draw an image of or create a collage for what mealtime looks like in your world. I know it’s helped me make my worlds more real and alive than they would be if my characters didn’t take a moment to sit and smell the legume protein mash or delicate star-blooms or fried green tomatoes. Happy creating, and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to raid the cabinets. <3

Remember The Sunwell: An Ode to Fan Fiction/Fan Art

The fabled gates of Silvermoon City.

The fabled gates of Silvermoon.

In the Massively Multiplayer game World of Warcraft, there is a place called Silvermoon City–an isolated, arcane, and perpetually autumnal realm where the Sin’dorei (blood elves) exist on the fringe of the world between sea and forest and legions of undead. I can easily picture (in the Burning Crusade content) the strange golden trees of Eversong woods, and I can hear the melancholy cello music and eerie choral interludes in my mind. There was such a powerful sense of place, and not always in a good way. At the gates of the city and throughout the entropy-kissed towers bolstered by terrible magics and the sheer arrogance of this people, guards stood proudly and did what all NPC’s in games do–repeat the same four or five phrases over and over and over. One of them was “Remember the Sunwell.”

What happens in Silvermoon City stays in Silvermoon City.

What happens in Silvermoon City stays in Silvermoon City.

Now, I won’t lore you to death but the funny thing is that yes, I do remember the Sunwell. I remember the architecture of these imagined cities, even phrases from these elves’ language, Thalassian–“Anu’belore dela’na” (the eternal sun guides you) is just one. I remember the beautiful music, even some of the NPC’s names. And it’s no surprise that I was prompted to write vignettes that took place in this pixel-city. It was so well-imagined, so real to me that creating narratives around the guardsand trainers and merchants just felt natural. I think this is one of the best gifts that fandoms/gaming/nerdery can give a writer or creative sort–the gift of an easy and super!fun way to create one’s own content. Sometimes you want to break away from writing the next Great American Novel or creating the Most Important Art Project of All Time and just forge your own take on something that already exists.

I've created a goodly amount of WoW fan art, trust me.

I’ve created a goodly amount of WoW fan art, trust me.

Fanfiction/art is a fantastic way to engage in character studies, to learn descriptive writing, to capture character expressions in art, and on and on. It makes me sad when I see people bashing fan-made content for already existing worlds. Part of fandom is having fun with what you do–and if that means writing, RP’ing, creating art featuring these places, then live it up! I know personally I’ve learned a ton about writing craft (guys, my prose started out so freaking purple) from character vignettes based in gaming or established canon worlds. Fanfic can be a fantastic way to break through writer’s block and exercise creative muscles in a safe place. In the end, I do remember the Sunwell. I remember how much fun I had gallivanting about Azeroth, and I remember how much it supported my writing so to all I say shorel’aran, al diel shala, and have fun out there!

Writing Prompts Box: For When Your Muse Is On The Can

Oh, hello there. This post (which has been cued for over a month now) is brought to you by coffee and the letter W. Today, I’m here to introduce my Super Awesome Easy Writing Prompts System, guaranteed to produce mind-boggling results in just moments. Seriously–just watch the infomerical read on.

So, sometimes–actually a lot of times–my brain stalls and writing cannot happen with a stalled brain. But at a writer, momentum and daily routine is important. I need to write, even if it’s just a line or two. I’ve used a lot of cheats and prompts and block-busting exercises over the years, but I come back again and again to this easy one. All you need is an index card box with dividers and three stacks of around 50 index cards. I personally use a different color for each stack of cards since I’m a visual learner, but any old cards will work.

67774

Each stack will have one kind of word: one stack for evocative nouns, one for character ideas and archetypes, and the last for verbs. I sat down with a friend and we brainstormed together to generate at least 25 of each of these. For example:

Nouns: cat, trunk, carriage, tome, mountain, meteor, ship

Characters/Archetypes: child, mage, flight attendant, warrior, Artemis, mentor, father

Verbs: sing, leap, slice, murmur, clang, wrest, run

The idea is to create a box of words that you can use to generate writing prompts for when your Muse is on the can. To create a prompt, I pull three cards and to write a piece based on what I draw. For my own prompts, the rules are simple: one card from each stack, no less than 100 words of writing total, and writing for no more than an hour. What does this accomplish? Lots.

