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Friday, June 08, 2012

Friday Speak Out!: 5 Commandments of Creativity, Guest Post by Susanne Brent

5 Commandments of Creativity
by Susanne Brent

I recently was telling my writing inspiration group there really isn't much more anyone can write about how to write. It's all been said. They disagreed and so, seeing as I know nothing about dog training or massage therapy, I decided to stick to writing about writing.

Even if you aren't a writer, maybe if you just want to sing in the church choir, or knit a sweater for your grandson, or take that beading class to make earrings, these five commandments of creativity might resonate with you. Now I didn't climb a mountain, or see a burning bush, or hear a voice from the heavens. In fact, I have trouble following these five commandments myself. These are just some guidelines to consider if you decide you want to reach a creative dreams like learn how to make French pastries or take photos of animals in the wild or, like me, write a novel.

I. Thou Shalt Ignore the Nasty Voice In Your Head -- this is the voice which tells you why bother even trying to write a short story. You have no talent. Or the voice that says there is no way you are wearing a bathing suit to the family party. You are way too old and fat. Or the voice that says who are you to think you should get a raise, paint with watercolors or travel to Italy to take photos. IGNORE that voice. Write, sing, garden, dance, paint, design clothes, even if that ugly voice is shouting, loser! Treat it as you do a yappy dog or a whining child. Eventually it will stop. I hear that mean voice when I look at the vision board I created for myself in the beginning of the year which is pictured above. The voice says, "who are you kidding? You'll never achieve writing success. You're dreaming." But I keep looking at my vision board each day, and writing, and that nasty voice gets softer and softer, drowned out as I tap away at my keyboard.

II. Honor Thy Time to Be Creative -- this is my fridge. Sometimes instead of writing I decide I need to clean it. Or just stare into it. Sometimes instead of writing I organize my shoes. I water plants, scrub the grout from the sink, take the car to the mechanic for an oil change. I cruise Facebook spying on people. I call a friend and talk about Dancing With the Stars. My time to be creative gets gobbled up by chores or idle stuff. This kind of time wasting (even if I like a clean fridge) will never complete a novel, or build a birdhouse or finish an oil painting of the ocean.The clock is ticking. The dirty dishes in the sink will wait. Face the blank page and miracles can happen.

III. Thou Shalt Never Think You Know It All -- because you don't. Here is a photo of the college campus where I earned a journalism degree in Denver. Little did I know when I graduated that there would still be so much more to learn about writing. My degree was just a starting point. Quite often just by writing I learn more about writing, if that makes sense. I learn from reading, even silly stuff. So painters need to go to art museums, and chefs visit new restaurants and gardeners tour a botanical garden. Only when you are dead will there no longer be anything else to learn.

IV. Thou Shalt Hang Out With Nice People -- Here are a few members of my Writer's Inspiration Group. We don't always meet at a wine shop. If we did, we would be an Wine Inspiration Group and, while that might be fun, we'd get very little writing done. Embarking on a creative path can be daunting and discouraging. If there are people in your life who try to thwart your dreams, people who ridicule your desire to be an actress, or sing in a rock and roll band or blog, or teach at Arthur Murray dance studios, avoid those people. Stick with people who encourage you, who say go for it!! And, if it is a family member, consider the source. If you negative Aunt Joan laughs when you mention you are learning to tap dance, or your cousin scoffs when you say you are going to sculpt nude figures, it's probably because they are frustrated. Naysayers are usually people with thwarted dreams of their own. Birds of a feather really do flock together.

V. Thou Shalt Have a Room of Thy Own -- it can be simple and small. As long as it's a place for you to sketch or lay out your beads to make earrings, or curl up and knit the shawl for the church sale. My desk and chair I bought at a rummage sale. My carpet is icky. My office needs repainting and my window looks out onto the neighbors wall. Doesn't matter. I am as happy as if I am sitting in the Taj Mahal. Maybe your space is a small patch of land where you grow lettuce and peas, a wood floor where you can practice the tango, a room to practice the lines to a play. As long as you have a place that's just for you.

Okay so you may never win a Pulitzer price or win awards for your cooking or get a academy award (or maybe you will) but even if you don't you sure will have a greater shot at finding bliss in life if you honor your creativity.

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Trained as a journalist and a waitress, I spend my days writing and evenings serving cocktails and steaks. Hey, a girls gotta earn a living!

I worked as a reporter for a weekly newspaper and freelance wrote for several publications including the Arizona Republic. I live in sunny Phoenix where I am currently revising my novel which I just might be able to complete if I follow my own writing advice. Follow me at


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"?
Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



  1. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Wonderful post. Really inspiring and worth putting on my own vision board.

  2. This is a fun post and really shows Susanne's personality besides being full of truths.

  3. Loved the pics! Especially the one of your writer's group in the wine shop. ;) Thanks for an inspiring post, Susanne!

  4. A wonderful post...all of your points resonated with me. Reminds me...I better get some revisions done before my afternoon shift cooking for the seniors. Glad I found your encouragement this morning! Thanks Susanne!

  5. Excellent! Not listening to the nasty voices in my head was exactly what I needed to read this morning! Thank you for that and all the other good commandments. Still learning and glad of it.


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