Creative Constipation. Yes, you read that right.

I know I have a few people who read this blog that love reading, writing, and all things creative. And so I want to talk about something that plagues pretty much all of us creatives from time to time. I am going to call it creative constipation. Its not writer’s block, its different. Just to clarify. I might ‘TM’ it.

Creative constipation is when you have an idea that doesn’t want to come out. It is there. It is ready to be introduced to the world- but you can’t get it out. And it becomes uncomfortable carrying it around all day every day. Sometimes it is downright frustrating and even painful. Other ideas build up behind it, but also can’t get out. You stop wanting to write or be creative because of all of the shit building up (pardon the pun). Do you get why I’m calling it this now? This is literally the only way to describe it. Writer’s block is, for me, when you simply can’t think of an idea. This is much more frustrating, and it does get me down from time to time.

Right now, having moved back to Bradford from Newcastle, I have lost my creative writing circle. One I’ve had due to my degree for three whole years, and I’m struggling to find a replacement back home. Yes, they’re on the end of messenger, but it isn’t the same and believe it or not I have an aversion to being social on “social” media. Face to face is best for writing support, I think. Changes like this can often feel a bit stifling, because the ideas are still there, but you don’t really have anyone else to talk them through with. My family don’t want to hear me rambling on about poetry. My friends back home aren’t into poetry, though they will patiently listen to be try and explain an idea for something I want to write, bless them. A lot of them love prose however, and so if I can translate an idea for a poetry collection into a prose-y sounding synopsis, its much easier to explain and they manage to fill me with enthusiasm and ideas.

But what can we do to relieve creative constipation if you don’t have any creative lifelines? (its okay, you can laugh. I’m absolutely wetting myself on this side of the screen). Well, you do what you do with normal constipation. For that you increase the amount of fruit and veg and fibre and water you intake (can you tell I’m also into #health?). For creative constipation you need to look for things that might link to your creative idea that you haven’t been doing, and might help push it out onto paper. For example, I’m looking at working tattoos into the next batch of poems I want to write, so these are things I can do:

  • Find a photography book of poems if possible, for some inspiration
  • Sketch tattoos characters would wear and consider why?
  • Visit art galleries- what would I want to recreate on my body?
  • Speak to one of my friends who is covered in amazing tattoos, about the process and how it feels
  • Get a tattoo (might put that on hold until financially viable)
  • Pinterest! Instagram!
  • I have to dream up the characters and the world of my poems, so look around at different cultures, movies, books etc. and different styles and methods of tattooing
  • People watch.
  • Consider people’s reactions to tattoos

This list could go on and on and on. Not all these tasks are going to produce things that make it into the poems, but they might just inadvertently trigger the release of those ideas that have built up. Think of these things as the fibre that will release that constipation. If the things you think may help don’t work, then take the laxative: force yourself to go to a creative writing class. Even if it looks like an awful one. Even if you end up listening to Betty telling you about the collection of short stories she’s writing about her cat Tiddles, its sure to produce a reaction that gets your idea onto the page as your brain goes into spasm. However painful.

So what do you think? Are any of you feeling creatively constipated?

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Poetry you need to read. It could convert you…

1496929404558Hello there readers! So, its been a while since I wrote a post here, what with final year hand-ins. More importantly, following hand-ins I made the decision to take nearly two weeks away from IG and blogging, because on Sunday I leave Newcastle forever (only joking, I’ll be back), and move home to Yorkshire to begin life as a working girl (that’s right, I’ve signed my life away starting in September). The weeks I had left, I understandably wanted to spend with my amazing friends, who are also all buggering off home in a few days. What else have I been up to? Well, if you read this blog often you’ll know that my degree was English Literature with Creative Writing, that I specialise in poetry, and that I always have a book on me. For the past few weeks I’ve been living in a bubble of coffee, reading, and poetry writing (lots of book reviews coming soon). And much as I knew I should be getting some recipes up here, I also knew I didn’t have any ingredients for what I wanted to make -I’m winding down my cupboards so won’t be buying anything in until I reach Bradford. All I wanted to do was read and write. And then I realised: this is my bloody blog and I’ll write what I want. And so today we are talking poetry, and recipes are on hold until I get home.

A lot of people hate poetry. But, poetry is one of the most powerful literary forms out there. Poetry is dangerous. Look at the Romantic era radicals and their poetry. Look at poetry of witness now, and political or spoken work poetry. One of my lecturers once said that poetry holds us in a little bubble of the present; it’s more alive than prose because you experience things so much more vividly for being held in one moment. You’re carried along in that little bubble, and things don’t have to be 100% clear in poems- its about a feeling you get from them. You have to leave a good poem or collection changed in some way. I’ll write a whole post on this at some point. Today, I want to introduce you to some collections, and some poets I think you will love. Some are classic, some are modern, some are to be spoken, some are to be read, some are female, some are male. I hope you find at least one you like.

 

 

Rupi Kaur- Milk & Honey

A fellow poetry student recommended this to me, and I fell in love with it. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I love collections that tell a story, and this definitely does that. Each poem is short and I’m sure you will find at least one that resonates with you. If you’re a feminist, get yourself a copy asap and thank me lat.

