The Practice of Creativity

Got inner critics? All creative people I know struggle with inner critics that can interrupt their work. What to do about them? It’s an unlikely but important answer–give them new jobs! In the latest Chatham County Line column I show folks how and even get to talk about Sandra Oh, too.

Give Your Inner Critic a New Job

No matter how lumpy or faded or boring you feel, your creativity is of value.

—SARK

Inner critics can sabotage our creative work. More than a decade ago, I began to study how and why inner critics become unwanted residents in our psyches.

Inner critics are the sharp-tongued internal voices that often prevent us from consistently writing and creating. They speak to us with the seemingly definitive voice of KNOWING ABOUT EVERYTHING CREATIVE. Inner critics usually know how to do just one thing and have long outlived whatever protective role they once had. Inner critics want to protect us from failure, shame and embarrassment. Gentle and honest feedback about our work is important and can be gained from a variety of sources. Inner critics go awry when they enter into the creative process at an early stage. They become destructive when they engage us in black or white thinking that may or not be accurate. Inner critics often drive us to abandon work too early, convince us that our ideas aren’t worthy, or that we will never be successful.

Inner critics can have a personal and also a cultural component to their makeup. Read the rest here.

It’s mid-summer. And my morning writing practice is full of it. 

Full of summer and full of story. 

I don’t know about you, but I love the creativity that summer sparks in me. 

And this summer–I have something special for you: A FREE author event that is heart-centered and is about connecting our bodies, minds and imaginations. Feeling embodied and writing with an awareness of the body can lead us to new insights as Herring notes:

Our cells have memories. Our bodies have stored all of our experiences-those expressed and unexpressed, even those forgotten. They are there waiting for us.

-Larraine Herring, Writing Begins With the Breath

I’m delighted to share with you that I’ve teamed up with 10 other amazing writers and writing coaches to bring you:

Write from the Heart: How to create and nourish your fiction or memoir so you can finally finish the book you were born to write. 

And what’s more? I’m giving you a complimentary ticket! Yay 🙂

You can claim your seat for this FREE 2-day workshop here: traciskuce.com/mtberger

Check out a few of these heart-centric topics we’ll be covering:

  • How to Create a Nurturing Writing Routine
  • Developing Stronger Internal Conflicts in Your Novel
  • Tap into Your Character’s Impossible Longing
  • How to Leverage the Power of Affirmations for Your Writing Life
  • How to Create Your Own DIY Writing Retreats

These roughly twenty minute presentations will be packed with tips, exercises and techniques.

My presentation is on one of my favorite topics—the power of positive self-talk: ‘Brain Hacking: how to leverage the power of affirmations for your writing life’.

If you’re ready to nourish your creative heart and dive deep into your story, then you’ll want to register for this FREE event. It happens LIVE August 5 & 6 at 12 pm PT/ 3 pm ET 

Get your complimentary ticket here: traciskuce.com/mtberger

afrofuturistbundle

Looking for a summer reading bonanza? And a playlist, too? I’m thrilled to be included in this NEW Afrofuturist and Black Fantastic ‘storybundle’ featuring established and emerging voices in speculative fiction. It was curated by award-winning writer Tenea D. Johnson and includes work from a Horror Writers Association lifetime achievement winner, Tiptree winner, a couple of Parallax winners, fresh voices from the Caribbean and Africa, African historical fiction, intelligent space romps, vampires, and a fiction album.

I believe this is the first Afrofuturist and Black Fantastic themed storybundle. It’s my first time being included in a curated storybundle!

How does it work?

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE. For a little more you’ll get 11 books! My novella, Reenu-You about a mysterious virus seemingly transmitted through a hair care product billed as a natural relaxer is one of the ‘bonus books’.

Bundle buyers also have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers, an amazing organization that supports young writers! Check out all the details below. This bundle is available for just three weeks. And, please feel free to signal boost. Thanks!

https://storybundle.com/afrofuturism

Feeling stuck in your writing and storytelling? Are you not finishing things because you get overwhelmed with keeping track of your characters and plotlines? Frustrated with how you are plotting your novel or memoir? Are you painting yourself into too many story corners that you don’t know how to get out of?

Want to know how to bring a story full circle, connect the dots and create a fantastic ending? Want to know more about ‘story beats’ and how to effectively employ them?

Want some inspiring writing craft and mindset tips?

Great, my writer friend, Emma Dhesi can help! She is hosting a cool series that you’re going to love.

