How To Become A Badass Creative Writer — a Guest Post…

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by Larry Brooks on July 3, 2012

… by Jennifer Blanchard of InkyBites

On StoryFix, Larry is constantly giving you all the information you need to write a badass story: a story that “works,” that shines in all 6 Core Competencies and is publishable.

But being a badass creative writer? That takes more than just the ability to write an amazing story.

Sure, writing an amazing story is a huge part of it, but you can’t just write one story if you want to be a successful author. You have to write several.

And one problem a lot of writers have is they don’t know how to get into a creative flow that will allow them to keep coming up with amazing stories to write.

Wouldn’t it be great to have consistent creative flow? It starts with fueling your core source of creativity: yourself.

If you want to be a badass creative writer, along with writing a story that “works,” you need these 5 things:

1. Discipline to Write Much and Often

Write as much as you can as often as you can. The only way to get better as a writer is to write. The most badass of creative writers (Larry, for example) have made writing a habit and from that habit, creative genius was born.

2. A Writing Routine

Badass creative writers know that in order to come up with their best ideas, they need a writing routine that gets them writing on a daily basis. Doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, an article for a magazine or a piece of fiction, badass writers are always working on something.

If you want to follow suit, write as much as you can and do it every day.

3. The Right Creative Fuel

If you want to have the energy and mental clarity you need to write every day and be creative when you need to be, you have to nourish the main source of your creativity—yourself.  That’s right, your body, mind, soul and heart are what gives you creative ideas and words that flow onto the page.

When you’re nourishing your body with the right foods and lifestyle habits, you’ll become a badass creative writer a whole lot faster than you will fueling your core creativity source with junk.

You can’t eat junk and expect to achieve creative flow.

Junk food stifles your creative efforts, making it hard for you to focus, find the right words or even sit through a writing session without getting fidgety.

Eat whole, real, unprocessed food and you’ll see a huge difference in your mood and your ability to make writing happen when you need to.

4. Movement

Your body was made to move, but being a writer sometimes means you have a semi-lethargic lifestyle. Doesn’t have to be the case thou. There are plenty of simple things you can do to get more movement into your day.

Badass creativity lies within a body that’s nourished and stress-free.

Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and light your creative flame. And it doesn’t have to be traditional forms of exercise, like going to the gym or running on a treadmill.

Some ideas for non-traditional exercises include:

  • Walking the stairs—don’t just take the stairs at work, but take a 10-15 minute break (either during lunch or whenever you can get away) and walk up and down the stairs until your break is over.
  • Stroll outside—it’s a beautiful time of year, so get outside and enjoy it. Walk around your neighborhood or find a park to walk at. Being in nature and having time to just walk, think and dream can really inspire your creativity.
  • Add movement in when you can—waiting in line at the grocery store? Do some calf-raises using the handle on your shopping cart. Do lunges while you brush your teeth. Get in as many crunches as you can during commercial breaks. There is plenty of time in your day to get some movement in, you just have to be a little creative about it.

5. Creativity Exercises

Badass writers know that sometimes creative flow needs to be cultivated, so they use creativity exercises to help them, such as Morning Pages, 10 Minutes of Gibberish or meditation.

These types of exercises can help clear the clutter from your mind so you can concentrate on the important stuff (writing).

What steps will you take to become a badass creative writer?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder and Resident Creative at InkyBites, where she’s currently running a blog series to help you Recharge Your Creative Batteries in 31 Days

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Many thanks to Jennifer, who is one of the kindest and most generous writers I’ve met online, and is also a passionate spokesperson for craft and, as you’ve just read, the writing life.  Please support her by visiting her new site, InkyBites

Also, to my newsletter subscribers… the July edition will be a bit late because of my book deadline (made it) and the final assembly of a new submission package of multiple projects with my new agent, the wonderful Andrea Hurst. 

Thanks for stopping by today, always appreciated.  Larry 

 

Gloria Repp July 4, 2012 at 5:35 am

Thank you! Helpful and informative and a nice companion to Larry’s excellent advice. This works!

Jennifer Blanchard July 4, 2012 at 5:52 am

@Gloria You’re welcome! If you want more, be sure to check out the 31-day Creativity Recharge I’m running on my blog.

Martha July 4, 2012 at 7:18 am

Great guest post — thanks, Jennifer for sharing your thoughts on what works.
And to Larry: congratulations all around — the new book, the work with Andrea, and in general, for constantly inspiring and setting a good example for all the rest of us.

