Two weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend Chris about the process of writing. He asked me how I was nourishing my relationship to it. How, in other words, was I making sure that I continue to challenge my craft and play with it, too?
It was a question that lit a spark in me, because I could feel this was the start to a conversation I hadn't had in a long while, not with another writer nor even with myself.
At that point in time, I was barely writing. I'd finished The Play House and really didn't want to devote any energy to another novel before I got this one out into the world (updates on that coming soon!). And so, because I so feared being that writer—the one that has a desk drawer filled with piles of unpublished manuscripts, I just stopped writing fiction. I told myself I was still exercising my writing muscle with blog posts, emails, freelance articles, and copy for clients. And I was, but not to the same degreee. Or not in the same way, at least.
Fiction requires its own set of creative leg work, one that strengthens the imagination, and the lyrical ability to orchestrate structure into a flowing rhythm. And I'd let those muscles begin to atrophy.
At the end of that conversation though, Chris and I had made a pact to devote time to our crafts every day. We would not tell ourselves that we had to do anything in particular during our allotted writing ritual time. We would simply use the time to explore. That may look like playing with new writing styles, or reading an author we love/are curious about, or reading interviews that dig into the lives of artists we admire. It may even look like checking out other art forms and drawing inspiration from them. Anything that broadens or challenges our creativity is fair game.
It took one day of this for me to begin writing micro-stories. For the first time since January 2017, I've loosened the reigns on my craft. I believe it was vital that I stayed regimented and focused while writing The Play House. Disallowing my mind from wandering too far off that story's path allowed me to finish it in two years. That said, now that the novel's done, I've come to see it's equally vital I give myself this space to play with writing. Life comes in seasons, right? (Wild that I so easily forget that.)
In beginning to play, I've found myself returning to a favourite area of study: ancient cultures—their day to day rituals and festive ceremonies. And I've been using that well of excitement that bubbles up from reading about these topics to spin new tales. Basically, I've been filled with love for the beauty that is creating freely. It feels like happiness. And, especially now, it feels like balm for the soul.
In a day and age where we are so constrained, there's something medicinal about allowing our imaginations to grow wild, letting them release over the page.
It's been beautiful to see so many of you tapping deeper and deeper into your creativity. In what ways are you feeding it? I'm all ears, as you guys well know xx