Seeds of creativity – what really are great ideas?

If you believe great ideas come in a sudden flash and offer themselves complete down to the last detail you might be in for a shock.

monkey looking at birds up in the sky - seeds of creativity

Seeds of creativity

We cannot prevent birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from making nests on top of our heads.

Similarly, bad thoughts sometimes appear in our mind, but we can choose whether we allow them to live there, to create a nest for themselves, and to breed evil deeds.

I read this quote some days ago. I found it in Tolstoy’s Path of Life, but the quote itself is attributed to Martin Luther.

Be that as it may, this quote made me think about ideas and productivity from a writer’s point of view.

In fact, while it’s is true that occasionally writers experience the dreaded writer’s block, it’s also true that in general any self-respecting writer has the opposite problem. I mean, like the birds of the quotes, ideas keep flying over our heads and trying to make a home for themselves right there.

As a result a writer’s biggest problem should have to do with choosing the best idea to work on, not with having an idea at all. Continue reading

Signs you are a writer – what is true and what is not

signs you are a writerSurfing the web you can come across a zillion of posts listing the telltale signs you are a writer.

These posts can be entertaining, no doubt about that. But they’re often based on myths, stereotypes, and little more.

For example don’t worry if you didn’t start reading and writing before other children of your age. Or if your spelling abilities are still next to non existent.

Many great writers have managed to succeed despite these problems, and some others way more difficult as well.

Just think of W. B. Yeats and Jeanne Betancourt who had to work around their dyslexia.

Think also of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of French Elle, who found himself paralyzed apart from one eye as a result of a catastrophic stroke. And yet managed to write a touching book — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Continue reading

Improve your editing skills – 5 easy tips

There was a time I hated editing.

There was a time I thought all the fun was in ferrying my ideas into reality, in writing them on paper for the first time around.

I thought the thrill of discovery, and that strange feeling I experienced—of tapping into some mysterious sort of alternate reality—was all I cared about.

But then, blunt and irreverent, time barged in as it always does. And much to my chagrin it showed me I was mistaken.

In short, it happened the most obvious thing in the world. I began rereading some of the stories I had written. In particular, I began rereading them months after I had written them.

A change of perspective

The results weren’t exactly flattering. Indeed, in many cases I discovered my stories, that had seemed so damn fantastic to me on the day of completion, now presented a long series of disturbing problems. Continue reading

Procrastination for writers – the urge to write and the high place phenomenon

To be a true writer you have to do just one thing.

Yep, you guessed it right.

You’ve got to write. You’ve got to write (almost) every day.

If you write, you are a writer. Even if you never publish anything, or your marketing efforts are practically non existent, like in my case — but I promise I’m going to change that.

The fact is, as a writer you should feel the urge to write. That almost physical necessity to give shape to your thoughts and feelings, arranging and rearranging words into ever new tapestries—no, I haven’t said travesties.

It doesn’t matter if you also experience resistance, and have to fight a daily battle with procrastination. Writers are known to be quite eccentric, to say the least.

So, if you have the desire to write, and your head is full of ideas, and yet you find yourself striving to sit down and actually write the words, there’s nothing to worry about. Of course, provided most of the days you do end up winning your personal battle with procrastination.

Some time ago, I wrote a post about this. A post based on first-hand experiences with procrastination and the tricks I use to defeat it (most of the days).

However, I must also admit that in many cases when it comes to procrastination what I need most isn’t a quick fix whose effectiveness tends to wear out over time. What I need most is a deeper understanding of my behavior.

In fact, in that way I can work on what lies at the root of my behavior and change it.

Of course, this approach requires more time and effort, especially at the beginning, but it is also the only approach to grant lasting results. Continue reading

Invaluable advice for writers: know yourself

know yourselfIt never ceases to amuse me the way we have to be reminded over and over again of things we should have already learned a long time ago.

For example, there’s no doubt that the ancient Delphic maxim Know thyselfknow yourself–holds true today as it did when it was first uttered.

Indeed, there’s no doubt at all. And such a maxim holds true for everyone, writers included. In fact, if you know yourself you can avoid a lot of stress and useless worrying about your career as an independent writer.

Just think of it. If you spend some quality time thinking hard about what makes you happy, what your values are, what is your definition of success, how hard you’re willing to work to attain certain goals, and so on, you can build your personal road map from here to whatever destination in life you choose.

Besides, having chosen and defined certain basic principles from the very beginning you won’t have to make the same decisions over and over again in the future.

At least, certainly not on a daily basis.

What follows is a brief list of the way that knowing yourself can help you as a writer to be way more productive and effective. Continue reading

Rereading books – the art of change

rereading booksA couple of nights ago I was sitting on the porch at my friend’s place.

The sun was gone, just like the wine we had been drinking.

So, with that particular predisposition of the soul that most often comes when the right amount of food and booze and stimulating company all happen together, we started chatting about books and writing.

My friend isn’t a writer. And he isn’t planning on becoming one any time soon.

Indeed, he is perfectly content with being a voracious reader. And of having the opportunity to chat, as often as possible, about books and the inner mechanics of a story.

Now, while we decided whether or not to help ourselves with a last glass of wine–it was a damn fine Rosso di Montalcino we were enjoying–we ended up chatting about books we had reread and found dramatically different from the first time around.

For me, this subject is a tricky one. It’s so for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I reread only a very small portion of the books I’ve already read. It’s not a matter of how much I enjoyed reading a particular book. It’s more about the number of new books I have on my to-read list. Because I’m curious. And a sucker for a new story. A more than willing sucker.

Secondly, given that my memory is quite good, more often than not, for me rereading tends to be quite a boring experience. Even if the writer’s style is egregious and now and then I find myself reading passages I had completely forgotten. Continue reading

Vacations for writers — why they improve your creativity

vacations for writersFirst off, let’s make it clear: writers do not need any vacations.

After all, theirs is a dream job.

They get to do what they love precisely when they prefer to.

And if this isn’t the definition of a dream job, I don’t know what else could be.

Ok. Ok. I’m just kidding.

In fact, a lot of writers, also the successful ones, have a day job. Because, you know, it helps pay the bills, and forces some kind of structure on their day, things like these.

Secondly, writers too have families, and pretty much all the same social obligations each of us has. Yes, they learn to say “no” more often to be more productive, but still…

Indeed, apart from those who sell in the millions, writers are just human beings. This means they are strange clusters of idiosyncrasies, fears, addictions, aspirations, noble intents, and bullshit. A lot of bullshit.

Just like we all are.

The only difference is that, for some reason, they feel they need to make their musings public. Usually in a fictionalized way. At least, for sure I do.

Ah, you’re wondering about those who sell in the millions? Continue reading