Why You Need A Creative Writing Mantra

I think everyone has an internal champion that pushes them on with colloquial phrases. Aside from the “you can do it” self encouragement I think it’s important to display your mantra in front of you at your work station. We all know we can do things if we dedicate time and attention to them; however, it’s easy to forget when inspiration isn’t coming or you’ve had a hard day.

Let me tell you about mine.

My creative mantra is “trust your future self.” In creative industries there are a lot of what ifs and uncertainties. It used to cause me lots of stress worrying about everything to come. In life, especially in a creative life, there are no guarantees so all we can do is work hard and prepare our unknown selves for what’s to come. And if we live with the awareness that each effort is better preparing us for future struggles we will be ready to tackle them with inspired fearlessness.

I think we underestimate our future selves because we only have our current capacity for understanding. But what if you thought about your future self as separate from your current self. All the wisdom you believe yourself to have in the present would only be multiplied in the future, right? So why don’t we give our future selves more credit to adapt and be even stronger than we are today? Everyone thinks they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, so believe that your future self has already carried these burdens and survived to become the person you want to be. I think we owe it to our growth.

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Whether you need to overcome rejection, find your tribe, or feel the strength to write the most honest parts of you, there is a mantra you can find to bolster your journey.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It’s her new book about creativity and it’s out this fall.

If you don’t have your creative mantra yet, here are some other favorites of mine you can borrow: 9e4073d6863e21b9a5b923c3e62390af 64dc2842e4f64e924cff62860a37cbe3 854bdb9922cae40934cf19855987807c c960caaf15c4d669ae4b735e37709d8f 6db4b3782b555876f83e4d5f7ebddcd0 56742506bd278f91f9bf7a557dd13802 34d4f71fc9ac164fd6af6bc5770ca7e4 Q: I’m excited for Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC to come out this September. Are you?

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Make readers believe the unbelievable

reading“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.” —Stephen King

To MFA or Not to MFA, That Is The Question…

There is much debate over whether doing an MFA is crucial to the experience of a writer.

There are two schools of thought (pardon the pun):

  1. The MFA shows a dedication to the craft and a seriousness about being a writer.
  2. The learning experiences of the world are of greater value than those learned in the classroom.

While the advantages to both are notable, and the combination of workshops and writerly real life experiences is ideal, the MFA is not the be-all end-all of your writing career. An MFA is expensive and often requires full-time attention leaving little time for a job or your family. However, it makes you focus and dedicate much needed time to work on your craft.

On the other hand, taking a course does not mean you are a writer. Spending money on a certificate to give you the credibility is not enough. An MFA, and any workshops you attend as a writer, should help to develop your craft not define it. Be wary of programs that offer weighty promises.

If you can buy Stephen King’s On Writing and set aside time to write daily, then all the power to you. You might get more out of that than an MFA program. Continue reading To MFA or Not to MFA, That Is The Question…

Less is More: Knowing which passages to cut

You’ve heard Faulkner say “you must kill all your darlings” and Stephen King say “it’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings than it is to kill your own”, so how does this help you when it comes time to get out the red pen?

Camilla Gibb, award-winning author of Mouthing the Words and The Beauty of Humanity Movementrecently told the CBC about the harshest thing an editor ever said to her: “‘It’s not the reader’s job to indulge you, Camilla.’ She was specifically referring to a chapter of a manuscript that I had enjoyed writing more than any other chapter. Yowza. Joy killer. And yet, it was probably also the wisest thing an editor ever said.”

When you love a passage or a chapter too much, it shows. It might stick out because it demonstrates a POV that we don’t need, it might introduce new themes that don’t fit in, and however beautifully written the passage is–and the darlings usually are–it needs to be cut.

You’ll know it’s a darling if: Continue reading Less is More: Knowing which passages to cut