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Monday, May 7, 2012

Stimulating the Creative


I’ve found that I am most productive in my writing when I am working on a show.  If you’ve read some of my previously blogs, I’ve been doing hair and makeup for community theater productions for the past ten or so years.  I am not sure if it is because I am so busy that I need to be very diligent and write when I get the chance, or if it is because being surrounded by such creative energy that the theater offers it feeds the writer in me.

This year the first show I worked on was in March, Big River.  During February, I wrote, but I was easily distracted by Facebook, television and other entertainments.  After all, I had a whole month of nothing so I could take my time.  Well, I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished as I wished to.  Then March hit and I was faced with the looming deadline I gave myself with not enough time to reach it and trying to figure out how to tar and feather someone with the time allotted in two pages of script, without actually using tar  of course. 

April was almost a complete wash with regard to writing. I did get some done at the conferences and being with my critique partners and talking to so many authors, far more accomplished that I, had those creative juices simmering.  But, before the last conference was over, I received a text message asking if I could help out on a show which opened Friday. The person who was to work the show had an emergency.  I couldn’t say no, despite my looming deadline. The show was Chicago!   So, two hours after I arrive home from the Spring Fling, I am at the theater getting the makeup room ready for another awesome show.  And what is crazy, is I have gotten more written this past week and this weekend than I did during the whole month of February (which even had that extra day this year).  What is that all about?  With the amount of spare time I have compared to February, it should be the exact opposite.

I do think it has more to do with the creative energy than time management.  When I am working on a story, my mind is also thinking about the next show and what makeup, wigs and hairstyles it will call for. When I am in the makeup room, people are asking about my books and what I am working on.  I think creativity feeds creativity regardless of the venue. Whether you sing, dance, play an instrument, write or paint, it is all equally creative to bring one art form or another to a community. 

So, while I may whine and ask myself why I agree to work on shows when I need time to write, maybe my subconscious is telling me I need to work shows because it helps me write.  And, since I packed this year full: Hello Dolly opens in May, Hairspray opens in July, Wedding Singer opens in August, Twelve Angry Men (which I am co-directing) opens in October and finally A Christmas Carol, which opens in December, I should be able to get a lot written.  

What stimulates your creativity, or anything else you do in your life? Do you find what should be all wrong is what actually works?

25 comments:

  1. Hi Amy, I find that I work best under deadline. If I don't have a tight schedule and a bunch of other stuff happening in my life, I will never get the work done. So while I would love to have some lazy days filled with nothing but hours to write, I find I accomplish more when I've only got a few moments to spare. :)

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    1. Lily,

      I am not sure if it is the actual deadline that works for me, since February didn't work so well. But a tight schedule usually kicks my behind in gear.

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  2. I find being around other writers helps to stimulate my creativity. April was a good month for me with two conferences to attend. I definitely think it's the group's energy that gets my mind churning.

    The other thing that always seems to work is hopping in the shower. I have my best ideas, or I work out story problems when I'm in the shower. :)

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    1. Samantha,

      April did boost my writing energy. I just wish the two conferences I could attend weren't in the same month because I would have liked the events spread out a bit more. Unfortunately I can't make RWA this year. Sometimes I get my ideas when I am driving. I need to start bringing a recorder with me so my thoughts are not lost.

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  3. Morning Amy!

    Your other job sounds like great fun!

    Other types of story telling inspire me. Good movies or TV. Watching director's cuts on DVDs and hearing how they craft the story they want to tell. It all puts me in the mood to craft my own best versions of my stories.

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    1. Deb,

      Playing in the theater is a lot of fun, especially if it is a period show or the show requires crazy makeup. I am not sure I've seen a director's cut, but I have watched some shows where directors and actors discuss projects and how they came about. They are interesting to watch and I've been in the mood to create after watching a few.

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  4. Great post, Amy! I wish I had the answer to this question -- it would make my life SO much easier -- but I haven't been able to pin point what *exactly* triggers my creativity. I know that having a two-year-old definitely zaps it, though! LOL! I spent about 6 months struggling to write -- from September until mid-March -- then all of a sudden, the desire to finish a project I started almost a year ago spurred me to make a deadline and make a schedule to meet that deadline. I have about 10 days and 15,000 words to go...let's hope my creativity stays sparked!!!

