Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Exercising Our Creativity Keeps Our Brains in Shape

Thought for the day: Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try! [Dr. Seuss]


Yipes. Did you see that blur? It was yet another month flying past. Holy moley!

Which mean... it's time for another IWSG post. This, the first Wednesday of the month, is when writers all over the world post about the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ins and outs... of writing. We celebrate... we complain... we commiserate. Whatever we need, this is the place to find it. Humble thanks and a jolly tip of the hat go to Alex Cavanaugh, our fearless ninja leader and the originator of this fine group. If you'd like to join (It's FREE!) or would like to read some of the other posts, please go HERE

I've gotta say, October has been a pretty good month for me, writing-wise. I'd been semi-stalled on my WIP, kinda spinning my wheels, and only writing in short dribs and drabs, and then at the last minute, I decided to write something for the WEP challenge to make my "kid sister" pal Renee happy. The funny thing is, it made ME happy, too. I actually had fun with it, and much to my surprise, the judges selected it to receive the Encouragement Award... kinda like third place. (Like being Miss Congeniality! Cool. huh?)  It didn't do a darned thing to advance my WIP, but it was writing, and it was fun. Then, I decided to write and submit a story for the next IWSG anthology. Young adult romance isn't exactly the sort of thing I usually write, but doggone if I didn't have fun with THAT, too... a LOT of fun. THEN, to top it all off, after completing those two projects, my enthusiasm for my WIP returned...  and I'm now doing more writing than procrastinating and making lame excuses. (At this rate, I may actually finish this darned book!)

[source: unsplash]
Let's move right on to this month's question, shall we?

How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

I don't have any statistics to back me up, but I suspect that most writers are creative people, and  by that, I'm not just stating the obvious. I'm not saying that writers write. (Duh!) I mean that I think writers tend to be creative in other ways, as well.

I think we're all born with an innate curiosity and imagination, which kinda go hand-in-hand with creativity. This spark of inspired creativity, combined with a propensity to ask what if is what propels many writers. Me? There aren't many creative endeavors I haven't explored.



Smarticus thinks I've crocheted enough afghans to just about cover the globe. Lots of sewing and doll-making, too. Used to do a lot of oil painting and song writing, too, to go along with my guitar-playing. I even got into macrame... and made all kinds of things out of egg cartons. Even built a small Morse code receiver and transmitter. You name it, and I probably tried it.

Was I good at all of it?

In a word, no. I wasn't horrible... but I certainly wasn't great. But I was creative.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. [Scott Adams]

I made lots of mistakes. Most of my oil paintings belonged in the garbage, but there were a few... a few... worthy of a frame. Dabbling in water colors was a whole 'nother kinda painting that brought me a lot of joy, as did all of the other arts and crafts I embraced over the years. The most important thing to me was that I created something other than carbon dioxide.

But as for how my creativity has evolved since I put all of my eggs in the writing basket? It hasn't. Writing has come to rule supreme over all the rest. And ya know what? I think that's a mistake. Just as writing the entry for the WEP challenge and the Young Adult romance for the anthology stirred things up a bit and enabled me to summon up renewed energy for book two of my series, I think doing other creative activities... you know, something that doesn't have a darned thing to do with writing... would be a smart move. Not just for me, but for most writers.

Writing may be a passion, but if we allow it to become the be-all and end-all sum of our creativity, we shortchange our potential. Do you do puzzles? I do, and my two favorites are the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles and killer Sudoku puzzles. The thing about doing these two very different kinds of puzzles... and I know this is gonna sound weird... but it feels like I'm using different parts of my brain to solve them. The whole thought process feels different... and I think that's a good thing. Kinda keeps my brain on its toes. So to speak.

Same with doing different kinds of creative activities. The different processes exercise different parts of our imagination and stimulate the ol' gray matter and our creative chops. Why limit ourselves? So what if you don't paint like Rembrandt? Paint like YOU.  Don't be afraid to try. Not the world's best dancer? So what? Dance, anyway! Enjoy the experience.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. [Sylvia Plath]

Like the commercial say... Just do it! Life is filled with creative possibilities. Why limit ourselves to one thing? Writing is our passion, but it isn't cheating when we have a fling with another kind of creativity once in a while. Keeps the imagination limber, and in the long run, I think we'll be better writers for it.

                                  Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.











45 comments:

  1. I am thrilled to hear that your writing mojo came rushing back to you. I loved your WEP piece (as I expected).
    I don't think everyone IS creative. I think it is a rare and valuable characteristic. And this appreciator is very, very grateful to the creators - whatever genre they choose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      You're right. I don't think everyone is creative, either, but I do think we're all born with curiosity, which means we have the potential for it. Some people, for whatever reason, don't explore the possibilities.

      Delete
  2. Glad to hear you have been writing again. Stay creative, don't stop, have fun! Hugs, Valerie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm trying. If it ain't fun, don't do it. (Um, except for housework; the darned stuff refuses to do itself!)

