Writers often talk about their muse. In fact, there are MANY articles dedicated to helping writers find their muse. (Click here, here, here, or here to see what I’m talking about.) Until last summer, I never had a problem with finding my muse so I didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about. But then life happened and I found myself unable to craft fiction, which is something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was a child.
Create Now!: A Systematic Guide to Artistic Audacity by Marlo Johnson who is an artist, author, and consultant for creatives. I use it every time I sit down to do my fiction writing. It’s been the kick in the pants I needed to get my muse back. Create Now is divided into four phases:
- becoming a clear conduit
- creation and completion
- sharing your work
- receiving payment
Each phase is broken into several steps, each of which begins with a question you must answer in order to obtain guidance and encouragement to move along to the next step (or phase) until your project is complete.
One of the first things Johnson suggests, if you’re lacking vision about what you’re going to create, is to write a mission statement. It took me awhile to craft my mission statement, but once I did, it provided me with a clear direction for the kind of writing I wanted to accomplish. In addition, once I created my mission statement, I printed it off and posted it in my home office so I can refer to it every time I sit down to craft fiction writing.
Johnson provides realistic advice for times when you feel your work just plain sucks. For instance, when someone is fearing the end of a project because it “sucks” or “I suck,” Johnson offers the following advice:
Her advice is direct and spot-on. You cannot move forward with a project if you think it sucks.
To that end, Johnson talks to readers like Iwould expect a well-meaning friend or mentor to talk to me. She asks pointed questions and makes suggestions page-after-page. For instance, in phase four, Johnson asks:
Do you feel grateful for what you already have? Do you appreciate what you have already gained in creating and sharing your work (2016, 81)?
There are three possible answers: yes, somewhat, and no. If one answers no, this is the response Johnson provides:
If you aren’t happy with what you already have, will getting more things make you feel any better? Could you be creating the illusion of lack with your attitude of ingratitude? Access your higher creativity to explore these general ideas on some paper. Vent about any feelings of lack or deprivation. Then, see if you can find anything in life to appreciate. Make a list of at least ten things you are grateful for and then continue to step 3 (2016, 83).
On the next page, she asks “Do you place the proper value on yourself?” Here’s what you can expect to read:
That kind of advice is on-par with going to a therapist. If you are lacking someone you trust to tell-it-like-it-is in your creative life, then Johnson (or, rather, her book) will make for an excellent companion on your creative journey.
Johnson’s tips for working through the creative process can be scaled-down and taught to student writers. Many students need guidance formulating a writing process and feeling good about themselves as writers. Create Now! is the kind of book teachers can use to help coach self-doubting writers into writers who have greater confidence.
This giveaway is for a copy of Create Now!: A Systematic Guide to Artistic Audacity by Marlo Johnson. Many thanks to Chronicle Books for donating a copy for one reader. For a chance to win this copy of Create Now!: A Systematic Guide to Artistic Audacity , please leave a comment about this post by Friday, February 19th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Sunday, February 21st. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Chronicle Books will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – CREATE NOW. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.
Comments are now closed. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post. Barbara Suter’s commenter number was chosen using a random number generator so she’ll receive a copy of Create Now! Here’s what she wrote:
The idea of creating a mission statement on paper is a powerful one. It’s like visualizing what you want to become, and then getting down to work on it with more focus. My favorite mentor/inspiration is Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist’s Way and many, many other books about sparking your own creativity. Her inspiring ideas wrapped in her heartfelt, lovely words changed my life. Thank you for sharing.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.