What’s the Difference Between a Creative (Writing) Practice and Doing Creative Work?

Cultivate your creativityA writing practice (or creative practice of any sort–I use the words interchangeably) involves intentionally setting aside regular time—a routine—for creative work. Forming the habit of showing up takes away the idea that one must feel ready to create or “be in the mood.”

Isn’t it better to be in the mood?

Plenty of writers, especially early on, feel they must be in the mood or have the urge before they can sit down and write. While that’s nice to have, it’s not necessary. Writing isn’t just an art, it’s a craft, and craftsmen work at their craft regularly. Creative work is fostered by routine (and often results in inspiration or the right mood). No more asking yourself “should I write today?” If you set aside the time, you write. It may not be stellar work, but that will come.

A creative practice is like meditation or exercise. There’s resistance. There’s the excuse of no time. But regular routine breaks down the resistance until your practice is just an ingrained part of your life. Your mind and body learn to switch gears more readily as well.

Can I only write when scheduled?

We may write outside of our scheduled time as well, and that’s fine. The creative work happens both inside and outside of routine, but the busier your life is, the more a routine will help you to get words on the page.

Think of a writing practice as “showing up” to do the work. Think of it as a mindful way to honor your creative side and your desire to write. Self-care. Personal development. It is all of these things.

Where did this idea come from?

I was first exposed to the idea of a writing practice by Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down the Bones. The principles were restated and reinforced by Julia Cameron in The Right to Write. Since then, I’ve run across the term in every art form as well as yoga, prayer, exercise, and more.  One explanation I heard was “a practice is intention.” And that’s also true. If you are interested in creating a writing life for yourself, I recommend both of these books along with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

For many of us, writing is a lifestyle as much as a calling or passion. We didn’t get there overnight. We created a writing practice and stuck with it. We became practitioners.

So how do I develop a writing practice?

  • Write routinely. I’m a proponent of daily writing, but everyone is different. Whether it’s Sunday afternoon, fifteen minutes before work, or thirty minutes after the kids are in bed, make it regular and stick with it. (And start on time. The dishes and other things will wait.)
  • If you aren’t working on a project, use a writing prompt, write an essay, do a character sketch. Use various writing exercises if you like, from timed writing to stream-of-consciousness writing.
  • Tell yourself that you are worth it until you believe it. Honoring your creative drive is healthy, not selfish.
  • Get an accountability partner. Tell a trusted friend what you are doing and ask them to both encourage you and check in to see how you are doing with your practice.
  • If you naturally rebel against structure, keep your routine fluid. Perhaps set a quota to meet on a weekly basis or plan thirty minutes sometime before bed. It’s less ideal but I have confidence you will grow into a routine that suits you.

Why do I need a creative practice?

The moodiest, unhappiest people I’ve ever met were artists of one sort or another who were not making time for their art. I was this person for half a year. Creativity is an integral part of who we are. Ignoring it is akin to depriving our senses.  If you are already creating regularly, that’s great! Keep it up. If you aren’t, develop your own practice. If you need help, let me know and I will come alongside you until you are under way.


Do you cultivate a writing practice? If so, how has it helped you creatively? If not, can you see yourself starting one?

David Bowie’s Legacy… and most treasured books

(c) pedrojperez

(c) pedrojperez

It is amazing how one spark of life can impact the lives millions. And when that spark disappears, humanity reacts in the most beautiful way–by honoring and remembering its existance.  This week the world lost one of the most brilliant and magical artists of all time. This week we said “until next time” to the Goblin King, to Ziggy Stardust, to the dream weaving David Bowie.

I think everybody who picks up a guitar or puts pen to paper has something in his system, in his self that he wants to express to others and have them understand… – David Bowie, Interview with Today, 1993

Most only know Bowie as a talented musician and actor. The pioneer of glam rock with his abstract style and non-conventional influences. What many don’t realize is that he was also an enigmatic writer and avid reader. He’s long contemplated writing for theater and was said to read up to a book a day.

One of the most facinating things I feel that Bowie left for us is his list of 100 “must read” books. The list spans a vast array of literary influences and genres, fictions and non-fictions, biographies and memiors. From Anthony Burgess to John Cage to Jack Kerouac, the vast list is as unique and diverse as Bowie himself.

David Bowie’s 100 recommended books: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/10347410/David-Bowie-reveals-his-favourite-100-books.html

A tale of a man who loved books: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/david-bowie-the-man-who-loved-books/

David Bowie lit up imaginations in once cold, dark minds. He brought us to worlds and dreams that many wish we could have conceived ourselves. Magic flowed around the world, sparked by his creative genius. They say that when you die, your soul joins the stars and shines brightly upon the Earth. David Bowie’s star is one that shines the brightest as his creativity and influence breathed a new life into the realm of art, music, and writing.

Shine on, you brilliant star. The world is forever changed because of your spark.

WTF Photo Prompts

WTF Photo Prompts

This photo sums up the title of this post. My apologies to those who are squeamish. Really, WTF? How on earth did this happen? Did anybody see it? What happens next? Where is this located? What’s the story?


I’ve seen deer get up and walk away from worse. Do you have a crazy wild animal anecdote to inspire a shory?

If you run across a photo suitable for WTF Photo prompts, send me the link via Contact Us.

 

WTF Photo Prompts

WTF Photo Prompts

You’ve heard the famous last words of a true redneck, right? “Hold my beer,” or “Watch this!” (I can say that. I’m in Texas, lol). What about these two guys? What are their buddies thinking as they watch? What are they thinking up there? How did they build this contraption? Why? What is their goal? What happens next?

And seriously, what were they thinking?


How many story ideas did the photo generate?

If you run across a photo suitable for WTF Photo prompts, send me the link via Contact Us.

 

WTF Photo Prompts

WTF Photo Prompt

A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say. I think a good picture is worth a story, especially those photos that just make us scratch our heads as we try to make sense of what we see.

So what’s the story behind this photo?  Who was driving? Who owns the trailer? Are there witnesses? What are the consequences of this…mishap? and what caused it?

Go Write!


 

What’s your first impression as a writer?

If you run across a photo suitable for WTF Photo prompts, send me the link via Contact Us.