7 Ways to Get More Energy Now

janav Creativity, Productivity, Time Management, Writing Leave a Comment

When you ask most writers what they’d like more of (besides money) they’ll say: time. “If I only had more time, I could write more.” But more time isn’t always the answer. Let’s face it, we all have 24 hours in a day. And we all have plenty of “stuff” to fill those hours. It’s important to be mindful of how we spend the time we have: do we spend a lot of time on Facebook or other social media? Do we suddenly get the urge to clean the house just at the moment we’ve promised ourselves we’d write? It …

Friday Favorites: Artist Date

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This past weekend, I took myself on an Artist Date. I went to Figment, a multi-media, interactive art event held at the Greenway in downtown Boston. There were all kinds of things to do – I added to a collective mosaic, abstract-painted in a group, contributed to a large chalkboard with the words, “Before I Die, I Want To…,” watched jugglers, listened to a HONK! Band (made up of various instruments and crazy costumes), watched kids making art, saw body-painted women posing for sketches, walked through the Silly Walks zone… it was a lot of fun, and reminded me that …

Try This: Haiku

janav Creativity, Try This, Writing 2 Comments

While on vacation recently, I spent a lot of time writing haiku. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a Japanese form of poetry that has very strict syllabic limits. The first line is 5 syllables, the second is 7 syllables, and the third is five syllables. Seventeen syllables total. They often mention the season or some natural element, and have a cutting juxtaposition that is meant to make a new connection in the reader’s mind. I was reading Matsu Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and got inspired since I was also pretty far north, in …

Write It Down, Make It Happen

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I came across this article a while ago, about how one of my favorite authors, Octavia Butler, wrote out her success before she had it. She wrote exactly what she wanted to accomplish: the awards, the bestseller lists, and why she wrote. If you haven’t read anything by Octavia Butler, she wrote science fiction as a black woman in a world of mostly white, mostly male writers. She succeeded in topping numerous bestseller lists, and won major awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant – the first science fiction writer to do so. (Read the article for a fuller list …

Ten Ways to Boost Your Writing (That Aren’t Writing)

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1. Sleep. Know how much you need, and create a schedule that allows you to get enough. I wish I was one of those people who can survive on 5 or 6 hours per night, but I’m not. I need 7, preferably 8 hours if I’m not going to fall asleep every time I sit down to the computer. 2. Eat. If you want to have enough mental and physical energy to do creative work, you need to feed your body healthy food. Too much sugar, caffeine, or foods you’re intolerant of (that cause physical symptoms or brain fog) will …

Friday Favorites from the MFA Residency

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One of the great things about being involved with an MFA program is the kinds of conversations you get to have about writing, and all the books and resources people mention that they’ve found useful or inspiring. So today, I’m going to share with you some of the bits and pieces that have come up over the last week or so. Bull – by David Elliott. A retelling of the myth of the Minotaur, in verse. With a very funky (and profane) Poseidon as narrator. He read from it and it was hilarious (of course – it’s by David!). Not …

The Writer’s Life List

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Some people find writing whole-life lists daunting. Others find that what they write at one time in their life no longer applies ten or twenty years later (that has certainly been my experience). I like to brainstorm a list and choose one or two things to focus on for the year. That gives me a manageable time frame to work with, as well as a deadline. One of these is always related to writing. It can be great to think about the all-time experiences you want to have, and to work toward more than one goal at a time. But …

Try This: A Sense of Place

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I attended a week-long conference in Denver last week (hence the lack of posts). I’ve been there a couple of times now, and don’t really have a total feel for the place, but to be fair when I’m there I’m not in explorer mode – I’m working, or hanging out with a good friend. What I have seen, I like. The parks, the restaurants, the laid-back feel, the sense of space around the city, and the snow-capped mountains in the distance… it has a very different vibe from the northeast, where I live. Unless you travel frequently, it’s rare to …

Try This: Freewriting

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I also coach students in grant writing, and I sometimes think they must hate me because when I review their work, I correct everything, including spelling and punctuation. I’m looking with an editor’s eye, as well as a proofreader’s. If they could see my freewriting material, they’d laugh. If in pen, it’s a nearly-illegible scrawl, with spellings only I could untangle. If on the computer, it’s a sea of red and green underlining – Microsoft Word helpfully pointing out all the things I’ll have to go back and fix. But that’s okay. Freewriting is a time to let loose on …

Friday Favorite: Writing Down the Bones

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Each Friday, I’ll be writing about one of my favorite resources for writing or creativity. If you have any to share, feel free to email me at jana(dot)vanderveer(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment. Today’s pick is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg, an inspirational classic. My copy is bound together with her next book, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. The chapters of both books are short, and talk about the simple things: going deep, attending to detail, being honest. Sometimes there are stories of her life related to her practice of Zen Buddhism, and she …