I came across an article in the journal of Urban Forestry & Urban Greening that got me thinking about how we can enhance our creativity. This particular article interviewed seventeen Danish creative professionals in an effort to determine whether nature has the capacity to enhance creativity. Spoiler: it does. But in my experience, so does standing in the shower.
The persistence of time
This week I had a message from a lost friend. You know how it is—people come and go from your life. He’s a good 10 years older than me, so I was practically a kid when we last met. Our conversation had me thinking about just how much people change yet stay the same. We hadn’t talked in 20 years, but we fell back into the easy conversation we had all those years ago.
The warm embrace of rejection
Most of us have been regularly rejected since we were young children. Even if only temporarily, I’ve been rejected by friends, family, co-workers, bosses, pets (why does that hurt the most?), strangers, peers, acquaintances, intimate partners, kids. It’s part of life. Some times hurt more than others, and some feel more personal than others. But we move on—unless we’re hoping for that second-chance romance HEA, right?
The mass media vs. the writer’s brain
At the beginning of 2020, I decided that I would stop reading the news. It was one of my goals. Instead I would read books. My decision was prompted by the realisation that knowing the news each day did not contribute to my wellbeing in any way. It wasted valuable time I could be writing or reading. And if we’re honest with ourselves, the news is mostly sensationalist crap!
Omissions, fibs and outright fantasy
Unless a fairy doomed you from birth to only tell the truth (like Tomas in Power of a Princess) you are a constant liar. Just like me and everyone else in the world. The interesting thing about lies is that most of us think we are honest—we underestimate how often we lie to protect our self-esteem. This means that your characters need to be liars too. But just like us, our characters always lie for a reason. And just like us, they often don’t realise they’re doing it!
Psychology and realism
I once had a friend who decided he was going to change careers. He dreamed of abandoning his spreadsheets to become a psychiatrist. He couldn’t see anything more worthwhile in life than discovering the inner workings of humans. I agreed. But gee, it takes around 11 years to get qualified. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? Crazy decision (pun intended).
Introspective reverse engineering
My current WIP is a novel rewrite with some specific goals in mind. The primary issue to fix is a distinct lack of introspection. This has completely thrown out the pacing which unfortunately means the suspense is not as, well, suspenseful as it might be.
Wounds of character
One of my favourite paintings is David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. The picture to the left does not do the painting justice. In person, it is incredible. But paintings like this can teach us a lot as writers as they are a moment in time after a lifetime of backstory. And a moment in time is exactly where we find our protagonist.
Taking the cliché out of Pavlov
The writer’s competitor is no longer other writers. It is social media. The poorly written opinions on Reddit can hook a reader quicker than the first five sentences of your carefully written literary fiction.
Changing things up when you’re stuck
It has been years since I even thought about writing a short story. Which is probably why it felt like a lightbulb moment when a writer friend suggested I start.