The Ebb and Flow of Creativity

My youngest son, Korry, is an amazing artist. He LOVED to draw from the time he was very young and would draw on anything he could find when the wave of creativity hit . . .even gum-wrappers.

One of my other sons was expecting his first child. We knew it was a boy and one night I had a dream about him before he was born. In the dream he is rescued by a Raven. I woke up thinking that maybe that was my grandson’s guardian in his upcoming journey through life.

I asked Korry to draw a Raven-man. I explained the dream and gave him an idea of what I was looking for. Korry had a unique style of drawing, kind of a dark, gothic style—like a lot of tattoos you see. I bought him a large canvas and a new box of drawing pencils. (He wasn’t much of a painter, more an illustrator.)

After a day or two, Korry brought me the canvas with the drawing. I almost fell of my chair. The drawing was so rudimentary, it looked like it was drawn by a fourth-grader.

Our conversation:

Korry. Seriously? This is for your nephew! To hang over his crib. Is this supposed to be the ‘Raven-man’?” I pointed to the little four-inch raven character. He had a ten-year-old’s body with the head of a raven; he wore jeans, tennis shoes, and a striped t-shirt.

Korry’s reply: “Mom, I just couldn’t think of what to draw. It just wouldn’t come to me. That is why I waited a couple of days. But, it just wouldn’t come.”

Through conversations with various artists, to include writers, ‘it’ is the flow of creativity. One woman told me that she taught art in elementary school. “True artists cannot just draw what you ask or when you ask for it. This flow of creativity just bursts out when it’s ready and they heed the call. This is why it hard for them to draw on demand.”

I love to write when I am passionate about something. The writing comes easier and I’m able to make my point or tell the story. But . . . I am more of a sprint-runner not a marathon runner, so my passion runs hot but burns out quickly. This is why I stick to writing blogs or essays. Sometimes it may take me two months to write even one blog—like this one.

I believe writer’s block is really an ‘ebb’ in the process. Maybe the creativity moves inward to get more energy. If you are trying to make a living with your art, having deadlines or writing a story that was assigned to you would be far more difficult. It can still be done but the passion for creativity isn’t as potent. Just like my son’s drawing. It was what I asked for but it lacked his creative passion.

Writing to create an amazing novel would require the flow in order to really grab readers. Hey, there are readers who will devour a book—any book—to pass the time and satisfy the need to escape the daily mundane world. These readers are not as picky and if you ask them how many books, they’ve read that really grabbed them, they can quote you a handful of titles . . . out of the hundreds they have read.

If you are writing for fodder, that comes easy and quick to a talented writer. They can write about paper clips and make it sound interesting. An innate talent BUT writing powerful non-fiction will take creative passion.

Why am I saying all this?

I think that for passionate writers, writer’s block is just an ebb. One that is necessary to regroup the creative juices so they can spring upon the writer when it is ready.

Ebb-and-flow is really the part of life, not just writing. Don’t force it or fight it when you are experiencing writer’s block. I suggest going out and doing something mindless so the energies can swirl around. Mundane tasks require something to think about. While trimming my bushes, I pretend I am talking to authors and discussing the ebb and flow of writing. All of a sudden, I have to run in and write.

When the ebb appears, be comfortable with taking a break until it opens to the flow again. It will if you honor it and allow the flow. Writer’s Block is a good name for blocking the flow of creativity by trying to force the creative energy out of its rest when it isn’t ready. The writing is disjointed or nebulous, so the writer becomes frustrated, and all of the energy is wasted. This can go on for a while. Whatever happens, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Put it away and go mow the lawn, then, the energy of frustration is channeled into physical labor until it abates.

Honoring the ebb is honoring an integral part of the creative process and creates balance in the writing. Allowing the ebb and flow will make it easier to eliminate writer’s block all together. When in the flow, cancel appointments, put off unnecessary cleaning, and just write. If you have children, incorporate them into the activity in order to take immediate advantage. Write as much as the flow allows and stop when it begins to ebb.

So move with the ebb and flow, soon writer’s block will take a smaller space in your head.

Being an Author ~ A Story of Romance

I am the queen of romance, I romance so many ideas that if they all came to pass, they would be writing books about me. I would be traveling the world, a shining example of selflessness.

Ever done that? Just sitting there feverishly writing, when your mind wanders and you begin to imagine how awesome your book will be and the hoard of people tripping over each other to read it? Romancing the reward for writing a phenomenal book.

