Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Guest Author Joanne Rock



Please welcome the fabulous (and gorgeous ) Joanne Rock to the convertible today!

Finding Creativity

One of the joys of blogging and Facebooking (how dare my spell checker suggest that's not a word) is that I can quiz the world at large with all my burning questions. For example, I wanted to find some great creative writing textbooks for an online class I taught last summer. I could have gone on campus to track down answers, but have you ever tried to find college professors in the summer? Instead, I posed the question on Facebook and had a list of twenty possibilities with a handful of starred preferences in about six hours.

In the same way, blogging allows me to take informal polls and round up feedback on new ideas. For instance, I've been spending a lot of my free time this fall trying to learn more about creativity. It's a topic that's really tugged at me over the last two years as I've grown concerned with the idea of how to recharge depleted creativity and how to maintain that energy over the long haul. To ensure I studied this diligently, I offered to give a workshop on the topic for Carolina Romance Writers in the spring. If I want to have something to share in the workshop, I now have a self-imposed deadline in which to learn a lot! It's a great way to motivate myself--nothing like the pressure of a looming deadline to start studying hard.

Which brings me to the help I'd like from you today...(Could you sense I was going to put you to work?) What makes you feel the most creative? Think back to times when you felt a burst of creative energy--a time you couldn't wait to sit down and scrapbook or a weekend that you were really excited to redecorate your kids' bedroom. Where did that creative surge come from? Were you inspired by seeing something similar on TV or in a magazine? Did a friend accomplish a creative task that motivated you to work on your own?

We all have the power to create and it's a truly rewarding experience when we can step back from our creation and admire the handiwork. Whether the end result of your creativity is a koi pond in the backyard, a romance novel or a cool fort made with the kids, it's time well spent that makes us feel fulfilled. Have you exercised your creativity lately? If not, I hope today's blog will inspire you to tap into your unique strain of creative powers. And if you have, please do share a creative moment. Also, let me know if you can remember where that spark of creativity came from! I've got a signed copy of my December Blaze, Under Wraps, for one random poster!

33 comments:

Laney4 said...

Hi there!

My creative outlet today is my annual Christmas card poem. So far, I have written just a generic beginning:

Twelve months in review
Is what I write every year
For friends and for family --
Those I hold dear.
Why do I do it?
I really don't know.
I think people like it --
Since they're telling me so!

What I really, really need to work on, though, is my scrapbooking. I used to put photos in magnetic photo albums, up till 1989, when my daughter ripped them apart. It took until 1997 for me to get them organized into new albums and then future pictures/newspaper articles/etc have been sorted into monthly file folders till last year, and then I have a giant pile of photos to put in folders. I also haven't printed any photos since last year, so I need to do that "first". My magnetic albums have been replaced with scrapbooks up until 1991, I think, so I'm getting there, slowly but surely, throwing out thousands of photos in the process....

As for what inspires me? Guilt. Aside from that, I receive lots of praise for my poems and scrapbooking skills, so that is ultimately what makes me want to continue. The Christmas poem obviously has a deadline every year. Once it is written, then I must print it up on nice paper, add some stickers to it, and then mail it to 60+ friends/family. As for the scrapbooking, I'm 51 and running out of time! It is such a slow process....

On that cheery note, I wish you all a Blazingly hot holiday season full of lots of enjoyable reading....

Joanne Rock said...

Laney, I had to smile at guilt as a motivator... I absolutely know how that feels! But I do think it would be great if we could find something a bit more positive to light that creative spark for us. I have a local friend who holds scrapbooking parties every couple of months at her house, BTW. The group gets together on a weekend evening to spend a few hours socializing and scrapbooking. It sounded so fun I was tempted to take up scrapbooking myself. That might be a fun way to help stay motivated. Good luck with it, and thank you for sharing your Christmas poem! I'll bet it inspires lots of your friends when it shows up in their mail...

Playground Monitor said...

Have I exercised my creativity lately? HAVE I EXERCISED MY CREATIVITY LATELY????? I just completed NaNoWriMo with 50021 words but the book isn't finished. And it won't be until after the holidays because I'm rewarding myself with 30 days of reading. This WIP uses a character from my first book (which I wrote for NaNo 2008). That book was sparked by an article I saw online about how you could pick a sperm donor and order the sperm online -- it gave online banking a whole new name. I took that and ran with it.

I love polling on Facebook too. I've gotten some great feedback. I need a new laptop and plan to ask. Then it'll be like Family Feud. "Audience says..." ~grin~

Marilyn

verification word is ingst, which reminds me of angst and my life has had too much angst lately. Now it's time for it to settle down.

Leanne said...