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    1. Good luck with your deadline!

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    2. Jerrica,

      You will get it done. I have about 20,000 words with a deadline of 5/15. Crossing my fingers I meet that goal. Or, maybe I shouldn't cross them. It is kinda hard to type that way. Yes, a 2 yr old will zap any type of energy you may have once had, but it all comes back, eventually ;).

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    3. You can do it, Jerrica! That's 1.5K a day. Absolutely manageable. I've seen the word counts you've been turning in.

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  5. Amy ~ I find that complete solitude is best for me. If I can get away somewhere remote (like a mountain retreat like I did this past weekend) I get soooo much accomplished. No internet. No phone. No distractions.

    I think I may need to become a hermit to get everything marked off my to-do list. ;)

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    1. Ava,

      I am so jealous you got to write in complete solitude in a remote location. The closest I get to quiet is shutting the office door, but then I can still hear the family, televisions, etc. I wonder how I would do in that setting.

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    2. Turning off the internet and ignoring my phone are the best things I can do. Speaking of which, I might need to turn on Freedom today. :)

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  6. I don't do well with trying to combine two different creative outlets. All of my focus goes to one or the other. I have tried doing crafty sorts of things in the downtime from my writing...and it never works out well. I either spend all of my time on the writing, or all of my time on the crafts. So I both admire your ability to combine the two, and am jealous of it.

    But like Samantha, I get a ton of creative inspiration and stimulation from being around other writers. Helping someone else plot their story always fuels my energy for my own. :)

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    1. Catherine,

      For some reason I've always had more than one ball in the air. My mother used to ask me if I was going to finish one thing before I started another. The answer was always "No." I think my brain functions better when it has to multitask. There is probably a name for that condition, and possibly medication too - lol. Writers conferences are very stimulating, but what I didn't say earlier, is that sometimes I am just too exhausted from the conference to take advantage of the ideas floating around in my brain.

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  7. You know, I ended up getting a part time job just because A) it makes me more productive in writing and b) I could only handled my own company for so long, lol!

    I know you love working on your shows, Amy, so I'm glad it works well with your writing!

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    1. Erin,

      I completely get how your part-time job makes you more productive, as crazy as it sounds. But, I can't imagine there being such a thing as too much Erin time. Then again, I only see you once a year.

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  8. I think I work best with short burst of time alone, a few hours without any interruptions, like I'll have today. My family don't even need to leave the house as long as they don't walk in and drag me from the 19c. I didn't write when I had a job outside the home so I'm not really sure how I'd manage. But ... if working and writing under pressure work for you then I'm glad. Work hard and write lots, ok?

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    1. Heather,

      I am not sure what working alone in the quiet is. I may have to try it sometime - lol. I've always said I want to have the quiet, but unless I go get a hotel room somewhere and try it out, I'll never know if it is a good thing for me or not. I do know that I can't have music or the television on in the same room where I am trying to write. I am able to block it somehow when it filters in from another room. Okay I am going back to writing lots. There is no Chicago performance tonight and I have about 2 hrs before I have to show up at Hello Dolly :).

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  9. Hi Amy,
    I find I'm most creative right before I fall asleep. It can be a pain when I'm tired and just want to pass out, yet it's great when I need to figure out a scene because I know my mind will work it out by morning. :)

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    1. Andris,

      I have had those moments right before I drift off. I used to get up and go type. Now I just hope I remember because I am too tired to get out of bed.

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  10. Hey Amy, I have been thinking about this post all day and wasn't sure what to type. Then I started to think I'm most creative when I hang out with my friends. It helps to bounce ideas off them.

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    1. Melody,

      Brainstorming is the best. I've tried it online with my critique partners, but it isn't the same as sitting around with them and everyone throwing out ideas.

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  11. Sometimes silence will work for me. And sometimes I just need a break to go do something else for a week or so. Then by the time I return I am geared up and ready to write. I think a short break helps fuel my creativity. Plus it allows me some good gaming time with my kids. Just being able to dull the senses with a game and not think about anything really helps to keep me stress free. That might be the key. Keeping stress free. Good luck, Amy!

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    1. Suzie,

      I should try the gaming thing. Oh wait, I have. It usually ends in frustration for me, but my son has a great laugh. Well, I guess one of us is stress free when I am done - LOL.

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