Being in a roomful of writers is a bit like going into the sunshine. This group is positive, upbeat and cheerful – most of the time. The workshop was no exception. The room buzzed with energy and “reunion” conversations between Susan’s lessons. While she spoke about her writing journey, you could almost hear the wheels turning as each writer present took in the information and considered how or if a similar strategy might be useful in her own path to publication. I say “her” because it was an all female event, by accident, not be design. Then again, the “femaleness” of the day may have contributed to the ambiance. I’ve nothing against men, I’m quite fond of many of them, but a gathering of only women does have a certain vibe not present at mixed events. I’m sure all-male events could say the same thing, although the vibe would be different.
Anyway, back to the workshop. Our group had send a list of topics we’d like to hear about. I expected Susan to pick one or two. Instead, she tried to touch on the entire writing journey from newbie to old pro and from idea to finished product. A jam-packed day to say the least.
Although time was limited, she did give us a few minutes to write down our three writing gurus, three essential writing tools and three writing triggers. Sadly, there wasn’t time to share, but even thinking about my own answers helped me to see a pattern in my process. If I can exploit that pattern, perhaps I can increase my productivity and my craft.
One of my triggers is “a clean slate.” That means a clean house, a clean desk, and a mind free of “musts” and “shoulds.” For someone who procrastinates endlessly about housework, this creates a problem. I have a cousin who sews and says she can’t work unless her sewing room is spotless and organized. So long as I can find the sewing machine, I’m good to go. Unhappily, I can’t apply that technique to writing. Perhaps that’s why my second trigger is a coffee shop.
I believe the reason I escape to a coffee shop to write is because it provides that “clean slate” for me. If there’s a streak on the window, it’s not my problem. If the used cups are piling up in the bin, it’s not my problem. If the lawn is a muddy mess, it’s not my problem. At the coffee shop, the only requirement for me, is that I write. Having coffee and chocolate for fuel doesn’t hurt. 🙂
My third trigger is research. I love to poke around in the library, the internet and newspaper archives for arcane bits of information. Sometimes the research answers a question in my ms, sometimes it sends me down a whole new path. I’d add a caveat to the research trigger though. Be careful that it doesn’t take the place of writing. Scholars have spent lifetimes on research. A writer of commercial fiction can’t afford that luxury. I try to make sure my research is focussed and doesn’t take me into a rabbit warren of facts that detract from the prime task of writing.
I’d love to hear from other artistic types. What triggers your creativity? Can you work in a hurricane? Can you balance your laptop on top of a to-do list and still make progress?
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