Emma has brought together 20+ writers, creatives, editors, and publishers for this complimentary training series. 

The Be a Bestseller: Structure Your Story of Success series is guaranteed to ignite your creativity. Many speakers will be sharing their expertise for better plotting and story structure and others will be focused on mindset issues. It is geared for novelists, memoirists and short story writers. She is a fantastic interviewer.

And, I’m ALSO one of the speakers! I’ll be talking about how positive self-talk can supercharge your writing life (as you know one of my favorite topics)!

And it’s totally free. Sign up here and see all the speakers: https://masterclass.beabestseller.net/MicheleTBerger

BTW: If you are struggling with motivation and momentum in your writing, you might like my free guide: Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self during COVID-19.

So delighted to be on the Adam Messer radio show live. The first hour flew. We’re talking about inner critics and the creative process and also speculative fiction.

Here’s a guide for his listeners to keep their creativity flowing: ‘Ten Ways to Keep Connected to Your Writing Self During COVID-19.

Second hour of the show begins now. Check it out here: https://www.wruu.org/shows/the-adam-messer-show/

One of my writing joys in 2020 was producing a monthly column on creativity for the Chatham County Line. It’s always been a strong publication and great community resource, but under the recent leadership of Randy Voller and Lesley Landis it has flourished. The layout and design is fantastic.

In the summer, I began a three part series about how publishing and writing will change during this decade. The last installment of the series spotlights diversity and is now available. Documenting the ugly things about publishing and its lack of diversity was painful. For a while I had writer’s block (which is atypical for me) because I had to relive and remember the ways I’ve been affected by the cumulative effects of multiple ‘isms’ in publishing’s history. In the end, I found a way to strike a balance between talking about the structural obstacles and point to the tentative positive direction of change. That felt like a win as it gives the average reader a way to understand the issues without overwhelming them. And, I took some of the most charged parts of my experience out to explore in a future long-form essay, so that’s a win, too. Writing always leads to more writing!

You can read it (and parts 1 & 2) on the updated website. I look forward to writing more columns this year. And, if you’ve got a topic you’d like to see me explore, please let me know!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Writing and Publishing in the 2020s-Part 3

Coming of age in the 1970s and 1980s, I never read a commercial novel that featured a character that was anything like me: African American, female, wickedly smart, urban, and geeky. The children’s and young adult market was dominated by white heroes, white heroines and white authors. If I came across an African American character, they were typically described by the color of their skin (in contrast to white characters who were never described by skin tone) and simplistically rendered. They functioned as a sidekick, devoid of cultural experiences that connected them to the rich kaleidoscope of African American life. It wasn’t until college (!) that I discovered commercial (and literary) novels that reflected some of my life experiences back to me. This was a result of two factors. One was the success of small independent presses begun by second wave feminists that published new work by a diversity of women writers. The second was that by the mid-1980s traditional publishing briefly opened up to a few African American female writers, including Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor.

Read the rest here

Happy New Year!

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. But I do like to have a set of guiding intentions for the year which are different than resolutions or even goals. Intentions feel less rigid than resolutions. This year to support my intentions, I am trying something new—Chris Brogan’s 3 Word Process. Chris Brogan is a consultant and bestselling writer and he has been sharing his 3 Word Process for over a decade. I had never heard of his process though it is quite popular.

You decide on three words and they guide “your choices and actions day to day”. They represent one’s commitments for the year and as Brogan says act as “lighthouses”. From his practice over the years choosing three words is better and more powerful than four words or two words.

I like the simplicity of narrowing one’s focus to encompass three meaningful words. Also, I believe 2021 will be a transitional year (especially the first half) due to the pandemic. Last year, my well-groomed goals quickly flew out the window as was true for many. Adaptability and flexibility were key lessons for me in 2020, so there’s no reason now to get locked into rigid goal-setting given so many variables out of my control.

My words for 2021 are Systems, Replenish and Solo

Systems: I want to undertake systems level change and integration with my technology (i.e. multiple computers, phones, etc.), but also between my career, writing life and coaching business. I’m looking for efficiency and ease.

Replenish: Despite the pandemic, 2020 was the most successful year I ever had as a creative writer and coach across all metrics (e.g. publications, relationship-building, craft up leveling, revenue generated, and fun had). It was also an incredibly successful year in my academic career. I, however, burned the candle at both ends and have been doing so for a long time. I need fill the creative well.

