Celebrating Creativity

“Maybe, at the base of it… what creativity really is [is] just falling in love with the world” –Dewitt Jones

Some useful lessons to be learned about creativity:

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Learn from them but also turn them to your advantage.

  • There is never just one right answer.  Find the one (or several) that works best for you

  • Break out of your self-imposed ruts and patterns.  Learn how to switch it up by straying from your comfort zone.

  • Take your problems and turn them into opportunities.

  • Find and hone your technique.  “Vision without technique is blind”

  • Care deeply about what you are working on and put everything into it

  • Be willing to look beyond the ordinary and see something special.

A while back, I was in a large group professional development class put on by our school district.  Like most any profession, corporate training (what we teachers call professional development) is a tedious but necessary part of the job.  Teachers are also lifelong learners.

Fortunately, this corporate trainer knew when to pull out the big guns and attract everyone’s attention with a discussion about creativity and looking at problems and situations from a different angle.  The training video he showed us was “Celebrate What’s Right With The World,” featuring National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones.

To say my socks were blown off was an understatement.  In the video, Dewitt talks about focusing on the positive in the world and in every situation, using that positivity to work around obstacles and begin to see them as opportunities.

Dewitt shared his amazing photographs taken during his time with National Geographic and afterwords, relaying the stories behind them and  truisms about how creativity is summoned from within, even when we think that well has run dry.

In “Everyday Creativity,” another one of his training films, he talks about seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.  The bullet list above is from my notes from watching this film.  Key concepts are blow:


View Dewitt Jones and his amazing photographs on Pinterest.



My Writer’s Library

I don’t have a lot of storage space at my house.  We live in a modest but very comfortable home with two rambunctious children and lots of stuff.  Probably too much stuff.  But I wanted to dedicate one quiet corner, near my writing space for my writing resources.

I loved the idea of having supplies and research available at my fingertips to consult when I need so I created my “little library” inspired by my writing friend, Tessa Dare‘s writing office.  I don’t have an office but I have a large bedroom with a second-hand recliner nearby that makes a comfortable writing chair.  So I cleared out a bookshelf in the bottom of my closet and created “Bren’s Writing Lair”(tm).

Supply CenterAbove the top shelf (pictured above), I have my supplies and “go to” writer’s references (the ones I find myself pulling because they are most relevant to what I’m working on).  I have my pens, white-out, pencils, erasers, LOTS of sticky notes,  4 x 6 index cards, scissors, tape and glue sticks, etc.  I also always have a “running notebook” full of notes and back-story, planning materials, etc.  For the work-in-progress, I also store this on the top shelf.Research libraryOn the shelves, I keep my historical and subject-relevant resources.  Most of these pertain to the Regency period, English 18th and 19th century history and culture, geographical information (I have a historical atlas that I’m particularly proud of).  There are Royal Navy resources as well.  Not just because I’m writing about Navy Heroes but also because the RN from this period really interests me.  There are some of the often-named “go-to” regency resources as well, such as Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, An Elegant Madness, What Jane Austen Knew and Charles Dickens Ate, along with some other treasures I’ve scooped up, like: In the Garden with Jane Austen, Tea with Jane Austen, The Lady’s Strategem, and Courtesans.

Craft BooksOn the picture above this one, you’ll notice a brown bin on the bottom shelf.  In this are my not-as-frequently consulted writing craft books and all of my manuscript pages (for at least 3 different versions) of my recently-completed Regency novel.  I’m keeping the pages as a resource until they are no longer needed (hopefully once to book is published).  They will then be happily recycled.  Under them in the bin are the craft books that I own in paper version.  I own many more in eBook format.  I took a picture of the spines to give you an idea.New ArrivalsThree of the newest additions to my library, of which I am extremely proud! Life in Nelson’s Navy, Our Tempestuous Day, and The Epicure’s Almanack.

My Christmas list this last year was made up only of books that I wanted and I told my family “I don’t care if it’s used, as long as I can read it!”  One of them is a former library book, which kind of makes me guilty every time I look at it, like I have some massive fine I owe, or something.  Some of these books are kind of hard to get so I was THRILLED that most of my list was filled (hint: If you plan to do the same thing, make sure you provide links to the books… makes it really easy for family members when they shop for you.)


Lastly, since I’m setting my historical novels in and around the historical county of Cumberland (which is now known as Cumbria), I was extremely astonished to learn the existence of this book, The Cumbrian Dictionary.  I was absolutely over the moon when I discovered I could procure a copy for myself.  It has proved an amazing resource.

So what does your writing space / reference storage look like?  Feel free to post a photo link or description in the comments!

Shout outs to Writing Friends!

Part of belonging to the wonderful organization that is the Romance Writers of America involves making friends of all kinds.  If you are a writer, there are few more supportive organizations than RWA, no matter what genre you write.

So this blog post is giving props to some of my friends who have had so many wonderful successes lately!

First off, there is my wonderful critique partner, Kate McKinley (whom I interviewed here).  She has recently sold a 3-book deal to Grand Central Forever Yours.  Here’s a blurb about it just posted on the Romantic Times Web Site:

Historical Romance – Time to don your corset and petticoats because author Kate McKinley is taking readers to a house party in Regency England. The yet-to-be titled anthology will let readers discover all of the guests’ secrets, by allowing us to see the entire event through three different couples in three interconnected novellas. On your mark, get ready, and flirt!

Other mentions:  Three  writer friends were nominated for RT Historical Romance Reader’s Choice awards.  Tessa Dare (whom I interviewed here) for her nomination in Historical Romance of the Year and Historical Love and Laughter.  [Her novel, A WEEK TO BE WICKED, was also listed as one of the Best Books of 2012!] Congratulations to Jennifer Haymore for her nomination in Regency-Set Historical Romance. And Jillian Stone (whom I interviewed here) for her nomination in Historical Romantic Adventure.

Also wonderful news for Beth Yarnall.  She sold her second novel, HAIR SPRAYED HARD AND PUT AWAY FOREVER to Entangled Publishing for publication in 2014!  And Louisa Bacio continues to burn up the publishing industry with her hot paranormals and sexy contemporaries.

Lastly, I also have some wonderful news to share but will heighten your suspense by saving it for another day.  Let’s just say things are moving and shaking–and I’m no longer sending out query letters!

100 x 100

The interest of this goal, as listed on my goals page, is to keep me continuously writing every day.  It’s probably set fairly low but that’s because getting my butt in the chair and writing is half the battle.  Thus the reason for 100 x 100.

For the vast majority of my writing sessions, I plan to write much more than 100 words.  The challenge lies in writing fiction at least 100 words every day for 100 days (that’s almost 3 1/2 months).

This goal starts on January 1, 2012 and continues through April 9, 2012 (Day 100 of 2012).  On that date, I plan to modify the challenge (200 x 200 or 500 x 500 if I’m feeling really frisky).

My record:

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