What a great topic Joanne! I've been exploring creativity too. I'm very fond of brainstorming and often lead workshops for brainstorming solutions to our writer problems (or challenges). It's so cool to see the workshop attendees solve these problems and to watch their confidence grow. I've developed a list of 15 brainstorming techniques, but my fave technique of all time is the list of 20. I also have a book called "The Pocket Muse" which sparks ideas.
Did you know that Eric Maisel has a creativity coach training program? That sounded interesting to me... but first, my current book!:)
Welcome to the convertible and your book sounds GREAT!!!

Michele Hauf said...

Welcome to the convertible, Joanne!

I always get creative sparks while driving. Weird. But if I come home from a trip to the grocery store with a bunch of notes scribbled on a paper, then I count that as a great creative endeavor.

CrystalGB said...

I find that I get creative sparks from different sources like conversations with friends and family, books, tv, internet and nature.
My husband and I are planning to do some small wood working projects this weekend to give as Christmas gifts.

Joanne Rock said...

Congrats on a stellar performance in the NanoWriMo, Marilyn!! That's a whole lot of hard work in a month. Good for you.

And I had a fun word verification too... lies cap. I pictured someone bitter post-break-up coming up with that one . I think we've all met folks in life who should have a "lies cap" on what issues forth from their mouths!! :-)

Joanne Rock said...

Leeanne, what a great workshop. I think I remember seeing that offered last year at RWA? There's something really electric about sitting in a room full of brainstormers, capturing all the thought waves pinging around. I rarely have taken another idea verbatim, but I've never walked away from a brainstorming session without a kernel of an idea that just needs my "stamp." And vice versa... my critique partner will give me credit for an idea that bares little resemblance to what I originally suggest, but it was an important stepping stone for her to get to the idea she really needed. It's a great process.

Joanne Rock said...

Thank you for the warm welcome, Michele!! I'm actually researching some work that helps explain why we come up with those great ideas while driving. (For me, it's the shower.) When our primary focus is engaged with something we can do by rote, our brains are partially occupied, but not fully. We can only thing about so many things at once, right? That's why we can't comprehend more than two people talking to us at the same time. So the physical task - driving, showering, knitting-- occupies some of the brain and that helps suppress the brain gibberish (worries about what to cook for dinner, stress about being late for an appt), leaving a facet of our brain open and able to think clearly on more creative tasks. It doesn't always work, because sometimes we are stressed and we can't be stressed, drive and brainstorm too. But if can turn off the other stuff, we can really get creative while doing other seemingly "mindless" tasks.

Joanne Rock said...

Hi Crystal! Thank you for stopping by and good luck on the woodworking projects. What a nice "together" gift from you both. My sons all had a third grade teacher who gave out wooden deskplates with their names on them for Christmas. They made such great gifts! The boys still display them prominently in their rooms.

Cindy Gerard said...

Welcome Joanne!
great topic,
I don't have anything to offer - everyone else has covered it well.

Lately, I simply wait for inspiration to strike and if it doesn't, I just start writing and pray for the best :o)

KylieBrant said...

Gee, does finishing copyedits *over Thanksgiving* count as exercising my creativity, LOL? Sometimes juggling the demands of my schedule requires every ounce of creativity I have.

Thanks so much for visiting us, Joanne!

lois greiman said...

Hey Joanne, thanks for joining us. I find I can siphon creativity off of others. :) I was at a screenplay writers workshop once where I swear I could feel it sizzle in the air. Came out energized and optimistic.

Best of luck with your latest. Looks fun.

GladysMP said...

I had purchased a lot of felt some years back with the intention of making a lot of original Christmas tree ornaments. I am finally getting around to starting them and it is great fun. Ideas come from magazines, online, just about everywhere; but I love unique ornaments that will not be seen anywhere but on my tree. One year I made fans with various pieces of cloth, having bows of ribbons at the bottom. They are lovely on the tree. So inspiration isn't only for writing, although I have written poems in the past and have been thinking about continuing that, too. I might even compose a poem to enclose in my Christmas cards this year. Where did I get that idea? Right here.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Joanne!

In the last couple of weeks I've been scheduled for several volunteer stints in my granddaughters'1st and 3d grade classes, and I don't like to do same-old same-old, which means I've gotten myself stuck with a rep and have to be creative. This week it was "Partners In Art"--sort of an art appreciation program. They supply prints and lesson plans, but, heck, I'm a teacher. I embellished. Nothing inspires me more than a child's imagination. Give them a little something to start with and they'll take off in amazing directions. Multiply that by a class of 20+ imaginations and I always come away with new ideas.

Laney4 said...

GladysMP,

What a coincidence! I just realized I was going to send you a note here when I see you thought of me too (re Christmas poem).

I want to thank you for mentioning about buying "felt some years back with the intention of making a lot of original Christmas tree ornaments." I could have said the exact same thing. I think I purchased mine back in the late eighties/early nineties when my kids were small. And I never got around to making them. I just now wrote it on my calendar for a January project. THANKS and congratulations to YOU for "finally getting around to starting them". I'm glad "it is great fun" for you!

hotcha12 said...

CONGRATS JOANNE AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Joanne Rock said...

