Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Knock On Your Own Creative Door

How many times have you sat, fingers poised over your keyboard, and cried internally for forgiveness from your absent muse? And while you know you didn’t actually do anything to offend the keyholder to your inspiration bank, you’re not taking any chances – just the idea that you’re kowtowing to your lord and master of the word gives you the kind of hope experienced by some poor soul hanging off a cliff-edge by their blistered fingertips.

You wonder is your muse really exclusive to you, or is she constantly on call, busy flitting from one struggling writer to another? How many scribes does she have in her stable? A handful wouldn’t be too bad – she’d have time to get to everyone and still make it home for dinner. But maybe yours has a dozen or more fretting aspirants, all teetering on the edge, striving for a firmer grasp on a visual, even a word, that will fuel this session and propel them onto a new path filled with unlocked doors to wonderful new worlds.

Such a struggle. The stress of just sitting there, waiting, striving to connect with an abstract morsel, reaching beyond madness until you can’t take it anymore and give it all up for another cup of tea or coffee and the thought that being a nuclear physicist might have been a more productive career option.

Why put yourself through so much unnecessary turmoil? I know from my own experience how the whole ‘waiting for your muse’ thing goes. It doesn’t. That’s the unpalatable reality. Waiting will get you nowhere fast, whereas chasing down that elusive git will place you in the centre of your creative arena. You are your own muse. You are the creator of your own ideas, the hunter of wild and dangerous visuals, the instigator of imaginative scenarios, the lord and master of your words and how they gel together into magical shapes of your own making.

Of your own making – that’s the important phrase. If you wait, you’re not a responsible writer. Actually, you’re not a writer, because waiters do nothing but…wait, not to mention suffer with all the stress involved. No, it’s time to don the gladiatorial garb of the word warrior and step up to the line – your line – that symbolises the beginning of your proactive campaign to write, to scratch your mark on that blank page, to pound those keys until you’ve sweated sense into the tumble of words emanating from your frothing mind.

It doesn’t matter a jot what you write about. You’ve been hovering over nothingness for way too long now, the very action of putting words down creates its own momentum. Just write, but endeavour to heighten your language, lifting your words from their everyday status. Instil life into your description of the scene outside your window, a photograph of your loved one, the memory of something ordinary that might very well become extraordinary with a little consideration. Adding colour and texture to the simplest of concepts will bring them to life and might even provide you with a nugget that you can shape into an idea that has legs. It’s the legs that matter. They’ll take you forward, and forward momentum is a million times more progressive than sitting in your shadow waiting for inspiration to come knocking.

Knock on your own creative door. You never know who might answer.

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Benefits of Positive Networking

I like Twitter, and I enjoy putting myself out there and interacting with like-minded people. I’m usually too busy, to be honest, to regularly expand my social-media platform, so when work permits I enjoy going through the selection ‘offered’ by Twitter. I generally lean towards writers and bloggers, but if someone’s profile catches my eye, I’ll usually follow.

It’s a three-day thing for me, basically meaning that if someone I’ve pinged doesn’t follow me back within three days, I simply unfollow. It’s not an ego thing on my part – if a person doesn’t want to follow me, I’ve no problem with that, but I prefer my relationships on Twitter to be as mutual as possible, with a bit of positive interaction going on, initiating a tit-for-tat of likes and retweets and helping each other to network and spread the word, whatever that may be on the day.

Then I ‘sit back’ and enjoy the activity that comes from my little targeting campaign. Over the first day I’ll get a flurry of follow-backs. This’ll keep me entertained by going in and retweeting the pinned tweet of each new profile, which usually evokes one of mine being retweeted in return. Reciprocation is a wonderful way to develop fresh Twitter relationships and will often encourage unsolicited retweets that set the cycle off again.

The good thing about reactive tweeting is how it fixes the tweeter’s identity in my mind. That can’t be such a bad thing in a cyber world of millions where it’s easy to slip into oblivion, when all you’re trying to do is read good material, share what you like with a few others, and get your own message out there.

An added bonus is that Twitter’s algorithms react to my heightened activity by suggesting me to others, more than they usually do, because I receive a few ‘extra’ unrelated followers over those two or three days.

Anyway, when I start my little expansion ‘campaign’ – usually once a month, I’ll generally follow up to forty profiles, and over the next three days about half will follow me back. That’s not such a bad return. So, on the third day, I run through my list and simply unfollow those good folk who weren’t feeling my love. No harm done or felt, and I end up with twenty or so new tweeters to hopefully develop a worthwhile connection with. It works for me.

If you’re a writer or blogger, visit my profile and, if you follow me, I’ll return the gesture.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Happy to Offend

I was recently ‘accused’ of being a motivator. I have to admit it made me smile. And why not? Isn’t it a good thing to encourage another person, especially a fellow writer, to look at a particular challenge from a more positive and constructive perspective?

The pressures we experience today, even on the most basic of levels, may leave us fighting a battle we can do without. I’m referring to elements of everyday life, maybe a mother or father racing against time to get the children fed and watered before school, or the harangued worker trying to meet objectives, with a stressed-out boss hovering over their shoulder – or an exhausted shop manager counting down the hours before getting home to their sanctuary, only to be met by the demands of…the blank page.

I read and shared a tweet yesterday that celebrated the feeling of absolute joy when you’re caught up in a free-flow phase, where everything is going as it should and the gates to the Valhalla of expression are wide open. It’s certainly the place to be – the writer’s Nirvana – the complete opposite of the dreaded dark forest of Writer’s Block, where so many find themselves after enduring a day of stress and strife.

What better reason, when you find yourself in a good place, than to step up and share some of your positivity with a friend or associate who may just require a kind word of encouragement, or even a square or two of chocolate to dip into their tea or coffee to set them on the right path?

From my experience, when someone is struggling to express, what they’re usually lacking is a friendly directional push. I’m not afraid to shove, either, but I’ve found that a gentle shunt usually suffices. And once that works, more often than not there’s no looking back. The best thing, of course, is that such a service – motivating a friend to pull themselves out of a dry trough – costs nothing but the embarrassment of being publically blamed for an offence you’re really and truly proud of committing. You know where I am if you need me.