Friday, March 28, 2008

Recharging Your Creative Side

Today's guest blogger is Brenda Jackson. I wanted Brenda to tell her story here because her struggle sounds so familiar to me--and because it has a happy ending. I'm looking forward to that Yee-haww moment, myself! Here's Brenda:

Thanks, Robin, for inviting me to take a spin here in the land of perseverance!

About me: I took up writing screenplays with a friend in 2002. I highly recommend writing at least one screenplay in your life to flex a different set of writing muscles. One screenplay quarterfinaled in a national competition. But after 3 years, I learned screenplays were not my passion and began pursuing my ultimate dream – a career as a novelist. My heart’s desire (Lord willing) is to become known as the author who writes “Westerns With An Arizona Brand.” I’m currently working on my first 3 book series but don’t know when they’ll be ready to pitch (to editors – not out the door.) :)

A career as a novelist is not an easy path. I just went through a 3-4 month creative dry spell that sucked the life out of me. I couldn't write a word on my novel if someone threatened to shoot me, due to a combination of reasons: a pneumonia/asthma/creeping crud that refused to die, puppy raising (if you ever want to feel absolutely inadequate, try raising a puppy after not having done so in years). Worst of all, in the months leading up to that dry spell, I did not take care of my creative side – Artist’s Date style (if you haven’t heard the reference, check out Julia Cameron’s “The Right To Write” and other books).

The WORST feeling in the world is the times in our spiritual journey when it seems God has left us - that sense of absolute abandonment at the height of our trials.

I think the next worst feeling is wondering if you're ever going to be able to write another word again, wondering if your writing dreams might as well be dead.

Well at last my dry spell is OVER! YEEHAW!!!!!!

I'm back to eagerly looking forward to writing sessions, to those impatient moments at work when I stop and say "man, I can't wait to go home and write!"; to those times when your mind catalogs research tidbits and scene ideas, etc.

Several things helped me break that dismal cycle, like: going to Pueblo Grande Museum last weekend (dedicated to teaching visitors about the ancient Hohokam Indians), going to a Civil War in the Southwest event, seeing “The Bucket List,” and beginning to read James Scott Bell's "Plot & Structure."

Granted, time, money, and the calendar do not always permit flitting from one event to the next. But simply going to your local park can recharge your creative batteries. I also learned last weekend there were a ton of museums in the Phoenix metro area that I did not even know about!

The moral of the story is, do NOT make the mistake of starving your creative side. It's easy to do what with being caught up with the day job, the kids, the bills, etc etc. But it is far more costly in time to ignore the creative part of ourselves than it is to spend a little time each week (or otherwise regularly) making sure the creative juices are healthy and well-tuned. I hope I don't go through that again for a long time.

And I hope you all never do!