So good to be back after our winter hiatus. The room was filled with joyful energy.
Award-winning author Jim Hitt kicked off the first program of his presidency with a quote from Hemingway, and we knew we were in good hands.
First order of business was to thank Ray “Rusty” Strait for his contributions to the writer community in the San Jacinto Valley. Many of you know Ray for his more than thirty books, many of them celebrity profiles. As a young man, Ray was Lana Turner’s assistant, so he had entre’ to Hollywood stars.
Later, he founded the writing community in Hemet, hosting a morning critique group in the bar he owned. The Guild sprang from that. Ray and Jim provided us with a sense of the Guild’s history and value, a great way to start our fifth year.
Guild member Liam Bruce has been a good sport as he helped us wrangle the library’s ancient laptop at monthly meetings, but the old thing was a clunker. Thus Michelle Bassett, a member of the Board of Directors, suggested we purchase a computer dedicated solely to Guild use. It debuted at this meeting and worked seamlessly with the library’s projector. Thanks to Michelle and Liam for bringing about this upgrade.
Sandy Schuster-Hubbard, the Guild’s VP for membership, is now doing the Writer’s Corner since Jim became president. In keeping with the month’s theme of inspiration and productivity, she brought strategies for motivating oneself.
Sandy spoke of setting daily writing goals, whether in the form of a word count or a time allotment. Brain science suggests making the goal small, because the chemical reward of meeting it will reinforce the habit. Also, keep a journal or some way to record inspirations and observations during the day. Give yourself permission to write badly. Read a lot, because you’ll learn from context. Read a good book two times, the first for story, the second to analyze the writer’s technique. Many thanks to Sandy for her ideas.
Straitjackets Magazine Call for Submissions
Executive editor Cheryl Maguire reminded us that we have until the first week in March to submit our works to the upcoming edition of Straitjackets. To submit, check out the guidelines at https://www.straitjackets.org/be-a-contributor.
Besides working as an author, Michele Bassett scripts radio and television commercials, music videos, and feature and short films. She also speaks on writing panels, facilitates critique groups, hosts retreats, and serves on the DVWG board of directors. So she was in a good place to lead our first program of the year, Kick Start Your Creativity.
Michelle began by reminding us that some experts believe there is no such thing as writer’s block–if anything is blocked, it is the story. But how to unleash your creativity and unblock that story? The following list is a combination of Michelle’s suggestions and strategies suggested by audience members. Thanks to Michelle for a GREAT program! I heard folks say they felt so inspired afterward they wanted to run home and write.
Suggestions to enhance or reboot your creativity:
- Listen to music
- Have a cup of coffee
- If you get stuck in a scene, just note the critical element that you clearly see and write around that.
- Set up deadlines
- Work with an accountability partner
- At the end of your manuscript, create a chapter called Ideas. Use that as a holding space for plot twists, character aspects, scene development, etc. When you feel stuck, go to that source for inspiration
- Take a walk
- Read the last chapter out loud before starting your new writing.
- Give yourself permission not to write
- Watch a movie in a similar genre
- Surround yourself with creative people (like at the Guild meetings)
- Feel strongly about an issue, remind yourself that this is why you’re writing
- Temporarily put the world on hold, isolate yourself
- Stand up and act out a scene
- Engage in a new experience
- Read a different genre
- Look at pictures related to your scene. Pinterest.com is good for that.
- Engage in repetitive or mindless action while gently thinking about your scene; household chores are good for this
- Go into your memories, such as reviewing family photos.
- Listen to binaural tunes using an app on your phone; some are said to motivate creativity
- State the problem to your subconscious and then sleep on it.
- Have a talisman handy (a physical item that conjures the muse), such as a figurine, crystal, bell, statue, stone, etc.
- Do something relaxing. Relaxation releases dopamine.
- Water. Specifically, take a shower, swim, soak in a tub. Because see above.
- Skip forward if you get stuck on a particular chapter or scene. Skip over it and continue writing. Chances are it’ll come to you.
- Step away from writing and switch to a different creative activity.
- Read a related genre and as you read and get ideas for your own work, record notes either manually or digitally.
- Change your form, POV, or even the type font
- Go to YouTube and watch famous movie scene clips
When you read other authors for inspiration, Michelle suggested only reading the new books by highly successful or award-winning authors, because the publishing industry changes so fast.
Many of these ideas were presented by Michelle, but many of them came from the audience, because we felt so comfortable. And at the end of the meeting, we all had a good laugh when Chuck Sims, Josh Crager, and Daniel Kuttner read the collaborative writing exercises created by the audience as a joint project, sentence by sentence. Really a great job, Michelle!
NEXT MONTH’S PROGRAM
Everyone has a story to tell, often wanting to burst out to be shared, but where to start and how to continue? Kathi Macias has written a book that spells this out in clear-cut steps with plenty of examples for the beginning writer.
For the experienced and/or published writer, this method brings some ideas to evaluate your polished work and possibly make it even better.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 60 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Her novel Red Ink won the 2011 Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year Award and was also a finalist for a Carol Award from American Christian Fiction Writers. Check out her website at http://www.kathimacias.com/.
Kathy will be joining us on February 22, 2020 at the Hemet Library, 300 E. Latham Ave., Hemet CA. The program runs from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., followed by self-hosted lunch at Emilio’s Mexican Restaurant in San Jacinto.