Unlocking creativity

Imagination, ideas, creative, creativity, writing, art, stories, excitement, holiday, fireworks, where do you get your ideasIt’s always there. We all have it, in bucketloads. Getting at it is not always easy, as the previous posts showed.

I get too many ideas to handle, but when I try, or think about it, my imagination is shoved aside by the enemy to creativity – the rational left brain. The bit of our brain that thinks and analyses and keeps tight control.

How to free your imagination

Shutting up the left brain isn’t easy. It helps enormously to have someone else lock it out for you. Handing over control to them for a few minutes at a time, the left brain has nothing to do and your right brain can let loose and the damned-up torrent of creative imagination can flow straight from your unconscious mind – a deep ocean of rich inner life inside every human being.

Are you aware of what education is about?

Mind Control
Mind Control (Photo credit: jurvetson)

We are taught from the cradle to control our bodies and our minds, to think and learn, to conform and perform to expectations. School, university and employment reinforces the importance of left-brain control. No wonder most of us end up thinking we have no imagination, or are not the creative type!

You can choose now

You’re grown up and out in the world. You can choose how to use your mind. I want you to realise that you’re not going to run amok and cause chaos if you let your imagination loose… And I’m sure you understand how good it is for your mental and emotional well-being to give your left brain a rest and exercise your right brain now and then.

right brain, left brain, logic, creativity, imagination, free your imagination, where do you get your ideasTake a brain holiday

A change is as good as a rest… so change your mind (at least change sides) and get all you’d have from a holiday – fun, novelty, relaxation, stimulation, new sensual experiences. You come back refreshed and ready for new challenges. Fresh ideas, new directions, new possibilities, new opportunities.

Brain holiday dates

Long for a one-day creative break? Here are dates for February (Romania) and March (UK). Come and have a brain holiday!

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A Valentine to Brasov

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore.

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.
Seduce your Muse and make love to your imagination (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So use it. Use everything – the romance, the excitement, the dread, the loneliness, the togetherness or isolation… all those powerful feelings and how they make us behave. Fiction heaven.

In sixty seconds, scribble down half a dozen story ideas revolving around 14th February. [I’ll do my list in a minute, and post it later.]

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How easy was that?

Did you make the one-idea-every-ten-seconds challenge? I’d love to see your list if you’d post it as a comment…

If your brain froze and you couldn’t think of a single idea, then perhaps mid-February is the ideal time for you to spend a day unlocking your ideas factory so you never have a creative shortage again.

Come to the Where do you get your ideas? workshop in Brasov (Romania) and let those storytelling juices flow. 

It’s the day to seduce your imagination. Give in to your creative urges. Make love to your Muse. Pull up those fictional wallflowers and plant red roses. Bare your breast to Cupid’s arrow and fall in love with your own imagination.

Whether you yearn to write passion-fuelled crime, zingy love stories, gothic romances, out-of-this-world fantasy, medieval bodice-rippers or heart-stopping horror, this is where you’ll discover the key to creating your best-selling idea.

Book now! Start your writer’s heart racing… make this your year.

“I’m not creative…”

A woman I met in Escondido – a smart, clued-in, driven business woman – told me this, with conviction. Made me want to cry, seeing her belief, and the sadness behind it.

She’s not alone – I’ve heard variations on this theme everywhere from Manchester to Malibu – and it’s absolutely not true. And, you’ll understand, a serious loss to individuals, to business, to the economy and the world in general. Creativity is a given – a gift we all have – but often the gift we never unwrap.

Are you aware that creativity is hard-wired into humans? It’s the gift of our evolved brains to compensate for the loss of physical and subtle mental capacities of other mammals. What we call talent, or flair, or special gift is just the blatant, early demonstration of one particular ability. Mozart, Byron, Mendelssohn, Boris Becker, Leonardo (da Vinci, and possibly de Caprio), Shirley Temple, Usain Bolt, Pavarotti, John Lennon…

Do you realize, though, that each of us can find the talent lurking inside us, even if it’s not of world-stunning levels. I’m no Matisse, but I discovered that I had the potential to draw well… when I was almost forty. If I’d studied and practised, maybe I’d have reached some kind of standard: a very long way short of the French master, but competent and pleasing. I had a passable singing voice when I was a child, but became too afraid of singing after a decade of being told to shut up, and that was that. More fool me for listening, of course, but perhaps you recognize the scenario? My sister had great promise as a writer (I discovered school notebooks full of stories), but her dyslexia wasn’t diagnosed till she was nearly 50 and she grew up believing she was thick.

How many people do you know have lost or abandoned an early promise because their teachers or parents or circumstances demanded a focus on “a proper job”?

