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.