Sunday, 31 May 2015

Unlocking Your Creativity


Back in February I released my debut fiction book, you may think it strange to hear, but I was slightly nervous about my friends and family grabbing a copy.  As an author, I should be over the moon at the sales, but the majority of my friends aren’t my typical audience.  You see, I write young adult fantasy fiction.  Supernatural stories about sixteen-year-old protagonists who go on a demon hunt with a bunch of faeries and witches.  As it happens, the feedback I’ve received has been overwhelming.  I may have converted a few die-hard historical romance readers over to the dark side.
 
When I receive reviews from my young readers, they gush over the plot and tell me who their favourite character is.  When I ask for feedback from my adult friends, nine times out of ten I get, ‘Oh I wish I was creative, how magical to be born with this talent.’

It amazed me to think that people saw creativity as something magical.  Maybe they believe that I was conceived under a full moon and born beneath a waterfall surrounded my Unicorns?  Perhaps I wasn’t ‘born’ at all but instead I hatched from a Dragon egg and my mum stumbled across me on her morning walk?  Okay, so I do have a creative imagination, but this is down to reading, watching the world around me and not due to my heritage as Merlin’s apprentice.  My school English teacher also took it upon herself to nurture my creativity.

Everyone can be creative.  Unfortunately, we have a tendency to focus on the problems we face in our day-to-day life, and this thwarts our efforts to be individual and think differently.  I have read quite a bit about Professor Fletcher’s work with the ‘Do Something Different’ program he and his fellow psychologists have developed.  The simple act of changing habits can unlock an abundance of creativity. 

When we take a problem and change the way we look at it, then we begin to weave our own magic.  It can be a solitary affair but a powerful one nonetheless.  I find many of my best ideas hit me after I’ve done my daily meditation.

When people think about creativity they assume you have to be totally original.  That’s not the case.  We are surrounded by ideas and inspiration.  You just need to train yourself to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Watch out for it when you are having coffee with friends, walking the dog or reading.

As a writer, one of the best lessons I ever learned was that there are no new ideas.  All we can do is reinvent an old idea.  It was a light bulb moment for me as a writer, but it also impacted on me.  It gave me permission not to struggle alone with a problem, but to use a tried and tested theory from someone else – reinvent their answer to fit my problem.

In story terms, we take a classic tale such as Cinderella and twist it around.  Maybe Cinders was an assassin, and her target was Prince Charming?  See what I mean.  Old idea, new reinvention. 

If you want to try unlocking your creative streak, then I suggest you pop a notebook in your handbag.  Take it with you everywhere and jot down any prompts you see/hear/imagine.  It’s possible to get the perfect business idea when on the school run, or think up an ideal marketing slogan in the gym.

Your creativity may not involve Faerie Queens and dragons, but by unlocking your ability to think differently and to see the inspiration in everything around you, it may just unlock an idea that changes your life.

Let me know how you get on with the notebook and how many ideas you’ve had in the five minutes it took to read this post. 

Do you use a unique way to tap into your creative process?  Share it with us in the comments below or via my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/resolutionchallenge
 
 
Shameless Book Plug - If you are intrigued about my young adult fantasy then pop over to Amazon and grab your copy - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00SM2IKSW

 
 
'Idea' Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via www.freedigitalphotos.net

8 comments:

  1. I do think of myself as naturally creative, but it's such a small aspect of writing. Good ideas are two a penny — turning them into something valuable is hard work! It makes me smile when people compliment my imagination, because it simply doesn't matter as much as factors like determination, perseverance, resilience, organisation, attention to detail, confidence, willingness to accept (and act on) criticism, research, curiosity, a love of reading, etc. You can be a good writer with little creativity, as long as you have other traits/skills, just as you can be very creative and a terrible writer!

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    1. Very true Hayley, thanks for commenting x

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  2. I'm not creative in the knitting and painting sense, but can be creative in the kitchen with very few ingredients, I have a lovely - if rather random - garden and, of course, I write stuff. There are lots of ways to be creative: some private, some public. Thanks for your ongoing inspiration.

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    1. Thanks, Julia. I'm not very good in the kitchen - something I wish I could rectify! I think creativity is very personal. Writing and art is what I love to do, but I have friends who craft, knit, sing and a variety of other creative pursuits that make them happy.

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  3. Inspiring blog as usual Shelley. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary is a great piece of advice - wow Cinders the assassin, now there's a thought! Thank you for your continued inspiration :-) xx

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    1. Thanks, Sue. I can find an alternative in any story ha ha. At my creative writing class I managed to create a vampire story from a Victorian image - the class were used to my fantasy ways by then! ;-)

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  4. Congratulations Shelley on your Inspiring Blog. I've never tried to write fantasy because my imagination left when I was a child. I admire anybody who can do it.

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. I do love my fantasy, but then I grew up reading The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton! I was also a fan of Roald Dahl and there was an element of the fantastical in giant peaches that could fly ha ha.

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