One thing leads to another – unlocking creativity

Some people have known all their lives that they wanted to write fiction – I’m not one of them.

2014-05-03 08.15.48I’ve always been comfortable with the written word. It’s probably because I was lucky to benefit from a good education, acquiring a solid grasp of language and grammar at an early age. I was luckier still to be taught at senior school by an enthusiastic trio of English teachers who instilled in me a love of books and a passion for the theatre. Outside the demands of the classroom and homework, I even wrote for pleasure – but not fiction; I became part of the small team who edited and produced the school magazine. Throughout my adolescence I picked up pen-friends around the world and I loved receiving and sending rambling missives about all the things that challenge, delight and perturb teenage girls.

In my working life, I’ve written just about every kind of commercial material you can imagine – marketing letters and email campaigns, RFPs and proposals, fact sheets, newsletters and case studies, white papers and websites, blogs and brochures and much, much more. But, until the last 5 years or so – no fiction. (Okay, careful now, I know some people might regard some marketing material as drifting perilously close to fiction, but let’s not get into that one.)

2012 58 D002 Jan 12After decades of focus on work and commercial concerns, including pushing hard for career changes and then going freelance on the back of a redundancy, my creative brain – if it ever existed – was thoroughly submerged beneath layers of analytical and practical thinking.

But things began to change in 2007. A friend of mine had taken up paper-crafting and was finding it a relaxing and creatively satisfying hobby. At the time, I thought it all seemed a bit inconsequential, although to be fair, that’s probably the point of a hobby. But the cards she produced were mini works of art, utterly beautiful and such a pleasure to receive – I still have every one she has sent me. So one day, I took the plunge and bought myself a basic card kit and at Christmas 2007, I produced a very unremarkable collection of handmade Christmas cards.

I moved forward from my early attempts – licky-sticky card-making. I searched out You Tube videos and watched crafting telly; I bought magazines and strained to see the experts at work at crafting events. Gradually I began to get into the experimental and creative type of card-making my friend so much enjoyed – and I loved it.

C001 Xmas 09 MoiraFor me, it’s an enormous pleasure to design and create a card for someone I care about. I’m not focussed on any one kind of card-making; I enjoy trying different styles and learning new techniques. And I’m a sucker for a seemingly endless selection of supplies – things like paper, inks, tools, dies, paints, foils and miscellaneous accessories.

Until I started playing with inks and paper, I honestly believed I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Card-making is where I realised I had a creative side to my brain and more than that, it was desperate to be liberated. And if I could apply it to making little works of art for my friends, why couldn’t I apply it to my long-favoured creative environment – the written word?

You don’t know until you try, so in Autumn 2009, I attended my first Arvon Foundation course – called ‘Starting to Write’, and I… started to write.

I began with three short stories, one of which amazingly won Writing Magazine’s monthly prize and was printed in the magazine. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Within a few months of typing my first few words of fiction, I’d received a cheque. Prize money or payment for publication – whatever you call it, I was elated.

And with that £200, the genie was out of the bottle.

11 thoughts on “One thing leads to another – unlocking creativity

  1. I think links to creative passion are all around us. It just takes a certain perspective to see it. What someone else might call a silly paper hobby can be very therapeutic and refreshing. I find scrapbooking, when I find time to do it, gives me a pleasure just to complete a page. I just need to work on the obsessive compulsive side of it a bit more. Kudos your art led you to your drive to write. It would be a shame to ignore such a gift.

    1. I think paper-crafting of all kinds has opened up the pleasure of creativity to so many people. For me, it also opened the door to creative writing. Now the trick is, how to find enough time to enjoy both!

    1. That’s so kind of you to say – thank you! Creativity of any kind is something I believe everyone should be encouraged to try. I’m sure more people are creative in one way or another, than they might believe.

    1. You’re right – people come to writing for all sorts of different reasons. I just realised I might have more imagination than I’d given myself credit for. And when you start – well, that’s when the floodgates open.

  2. I think “homemade” notecards are wonderful. I don’t make them myself (which is a good thing…), but I often order them to have on hand to send out to people. I’m all about texting and emailing, but sometimes a hand-written card is what’s needed.

    I don’t think your posts are showing up in my reader. I’m going to unfollow and follow again to see if that helps. I’ve had issues with that in the past.

    1. I email and text a lot too. But I still send birthday and Christmas cards, and apart from that, the odd thank-you card. I invariably make more cards than I need, but various family members see. Happy to take spares off my hands. I also decorate my notepads! So pleased you’re still following 🙂

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