Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Secret to Creativity

Bonjour, Friends--

I hope you are well and staying safe during the Pandemic.
This is an unprecedented time--well, not unprecedented if you were born at the dawn of the twentieth century, but unprecedented for most of us.

That said, if we can look at the long view, this is a moment in history, and it's also an opportunity for us to pause, reconsider, dream, and bear witness.

It's an opportunity to create something new.  

I believe everyone is creative.  It's part of being alive, being human.

Recently, I taught a couple of writing workshop via Zoom, to benefit The Spencertown Academy Center of Arts.  I haven't taught writing to a group in a long time.  I used to teach at Educational Center for the Arts, at the HOT Schools Children at Risk program, at U.C.L.A (when I lived in L.A. and did the whole Hollywood thing), N.Y.U., Wesleyan University, Fairfield University (where I met my husband, Dr. Thompson) and even at Yale University.  So, you can see, I've been around!  (Teaching--wise, that is!)
Photo by Kris Bengtson Mendoza, my ECA student.
Since this is a black and white photo, you can't see that I have a hot pink streak in my hair!

And then, in 2007, I compiled all my teaching tips and prompts and games and exercises and brought them over to Chronicle Books in San Francisco, where they were released as The Writers Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for the "Write" Side of your Brain.

And, so I thought, that's it.  Now, I'm done with teaching writing.

During the last ten years, I've been writing and publishing my Paris-themed books and mentoring just a handful of very special clients.  However, this recent Spencertown Academy Center for Arts Zoom writing workshop included an amazing group of writers from all over the country and even Canada!  They were at many different stages of their writing exploration and they wrote memoirs, fiction, nonfiction, plays, monologues.  The workshop was made even more memorable by the fact that we are in the middle of a Pandemic.  There was something so poignant and heartfelt in their work.  There was a fragility that I do believe comes from living in this very uncertain time.  

There was also a lot of kindness, honesty and vulnerability that shone forth, even on the fragmented window-box-style platform of Zoom.  Looking at these beautiful faces and hearing their just-birthed stories made me feel honored, humble and very grateful.

I was grateful to bear witness.  And grateful to live in this world right now, during these challenging and uncertain days, because it's the very uncertainty that is giving rise to a new and powerful and deeply authentic way of looking at things.  There is no time to waste being too cool, or hip, or perfect or fabulous or in any way slick.  The world calls us to be real, to be kind, to be generous.

In fact, I was so inspired by my brief foray back into teaching creative writing, I've decided to give you a free weekly creativity prompt and a little inspiration.  Please share this with like-minded friend.  I'll be posting every Saturday after this.

Oh, and finally--here's this week's inspiration:

Print out all of the "word pictures" (see below), then cut them up into different pieces of paper. Fold them up and put them in a bag or a bowl or a cookie jar.  Close your eyes and pick out one.  Write on that for five minutes and then pick up a second one.  Writer for five minutes.  Then, pick up a third one.  Write for five minutes and then stop.  Enjoy!  Have fun!  It's summertime, after all!

Word pictures (or images to spark your imagination):

A red sweater
Bob's recipe for chili
The strange woman across the street
The liquid sunshine
Suzie's favorite store
Worn wooden steps
The rain in June
A closed door
The lightening storm
Lemons in a blue bowl
Your father's new car

Oh, and let me know how it goes!


  1. Replies
    1. Ah, I wish that was me, but actually it's from a wonderful book called "Les Parisiennes". So nice to hear from you Gabi! Love, Jamie


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