Finite and specific prompts take the pressure off the stressed-out writerly mind. They create a specific assignment with clearly-defined parameters–three words to generate 100 or more words of writing in an hour or less. There is nothing at stake and no pressure for the work to be any good. Exercises like these free our subconscious minds from SRS BIDNESS mode so that they can play, play, play. Without the pressure to create a masterpiece but just enough structure to give us a nudge, we can come up with some remarkable raw stuff and break through blocks like Drano through clogged pipes. Instead of that paralyzing, blank-page terror we can regain momentum.

Finally, writing prompts can be super-duper fun even when writers block is not an issue. When writing starts to feel more like drudgery than happy-squee-funtimez, I know that I need to take a break. Seeing a project to completion involves a certain amount of trudging, sure. Completing/revising a manuscript is worky as heck. But losing that sense of wonder and excitement is a very real danger for a lot of us. Exercises like this keep the fun alive and keep those fingers dancing over the keys!

Are there any exercises or tricks that you use to get your writing out of its rut and to give your Muse a shot in the arm? If so, I’d love to hear them. Happy writing, ya’ll! <3

I’m Commander Shepard–

So because I love awesome sci-fi women and Mass Effect and playing ‪FemFhep‬, I drew her today on my lunch break. If it had not been on crappy copy paper, I’d have done some color work for a change.

I’m playing through ME2 as an infiltrator, hanging out with Thane and I’m mostly Paragon. Mostly.

“I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite women’s restroom on the Normandy. I should go.”

Why I Am “Cheating” At NaNoWriMo This Year

So, it’s almost that magical time of year. The time when crisp mornings turn our breath into ghosts, when the sky is that saturated late-year blue, the leaves are a riot of color and creativity is in the air.

That’s right, it’s almost National Novel Writing Month!

I love the idea of an entire month devoted to a creative pursuit. Write fifty thousand words in a month, forge a novel from absolutely nothing but the blank page in front of you…such a wonderful challenge! And it really is a challenge, too–cranking out 50K words in just one month is truly a feat of stamina and focus. To all of those who do it, W00t! You are awesome! What I love most about this initiative is that NaNoWriMo has gone a long way in providing public awareness of writing as a creative outlet for anyone. It doesn’t belong to just one cookie-cutter writery sort. No, NaNoWriMo and its cousin programs encourage people from all walks of life to jump in the sandbox and play. To wordsmith, to create. The world needs this. And yes, I’m participating, but I do not plan to win.

I plan to cheat.

A NaNo project is supposed to be spur of the month, from-scratch novelly goodness. This can accomplish several things—writing unfettered, tapping deeply into one’s subconscious mind, and writing simply for the sake of creating. I love all of these things, and I encourage everyone to give NaNoWriMo a try. It’s truly amazing what we’re capable of when restraint is kicked aside and focus placed, spotlight-wise, on a month-long creativity spree. This year, though, I’m simply basking in the wordsy glow of all my friends. I already have a project I’m working on—something I’ve been dreaming about for two years now, and for which I feel a burgeoning sense of urgency and a consuming, fiery drive to create.

I’ll sit amongst my NaNo-er buddies (online or IRL) and feed on their energy like a coffee-loving, moderately harmless vampire because National Novel Writing Month does something magical. . .it creates habit energy. Many of us now associate November with writing. How awesome is that? It’s far easier to embark on something as taxing as a full-length work of fiction when the very world around you hums with creation.  Even my S.O. is thinking about a November project of a creative nature. So…if I could use some momentum now, why wait? I will resonate with this creative zeitgeist. I will ‘cheat.’ I still created a novel page on the NaNo site and will be keeping track of my word count and waving imaginary pom-poms of GO YOU to all my friends playing to win, but in the end, the winning for me will be participating in a world alive with creativity while furthering a project I care deeply about. Heck, I even made a fake book cover!

lotusstar

So, is anyone else out there planning to do this thing? If so, are you playing by the rules, or are you ‘cheating?’ Or are you using this collective creative mojo to plan next year’s garden, program a mobile app, solve that testy logic problem, or draw that comic-panel you’ve been visualizing for a while?

No matter what it is, happy creating–your world will be better for it!