 

Andrew McMillan- Physical

This was the first poetry collection that made me want to be a poet. I fell head over heels for this collection. Its about a homosexual relationship and the male body. It is beautiful. It is painful. It is a must-read. I met Macmillan at a reading in Leeds and actually forgot how to speak for a good five minutes. Its also a novelty to hear poetry in a Yorkshire accent, if you fancy listening to his readings online.

 

Staying Alive anthology (numerous poets)

If you want to read a few different poets in one purchase, then I can’t recommend this enough. If you’re new to poetry then you can flick through and find poets you like to follow up on a bit more. This anthology is published by Bloodaxe, and its contemporary poems on the reality of living in unreal times. Continue reading

Level Up Your Creativity: 9 writing tips you may not have thought of…

Doing the degree that I am on, I have to pull ideas almost as if from out of a magic hat sometimes. Even if I’m feeling like the least creative person in the world.

As I’ve mentioned before, creativity is something which, up until reaching university, most of us thought just happened. You felt creative, or you didn’t. If you didn’t feel creative, you didn’t write. Wrong.

Although I firmly believe that great writers see the world in a different way- we’re often a little more observant, or just plain odd- I don’t believe that creativity is something that naturally springs forth from our minds 24/7. Which could be great news if you feel like you aren’t the most creative person- or bad news if you simply don’t know where to begin looking to get creative. Below, I have several ways you can level up your creativity, and hopefully begin churning out some writing more often:

Change up your writing spot

If you usually work from home then go sit in a café, library, simply on a park bench- or even in a train station. Look and listen to what is around you. Take a couple of notes, and see if anything comes up which you feel that you could later use.

Change up your writing time

I usually write in the morning- around 10am seems to be when I tend to grab a hot drink and sit down to write. However, recently I’ve found that my writing tends to be better in the evening, just before I go to bed. Don’t assume that just because one writing time has always worked for you, it will continue to do so. You may find that your best time is fairly odd- I know lecturers and fellow students who get up in the wee-hours to write, or stay up until 11pm to write.

Go and look around somewhere containing prompts

This is slightly different to the writing spot you may choose. A writing spot is somewhere you can sit and write, and have things happen around you that you don’t have to interact with. Somewhere containing prompts could be a museum, art gallery, photography exhibition, landmark, or an area of your city you haven’t explored yet. Exploring and learning/seeing something new is the key thing here.

Find somewhere to work that has just the right level of background noise

When you’re revising or trying to work on something complex you may find that complete silence is the way to go. I do. However, when I’m being creative a certain level of background noise is required. Coffee shops actually provide the perfect amount of background noise; it isn’t too intrusive on what you’re doing, but it means you aren’t completely alone with your thoughts.

Listen to music

Same as the above, although you may also find that if you usually listen to music in order to write, that changing up your backing track is the adjustment you need to product more creative work. If you usually go in for pop, try alternative or classical, and vice versa. Continue reading

My Move to WordPress from Blogger: the good and the bad…

Many of you will know that I was on Blogger for a really, really long time- nearly two years I believe (first as ‘Healthy not Hungry’, then as ‘Ecstatically Em’). But now, I’m on WordPress, and I’ve been asked by some people why the sudden change?

Well, first things first, I have been considering the switch for a good year now- but never had the time. I’ve found that WordPress is a little more professional, and it’s looked upon by anyone from a company or prospective work placement as being so. Now I’m on WordPress (even though I’ve lost my hard earned page views), I feel like my blog is finally a “real” blog! Though Blogger is great for the basics, and was my preference as a beginner, I’ve gradually come around to the idea of WordPress being a smidge better. When I first started blogging I took a good look at both platforms, and found WordPress was  harder to use. However, this seems to have changed, and now WordPress has many features that have allowed it, in my opinion, to finally get one up on Blogger. Let’s take a look…

Cleaner Layout

I find that WordPress themes look sharper, and better laid out to a new reader. With a cleaner layout that already has the right page widths etc.,  this has meant a lot less work for me. Because I’m quite picking with my presentation.

Sharper Pictures & Faster Upload Time

When I uploaded images to Blogger they always seemed to appear slightly…blurry? I use images I’ve already edited on IG, and I’m very specific about the brightness and quality of the photo when it goes up on there. Whenever I uploaded  of these pictures to Blogger though, they would be dulled. On WordPress (so far) they’re coming out very similar to those I uploaded to IG.

No Coding Alterations

On Blogger I had to find HTML codes, and then spend ages locating the right place to paste them into the code of the blog, in order to achieve the layout and features that I wanted. With WordPress I haven’t had to do this.

The blog title is already centred

This was one of the things I had to alter the blog’s code on Blogger to achieve. Here, a perfectly centred title was already installed into the template of the theme I selected. Which brings me to…

A Better Choice of Themes

There is a much wider choice of themes here on WordPress, which could be a bit overwhelming to a new user, but that is wonderful if you’re used to blogging and know what you want.

I can always upgrade

On Blogger there wasn’t an option to upgrade the package I was on (the free one). Here, although the next package up isn’t free, I do have the option to upgrade to this if I wish to at any point.

Drafts are stored neatly on the right

On Blogger, on the main dashboard screen, my published posts and my drafts were all stored mixed up together, and although I could separate them manually, it wasn’t as sleek as it could be. On this platform my published posts are stored in the main body on the dashboard, and my drafts are stored on the right hand side. Continue reading