Robert Sloan July 4, 2012 at 8:50 am

If you loathe calisthenics the way I do and have bitter memories of getting bullied in gym, there are other ways to get physical activity that have nothing to do with shorts and humiliation.

Getting involved with a medieval recreation group like the Society for Creative Anachronism can teach you sword fighting. Practicing with sword and shield leads right into stories involving swordplay. So does fencing. So do many martial art classes. Anything that involves research for good fight scenes has a double bonus – you will also write much more plausible fight scenes and break the habit of putting in cinematic fights that wouldn’t work without a trampoline outside the camera view.

Dancing. Interpretive dance is a creative activity in itself. If exercise is too dull and left brained, put some music on and don’t just walk to the kitchen to get your coffee. Dance, interpretively. Do this when you’re home alone so that you don’t get any critical comments from anyone you live with. This is not about what real people think of your performance, it’s about losing yourself in the act of performance. It can also lead to good ideas in itself, powerful, emotional scenes involving dances or ceremonies your characters participate in.

Act out fight scenes in your book. Block them out as if you’re doing it for the movie. Read the lines. This will also help polish your dialogue, the difference between a line that looks good on paper and a line that reads well is night and day.

Do the same thing with your chase scenes. Run through the house evading your villain or trying to catch your protagonist. Playact these things. It’ll get you out of your chair without losing focus on your book.

Play live action role playing games. Get together with friends playing through scenes in vampire stories, fantasy stories, science fiction or thrillers. This can be a lot of fun and also social, connecting you with people who’ll enjoy reading your genre when the book’s done.

As for eating right – trust your body over all the health food lists. In general healthier food is better for you. In specific, your body is unique with food sensitivities or allergies, specific nutritional needs that may cause cravings You would be surprised at what healthy foods become cravings if you liked a junk food because it had trace amounts of an important nutrient. Broccoli can become something as demanding as chocolate. Get personal about it. Your tastes and your needs are your own and not everyone is exactly the same. Some thrive on no gluten or low carbs, others have to have more carbs and less protein, it depends on who you are and your activity levels.

Gardening works for some people because there’s a tangible result to all the physical efforts involved and also it gets you better produce. Nothing like eating something you grew from seed and knowing that no pesticides came near it because you didn’t use them.

Oddly enough, non-intuitively, housework can help you break through a minor block. If you’re not getting anywhere, the routine task of washing up dishes or putting things away can occupy your left brain and get your circulation going, so that you solve the story problem while you’re up to your elbows in suds. At the very least, the result will leave you a clean apartment and a sense of tangible accomplishment, when writing doesn’t always give that on a day when it’s giving you trouble. It doesn’t take your mind off the story.

All of these are alternatives to calisthenics as such. Exercise is not always the right answer, in fact if you have back trouble or other physical disabilities, exercise can do a lot more harm than good. They mean it when they say ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Jennifer Blanchard July 4, 2012 at 8:59 am

@Robert–Couldn’t have said it better myself! I’m all about bioindividuality, which means one person’s food is another’s poison. As someone with food allergies, I am all too aware of the toll it can take on your creativity and on your body.

I love all the suggestions you made for how to get exercise without actually going to the gym or doing more traditional forms of exercise.

Thanks for adding so much value to this post with your comment!

Christine Lind July 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

Jennifer,

Thank you for addressing this important issue of good food and exercise as a part of being a successful writer.

I just turned 60 and I’m writing my first novel–so I joined a rowing team to balance out my mind and body! I’m also a cyclist. I have been eating whole unprocessed foods all my life–that’s why I can row and write a novel for the first time when all my friends are slowing down.

Larry’s books and resources are not for the faint of heart, so he balances it with humor and analogies and gives us hugs. Eating properly and exercising gives me the balance I need whilst wearing a snazzy head band to catch the blood dripping from my forehead.

An engineered life helps you to write an engineered story.

Sincerely,
Christine

Michael T July 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I have really taken this to heart and will now eat better.

Whenever I get ill it really derails my writing something awful.

Jennifer Blanchard July 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

@Christine That’s amazing! What an inspiration you are. I hope I am as healthy as you are when I’m 60. And I really, really like how you put it:

An engineered life helps you to write an engineered story.

It just says it all.

@Michael I’m glad the post resonated with you. It’s very possible to attain this kind of writing life. All it takes are a few simple food, lifestyle and mindset shifts. Let me know how your new path goes for you: jennifer@inkybites.com.

