The Power of Commonplace Objects

It’s a gray day and the rain is tapping against my window. My fingers hover over the keyboard, waiting for my mind to grab the thoughts that tumble around in my head like socks in a dryer. I am drained from a busy week, and as I sit before my computer, I lack the energy to produce. On days like this, I try to use the everyday items in my apartment as a stimulus to boost my motivation.

The color or shape of an object might trigger a fresh insight – a love story could evolve from the vintage black frock hanging in my closet; a poem might be revealed in the deep burgundy of the wine in my glass; the purple tree in the collage on my corkboard might pave the way for the setting of a new story; the orange hue of my curtains could take me to the arid dunes of the desert or a glorious sunset on the beach. Any of these things have the power to produce a few words a day.

Just like in the theatre, props can be used as a driving force to encourage a dreary writing day –this post was generated when I saw the script of the play I am currently participating in resting on my desk.

Finding the Time: Writing Anywhere

Life can get busy – creative time can get lost in the chaos of working, caring for your family, hobbies, housework, and appointments. Before you know it, the sun has set and you are off to bed, recharging your mind and body for another hectic day. I used to get frustrated on my busy days with the erroneous reasoning that if I did not get in “X” amount of hours to write, I was a failure as a writer. I’ve learned that this is not true; I am a writer regardless of how much time I spend writing.

I’ve learned to ferret out pockets of time during busy days to devote to my passion. I carry a small notebook and a pen every time I leave the house. I can always find five to fifteen minutes in a busy day to jot down ideas and images that pop into my mind. I write in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, on the bus, on a plane, even as a passenger in a car (although watch out for those bumps). I don’t have to write a novel in a week. Five minutes a day can produce a poem or the beginning of new story; five minutes can create a post for one of my blogs; five minutes can give me a break from the frenzy of the outside world and take me away to a peaceful place for a few precious moments. Five minutes can be a mighty force in the creative life.

There’s No Place Like Home

Submission call: Stories about Love….Submission call: Stories of the Strange and Mysterious….Submission call: Poems on the Natural World…

Several times a month, I see calls for submissions to literary magazines, story contests and on-line print; every month, I wonder if I can produce what they desire in the next thirty days. A panic sets in, a frenzy of “must get that story out there”. Logic dictates that the more work I submit the more chances I have in getting published. I spend a few days in this faltering condition, searching my archives, wondering if I have that perfect piece for that particular publication…then…I take a breath and regain my composure.

I write my stories for the joy of writing; I give them the time to develop. The publications I achieved were on pieces that took ample time to create; when I struggle to write for a particular submission, it inevitably gets rejected because it wasn’t ready to leave home. If I miss one submission, there will be another. I tailor my work, and then search for the right fit; as Dorothy so eloquently stated: “There’s no place like home.”

Off the Grid

Writing has been transformed by e-books, social media, and blogging. The world of publishing and marketing is changing and writers need to change with it. We now spend time tweeting, emailing, and engaging in social media – all important in establishing connections and marketing our work. The hours spent on social media can add up, stealing from us precious time to complete our creative projects.

I am one of those caught up in the ever-changing competitive world of keeping my name in the loop – but, every now and then, I give myself a break from the internet scramble and go off the grid for a while. This helps me connect to the world around me, the world I can touch, see and smell. It takes me away from the repetitive action of jumping from one web page to another. I understand and appreciate the importance of marketing, as we are now in a world where the publishers no longer have the time or resources to bear that responsibility; but sometimes it’s necessary to step away and go off the grid….it will always be there when you are ready to go back.

Writers Helping Writers

I love to read the work of other writers; and I love to dive into reference books on my craft. In the midst of a project, I may need a bit of a push, and my reference books can always be counted on to show me the way. Below are some of my favourites:

Stephen King – On Writing

Julia Cameron – The Artist’s Way

Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones

Francis Flaherty – The Elements of Story (Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing)

Lynne Truss – Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Betsy Lerner – The Forest for the Trees

Charles Harrington Elster – The Accidents of Style

These are only a few of the titles lingering on the bookshelf in my writing room. I love that they are readily available to me when I hit a roadblock or need assistance on a grammatical query. These writers help me discover my own method through their experience. Writers need the support and advice of other writers. We depend on one another to learn about the delicate intricacies of our craft.

Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected – Sophocles