Sunday 24 September 2017

Creativity - where do your ideas come from?

Where do your ideas come from Ness?
Where do your ideas come from? As writers, this is a question we are so often asked and, I am sure if you had a group of writers together they would all come up with many different answers. We all have our own ways to feed our creativity ensuring that those ideas keep flowing.

For example, Flight came about because I am passionate about the Second World War as both my parents were part of it and I was brought up listening to their stories. Plus I asked a question, I wanted to know what happened to the Spanish Riding School during the Second World War. I asked Google and some wonderful snippets of information came up including details of Operation Cowboy. The seed of a story began to grow and grow. It soon formed into the story that is now Flight.

I believe this is from National Geographic
For me, a lot of ideas come from questions like that, or from pictures such as the image on the left, which was the one that inspired my PhD novel, Ham and Jam. Ideas might also come from past events in my life or memories. While a previous novel Disjointed was based on something I was interested in at that time - cannabis psychosis. Working on that inspired my PhD.

All of these things are reliant on one thing and that is being curious. A writer must want to know about the world they live in. As Csikszentmihalyi suggests 'sustaining high levels of curiosity is the starting point of creativity.' Being curious therefore leads to increased creativity enabling you to write more.

I have a notebook where I write down all my ideas as they come to me so that when I have finished a manuscript I can look at this book to see what I am going to work on next. This is because ideas don't wait for you to finish a book. They can come along at the most inconvenient moments so it is important to have somewhere to store them.

I like to feed my curiosity and creativity by doing different things and occasionally challenging myself. Listening to music, going to the theatre and art exhibitions. Watching people, reading newspapers and watching the news - you'd be surprised how that can trigger ideas. Going for walks where you just allow the brain to just wander as you do. Often when I do this, ideas float to the surface. This is all about looking after you as a writer and nurturing yourself and your creativity. Giving those ideas the freedom to grow. This is an important part of pre-writing. Make sure you remember to include some activities that are going to feed your creativity.

PS the puppy above is the latest member to join our family and belongs to my son and his partner. Welcome Beaumont (named after my mother's dog who was a huge part of my children's lives as they grew up). There is such a story there too...

I love this song so much and it seemed a perfect opportunity to share it: Limerance's Shine On 

Saturday 2 September 2017

A new reality

Am I grown up now?
Over the summer I have submitted two books for publication. One, an academic book on writing young adult fiction, and the other, a middle-grade historical adventure novel, FLIGHT, to Firefly, which hopefully will be published next summer. Suddenly I have found my world has shifted slightly on its axis. Does this mean I am an author? Have I become a grown up now?

I am thinking about different things. Firstly I had to fill in a hugely detailed media form for Firefly which was very useful and certainly made me think. In part, it was completing this form that started this current journey. The one where you become a twenty-first-century author. Gone are the days where an author used to write a book, present it to the publisher and disappear while they wrote the next one. Oh, no thanks to Robert E Kahn and Vin Cerf who invented the Internet and Tim Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web, which we all think of as the Internet. Then, of course, there was the first recognizable social media site which was in 1997 and was called Six Degrees. All of which have had an impact on the modern day author and how they behave.

On the day it was announced that Firefirely had acquired FLIGHT I spent the whole day dealing with social media. It was amazing. The brilliant author Jennifer Killick had warned me but I had no idea it would as frantic as it was. The support across Facebook and Twitter was truly incredible. I then did the simple things like ensuring in my social media profiles that it says that FLIGHT is being published next summer. I have been busy on Twitter making contact with other people, book bloggers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, anyone who might be interested in FLIGHT in the future. I have tried to ensure that I have been giving them something so they don't feel like I am using them.

I have created a Facebook author page. I am careful what I post on here and ensure it relates either to writing or to FLIGHT. You have to watch how much time you spend on social media though, it can suck time.

I am beginning to plan my website. Following advice from James Nicol, Jennifer Killick and Vashti Hardy I started off by looking at other people's to see what they had done. Working out what I liked and what I didn't. I made notes on all the sites I visited. I am not going to start my site until I know what my cover is likely to be so I can use some of the colours from it. I have been thinking about school resources that I can include. Talking to teachers so that I make sure the resources are the most useful they can be.

In the meantime, I have been talking to Vashti again about author photographs. She very kindly shared a Pinterest board she had created and shared some very valuable advice. As I was very worried about it all because the photo that went out with the press release was a bit of a rush job taken by my son in law - thank you, Greg for doing it. Vashti and I have had several long conversations about this. I have decided to have some professional photographs taken because then I will have a bank of photos I can use for the media, for the back of my book maybe and for the website. I know it is an expense but I am doing this because I hate having my photo taken and the photographer I have chosen is a friend of my son that I have known for years, I love his photos, therefore I know I will trust him and will then be relaxed. Watch this space for the results.

And then there will be the book I can't think about that at the moment. See it all becomes suddenly very real. I know these are all very wonderful things to be worrying about and I know I should be grateful, I have dreamt about being at this stage for a very long time but it is very scary! And I am not even thinking about the academic book ;-)

And now for all those phenomenal women I know listen to Laura  Mvula's 'Phenomenal Women'