“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)
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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…

Think about this… Imagine that!

Are you anxious about not having much imagination?

Niki de Saint Phalle, Where do you get your ideas?
The best ideas can come out of the blue

Do you worry?

Do you daydream?

Do you plan holidays?

Do you plan ahead for the weekend?

If you’ve said yes to any of those questions, you have a perfectly good imagination. In fact, if you’re human and reading this, you have a perfectly good imagination. Without it, you couldn’t worry, think about the future, daydream, write a shopping list, plan a holiday, or decide what to have for supper. Let alone run a household or fall in love or fantasise or buy Christmas presents…

You may not realise it, but you have to imagine everything you want to do before you do it. Think about it. First the idea, then the reality.

Are you aware that you’ve been trained to think? And that thinking is different to imagining?

The education process – a dozen years at school, at least – is all geared to teaching us to think. To analyse, to be logical, to manage, organise, filter, file, memorise… We are not taught to be inventors or innovators; original thinking is discouraged. Art lessons are about technique and art history; English lessons are about structure and syntax and organizing facts and subtext and other writers’ stuff.

School is designed to make us focus on the path to employment, vocation, career. We have to think about getting a proper job as soon as we get to high school. Before we even hit puberty, we have to stop daydreaming and playing, and be serious.

And what happens to our imagination? You tell me.

So… the good news is that your imagination is there, in full working order.

The bad news is that with nothing else to do, it’s bubbling away, concocting nightmares and waking you up at 3am in a muck sweat, keeping you awake, worrying.

The better news is that you can use all that imaginative power to create beauty and delight in whatever way you choose.

The best news is that you can learn how to grab hold of your imagination and go for a wild ride…and you can learn how in one single day. Actually you’ll learn the big secret in less than 10 minutes. The rest of the day will show you just how amazing your imagination is, and reinforcing the good news.

Where? How? At the Where do you get your ideas one-day workshop – see dates and venues here.

No hard work. No experience needed. And here’s the best bit: No thinking...  

I guarantee you will have a great time. I guarantee you will succeed. I guarantee you will go home with new characters and new stories. I guarantee you will have more confidence in your storytelling. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised and delighted with what your imagination produces.

Now… I dare you to have a go. I dare you to make the breakthrough and find the story that needs writing. Email me today and ask any questions you have. Sign up today and commit to becoming a storyteller: on the page, on the stage, on the screen.

Go on… I dare you.

The devil is very definitely in the detail

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Crime writers and gritty romance writers… have a look at this story from the BBC website today. It just shows how small an act can provoke vicious murder.

An angry man, a control freak, with a knife in his hand. A woman’s petty act of annoyance. Now she’s dead and he’s doing life.

Find the story here, and let your imagination fill in the back story, the investigation and whatever else leaps to your writer’s mind.

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. 

Happy New Writing Year!

First post of 2013: I wish you happy writing, smooth revising, and joyful publication. May all your plot lines run true, and your characters surprise you.

Now for some stimulus to kick off your fictional year.

Writing prompt for New Year's Day on wheredoyougetyourideas.net
Who is Richard? Why does he get his name dug into the beach?

 

Where do you get your ideas? Writing prompt for New Year's Day
Whose face is this? Who sculpted it and why? What will happen to it in three hours?

Where do you get your ideas?
Why is the boy looking so dejected? What is his connection to the couple? What will happen when the sun goes down?

 

where do you get your ideas?
How would your protagonist react to this appearing all of a sudden? What effect would this reaction have on your storyline?