Then I did something other than writing to help me write! And you can too!
How odd does that sound? This isn’t some method or trick to bump you out of writing. Nor is it gimmick to separate you from your money. I can only speak for myself, but it happened to me, accidentally and opened another door into my own creative process. Which ultimately enriched what I wrote.
I’ve been focused on writing now for many years. The usual workshops, seminars, books, and prompts like everyone else. Just yesterday I saw a writers workshop in Hawaii – now how amazing would that be? How could you not be inspired and open and gush with ideas without one prompt while sitting on a tropical island? But that’s not how life works for most of us. Although I have to say, this was one of the most affordable workshops I’ve seen in a while. But the cost did not include airfare, hotel or food for the week. So there is a lot to be considered and planned, and it did not guarantee an agent or publisher. None of them will.
Learning to write is on you. The practice, the understanding of the craft, ‘the process’ is on you and no one else. Although there are many who will gladly take your money to teach you the rules, they cannot teach talent. Again. That is on you. Learn from wherever you can, as much as you can, then rely on yourself until you get to the ‘professional’ side of it. Meaning the genre editing, polishing, and then attempting a query letter. I’ve said before that for me, writing the book was easier than the query letter lol!
But that’s not what I wanted to share with you in this blog. It’s Springtime in New York. The leaves are lush and green. Flowers are popping with color, and a new project for me is on the horizon. But I noticed my ideas were scattered and unorganized. By accident, I inadvertently tried something new, and by stepping away from the keyboard – a door of possibilities was opened for my writing.
All it took was a piece of slate, six different paint colors (white, black, brown, green, blue, and yellow) a paper cup of water and three very sad brushes. I’m sure you’ve seen the classes held in bars or individual art studios that invite you to come with friends, have a glass of wine, and learn to paint a pre-determined picture. Although I’ve seen them, the invitation I received for this particular event was to raise money for an animal shelter that had burned to the ground about a year ago. I’ll start by saying the fundraising was a huge success, but I never expected that evening to support and enrich my writing. How could it?
It was dumb luck that the painting was a ‘Welcome’ sign of a sandy beach, a small boat on the ocean with fluffy clouds above. The subject was one of my favorites, but the brushes supplied were probably used hundreds of times. The previous users apparently scrubbed vs. painted with the ones I was given, so I made adjustments. If the instructor called for a medium size brush, I used the finer tipped one. Instead of following her lead and scrubbing the large pre-schoolers size brush across the top of the stone, my clouds appeared by tapping the scraggly bristles gently. It was a study in experimenting and taking a chance. We were encouraged to do more or less whatever we wished. The instructor provided an elementary lesson, we could take it, leave it, or run with it. No intimidation, no competition, just play. It was wonderful!
Now here’s the secret. It doesn’t have to be paint, it could be clay, putting together a puzzle, colored pencils, and a coloring book, it could be potting soil and flowers, it can be placing stones in a pattern in a corner of your yard, or if you don’t have a yard, perhaps in a flower pot. You can create a miniature garden in a large bowl or old fish tank complete with tiny lawn ornaments. Or try one of those DIY step by step crafts on Youtube – it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are having FUN doing it! Don’t judge yourself, don’t make excuses about being creative or un-creative – just try it! Play!
Did you know a study was done that went into Kindergarten classrooms and asked how many of the children believed they were an artist? Every single child raised their hand. The research continued through the grades until they reached 12th or Senior year. When asked how many students believed they were artists – only one, sometimes two raised their hand, while the rest of the class agreed. How sad is that? What happened that the joy of creating for the sheer fun of it was lost along the way?
This one unexpected surprise was an eye-opener for me. I love to write, but I love to do other things too. Things that may have taken a backseat when raising my own kids, taking care of a house, working outside the home are now whispering in my ear, “Remember.” For me, those forgotten loves have helped and enriched my writing. I’m more relaxed, so the words flow freely. Exploring for more things to paint on stone or canvas allows another level of freedom of expression. Most people will not see my work, and that’s fine. It makes ‘me’ happy, it provides a sense of satisfaction. And that is what I want to encourage you to do.
Make yourself happy! Have fun! Play!
Do something you haven’t done in a long time, search for that spark of joy. If you don’t find it in one thing, look for another, gather several if you wish, or focus on one. I’d love to know if you gave something new a try and discovered it helped you in an unexpected way. In the meantime, I leave you with two photos of my paint & sip fundraising evening. My daughter came with me – her fearlessness and whimsy are clearly shown in the second photo. She took the instructors invitation to do whatever she wished to an entirely new level! I love her work best. Although she, like the rest of us, has a “box,” I don’t think she’s spent any part of her life in it! May we all be free to be fearless, brave, and silly. Have some fun and see if your writing takes you to the unexpected!
Breathe Deep, Think Peace