Gladys, I think it's great that you bought your felt ahead of time so it was all ready for when inspiration struck! I have an uncle who carves in wood and he buys all kinds of unsual woods and shapes in advance. He studies them, thinking about what kinds of carvings they lend themselves to. I was really fascinated with his process! It reminded me of the saying from Michelangelo- I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free. I'm glad your ornaments are coming to life!

Laney4 said...

Kathleen,

You mentioned that you volunteer in your granddaughters' Grades 1 and 3 classes. I used to volunteer in my kids' classes every year, and you made me recall an occasion when my son was in Grade 2. The teacher wanted ideas about Christmas projects. I cut out something from a magazine and we did it. You take a regular wire hanger, bend it as close to a circle as possible, wrap lots of leftover pieces of garland around it, and then glue odds and ends on it to make a wreath. Even though it was almost 20 years ago, we still have our wreaths hanging in our home every year (by the hook of the hanger). Sometimes things move or fall off, so it is everchanging. There's all sorts of stuff attached to it: candy canes, pieces from previous Christmas brooches and baby mobiles, pine cones, red bows, etc. Whenever I have ornaments break for my tree/shelf, I look them over to see what parts of them I can glue to those wreaths.

Joanne Rock said...

Kylie, I agree... life can sap the creativity right out of us!! That's why I really, really felt the need to tackle this research from every possible avenue this year. I would love to see how we can regenerate that spark when we're feeling depleted. Like Leeanne's brainstorming... it would be great if we all had a list of ways we could accomplish it so that one time we can try one approach and at others, try something different.

Theresa N. said...

My creative flashes usually come from magazines. My last flash was Christmas stockings for my daughters family made from a picture I saw.
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

Michele Hauf said...

Joanne, fascinating stuff about doing something by rote and having the brain open to more creative things. I believe!

Jane said...

I get bursts of creativity when I visit stores like JoAnn's or Michaels and I see all these crafty items. I bought a lot of scrapbooking material, but have never put it to use.

Anonymous said...

a creative moment...i love to cross stitch...and giving the projects as gifts to friends...

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Creativity! I went to an altered book class recently with my daughter - we had lots of fun collaging, pasting, drawing and scribbling in our books. Stephenia (quilter892@aol.com)

Catherine Mann said...

This may sound whacky, but honestly, lately my best crative ideas have come from moments of total silence. The world is so busy, busy, busy (and loud!) that I'm finding silence and slowing down releases more creative thought....But then that's just my take on things today. Tomorrow may change as life changes. :) Great blog as always, Joanne!!

Joanne Rock said...

I think there's a similar creative nudge in both the browsing fabric aisles and browsing magazine pics... they both feed our brains with lots of new images. I think it's like a bookstore date for writers. Cathy and I (thank you for stopping by, Cathy!) used to visit a used bookstore back in Shreveport where we first met. We'd have lunch and hit the bookstore-- often with a tiny budget, so a great deal of browsing was in order ;-). But I loved those bookstore days where we would pull a ton of books off the shelves and read blurb after blurb to get a feel for various lines or story types. I always came away full of ideas!

Artemis said...

I don't consider myself a creative person at all when it comes to the typical creative arts. I can't carry a tune, barely draw a straight line, and writing a paragraph gives me cold chills.

But when it comes time to plant the vegetable garden in the spring...Well, let's see. It's only December 1, and I'm already scouring catalogs and magazines for new veggies, needing more and more information! And that spills over in to the kitchen. I can, freeze, preserve what we don't eat fresh!

cindersmaria@yahoo.com

Barbara E. said...

I'm not all that creative, but I do enjoy crochet - especially hats and scarves. This year my son moved from the Smokey Mountains back to warm Orlando, so he and his fiance don't need my efforts in that department. I'm trying to think of something I can make them that is appropriate for this climate but haven't come up with anything yet.

Joanne Rock said...

Artemis, my dad the farmer is the same way! Seed catalogs abounded around the holidays so he could get his order in for the new year. I never appreciated the fresh veggies until I moved out, and now I wish I'd inherited his green thumb. I did return to some gardening a couple of years ago. A few tomato plants. Then some herbs with the tomatoes. But so far, it's all container gardening as that feels like less of a commitment :-). Happy planting!

Joanne Rock said...

Barbara, I'd vote for lap blankets... I like them on most of my chairs since they're pretty accents AND they're handy for when your toes are cold. That happens even in FL, or so my mom tells me. Once it dips below 70, my Floridian mom is reaching for the flannel ;-).

Joanne Rock said...

Thank you, thank you for the spin in the convertible!! I had such a nice time visiting and appreciate the responses that help me formulate my thinking on creativity. I'll get it figured out sooner or later!

Happy Holidays, all!

Ronda said...

Not a crafter, singer or poet I greatly admire those of you that are! Politically incorrect as it may be: Merry Christmas :)