Chris July 5, 2012 at 7:22 am

Larry’s the real deal, so if he says you’re worth reading, Jennifer, then I’m in. I’m always looking for ways to expand my creativity and I like your philosophy. Good post.

Shane Arthur July 5, 2012 at 8:55 am

That’s an easy one for me; I go to http://www.creativecopychallenge.com each Monday and Thursday. ;)

spinx July 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

i can deffinitely agree on the body moving. Dang – that works like a charm! Work that thing!! Yeah, man!

I know, a lot of writers seem to be at a loss when it comes to being creative. I don´t know, probably, because I have been doing art much longer than I have been writing, I fell into the habbit of looing for new motives every week – so finding inspiration has never been really hard for me. I never once ran out of ideas.

And now, I have taken that habbit into my writing as well. Of course, I have only started writing one year and two months ago – my first true story is still waiting to get out there, but I have never been one to rush! Truly, the one thing I have learned – learn your basics before you decide going por.

What I do:

– I write, and damn well every day. Sometimes, I grab my little notebook, as soon as I get my ass out of the bed. Other times it is the night that pulls me in.

– To me, pretty much the best exercise to do, was – and still is – to write about TV shows, books, movies, famous people. Whatver floats your boat.

– When I feel particulary unmotivated, I write SOUTH PARK episodes!!
And dang – that thing works everytime. I get myself cracking up like crazy. You would be surprised about the insults you can create using characters NOT your own, but who you still seem to know inside and out.

And that is point, that is the great thing here – you do not need to worry about the characters. They are not yours, and yet, you will be able to write them with ease, and thus concentrate on other things, such as structure, flow, and simply enjoy the dialogue.

My best tipp by far————-fan of ER? King of Queens? Simpsons, Matrix, Ferris Bueller’s day off? Then write about it! Remember one sentence that had you go,”What if?”………..what if Sloan had started something with Cameron towards the end?

And BAAAMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see that scene? Observe, and wite. Don’t try too hard to force the direction, just go with the flow. One passage is enough, one page – nothing too fancy in the beginning.

One mistake I have noticed in people, not the writers alone, but generally in people trying new things – they want to go too fast, too early. And 90 percent of them get frustrated when they cannot meat the goal set.

Be patient, be slow, don´t try for a whole damn book when you have only gotten over the annoying sound of your writing.

(drink lots of coke!)

spinx July 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

@Christine Lind

Wow – girl, you have the right spirit!

That´s the way to go. I wish you all the best, and a very exciting, healthy, cool life.

Peace out.

Jennifer Blanchard July 6, 2012 at 6:41 am

@Chris Thank you :-) I’m glad my philosophy resonates with you. You can see even more of my philosophy here: http://inkybites.com/the-inkybites-philosophy/

@Shane Thanks for sharing that link. I’m going to share it with my peeps.

@Spinx Amazing. Everything you said is right-on. And I LOVE those writing exercises. What a cool idea to write a South Park episode! I can definitely picture myself writing a Sex and the City episode because I know those characters so well (I also know South Park pretty well, could be a cool exercise to write both and compare).

Would you mind if I shared some of the exercises you mentioned on my blog? I’ll give you credit and link to your site if you have one?

spinx July 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm

@Jennifer Blanchard

Go right ahead – share it if you wish to!

As I said, I have tons of tips from my drawind days. Getting the basics is fine and dandy, but your concentration only brings you so far before the passion starts falling behind. The love must be there too, after all, more than structure and everything else, it was the heart of a story that brought us here.

Something that helps me a great deal – philosophy (which I study right now) – the true evil, can an artifical being have a soul? Where does the soul start? Is being free equal to being fair?…………….such questions and more sparkle my inspiration like crazy.

Do not try to think about writing all day long – grab anthing that might interest ya – a magazine – biography channel, try having a person giving an indepth interview on their life. An inner monologue your mother would have, your father? Sister, uncle? Ever seen Britney Spears breaking down? Ever wondered what might have happened there? Write it down –

– and then of course, there is the ultimate charm – melancholy, the one emotion that begs to be written about the moment you feel it! Next time you feel moody, grab your pen and enjoy the selfpity with every pore – and, do not forget to write it down!

Peace out !

Lisa July 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Glad to see this guest post, Jen’s site is filled with awesome tips!

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