Do you want to unwrap your gift now? Better late than never – and it’s never too late. Mary Wesley wasn’t published till she was 70, and she had a long string of best-selling novels through her last two decades. I was 40 when I wrote my first bit of fiction (since I was 12, anyway), and I won a best-business-journalist award with it. You will know of other examples, I have no doubt.

Make 2013 the year you discover your talent for creativity. Make 2013 the year you start your novel, your screenplay, your opera, your art. Make the time to unwrap your gift, at long last, and understand how rich a gift you have.

There are workshops coming up in Brasov (Romania) and various venues in the UK in March, too. Details here.

Whre do you get your ideas, Oceanside, fiction writing course, fiction, talent, creative writing course, creativity
Usain Bolt’s talent is undeniable. But do you realise what a gift you may have locked up inside you?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dates for February and March

Here are the confirmed dates for full-day workshops in February and March.

[Click on any date for booking details.]

February

Saturday 16th February  in Brasov, Romania.

March – UK

Friday 1st in Bath (alongside the Bath Literary Festival)

Tuesday 5th in Liverpool

Friday 8th in Manchester

Sunday 10th in Oxford (a week before the Oxford Literary Festival)

Tuesday 12th in Saffron Walden, Essex

Thursday 14th in Rye, East Sussex.

photo credit: Abbs Pepper
Where DO they get their ideas?

Autumn in Transylvania

From Thursday 26 September to Thursday 3rd October, I’m running a week-long intensive writers’ workshop in Magura, Transylvania. Read more…

Make 2013 the Year of Your Novel

This is it.

where do you get your ideas?
This is part of Val McDermid’s back catalogue – how much do you want a pile of books with your name on the spine? Now’s the time to start…

This is your year. 2013 is the year you invest in your writing self and get that book written.

Have you been messing about, tinkering with ideas, going on self-publishing courses, gazing out of the window as shreds of story drift past?

Have you been re-reading the 14,573 words you’ve written so far and wondering how on earth you can get it to 20,000, let alone to novel-length?

Make this the year you start… and finish… and publish that novel.

Invest in yourself, set aside the time, focus.

To get you started, I’m running Where do you get your ideas? one-day workshops in California this month. If you’re near Carlsbad, Palm Springs, San DiegoSanta Monica, Sacramento or Los Angeles, check on the workshops page here for dates and how to book.

What will you get from the course?

You’ll get inspired, wrung dry, spurred on, started or re-started. This is a full-on writing day that will send you home with new 3D characters who have a past and – most importantly – a page-turning future. They may be minor players with plot-twisting roles to play, they may be fascinating villains or spellbinding protagonists. They may be lovable, charming, loathsome or comical… but they will nag at you and demand to be given life on the page.

You will end the day with a packet of techniques you can use every day to spark ideas for characters, their traits and quirks and flaws, as well as atmosphere, setting, props and catalysts.

You will have new writing buddies who could become your partners in crime (or romance, or fantasy…) to share mutual moans and be each other’s mentor and motivator – so valuable in the lonely process of writing.

Armed with all this, everything else you have learned will make sense and take shape – dialogue, pace, structure, themes… writing techniques that are essential but useless until you have those bestselling ideas.

*dingdingding* Come and get ’em!

NB Courses in the UK begin in March, and the week-long intensive retreat will be in Transylvania in September. 

November and January workshops

Kitten and 'fragile' sign
Shameless emotional blackmail. Abandoned kitten now snug as a bug in a rug. Nothing to do with this post…

Back home after a fantastic week in London, Oxford and Liverpool: refreshed, inspired, enthused and ready for the autumn. It’s fantastic to see how people respond to the workshop and astonish themselves with the instant discovery of their, rich and infinite imagination. It excites me just to watch it happen, so think how they feel…

I’m now setting workshop dates for November in London, Manchester, Aberdeen and other UK cities, and California in early January. But if you’re not in the UK or California, and would like a workshop where you are, let me know. Magic can be done. All is possible.

PS The kitten is called Polka for now, because she has one small ginger dot on her head. But it’s not the right name for her. Any ideas? She was abandoned outside my house with her sister Porridge, and is now happier than anything on the planet. LATEST: Pigeon or Pidgin as a name? It seems to suit her better than Polka. Your thoughts?

Stop press: Full-day courses next week in Oxford and Liverpool

Short notice! A flying visit to the UK gives me the chance for two full-day workshops – grab a place – book now!

Oxford on Wednesday 12th September

Liverpool on Friday 14th September

– Full details of the September dates

– What people have said about the course

What the day will give you

How much, and how to book

Why the course is better than working alone

“Not only did I learn how to use a series of practical techniques to build convincing characters, but I found myself committed to write my first novel. That’s testament to the extraordinary transformational energy circulating around the group during the session.” – Julie Whyman