The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day

Last night I had the distinct honor of being featured as an ‘emerging writer’, at Quail Ridge Books, alongside my writing teacher, Marjorie Hudson. The event was called ‘Love and the Lonely Writer’ and it was organized by the Raleigh Review Literary and Arts Magazine. They periodically host the ‘Southern Recitations’ series where they invite an established writer to give a weekend workshop and then host a reading with that writer and an invited ‘emerging’ writer.

There's nothing like seeing a poster, in a bookstore, with your name on it!

There’s nothing like seeing a poster, in a bookstore, with your name on it!

As this was an nontraditional way to spend Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t sure if we would have much of an audience. I just thought of the event as a way to spend time with Marjorie and talk about writing in public (two of my favorite things), and honor anyone that showed up. And, I used it as an opportunity to hone my performance skills (see here for tips about public readings). Although I tried to play down the event in my mind, it was a BIG DEAL. Quail Ridge Books is one of most well-established and respected bookstores in the region. I told friends about it, posted on Facebook and reached out to local writers. And, I said, hey I know this event falls on V-Day, but it would be great if you could stop by. There’s nothing like asking for support when you really need it!

I’m happy to say the turnout was great. We had a packed house. People were so kind and lovely.

Current and former students of mine!

Current and former students of mine!

Marjorie spent some time talking about the importance of developing a writing community. For most of her life, she didn’t have a writing community and she often felt isolated.

I talked about how Marjorie is an exemplar teacher not just because she can teach craft or introduces her students to other writers. She’s an amazing teacher because she helps empower writers to create a vibrant and nurturing community.

I always say that before I met Marjorie, I wrote mostly by myself. I’d take a workshop here and there, read tons of writing books and sporadically joined writing groups. I would occasionally send things out for review. I taught myself many things during that long spell, but my output was slow and more importantly, I was often miserable.

In the five years since meeting Marjorie not only have I become a stronger writer and more widely published, but I actually have so much more joy and enthusiasm for writing. Cultivating a writing community (everything from writing buddies, online writing community, being in a writing group, etc.), has a been a great source of pleasure and support.

Yeah, it was a Marjorie and Michele lovefest!



We both read works. I read ‘Ode to Shari Belafonte in her Calvin Klein Jeans’ recently published in Glint.

Marjorie often uses the method of timed writing to specific prompts. This technique gets to fresh writing that’s kind of ‘shaggy’, but often powerful and can take you to unexpected places. She asked me to read an unrevised poem that came from one of those prompts. I read that and she read a short piece from her novel-in-progress.

I read a love letter to my mother based on one of the columns I wrote for The Chapel Hill News last year. She read some steamy scenes from ‘The Clearing’, a story in her collection Accidental Birds of the Carolinas.

We did Q&A and ended the evening by handing out chocolates and a writing prompt. It’s a fun prompt that you might want to try. Marjorie will post some of the entries on her blog!


A writer’s prompt for Valentine’s Day:

Write a letter to someone whose writing you love, or who has encouraged you or helped you with your writing.

If possible, find the person’s address and mail it, snail style.  I will post some of these on my blog—so send me a copy if you’d like to

Subject: Valentine



All in all, one of my best V-Days ever!










Public affirmation for writing and creative work is often in short supply when we need it the most. I was in a craft store the other day picking up some pens and I ambled over to the aisle that is devoted to scrap booking and has tons of stickers and materials. I thought I might find something fun there related to writing that I could use for my journal (related to fiction writing) or for my folder (academic writing). There seem to be stickers for just about every life event (weddings, birthdays, travels, celebrating newborns, graduations) and even specific interests (e.g. car racing). But, there were no stickers that related to the peaks and valleys of writing or any other creative activity. There were a few very generic stickers that had the words creative, dream, imagine, with images of bland looking pens and pencils.

We’re a week away from Valentine’s Day (at least in the U.S), and I always find this a good time to remember to court and celebrate the relationship we have with our creativity. Just like any other relationship that we value, we must make time for our creativity. And, just like any other relationship, feelings of pleasure, kindness and affection make us and others feel good. So creative friends, in honor of V-Day, I am sending you virtual stickers that say things like:
1. Your writing will matter to someone, so finish it.
2. Nothing from my creative flow is wasted. All of it is endlessly recombined in new ways.
3. I claim my creative talents even in the face of envy, doubt and fatigue.
4. Creative self, remind that my playful nature can always lead me to new discoveries.
5. The inner critic’s main sources of nourishment are doubt, fear and helpings of low self-esteem. Put it on a diet!
6. Own your creativity, even in the face of naysayers and saboteurs.
7. I appreciate my creative self’s firework moments and subtle whispers.
8. I treat my creative self as a most treasured companion.
9. I finish my creative projects in a timely manner and with ease.
10. Every cell vibrates with my intention to create.