Solo: I love collaborations and am good at them, but 2021 will be the year for discernment. Some of my academic collaborations are naturally coming to an end because our projects are nearing completion. Others, I will need to consciously change or end. As a writer and coach, I will use this word to remind me to weigh the pros and cons of a potential collaboration.

If you are looking for a guiding rubric in 2021 besides the standard New Year’s resolutions, you may enjoy the 3 Word Process. Find out more here. And, if you decide to use his process, please share your 3 words—we can hold each other accountable!

Photo credit

Happy holidays everyone! I hope you are safe and well!

I wanted to share some EXCELLENT news!

I recently discovered that my novelette “Doll Seed” published last year (in FIYAH: Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction) has won the Carl Brandon Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society.

It carries with it a $1,000 cash prize.

The Carl Brandon Society is composed of fans and writers of speculative fiction and their mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.

I’m thrilled, honored and a little breathless!

My story is about dolls, magic, and civil rights. It even imagines what happened to those black and white dolls that were used in psychology experiments leading up to the famous Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case.

Persistence and belief in one’s ideas is everything—I worked on and submitted this story for YEARS before it found a fantastic home!

My thanks goes to Marjorie Hudson who gave me great editorial advice on the story, many moons ago, and Val Nieman who was an early and enthusiastic reader.

Congrats to Akwaeke Emezi for winning the Parallax Award for their YA novel Pet (Random House) & all the amazing writers on the Honors Lists!

More about the Carl Brandon Society and the awards here.

“Doll Seed” appeared last summer in FIYAH. I’d love for people to support this wonderful magazine, so if interested, you can purchase the issue here.

 

 

 

Hi folks,

I’ve got a GREAT opportunity for you. Two spaces just opened up for my last RESET, RENEW, RECLAIM virtual writing retreat being held TOMORROW, Saturday, Dec 12, 11-3. And, I want to make it available to you for $39 (originally $69)! My purpose is to support and uplift writers and I’d love for you to experience this retreat at a SWEET price.

Saturday’s topic is Author Mindset/Creating Juicy Goals for 2021. We’ll spend our time reflecting on our writing in 2020 (the ups and downs), how to set up sustainable and favorable conditions for our writing life in 2021. We will align our goals to writing systems and prepare for what might throw us off track.

We’ll dream together about to how to create a writing ‘eco-system’ that is sustainable and fun for you in 2021! This has been one of my most productive writing years (despite the pandemic) and I’m going to share all my writing hacks with YOU.

If you haven’t been writing and miss being in a community of writers, this retreat is for you.

During the retreat there will be writing time, mindfulness exercises for focus, cool writing exercises and group coaching. We’ll have the option for a short lunch break and/or additional writing time.

Now is the perfect time to plan for what you want your writing life to LOOK and FEEL like for 2021. The last weeks of Dec and first weeks of Jan are often the worst time to do this kind of work—we’re usually tired from the holidays.

2021 is guaranteed to bring new challenges and opportunities to our writing lives, so let’s prepare!

I hope you join me tomorrow!

I can accept payment:
-via PayPal: bergermichele2005@yahoo.com
Questions? email me: mtb@creativetickle.com

***this piece was originally published in the October issue of the Chatham County Line for my monthly column. It is the second installment of a multi-part series of columns on writing and publishing in the 2020s. Here I write about discoverability, “whale” readers and the rise of audio as publishing changes that affect both readers and writers.

Think about the last time you read a book. How did you find out about it? Twenty years ago, you might have seen a book review in the pages of a magazine or newspaper. This is less likely to be true now. More likely is that you stumbled upon an author reading their work on YouTube, heard about a book on a podcast or you’re already subscribed to a favorite author’s newsletter and receive their updates. You could be a Goodreads aficionado and seen a recommendation there about a book, or maybe you’re a member of a book club. You might also have typed phrases into Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, or Google and searched for the kind of book you were looking for, finding thousands or even hundreds of thousands of results.

And, of course there is still the wonderful word of mouth recommendation by a friend that shares, “I just read the most amazing book! You have to read it, you’ll love it!”

In the last column I talked about how major shifts in publishing, during the last decade, has created new opportunities and challenges for writers. How people find and read books has also changed, dramatically affecting writers.

Discoverability

If you hang around a group of writers long enough, you’re bound to hear them discuss their use of social media and strategies to both find and engage readers. And, it often isn’t a happy conversation. In an ever growing ocean of content, writers, especially emerging ones, have to work much harder to be discovered by readers.

read the rest of the column here.

Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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