by Deb Lund
I’ve been restless lately. Uncertain. Wondering what to work on next, but not taking action. Growing up in northern Minnesota, the outward version of that was an approaching storm—a blizzard, a tornado, torrential rains… It starts out in stillness and quickly gets dark.
There’s something in the air that you can’t quite identify, and then it whooshes in…
Energy builds. Everything whirls around you. There’s nothing to hang on to. It all feels impossible and there’s nothing you can do about it—except face it. Be brave! Lean into the wind! You got this!
Creativity needs chaos. It needs a storm. Once in a while we need to be shaken out of our pitiful patterns and hideous habits. You know what I mean. Those crazy excuses—I’m too old/young/busy/whatever. Or… just another game of Solitaire, or another snack. Yeah! That’s what I need!
When the storm hits, don’t hide out, and don’t run away. What matters to you? What’s your big dream? What would give your life more meaning? Claim it! Step into the eye of the storm.
Snatch the ideas flying by. Add more snatches to them. Don’t look for pieces that fit—go for curiosity, not judgment. Just grab them. Own the storm!
Are you wondering what you’re getting yourself into? Feeling lost? Unprepared? Me, too! When it comes to creativity, if you don’t know what you’re doing—you’re on the right path!
Still feeling anxious? What do you say to yourself? Here are some of mine…
- “Who do you think you are?”
- “It was only a fluke that you ever got published.”
- “Someday they’ll figure out you can’t write.”
Change those conversations! We all run around scared that someone else is going to find out we don’t really know what we’re doing. We’re afraid we’ll die in the storm.
Take back that talk, and talk back!
It’s hard work finding your way through torrential rains, hail, sleet, or snow. The wind might mangle your umbrella. You might slip on the ice. You might end up in your own version of Oz. Do it anyway.
I grew up with stories of farmers tying ropes between their homes and barns so they could take care of their cattle during blizzards. We have no worries there. Tara is our tether, and she’s tenacious! You may feel lost now and then, but the rope is always within reach. Come back and read this post when your doubts drift up around your ears. I promise you can do this!
When a storm approaches, you get ready. You gather up all you need. You make a plan.
Here’s a short list to help you get started:
- Piggyback on elements of your favorite stories.
- Glance through book titles on bookstore and library shelves.
- Start with first sentences from books you haven’t read.
- Drag out past idea lists or folders to mix and match
- Look at photos—your own, social media, online image searches.
- Mine your memories.
- Think emotions: Sad, angry, hurt, frustrated, relieved, determined, etc.
- Search magazines, newspapers, and online resources for interesting stories.
- Observe kids in libraries, stores, parks, schools, or your own at home.
- Think “firsts”—teeth, steps, birthdays, school, friend, kiss, etc.
- Identify epiphanies and turning points.
- Ask kids, parents, teachers, librarians, friends, family—anyone!
I’m sure our amazing Storystorm line-up will cover some of these in detail and more. Still feeling anxious? Change your default reaction to calm. Tough order, I know. But it’s possible.
As tornadoes touched down around us on Minnesota summer days, neighbors without basements would run to our house and gather in ours. My mom would ask me to play the piano while we waited out the storm.
Playing through a storm is a pretty good analogy of the creative process.
Here’s how you do it…
Ignore the dangers around you. Stay focused, deny the distractions, and entertain yourself until the wind dies down enough to step out into the new landscape before you. And when you do, stay curious. If you label the storm a disaster, you’re not free to experiment and explore.
Keep an open mind as you assess the possibilities. You can shovel out a path or pick up pieces later. Until then, enjoy the wonder and the rainbows. After this month, you might just become a storm chaser.
Deb Lund is best known for her rowdy, rollicking dinoadventures. She’s helped many writers forge their way through storms with her card deck, Fiction Magic: Card Tricks & Tips for Writers. Deb is a creativity coach who claims that outsmarting her own fierce inner critic makes her more qualified to lead storm troopers than all her training, teaching, and years of coaching experience. Visit Deb at deblund.com.
Deb is generously giving away three prizes: two 15-minute creativity coaching sessions and one set of Fiction Magic cards.
Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.