Friday, 11 December 2015

Guest Post: Increasing Creativity

Emily Benet is a half Welsh - half Spanish Londoner currently living on the beautiful island of Mallorca.  Wherever she's lived her passion for writing has followed.

Her debut book Shop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in her Mum's eccentric chandelier shop.  It won the Completely Novel Author Blog Awards at the London Book Fair.

Her second book, a romantic comedy called The Temp, also began its life online, as a serialised novel on Wattpad and racked up two million hits under its original title Spray Painted Bananas.  Her newly released novel, #PleaseRetweet, teases society's obsession with celebrity and social media.

www.emilybenet.com
www.twitter.com/EmilyBenet
www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor


Foreword

Not too long ago, guest writer Benet was sharpening her fingers and offering guest posts to all and sundry on Twitter. So I took her at her word.  Little did I realise my loose use of the term "downtime" would give my guest writer toilet cleaning thoughts.




I'm embarrassed to say the first thing that popped into my head when Rae asked me to write this post was: cleaning toilets!

Why am I finding this guest post so hard to write? Even setting a timer, which usually works so well, is letting me down. It goes off and I still haven't written anything. I think it's this word 'downtime' that has stumped me. I've never been that good at switching off.

Writing used to be something I would squeeze in the snatches of time either side of the day job. I would wake up early to do it, or force myself to do it in the evening. Free time wasn't for unwinding, because free time was the only time I had to get my writing career off the ground. If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I'd probably tell her to chill out. Knowing when to relax is an important part of the creative process.

I like to think now I'm better at managing my creative energy. Instead of battling with 4pm, my least productive time, I might just put my feet up and have a siesta! Not tired? Here are three of my other, less sleepy, ways of recharging the creative batteries:


Podcasts - I spend so much time in front of a screen that it's a relief to do something that just involves listening. There's so much free learning to be done online and I'm a huge fan of the Creative Penn podcasts by Joanna Penn. She has recorded over 200 interviews with people who have made a success of self-publishing. 

I listen to them while I'm doing housework and afterwards I feel so inspired. We are all capable of so much more than we think! Ted talks are brilliant too, and I love Desert Island Discs.


Skating - Exercise might be vital for a healthy mind but I can't think of anything more boring than working out in a gym. 



Since moving to Mallorca, I've rediscovered roller skating. Writing is so sedentary and it feels so good to glide along the street, with the wind in my hair! When I'm feeling stuck with my work, I know it's time to move my body and give my mind a rest. 

My other favourite kind of exercise is salsa dancing. If the idea of exercise makes you groan, then maybe you need to redefine your idea of it!


Reading - I hate not knowing what I'm going to write next. I scribble manically trying to come up with a new plot but when I start to explore the detail it just falls through my fingers. This part of the process fills me with panic. 

But I know if I panic I won't come up with a new plot. I need to surrender to the uncertainty of it all. So I'll take a few days off and I'll just read. I'll read my favourite authors, the hilarious John O' Farrell, and pacey, Liane Moriarty. Reading gives me the bug to write and with my panic replaced with excitement, I'll usually come up with a new idea.


If you've read the Artists' Way, by Julia Cameron you might be familiar with the term, 'artist's date'. It's when you take yourself out on a solo expedition. You might visit a gallery, treat yourself to a meal somewhere or go for a swim. 



The idea is to nourish your creative self. It's also to have fun. I think when things get tough on the writing journey it's because we've forgotten to have fun!



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