cj Sez: Very happy today to have as my guest blogger, a fellow Sister in Crime, Gin Mackey. Gin’s tips on getting into that elusive creative writing zone are spot on. Welcome, Gin.
MAY THE (CREATIVE) FORCE BE WITH YOU
Thanks for the chance to spend time over here at Lyrical Pens, cj.
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve been hard at work, immersed in your writing for hours. Finally you put your head up, find yourself coming out of a lovely daze, your characters more real to you than what’s-his-name—oh yes, your husband—out in the kitchen, making dinner.
As you come to, you’re wondering: What. Just. Happened?
On those days, hard at work feels more like hard at play. You’re not attempting to orchestrate your characters into doing anything, you’re simply running alongside them, tapping away as fast as your fingers can fly, trying to keep up.
You’re in the zone. The creative zone.
When I have days like that.… Ooh. I get shivers just thinking about it. It’s better than…. Well, fill in the blank for yourselves, folks. It’s better than a whole lot of pretty great things in life. It’s like a magic portal opened up, and you entered into another world, a world that’s the result of your own imagination in a dance with the universe.
Are there times when a bout of creativity makes you believe there is something greater than your puny powers at work? That there is a wondrous choreographer in the sky, a force for good, a God? Creativity at its best feels a bit blessed.
Have you ever scaled a mountain, exerted yourself for hours until you finally stood at the tippity top? That first look around—of boundless beauty and breadth—is breathtaking. I say that’s majesty. Save yourself all that exertion! You can get that feeling without leaving your desk, brought to you by your friend creativity.
But creativity can be mercurial. A few tips on beguiling it in:
Start writing as close to the dream state as possible. Get out of bed and write. I’ve heard of writers who make their coffee the night before and have it in a thermos ready to go by their desk. Think of times you’ve been awakened mid-dream, those big-as-a-house, velvet-winged black birds so real you expect to see them outside your window.
There’s not a lot to recommend housework if you ask me. But that endless drudgery you know you’ll only have to do again next month allows creativity to flourish. Paper and pencil are never far away so you can note your great ideas. The resulting random 2,483 scraps of paper dotting your office? That’s a different blog.
Bum glue. Sit in your chair until creativity makes an appearance, no matter how long it takes. Lots of writers espouse this. Personally I find the term “bum glue” distasteful so I don’t adhere to it. All right, that’s a cheap laugh. Hey, I wrote Suddenly Spying, a madcap caper. Of course I like cheap laughs!
But sometimes I will sit down at my desk, whistle a happy tune and just write—about my to-do list, the weather, the garden—until creativity thinks I’m not paying attention. Almost as if I ignore it, now it wants to play. Suddenly a character appears, a scene unfolds and…. Whee!
When I’m feeling creativity has gone on vacation, I look at this TEDTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame). You’ll see why it’s been watched more than eleven million times. Your Elusive Creative Genius
What’s it like for you when creativity hits? Any tips you’d like to share about beckoning creativity your way? Please chime in!
Til we meet again, may the force—the creative force—be with you.
Gin Mackey is the author of SUDDENLY SPYING, a madcap caper. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Best New England Crime Stories 2016: Red Dawn and Fish or Cut Bait. Gin is a past president of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime. She lives on the coast of Maine, where she’s hard at work on her novel Disappear Our Dead, featuring Abby Tiernan, a grieving widow turned home funeral guide. Visit Gin at www.ginmackey.com
A madcap caper! Nora Gallagher’s super successful secret agent sister Giselle dangles a big bucks spy assignment and promises to help Nora learn the spy biz. Nora forgets about the time Giselle gave her a bouillon cube and told her it was a caramel. Just short of shanghaied to tropical Barlanadana Island, Nora gets her assignment: Stop a coup financed by dangerous drug dealer Tommy the Twitch. But Giselle is weirdly jumpy, and spending lots more time limboing with the locals than helping Nora learn the ropes. As a Bermuda-triangle of troubles threatens to suck Nora under, she’ll have to morph from low-achiever to agent extraordinaire, using skills she never knew she had in ways she never imagined possible if she’s to stop a coup, save her sister, and revive her own dying dreams.
cj Sez: Wow, thanks, Gin. I really enjoyed that post. Sending all best wishes for great sales of Suddenly Spying. The description reminds me of a madcap “I Love Lucy” episode, and I’m looking forward to some grins when I read it.
Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Be sure to drop us a note and tell us how you get into your creative zone.