Play, dream, write by Jane Ayres

IMG00249-20121028-1209
photo by Jane Ayres

On the bus to Tunbridge Wells today I became aware of a dad with his toddler sitting at the front of the upper deck, both father and son playing at being bus drivers, with their pretend steering wheels and pretend brakes, laughing and shrieking.  It made me smile and reminded me of my own childhood and the way that we create our own stories and roles through play.

We can become anyone. We can do anything.  Our imagination enables us to explore new worlds.

One of my favourite toys when I was a child comprised of a host of plastic farm animals. My model farm provided me with hours of fun. I made up stories and adventures for the world I had created, and my imagination enabled me to become the tiny plastic figure with pigtails and jodhpurs with the cute Shetland pony. I made choices about what happened to my characters and landscapes, controlling their destinies in a way that isn’t possible in reality.  Like being a storyteller.  And I thought of what playing had in common with writing and my reasons for writing, for creating stories.  I sometimes wonder where this need comes from, why engaging our imaginations is so important.

I used to daydream a great deal as a child. It was all practice for writing my stories. I’m still practising.

This is my last post of 2012 for Creatabot – here’s to a creative 2013!

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teens (and nostalgic older readers) are available for kindle on Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary. 

Page Fright – by Jane Ayres

Empty space. Empty place.

A blank page on a blank screen.

Fear of the unknown.  Is that what is so daunting about writing those first few words?  Why is that blank space so intimidating?

Page fright.  A writer’s nightmare.  The evil twin of procrastination.  You’ve done battle with the big P and now you are poised to dazzle with your wordcraft skills, your pearls of insight.  But wait – you hold back.  Will you censor your thoughts and strangle your darlings before they get the chance to draw breath?  What are we afraid of?  Being judged, criticised? Not being good enough?

Creation is a mysterious process.

As a younger writer, I would spend ages staring at that white page (we used pen and paper or typewriters in the 70s!), digging deep for inspiration, wanting the words to be perfect immediately.   I would get everything straight in my head before committing it to paper.

I’ve often read advice for writers that suggests writing anything to fill that space, to overcome the self-censoring instinct.  Later, you can edit what you have written and mould it into something that satisfies you.  This works for me.  The advent of technology has changed the way I compose and I can write my novels in whatever order I wish.  If I am in the mood to work on that action sequence in Chapter 9, I will.  If I feel more reflective, I will write the complex emotional exchange between the main characters in Chapter 3.  Oh, the joys of the cut and paste tool on a word processor!

The way in which we work, the medium used, does affect what we produce.  I love the freedom and flexibility that my laptop offers me.  If I want to change the middle section of my story, I can do so without having to type the whole lot out again from the beginning.  Bliss!  I approach the writing like constructing a patchwork quilt.

But when I use pen and paper, my thought processes are different.  I work inside my head more, and will cover the white space with scribbling, diagrams, lines and arrows, visually setting out the connections.  I probably dream the story more in advance.  And I love using white space to create poetry, which for me is both visual and musical.

When I teach writing workshops, I generally get participants to use paper and pen, which for many students is a bit of a novelty, especially the IT generation, because it offers possibilities that may not have been previously considered.  The results are always exciting. Especially when students have no more than five minutes to complete the first workshop exercise.  Pressure, whether real or imagined, can be a useful motivator.

So, after we have slain the fiery dragons of Procrastination and Page Fright, what other obstacles await us as we continue our journeys on the path of creation?