Introducing The Eight – an edit of 8 ideas/actions/items to help make your life run smoother. Or just put a smile on your face. Why eight? Five seems a little scarce (and overdone), ten a little daunting (and overrated). Not really – 8 just happens to be my favourite number.
First up – creativity. I write so I feel the need (pressure?) to be creative even in my sleep. Getting motivated to sit at my desk, stare at my laptop’s blank screen or a sheet of white paper and wait for the magic to happen, is always a challenge. And rarely works. Instead I have avenues I shimmy down to get me emoting creatively. This doesn’t mean that I immediately begin plotting a chapter, outlining a short story or developing a character as soon as I’m done wading through one of these creative rivulets. It does however nudge me towards a pattern of thinking that may only manifest itself that evening, in a couple of days or at the end of the week. And then, I’m ready to write.
ONE // Assemble your creative arsenal: Pens; pencils; notebooks, notepads, a ream of paper; highlighters; markers and sticky notes
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I love my coloured pens as much as my plain black ones. MUJI notebooks are an absolute dream. I bought a ton of sticky notes on sale and found a good deal on highlighters. Knowing I have my creative weaponry close at hand makes me feel my imagination can battle the blank screen/white paper enemies of the world and emerge victorious.
TWO // Set the mood: Crystals, scented candles; room spray; an aromatherapy diffuser and essential oils
Crystals are no longer ‘woo-woo’ but ‘new-new’. I started exploring crystals while researching my YA fantasy novel The Stolen Wings as the fairy realm I created -Lustrelucida – is made out of crystals and jewels. The power of scent also plays a major role in my fictional land with each fairy having her own unique fragrance, or ‘scentre’. I keep a candy dish of crystals in my workspace, next to a candle plate and a diffuser. I vary the scented candles and essential oils depending on my mood, but lean towards citrus aromas and peppermint for creative energy.
THREE // Set your intentions: meditation
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There are so.many.apps. All devoted to reaching your inner calm. Pick one and commit – from five minutes to thirty. And if you love this, reach wider. Take a class or experiment with sound therapy meditation, once a week or monthly as part of your creative routine.
FOUR // Look through Vogue magazine – any Vogue magazine
I save copies of Vogue and keep them in my workspace. I take an inspiration flick through one when I need a creative jolt. Pages of beautiful clothes, styled sets and cool make-up looks are stories of our time. Modern art that stokes the creative flames. All in a magazine rack under my desk.
FIVE // Browse tearsheets from old magazines
I always keep my issues of Vogue intact – not so my other magazines. I have yearly subscriptions to a few glossies and I dogear them as I read, then tear out the marked pages. I keep them in folders and sometimes they make it onto a collage or into a scrapbook. I used heaps of tearsheets as inspo for The Stolen Wings, mainly for worldbuilding, although I also have an entire folder of relationship advice columns that I hope to use as plotline inspo in some fiction one day.
SIX // Brainstorm with visuals
Make a moodboard – I like using a corkboard. The tearsheets come in handy here – cut or rip pictures and pin them up. Or do it digitally. For me, this was a HUGE part of building Lustrelucida, so my corkboards became collages that became visual notebooks. For a land that is as rich in texture as Lustrelucida, this visualization was key. And really got me psyched to write about what I was seeing on the page and in my mind. Clutch.
SEVEN // Listen to the world
I grew up in London so I was always either a) on some mode of public transportation or b) walking. Along with tons of other Londoners trying to get someplace. And most of them would be having conversations – IRL or on the phone – about relationship disasters, last night’s antics or entire life stories. I would eavesdrop (I’m a writer, it’s research) and scribble down anything interesting, funny or profound. You don’t have to be on mass transit for this – any public place works. And remember, it’s not weird – it’s inspiration.
EIGHT // Choose an area of art/culture you know nothing about – and explore
Listen to some Nineties R&B, watch a documentary about French couture or read an early twentieth-century British author – if none of these are your usual thing. Expanding your artistic boundaries to include the unknown can spark creativity that feels flat if only because it is a new way of seeing things. It also provides cultural context for what is going on in the world today: for example, with no groundbreaking R&B girl groups, would there be a Queen Bey?