I have done that. I get ideas for fiction books and non-fiction alike when I tell myself stories while weeding the yard, or washing dishes. Keeping my mind busy while doing boring tasks has been something I’ve done since I was five. (Only at five I acted these stories out loud.) I imagine what the title would be for my story and revisit it over and over in my mind. My books on bestseller lists everywhere. It’s fun to day-dream; romancing the idea of being a famous author.

But . . . I don’t want to put the work into a book about one of my stories. Don’t want to research the subject or characters or verify whether one of the scenes would be an accurate portrayal of reality—you know, I might write a futuristic novel in the year 2071 without researching what I think life would really be like then . . . every minute detail. And details are important—vital.

Cactus Moon Publications, LLC is going on eight years in the publishing business. I am the owner and executive editor. One of the most common obstacles to success for new authors is not being aware of what it takes to make their book a success. It involves a great deal of work and effort—the images in romancing authorship are (hopefully) the end result—the end result of your hard work.

Writers are artists; the use of language flowing easily from their pen as they bring us to the brink of tears or falling over with laughter. But not every writer will do whatever it takes to be an author.

Being an author is a profession, writing is a hobby. By profession, I am referring to the author as the sole owner of a business. A book is one of the author’s products. This is the side of being published where many budding authors are taken by surprise. When you launch a new product, you need to get the information out to the public. Hopefully, BEFORE the book is published.

Here are some steps I recommend BEFORE submission to a publishing company—get ready because you will almost need to eat, drink, and sleep your book if you are a debut author.

  • Write and rewrite your manuscript until you have worked out all of the bugs. You would be surprised at how many changes you will have to make to your story before it is ready. For non-fiction writers, you will need to be ready to cite your sources and experiences to ‘prove’ your information. “My grandmother always told me . . .” is not an acceptable source of credible information. You may believe it but you will have to do research to cite sources to back up Grandma’s information. Yes, I did receive a manuscript with this source.
  • This isn’t a must but joining an author’s group in your area is a really good way to get tips and suggestions about your book. Not to mention the great friendships.
  • Once you have your manuscript where you are ready to move forward, I suggest a ‘beta reader’. This is someone who is willing to read your manuscript and give you suggestions for improvement based on a reader’s perspective. This does not have to cost money. If you look around you when at work or extracurricular activities, you can always find an avid reader. Friends work great if they like to read, I mean really like to read. You can always hire a proofreader. If you visit Fiverr.com you can find proofreaders for a very reasonable price should you decide to hire out.
  • After you have rewritten your story with all the suggestions from your readers, you are ready to submit to an editor. Editing can be expensive but if you understand the different types of editors, you will know which editor you will need. Fiverr.com represents a lot of editors as well but be diligent, there are many so you will have to put some thought into who you choose. It is not difficult to find an editor.
  • Now, after editing, your manuscript is ready to be submitted.
  • If you have been building your fan base and you have people ready to read your book, you can send queries out to publishers. Publishers will be interested in your ‘base’ when vetting you before signing.
  • Keep in mind: Authors and Publishers have different business goals. Your product is your vision and the Publisher’s product is providing a publishing service to an author. The marketing for the book will be primarily on the release and intermittently throughout the contract. Why? Publishers represent other authors and books; they market to draw more authors. This means you will carry the bigger responsibility to sell your book. There are abundant resources where you can learn to market your book successfully.
  • If you are very introverted, you can seek out an agent or publicist. The agent will help you submit your book to publishers and give you tips about the book. The publicist will market the book as is.

Still feeling the romance of being an author?

As a publisher, I don’t do everything the way other publishers will. We are all different, so I recommend knowing what you are looking for but being realistic about your chances. If you are a brand new author with no prior experience or platform, I don’t recommend hitting up the big houses. Your manuscript will go into a slush pile before anyone looks at it. Big Houses mean big money and if you are brand new with no agent it will be like winning the lottery if you are published. We are a small press and have taken many a debut author and while we assist authors in finding ways to market and build their platform through suggestions and links, we don’t do it for the author.

There are many resources online to help new authors build their platform, prepare a CV, and query to send a publisher.

If you are still feeling the romance of authorship, then you are ready to get your story out!

Currently, Cactus Moon is accepting non-fiction titles only for the next couple of years. We are a bit heavy on fiction. Need to get some balance!

We hope to hear from you.

Lily Gianna Woodmansee

Executive Editor, Cactus Moon Publications, LLC

www.cactusmoonpublishing.com