      Hugs back atcha.

      Delete
  3. Compared to all the things you've tried, I'm not at all creative. I don't actually DO much of anything. People may suggest this or that to try as a hobby, but many things actually do cost a bit, at least for materials. (not moaning here, just saying) Another thing is inclination. If a person isn't inclined to try new stuff, well, it' like the old saying: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
    I am very glad your writing has taken off again, I hope the book does very well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, you're creative! Consider your writing, your gardening, the way you express yourself through the way you decorate your home, the way you turn recycled things into something whimsical and fun, etc. And I DO hope you finish your fairy garden and post of pic of that, too. That sounds absolutely delightful.

      Delete
  4. When I was 18, I spent a summer in the Sierras. Sometimes Willie and I'd wander into a cafe and sing for our supper. I'd play guitar. That instrument was given to one of my children, as it should be, and I took to doodling and poetry. Writing has always been sheer fun for me, but I consider myself primarily a gardener --who, like I told Willie 2 days ago, might get another guitar 50 years later. Creativity=sine qua non.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the image of you singing for your supper, dude. Makes me wonder what kind of songs you played, and if they were the same ones my cousin and I were playing and singing on the other side of the country. :)

      It's cool that one of your children has your old guitar. None of our kids play, and besides, my old guitar pretty much fell apart. It was el cheapo to start with, and I used and abused it for many years. I have a newer one... and nicer one... but I don't play nearly as often, because my fingers aren't nearly as agile at picking out tunes as they used to be. My son-in-law is a musician, so I reckon it'll go to him some day. And YES, I vote that you DO get a new guitar. Even if you don't play it real often, I guarantee you that playing it at all will give you a lot of pleasure

      Delete
  5. I might just have to try WEP one of these days. Writing something that short that's compelling sounds like a real challenge to me. I love all the creative pursuits you've done over the years. Doll making sounds really fun. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should definitely give the WEP a try. It's a lot of fun, and it provides a nice respite from the nose-to-the-grindstone nature of working on a novel. Like the commercial says, "Just do it!"

      Delete
  6. Love this post! It's just what I needed to hear - thank you!

    Perfectionism rears its ugly head whenever I try to do anything creative. I'm getting better, though, at letting myself just try, just have fun. I remind myself I don't have to become an expert. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm glad the post gave you the boost you needed.

      There's no room for perfectionism when it comes to creativity! I hope you learn to let yourself just have fun with whatever you want to do. We can't all be experts, but we CAN be enthusiastic. :)

      Delete
  7. I think doing other creative things helps as well.
    Glad you stretched and submitted to the IWSG Anthology Contest.
    And I didn't know you played the guitar!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I stretched and submitted to the anthology contest, too.

      Yep, I was probably playing the guitar before you were born. HA! Man, if that isn't a sobering thought...:)

      Delete
  8. Oh yes it is true, if we don't use it we lose it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the more we use it, the more we want to continue!

      Delete
  9. Oh wow, I'm envious of your ability to drift between mediums; and, at the same time, remain afloat!
    Perhaps, were I to give myself permission to fail … to accept criticism without sacrificing my self-esteem. Man, what a concept!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! Who said I'm still afloat? :)

      Please, please DO give yourself permission to fail. By not trying things you're tempted to try because of a fear of failure is causing you to miss out on soooooo much fun. Do the things you want to do for YOU. Phooey on what anyone else thinks. (And they can jolly well keep their criticism to themselves!)

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, congratulations on receiving the Encouragement Award. I can attest to the fact that your creative (and informative) blog - and your ever-present optimism have encouraged a lot of people.

      You hit the target with a bullseye when you said that writing is a passion but shouldn't be an end-all to our creativity. It is merely an extension of our creativity. There are many dimensions to a writer's creativity and most writers have numerous talents (at least the ones I know).

      I also happen to know that Sagittarians are extremely creative and multi-talented......especially those who happened to be born on the same day.....(*Big Smile* inserted here)

      Delete
    2. Thanks. :)

      Good way to put it... an extension of our creativity. Why limit ourselves to a single note when there are whole symphonies to write, right? (so to speak)

      Yeah, it must be that Sag thing. (*Big Smile* back atcha)

      Delete
  11. I'm glad you enjoyed those two challenges. Any kind of writing matters, even if it's not for our current WIP. Writing anything can get our creative juices flowing. Good for you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I tell myself: writing is writing. (But it doesn't get my book finished any faster!) C'est la vie. :)

      Delete
  12. I agree that creative cross-training is important for writers--or musicians, dancers, etc. My dabbling with guitar and my weekly belly dance class give me a different flavor of creative juice. Writing in a new genre would be a fun challenge too. Now & then I lay aside my romance & mystery stories and dabble in horror. Can't get much different than that, eh? I wish you happy writing in November.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How cool! You belly dance? I used to... when I had a cute little belly worth wiggling. HA!

