‘Quiet’– #AtoZ Challenge

th.jpegI’m a quiet person, an introvert I suppose. And yet I have many friends, adore parties and need to be with people regularly. It’s a dichotomy really. But over the last six months, since I began to make small changes to my life in order to focus more on writing, I’ve spent a lot more time than I previously did sitting in silence. I say silence, but there’s never absolute silence. Right now, for example, I can hear a ticking clock, singing birds and distant cars from the main road a few minutes away, but there’s little noise.

I need this virtual silence in order to be creative. I’ve tried working with music or the TV on in the background but all it does is distract me. Ideas, for me, can only flourish in soils of silence.

This week is the second week of my flash fiction course. It’s challenging but stimulating as every day we have a short assignment. As I’m in a different timezone to most of the other participants, I find that I’m posting my work slightly later. This isn’t a problem but I do find myself feeling slightly anxious when I can’t think of anything to write, which was the case this morning. When this happens, I make a coffee, open my laptop and lie back on my beanbag. Then I start to think, in silence and eventually a story begins to form. The writing process is magical and its main ingredient is silence.

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Creative Magic

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I’ve just finished reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ some time ago and kind of liked it, identified with it I suppose, probably because I’ve travelled a lot, as has Gilbert & we’re around the same age.

Big Magic (subtitled, ‘Creative Living Beyond Fear’) received mixed reviews (on Goodreads). Some reviewers mocked her notion of ideas floating around waiting to connect with the right people, but I found this concept not only believable but also exciting and almost magical, as if an idea is like a soulmate that you need to write into being.

The points I’ve made below are the ones that stood out for me. Gilbert’s advice is simple yet practical and it makes sense to me. After receiving a rejection on Friday, reading her book installed a breath of positivity into my weekend which ended quite nicely when I was long listed in a competition.

She suggests you should:

1/ ‘Reveal what you know’ – it’s not about the qualifications you have, it’s more to do with what you’ve experienced, and that provides you with the fodder you need to be creative.

2/ ‘Start whenever you decide to start.’ There’s no age limit when it comes to creativity. (Gilbert cites the example of a woman who started to study the history of ancient Mesopotamia at the age of 80 and was a world expert by 90!)

3/ ‘Stay with the process,’ as by doing so and not panicking, you’ll ‘pass safely through each stage of anxiety and onto the next level.’ She says that these fears are natural human reactions to interactions with the unknown.

4/ Not aim for perfectionism as it stops you from completing their work and sometimes even beginning it.

5/ Say yes to clues of curiosity (If you’re stuck about what to write, you should consider developing every minuscule idea that has ever remotely piqued your interest).

One of my spring objectives is to get back to my NaNo novel. I managed to write 50 thousand words in November but have since been wondering whether it’s worth completing, but (as a result of reading Big Magic), I now realise that even if it isn’t, that’s not really the point. The point is that I need to finish it for me regardless of whether it gets published or not. Nothing we do creatively is ever a waste of time.