Creativity Information


These days it's all about breaking things down into manageable pieces in order to be able to reach a goal and track your process/progress, and keep yourself from going insane because there's not a lot of time to breathe.

And I'm a firm believer in this approach, in, as I've heard it termed: 'microvision.' But I'm also a believer in thinking 'blue sky,' or BIG. I call this MACROVISION. This is where you step back and open up and let everything move through you (not 'in,' but 'through'), when you allow for any and every possibility without limitations - a kind of brainstorming - and see what surfaces.

In the world of macrovision, there isn't any of the following:

judgment, pain, fear, accountability, logic, linear thinking, self-editing, eavesdroppers, guilt, past mistakes, worry, boundaries, barriers, limiting beliefs, rules or doubt.

If you can think of any others, delete those too.

Keeping this in mind, ask yourself the following questions about your writing (and your life where appropriate):

1) What is it you're afraid to write? (You absolutely know what this is, just say it 'out loud' on paper.)

2) Why?

3) What do you think that says about you (what you are afraid to write and why), and why is that important? (Or better: is that important?)

4) For a story (fiction/nonfiction): what is it about your characters that you're not showing?

For a poem: whose voice are you using? Yours or someone else's?

For both: What is really important about this event/issue/idea you're writing about that you're not allowing yourself to see, feel and write?


5) Is there any direction/path you'd like to take in your poem or story (or essay or play) that you're not taking because you feel locked in to the original idea?

Can you separate yourself enough to try that direction and see what happens? Can you trust yourself enough?

6) What are you worried people would say if they knew you wanted to write about this topic? Is there someone in particular you're afraid of disappointing, or making angry, or hurting? (You can include yourself in the list if that's the case.)

7) Who are you trying to please?

8) What is that critic inside your head saying? Write it down, look at it and KNOW in your HEART that all of it is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. You are talented. You are capable. You do have a unique vision. The work is worth it. You're worth it. Now tear the critique up into little pieces and throw it away.

Quickly write down a list of words relating to this idea/event/whatever you want to write about - make a fast list without thinking, without stopping yourself.

If a wall goes up at any point and you slow down or 'hit your head' against it, pause and enter that space. Feel it around you - what is it like? Can you visualize/sense it? What is the message you're getting (emotionally or actually through a voice)? Can you look at it for what it is (name it too) and release it?

Take a look at your list and do a five minute writing on it. No specific form unless that's how it comes out. Just five minutes. If you want to go further, go ahead.

If you have to put this down for now, that's okay. But don't do so until you've picked a day/time to come back to the list later. Put that date/time on your calendar. This is really your rich writing territory. This is where your voice will really 'come alive' as they say. You don't want to turn your back on it.

Challenging ourselves, allowing ourselves to feel a little uncomfortable, a little afraid, even excited when, and about what, we write will make the results deep, electric, and fresh. You have to push. Sometimes gently, sometimes full force.

Writing, like life, is about discovery. When you opened up and made your list of words, what rushed by that excited you? What made you nervous? Choose something you never do and do it. Or pick something you always do and do it differently. This will make you see differently, which will make you WRITE differently. Would you want to only hang out with the same friends for the rest of your life - no new people, no new ideas, no new stories, experiences, feelings? Didn't think so. (I mean, I'm sure your friends are great but...) Don't doom your writing to that fate either. Without new input we (and our writing) become stale; there's no growth, learning, or risk. Don't stand outside the door worrying about what, or who, is inside. Enter the mystery! We're with you every step of the way and can't wait to read what you'll write about it.

"No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." (Robert Frost)

Christine Stewart is an artist-in-residence with Creative Alliance in Baltimore. She has an M.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing and poetry, is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, and other literary magazines. She mentors and leads private workshops for adults and teens, and has taught writing in the extension programs at Los Angeles Valley College and Pasadena City College in California. Grab your copy of the upcoming "The 30-Day Writing Challenge," and get a FREE writing evaluation. Details at

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