Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Start Me Up



Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. ~ Stephen King

Start with the smell of burnt toast. Or look for a pair of missing earrings. Try falling out of love. Or waiting for an interview for a job you desperately want ( or one you never thought you'd have to get). Start with a line from a song or a classic movie. Look at a snapshot from a family album. Or a photo from the newspaper.

These are all prompts I have used in creative writing workshops to help writers tap into the creative well that is available to every artist. We typically use the first twenty to thirty minutes of each session to just write, write, write. The prompt is merely a suggestion- a jumping off point- which can be used or eschewed in favor of an image or idea rumbling around in a writer's head. The premise: uncensored, uninhabited writing can open the creative passageway often blocked by the raging self-doubt of that pesky inner critic who always seems to tag along for the ride.

After we finish writing, folks can share or pass ( I'm the only one who never passes; I think as the facilitator it is incumbent upon me to share). No one offers criticism. How can we? We know the work can't be very good; it is after all, a very raw, rough draft. People can, however, mention a particular image that stood out, if they are so inclined.

The surprising thing: many of the images, turns of phrase, characters, are often vivid or amusing or touching. Some even serve as starting points for stories and poems, scripts and even books. You'd be amazed at what your inner artist can do when s/he is left to play without fear of recriminations, without that pounding "It's no good," "No one will care," "No one will ever publish this."

These exercises give you permission to try, to play, to experiment. And once you dip into that creative well, you're apt to dip in again and again.

Is something burning? It may be your desire to connect or re-connect with your inner artist. Or it may just be your breakfast. Either way, it's time to get started.

Cheers and onward

aba

5 comments:

Carol said...

Love this! When are you teaching in Greenwich again? Keep us posted, please! Great workshop--Carol

Amy Beth Arkawy said...

Nothing scheduled yet, Carol. But thanks so much for your kind words. I'll certainly keep you posted. Hope your creativity is flowing! cheers & onwward--aba

Philly said...

Awesome. Love it!

Paula said...

The problem is keeping one's motivation going. Guess that's where the workshop comes in. But what does one do in the "off season?" It's very difficult ( for some of us) to internalize and follow-through beyond class ( and I;ve taken many of them).

Amy Beth Arkawy said...

Have you tried keeping a journal? Ideas often flow without constraint. Try it every day--morning or evening--and see if it helps. Otherwise, assigning "prompts" to yourself can be a great guide into the creative well. You're welcome to try the exaples I mentioned in my post.