Dear community,

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!

Do you want to do something out of the ordinary this weekend? I hope so!

I wanted to make sure you knew of the terrific Love Summit that my friend Linda Kroll is hosting this weekend. She’s brought together an awesome group of fifteen speakers who will share tools to support people who want to experience more joy, passion, peace, connection and fun! The speakers include authors, coaches and healers.

I’m registered for the Love Summit and am absolutely loving the program. It’s all FREE but you need to register for it.

Get your joy groove on!

Click here to see the line-up and register – remember it’s FREE!

Creativity is a gift. Too many of us refuse it unwittingly. Assaulted by self-doubt, we fail to believe that it has been put into our hands. We diminish it by insisting that we should have been child prodigies. We insist its only proof is commercial gain. But the creative is a gift to us from another realm, and it comes when it comes. Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life

I’m delighted to welcome comedy writer Merrill Disney in the ‘Love Your Creative Self’ series. She’s created an inspiring story drawing on personal insight and observation. She’s a friend from the incredible online WINS program (Write It Now with SARK), that we’ve been enrolled in for the past six months. I’ve included a prompt based on her reflection.


Tovita knew she was different. Seemed all the other girls had straight hair when hers was naturally curly; plus, her skin was darker than most in her 4th grade class. American culture should have come more naturally because she was born in Seattle and fitting in should be a birthright. Well, those who wrote the rules didn’t attend George Washington elementary school–it was sometimes tough. The Samoan way of life was open and loving but so many times, she just didn’t feel that she fit in with others. With Valentine’s Day approaching, she stewed over the box of store bought cards that her mom had purchased so she could celebrate the candy-hearted day with classmates. Once she realized that everyone may give out the same pre-packaged cartoon character love notes with not so original sayings they were no longer appealing and pondered over her choice of expression. Instead she felt even though it might be considered weird, she would write a hand-written note on red and white papyrus paper from Western Samoa stating her favorite quality of each person in her class.

Hillary, even when you don’t know the answer to Miss Allen’s question, you smile and raise your hand the next time. You encourage me to do the same.” and “Josh, my first day of school when you asked me to join your table for lunch, I thought to myself ‘now I would vote for him for the President of the United States one day.’” As she wrote, she smiled at how truly alike she really was; the differences seemed to disappear with genuine kindness toward others.

Oh, the store bought box of valentines did not go to waste, she wrote herself love notes to herself of self appreciation and kept them in her side desk drawer. The first one included “I like being different and writing my own Valentine’s cards”. However, she knew she had to come up with a clever response when her mom found all the cards addressed to her. But with her new found creative way, she knew it wouldn’t be a problem.

–Merrill Disney

This comedy writer never passes up an opportunity to share our creative differences and similarities! You can get in touch with Merrill through her assistant:

I love how Tovita uses her creativity to do something unique for her classmates (whom she feels estranged from), and also how she writes love notes to herself! That is one smart little girl! Self-appreciation and self-encouragement are skills that we often have to relearn as adults as we pursue a creative life. In the WINS class, SARK encourages us to write short love notes from the grounded wisest part of our self to our everyday self. For me this practice encourages a heightened appreciation for gentle self-regard and helps to chase away the writing blues and doubts.

Merrill’s story also reminds me that part of our journey as creative people is to learn what are our special gifts and how to share them. The following prompt encourages us to look at the idea of our gifts from a fresh perspective and is from one of my favorite writing books-Writing for Your Life:

The Gift of the Gift

One way of knowing who we are is by what we give and what we receive. Write two lists, one of gifts given, another of gifts received. Afterward, imagine that you have found both of these lists and that you know nothing about the person who wrote them. Develop a portrait of the person who emerges from this series of exchanges by examining the nature of the lists, the kinds and qualities of the gifts given and received, and their relationship to each other.

Reread the portrait. Who is this person? How does she or he resemble yourself? What new perspective does this focus offer you?

Write a piece about a particular gift you once received or you once gave. What did this gift mean? Tell a specific story that reveals the nature of the gift.

How does this story reflect on the portrait you wrote earlier?

Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

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

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