Guest Bloggers

Your Creative Self is Eager to Explore

Today’s Guest Spot goes to Suzanne Murray. I recently watched a video of a 42-year-old neurosurgeon from California who dances for his patients to cheer them up during their check-ups. He gets them dancing too, including a young woman in a wheelchair seen waving her arms and shimmying her chair. I love that this doctor had found such a creative way to tend his patients spirits as well as their bodies. I imagine it’s a great help to their healing. It has me thinking more about how being creative can help heal our world. Creativity allows us to access new ways of looking at a problem and find fresh solutions. We touch expanded capacities and find ourselves capable of more than we think. We connect more to our heart and spirit. We are often surprised and delighted by the unexpected inspirations that arrive. We can learn to bring the creative…

Guest Bloggers

Why Follow Submission Guidelines?

Guest Blogger Tish Davidson writes: Don’t Sabotage Your Submissions What is the first thing you do when you cook a new recipe? Read the directions to determine if you have the necessary ingredients. What is the first thing you do when you assemble a piece of Ikea furniture? Read the directions. So why do so many writers seem unable to read and follow the directions when submitting to a journal or contest? I’ve judged a lot of writing from independently published books to high school writing contests. I was an editor of the 2019 CWC Literary Review with responsibility submission intake as well as judging. What I’ve learned is how few supposedly literate people read and follow the submission directions. Maybe because they are called “guidelines” people consider them optional. Or perhaps the requirements seem overly picky or silly. Take fonts. Why use Courier as requested when your work will…

Guest Bloggers

It’s All Grist for the Mill: Weathering the Ups and Downs of the Creative Life

Photo Credit: Erin VonRuden Guest Blogger Mary Kole writes about the creative journey: As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, the creative life is full of ebbs and flows, highs and lows, and any other image you want to ascribe to the push and pull of the artistic temperament. Whether you admit or not, you are a writer, a creative, and an artist, whatever that means to you. If you find yourself grappling with writer’s block or struggling to reignite your passion for writing, fear not. This is perfectly normal, and every writer faces these challenges at some point in their creative journey. And it is a journey. Some writers are only interested in publication, and I can absolutely see where they’re coming from. But they will be in for a long and disappointing ride if they can’t derive pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment from the act of writing…

Guest Bloggers

Magic by Rebecca Evans

Rebecca’s writing and her workshops are magical, showing what happens when we let go and are open to making discoveries. Magic by Rebecca Evans: I am an AI Rebutter. I am a Long-Hand-Writer Endorser. I pen pages each morning in a journal, jot a list of tasks to (almost) complete, scaffold essays and poems across composition notebooks. In separate journals, I copy beautiful lines from artists I love, wishing to transfer talent by osmosis. For me, magic begins within this first planting. I lean into an unfolding. Instead of writing towards an idea or theme or popular topic, I follow the words where they lead. It is from this space in my first drafts, I discover seedlings. Tiny sprouts. Sometimes one piece feels as though it could be in conversation with a piece of work I developed earlier. Other times, I might recognize the start of the poem. I rarely…

Guest Bloggers

Best Writing: From the Heart

Guest Blogger Sarah Chauncey writes about increasing energy, exploring ideas, and preventing burnout: You’re driving on a long stretch of highway when you have an insight about your main character’s childhood. Or you’re mid-hair-rinse in the shower, when you suddenly understand how to bring together the braided strands of your novel. Or you wake up at 2 a.m. with the resolution to that thorny plot issue you’ve been wrestling. Have you ever noticed how many ideas arise when you’re not sitting at the keyboard?  As writers, we’ve all experienced the law of diminishing returns—the point at which our writing stops being generative and begins to feel like we’re pulling each word from our synapses by hand. I spent the better part of a decade investigating how to create what I half-jokingly call a “law of increasing flow.” How might writers support our writing practice in a way that doesn’t leave us mentally…

Guest Bloggers

Freeing Your Creativity

Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray writes about: Freeing Your Creativity. Does it feel like your creativity is locked up tight in a box you are afraid to open? You put it in there long ago when your third grade teacher didn’t like your drawing or your father disapproved of you wasting your time writing poems or your grandmother told you that you didn’t have as good a singing voice as your sister. It happened to me in junior high school when my in my design class the teacher exclaimed about a drawing I actually really liked, “Suzanne, you can do better than that.” Decades later I’ve yet to pick up another drawing pencil. The Creative Self The creative self is a tender and vulnerable part of us, so it doesn’t take much to discourage it. I could have left the creative urge locked up with my drawing pad. Fortunately, I found…

Guest Bloggers

A New Beginning

Guest Blogger Tamara Belinfanti writes about a new beginning. A few years ago, I found myself called to write exuberant, colorful stories with riotous characters that defied rational thinking and did not fit the mold of legal academia, which was my background. At first, like so many, I ignored the inner whisper to explore new territory. But the thing about callings is that they get louder when you get really still or something shakes your world. For me, the latter forced the former: my closest mentor in the law field passed suddenly, and alongside intense grief, a new beginning emerged. In academia, I had a built-in community of mentors and colleagues, plus the academic publishing path was fairly straightforward. My tenure process was not a walk in the park, but overall it was relatively hitch-free and went according to plan. Creative writing was a whole new terrain. I had to…

Guest Bloggers

Cavorting With Words

Guest Blogger Grant Faulkner: Since it’s National Novel Writing Month, I wanted to share my thoughts on the creative process that is at its core: writing with abandon. This is a reprint of an essay that originally appeared in Poets & Writers. A few years ago I grappled with a simple question I had never before bothered to ask myself: Did I decide on my writing process, or did it decide on me? Despite an adult lifetime of reading innumerable author interviews, biographies of artists, and essays on creativity, I realized I’d basically approached writing the same way for years. And I didn’t remember ever consciously choosing my process, let alone experimenting with it in any meaningful way. My approach formed itself around what I’ll call “ponderous preciousness.” I’d conceive of an idea for a story and then burrow into it deliberately. I’d write methodically, ploddingly, letting thoughts percolate, then marinate—refining…

Guest Bloggers

Creativity Is A Practice

Suzanne Murray writes about the rewards of engaging our creativity. There is a growing awareness that creativity is a capacity that everyone has, though they may not understand what is involved in accessing it. One of the main things that gets in the way of people embracing their creative gifts is a belief that creativity should be easy; that it should just flow out. They think they should be good at it immediately. If they are not and it’s not easy, there is a tendency to think there is something wrong with them and it’s never going to work. Yet creativity in whatever form you choose to pursue is a complex process that actually asks a lot of us. This is why is feels so good to engage since it helps us discover that we are capable of more than we thought possible, including working from expanded abilities. It is…

Guest Bloggers

Show Up And See What Happens

Photo by Marlene Cullen Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray writes about the power of commitment and practice. Whether it’s for writing, meditation, exercise, or anything you want to do but feel resistance to, establishing a practice can help you move forward in magical ways. It signals to the universe that you are committed. Having a practice means that you show up every day, no matter what. Release all expectations of outcome or where you think you want things to go. It doesn’t matter how good you are or what you accomplish or what happens with the practice. You sit down to meditate and your mind goes wild with chatter the entire time, that’s fine. You show up to write and find yourself whining on the page, that’s okay. The point is to show up and practice. A lot of things are happening when you show up consistently to something. You begin…