“If you are going to bring something new into your world this year, find the field you will marry, as the poet marries language, as the artist marries color and texture, as the chef marries taste and aroma, as the swimmer marries the water.”
“Writers depend on ideas. Whether we’re planners or pantsers, every sentence, paragraph, and scene embodies an idea. It’s inevitable that at some point, you simply will not know what happens next. You’ll be stuck and forced to brainstorm.”
That’s the opening paragraph of my article, “What Happens Next? 9 tried-and-true brainstorming strategies for fiction writers” in the February 2022 issue of The Writer, available now. I hope you’ll take a look and try some of my suggestions, worked out through my own experience, research into creativity, and conversations with other writers.
(And lest you think the subtitle a bit cliched, I promise you, I didn’t write it!)
On another topic, are you Team Prologue or Team Just Start the First Chapter? In this blog post, To Prologue or Not to Prologue, at Suite T, the Southern Writers blog, I discuss the uses and abuses of the prologue and give examples from crime fiction and other novels.
“Poetry can hold contradictions, can hold grief that’s too heavy to bear, can hold questions, usually by asking more questions. I don’t know that poetry answers anything, but it certainly makes a place for the unanswerable to live in a way that can be even beautiful and satisfactory. … “I’ve always seen poets as truth tellers. We have an obligation to speak of what we see. Even if the truth is difficult to bear for others or for us, it’s important. That’s why you always see poets at the forefront or somewhere near any social rights, social justice movement. You’ll find the poet speaking out because that’s what that’s part of the charge of being a poet.”
Whether you make New Year’s resolutions, set goals, or eschew the whole idea, I am confident that you have hopes and dreams for the year to come. And if you’re reading this — first, thank you, and second, there’s a good chance you are following your creative urges, through writing, painting, gardening, cooking, or some other form of creative work and communication. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about what you’d like to accomplish artistically in the coming year. I’m not talking solely about manuscripts written or paintings completed, though I do find it useful to line out specific projects I plan to give my attention to, always subject to change. What I hope you’ll focus on for just a bit is what your creativity means to you and how you can best fulfill it. It’s an interior process, a spiritual one for many of us, part of our purpose in being in this world. It doesn’t require galleries or stages or publishers or sales to be important, even necessary.
As Joseph Campbell said, in what I’ve often called my personal motto, “Never underestimate the value to the Universe of the fully realized life.”
May your creative journey in this coming year bring you peace, joy, and personal fulfillment. May it light the dark corners and feed your spirit. Only then can it shed light for the rest of us or feed our spirits. I look forward to continuing on this journey together.