      Happy writing to you, too... no matter what genre you chose to write.

      Delete
  13. Congrats for your award, friend Sue!!! About creating, hmmm, what comes to mind is this: We all are creators on one level or another. I myself included. I was born into poverty and learned very early to take care of my parents. I fought with my 6 brothers. I created unspeakable foods out of roadkill and stolen goods. Had an affinity to learn school, and so I did. Was taught manners in a monastery. Immigrated and created a lil family in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. I am a singer and dancer and painter and writer. I love everything hula-hoop. I know how to build a fire in the rain. I know how to pull calves in -30C and bring them back to life. I do not know how to knit/ crochet … smiles. But most of all I do know how to give love to my homeless crowd. And, you know what, Sue, if had do it again, I would do it all over again in case I missed anything/ anyone first time around … Much love, cat. https://www.youtube.com/embed/SrEGd06BXGQ?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, dear cat. :)

      You're more than creative. You're resourceful. You know how to do the important things... the things a person learns in order to survive. The kind of experiences you've had could be a great basis for a memoir. (Just in case you're looking for something to do during the long cold nights coming up...)

      Delete
  14. Just writing those short pieces sure can be fun indeed, and it does spur on other projects. Just have to have fun and let the creative flow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the "having fun" part is very important. Creativity shouldn't be a "chore." :)

      Delete
  15. I agree that stretching our creative muscles on projects other than writing and with different kinds of writing also makes our writing better and more inspired. It gives me a feeling of renewal and like you, happiness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes... renewal and happiness. Good goals, and so easily achieved with a little bit of effort.

      Delete
  16. I liked that you said you had so much FUN with your little writing jaunts outside the WIP. Whatever works. I haven't written, but I did catch up with writer friends last Sunday. Such a good visit, and I always come away sparked. Real work tends to squash my typing energies, but that's a weak excuse. My brain has been churning some words - maybe it's time to splash them on the screen. Stay tuned.
    Meanwhile - dance like no one is watching....and have FUN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very cool that you got together with some writer pals. Personal interaction has a way of generating enthusiasm, doesn't it?

      Yes! Enough churning... start writing, kiddo! I'm tuned...

      Delete
  17. Somebody said ( I am so bad at remembering who said stuff!) The creative adult is the child that survived. I like that :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that, too. (I always knew I was still a kid at heart!)

      Delete
  18. I have tried to crochet, but my fingers don't seem to be linked properly to my brain. But I love creating hands-on, I'm just really awful at it. LOL. My grandmother tried for years to teach me different crafts and we settles on cross stitch and embroidery. I can do that. Not real well, but well enough.

    I haven't done a WEP challenge, but I did send in a story for the IWSG. Fingers crossed for us both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doing something "well enough" doesn't matter. If you love doing something, do it! Just for your own enjoyment.

      Romance is your "thang," girl, so I don't have to cross my fingers for you. But I will, anyway. Good luck!

      Delete
  19. Greetings Susan. I think you are very creative, and most writers are. We all embark on a writing journey which starts at school, with some carrying on with writing after that. I joined a creative writing group when I was living in the next town along (they don't have one in the City I'm currently in), and it done me proud. Most in the class were highly creative with the pieces they shared. I like to think that I'm creative with writing over 1500 poems and two novels that aren't finished. Good luck with your writing, and I'm glad you have fun while doing so. Blessings to you. Love love, Andrew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greetings to you, Andrew. Yes, I'd say you're creative, too. That's an impressive amount of writing under your belt there. (You might need to get larger pants!) :)

      Blessings back atcha.

      Delete
  20. Hi Susan, I'm so glad your entering WEP was fun. Don't worry, your name figured highly in the discussions for the winner. Writing should be fun. After the first draft is complete, to me it is. I love all the rewriting, amplifying the story etc etc. Trouble is, I have so much fun I never want to let my babies go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi-ya, Denise. It really WAS fun. I may have to give it another whirl or two. :) And I wasn't expecting to win anything; I just wanted to put a smile on Renee's face.

      I know what you mean. Getting that first draft down is the hardest part, and that's when I'm most tempted to chuck it all. But the rewriting? That's fun. Unfortunately, ya can't edit a blank page.

      Delete
  21. I just had a similar conversation with a co-worker a few days ago. We were talking about going outside our comfort zone, trying new things, challenging ourselves. He said to try something completely different - something like art, if you're an engineer (this co-worker is an engineer). Not sure if an artist then should try something engineer-y (hahaha), but it made me realize that I'm stuck in a bit of a rut right now. Time to get creative!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You ARE creative! You create sheer magic with that camera of yours, and then you make them even better with your funny captions.

      Delete
  22. To keep our creativity bubbling we need to refill the well by taking creative breaks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taking a break is the easy part. Stopping the break can be more of a challenge. :)

      Delete