Let the Brainstorming Begin

IMG_4382Back in October Jean Mills, and I applied for a joint Writer’s Reserve grant through the Ontario Arts Council. Jean is a friend, but also an experienced writer and wonderful colleague. Among other things, we share two former employers, membership in PWAC and our sons went to school together for a while. We thought we’d make pretty good partners on a creative project. Receiving a grant doesn’t mean that a publisher will buy the finished project, but it does mean that a publisher thinks our idea and our writing samples are good enough to get some support to move ahead.

Last Wednesday, we received a letter from Dundurn Press to tell us that we received a grant. Yay!

And yikes!

Now I have to get writing. Our project is an anthology of short stories, and as thrilled as I was by this concrete gesture of approval, I’ve been stewing since Wednesday about whether I’d even come up with any ideas, let alone be able to write one–or six. It was one of those moments when you think, “it seemed like such a good idea at a time.”

Well, yesterday I got the idea for my first story. Yesterday I took time to create ‘white space.’ Here’s Sarah Selecky’s definition of white space: “White space: time spent doing nothing. Staring into space. Watching steam from your teacup, watching waves lap at the shore, listening to the wind through tree branches.” Selecky’s theory is that it’s impossible to be creative if we don’t give ourselves time to let our minds rest, to spend some time with no distractions. Here’s how she says it, “How can you have that gorgeous, rich feeling of having images come to you as you write, if you haven’t given your mind any time or space for insight?” Take some time to read her blog and then see what happens when you create some white space for yourself.

I am a to-do list maker from way back. If I’m going to reach my goals, ‘white space’ will be on the list, too.

If you have any strategies for shutting the attention-grabbing distractions down so that you can create, please pass them along. I’d love to learn how others find creative time and energy. Hope you find some white space today!

4 thoughts on “Let the Brainstorming Begin

  1. I like the idea of white space – I hadn’t hear of that before. I’m often inspired through my favorite music playlist. Jogging on a treadmill is boring, so I pop in my earbuds and just count down the miles. But along the way, the music inspires some great ideas for my stories and articles. Don’t know if this counts as white space, and it certainly won’t work for everyone, but it’s one of my favorite methods for generating ideas. Plus, I’m knocking out two tasks at once.

    Great post! ~Gwen

    • I don’t think I could ever work for a long time in complete silence. I like my favourite music playing in the background. I haven’t tried music while I’m on the treadmill. I tend to watch a DVD or listen to a book tape. I’ll have to get my son to mix a treadmill set for me. Most of my ‘working’ music is low key classics and Solitudes cds. Don’t think the time would pass very quickly on the treadmill with that in my earbuds! Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

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