“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…

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.