11 Creative Catalyst Nudges for 2011


All you really need

By Janet Grace Riehl

Kendra Bonnett and Matilda inspired me to think in terms of eleven for 2011. Here are eleven Creative Catalyst nudges for growing yourself and your writing in 2011. Browse the Creative Catalyst archives to learn more.

1)      You know you want it. You want to write. Keep that at the forefront. Keep coming back to that wish to express, play, and find meaning through words.

2)      But, do you know why? Healing? Truth? Beauty? Connection? Fame and Fortune? You name it and you’re on your way to getting it.

3)      Who wants to know? You?  Family? Friends? Your next door neighbor? Your New York Publisher?

4)      “Dear Memoir.” What project will you focus on in 2011? Tell yourself all about it—I mean all about it—in a long letter addressed to your project. “Dear Memoir, I know we haven’t spoken lately, but I want you to know that you are 218 pages, have 18 chapters, and cover the period in my life when I crashed parties.”

5)      Mind your knitting. Set up a work schedule. Yes, we said work. Having a structure tells your creative self that “It’s time now. Go knit. Someone’s waiting for that sweater.”

6)      Hey, it’s just a draft! Use permission-giving techniques such as free-writing, clustering, cross-hand dialogue, and directed contemplative writing. Get it down. No one can read the print inside your head. It’s too dark there.

7)      Fall in love. When you love your writing, it loves you back. That passionate call and response between you and your work drives you to go deeper.

8)      How am I doing so far? What kind and degree of support do you need? Assurance that you’re on the right track?  Each writer needs her own combo. Maybe you need to write with the door closed before you let others step inside to bounce on the furniture. Or maybe a writing buddy or a critique group will help re-arrange your furniture.

9)      Soup’s on! Soup requires good stock filled with bones and vegetable peelings that simmer together all day. Strain it and start adding the good stuff. What’s the stock that marries all the flavors and sustains you? Maybe it’s a spiritual path. Maybe it’s love of family. Maybe it’s your creative broth.  Is there anything you need to strain from your soup? What are the practical vegetables you’ll  put in your 2011 soup?  Who does the dishes? What about money? And, of course, the spice: Can we go away for the weekend?

10)  Reach back and fetch it. Look at your diaries, letters, photographs, and treasured objects. What stories do they hold that you can use now? Stephanie Farrow and I call this work “Harvesting.”  We’ll be sowing, growing, and reaping this topic in our next cycle of 2011 posts.

11)  Don’t stop now! Some of us are sprinters and some are more geared to marathons. Even sprinters such as myself can complete a marathon if we run in bursts from marker to marker. Keep up your motivation and momentum until you break the tape to gasp and grin like a fool at a race well run.

Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog. Learn more about our audio book Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music.” Become a Riehlife villager.

7 responses to “11 Creative Catalyst Nudges for 2011

  1. Thanks for putting things in order in this new cycle of writing. If I could add something to the list to make it an even writer’s dozen it would be patience. Creativity brings the writer’s brew to a boil and patience allows it to simmer into a blended mixture of expanded thoughts.
    I appreciate your tutelage.

  2. Hal,

    Tutelage? Nope. You are a writer in your own write. Yes, you are right. To round it off to an even dozen “patience” is an important addition. And, of course…we could go on and on.

    Thanks for your comment, Hal.

    Janet Riehl

  3. Janet’s nudges are wonderfully succinct and valuable. But, for them to have any substantial meaning, you must prove the worth of these catalysts to your own satisfaction. Whether you’re writing or painting, or name your art, you must be ruthless with your time; otherwise, who is kidding whom?

    If you need to be motivated about your ‘passion’, then you must examine your own commitment. Being truthful and aware is the goal, not the end product.

    “Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.”
    —David Ben Gurion

  4. “Ruthless with your time.” Great phrase, Eden. I hope readers here will be able to read your book “An Artist Empowered” with all its wisdom.

    Love your quote, too:
    “Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.”
    —David Ben Gurion

    That’s what all memoir writers tussle with.

    Janet Riehl

  5. Thanks for sharing the nudges.

  6. Oh Janet these are so good. Concise and to the point. Sort of like a ‘Writer’s Creed’! To patience and commitment suggested above, I would add steadfastness.

    Actually what strikes me here is how much like a confessional or honest self-appraisal this approach towards examining our creative values could be!

    It’s odd though that I can be so committed to caring for my family, yet not anywhere near so diligent in being true to myself and my dreams. Makes me wonder — is it just that I don’t believe that I can do it? Does procrastination really just hide fear? Your Nudge # 2 might hold the key.

  7. Edith, thanks so much for your comments. You are indeed and soul sister. –Janet

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