New Life Breathed into Creativity

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This pretty much describes me…

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In past years, I’ve created some beautiful necklaces, earrings, mocassins, bags, and baby boards for family and friends out of beads and buckskin.

Then I discovered writing.

When I put pen to paper, a new form of creativity and something inside of me came alive. Something I had not felt before. A yearning had been fed, causing me to feel fulfilled. Scared, but satisfied.

I had normal anxieties. Would readers like my book or hate it? Was I good enough? I had no formal writing education after high school, but I buckled down and decided to believe in myself and learn all I could about writing fiction on my own. I did take one creative writing class in college and liked it. Thought it was fun. But left writing behind and stayed the course to pursued abnormal psychology.

My writing grew in the process of learning. I attended writer’s conferences, joined a writer’s group who provided invaluable feedback, read books, and was coached by Jerry B Jenkins.

Books like bird by bird, by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King inspired me. Writing the Break Out Novel by Donald Maas helped me write like a professional. James Scott Bell’s book Conflict and Suspense helped me to write deeper, and his book Revision and Self-Editing for Publication allowed me to find my errors and get me on the right path. Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan taught me how to add a poetic hint to my stories, allowing the character’s surroundings to come alive.

“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” ~ Bruce Garrabrandt

Then I found Randy Ingermanson and his Snowflake Method. Most writers are either pantsers (someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants”) or outlines. I was neither. I needed more direction than a pantser and not so much outlining, which I found stifled my creativity.

I get to know my characters as I flesh them out and discover what they really want in life and why. I learn what could and does stop them from obtaining their life or story goals and how they finally reach what they want or need. I create a beginning and end then add ideas for in the middle, where most of the action takes place.

I watch small changes in my characters with little planning and let them do the rest.

This spring I discovered another book by James Scott Bell entitled, Write Your Novel From the Middle. Now if that doesn’t catch your attention! I had not heard of this book until I saw Colleen Coble, one of my most favorite storytellers, comment on it.

I ordered the book right away, finished reading How to Write a Dynamite Scene Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson, then dug in. I had never thought about writing a book from the middle, but after reading Bell’s reasons why, it made sense to me. 

He talks about opening a book or stopping a movie in the middle and finding the main character is at a point of change. At this point, the lead looks at herself, takes stock of where she is in the conflict, and wonders what kind of person she is, if the novel is character-driven.  If the story is plot-driven, the lead character looks at himself and considers the odds against him.

This concept simply made sense to me, especially after reading the entire 83 page Ebook. (It is also available in print.)

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” ~ Maya Angelou

When COVID broke out and the world came to a stop, I was tired, ill (not with the virus), and felt like every last bit of creativity had left my body. I resigned from coaching archery because my immune system just can’t handle all the germs. A depression hung over my head, trying to knock me down.

But I fought against it.

When I read How to Write a Dynamite Scene Using the Snowflake MethodI felt a spark of imagination inch its way back into my mind. 

I took notes on 3X5 cards so I could lay them out as I wrote. Then I took notes on my computer from Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method and printed them out.

When done and June rolled in, I rode horses, wrote a song, rested, played with grandkids, all while getting my health and energy back. My mood recovered and I felt happy again. Happy and thankful.

I then tackled Write Your Novel From the MiddleI devoured every word. Giggling at times because as I read, book ideas came to me, making me feel alive again.

In July and August, I played more with grandkids, had a book launch, rode horses alone and with the grands (a dream come true that made my eyes leak while on the trail with them), enjoyed family, swam, boated, and floated, read from the porch of my She Shed, and soaked in all the creativity I could find.

I began combing through old issues of Western Horseman my dad had given me. Over the winter, I had torn out and filed useful articles. Recently, I picked out ones that fit the characters I had in mind, and am now reading them, getting ideas for my next novel and for future books, short stories, and novellas.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’m having fun again.

And that’s part of what life is about, loving what we do. I love writing and am so thankful my creativity is back.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

And I am.

Until next time. . . Happy Trails!

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  1. Betty Bauer says:

    Marvelous, Carmen! This “essay” is inspiring for those of us who share your questioning ups and downs of the unsettling coronavirus situation. Blessings to you. You are not alone.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Betty! We all need to stick together for sure.

  2. My goodness, Carmen, you’ve read a LOT of books on writing. BTW, On Writing by Stephen King is one of my very favorites. Also, Bird by Bird. You’ve done well and have had some good books published, too! Keep up the good work and follow your own creative instincts!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Mary! I love reading books on craft. There is so much good information.

  3. Hi Carmen,
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. James Scott Bell’s books are great. I have several of them including the ones mentioned. I also think anything Stephen Kings says on writing is worth digesting.
    Thank you for an inspiring and encouraging article.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Judy. They make us better writers for sure. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment. Have a wonderful Labor Day.