The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Valerie Nieman

Hi folks,

A few weeks ago I announced that I am participating in Greensboro Bound, a new and amazing literary festival. The festival is May 16-19. All events are FREE, though for some workshops and talks you’ll need to get tix ahead of time including for Zadie Smith’s talk and the conversation between musicians Ani DiFranco and Rhiannon Giddens. The organizers have poured their hearts and souls into this schedule and have planned an incredible array of workshops, talks and panels across all genres that tackle subjects from climate change to yoga. There’s something here for every kind of writer. Take a look at the schedule here.

This is my lineup for Saturday, May 18. I’m psyched!

  • 10 am  The Real and the Unreal: Speculative Fiction  with Valerie Nieman, Michele Tracy Berger, and Jamey Bradbury.

Excited to meet Jamey. Thrilled to be on this panel with Val. She also has a new book coming out this summer which I can’t wait to read. To the Bones is an Appalachian horror/mystery/eco-thriller mashup. Doesn’t that sound cool?

  • 12:30 pm Writing as Intersectional Feminism. Feminist Conversation with Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes, Michele Tracy Berger, and Cassie Kircher. Moderated by Jennifer Feather.

Wow! I live and breathe intersectional feminism as a women’s and gender studies professor and as a creative writer. I am really looking forward to this conversation.

  • 3:15 pm Afrofuturism with Michele Tracy Berger, Sheree Renee Thomas. Moderated by Gale Greenlee.

Sheree Renee Thomas is a writer, editor, publisher and pioneer in documenting Afrofuturism. I’ve admired her work for a long time, so I will try not to fangirl the entire time. I had the distinct pleasure of working with Gale (now Dr. Greenlee), a few years ago when she took my graduate class ‘Exploring Intersectionality: Theories, Methods and Practices of Social Change’. What a gift that she is moderating this discussion.

















When I opened my email this week, I saw a wonderful message that said I was nominated for two blogging awards. What a fantastic feeling! I started this blog a few years ago to create a place where I could share insights about how people can practice creativity ‘smackdab’ in the middle of their life. The blog has been a place that I’ve grown as a writer and found a lovely community of other creative folk.

The rules of accepting these awards are as follows:

-Give a shout out to the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog. Thanks Edith O Nuallain! Her fabulous blog is In A Room of My Own. You rock! I hope good karma follows you around like a happy puppy.

I also want to thank the readers and supportive friends, over the years, that encouraged me to keep writing on my blog.

-Tell everyone seven things about yourself (see below)

-Nominate seven bloggers for these awards and let them know they’ve been nominated (see after the seven things about me)

Seven Things about Me

1) My writing life keeps me sane and grounded. I also write, of course, because I am deeply in love with literature. I’m driven to discover if I can create that magical out of body and time sensation for a reader that I feel when reading.

2) I write speculative fiction with a literary sensibility. I’m finishing a second draft of a novel and collection of short stories. I’m also working on a book about my approach to creativity.

3) I am obsessed with pugs and collect many pug themed items including pug cards, pug calendars, and a pug ‘piggy’ bank. I also share a home with Ginger, a silver pug.

4) I started my creativity coaching practice in 2004. It’s called The Creative Tickle® and most people smile when they hear or read the name (I bet you’re smiling now). The idea came to me after I woke up from a dream and it felt perfect. The name exemplifies my approach to creativity– easeful, accessible and joyful.

5) I’ve fantasized about writing under different names. In my 20s I wanted to write under the name Aja Pennybone and in my 30s it was Michele Instar. The word ‘instar’ is used to describe a developmental phase of anthropods. Now, I spend more of my time actually writing (as opposed to daydreaming of fame and fortune), and am proud to use my full name Michele Tracy Berger.

6) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed quite an aversion to elevators. When traveling, I ask the hotel to accommodate me by putting me on a low floor (sixth floor or below). I spend so much of my time avoiding elevators and roaming stairwells, I think I could write a memoir. You wouldn’t believe what goes on in hotel stairwells!

7) I traveled to India, with my partner Tim, in 2010.

Seven Bloggers You Should Know

I’m attracted to the depth and insight of a writer’s blog. I’m always looking for a complicated imagination as expressed through analysis, insight and good writing. Simply said, I don’t like a lot of fluff. Here are my nominations for seven terrific bloggers. I’m always eager to read what they share.

1) Heidi Moore at Heidiwriting

2) Kelly Hashway at Kelly Hashway

3) Ananda Leeke at Author Ananda Leeke’s Blog

4) Julie Farrar at Julie Farrar, Traveling Through

5) Becky Green Aaronson at The Art of an Improbable Life 

6) Kiersi Burkhart  at The Prolific Novelista

7) Valerie Nieman at Valerie Nieman v 3.o


A few weeks ago I began a series on spring cleaning for your writing life. There are three steps in the process:

1) You reassess your space, your schedule, and patterns of mind to see what is supporting or not supporting your writing life.

2) You reorganize your space, schedule, and patterns of minds to allow you to create with more ease.

3) After reassessing and reorganizing, you rededicate yourself to having a productive and joyful writing life!

I also asked writer friends for their thoughts, posing this question to them: What is one thing that you’re doing, giving away, rearranging, reassessing, reorganizing, etc., this spring, to support your writing life? I’ve organized their comments into several categories: Body, Space, Schedules and Patterns of Mind.

We only have a few more weeks before the official start of summer. Let’s continue to use the forward propulsion of spring energy to clear away anything that keeps us from our optimal writing life.


I am clearing out deadlines. Rearranging everything so poetry comes first. Dusting off hip-opening yoga mornings and rededicating my body to sleep.

Alexis Gumbs, writer and activist,

I did a spring cleaning of what was ailing me:  the (supposedly) most feel-good aspect of my life. I had a great physical therapist, but physical therapy was killing me. I spent my whole life either going to PT or recovering from pain or fatigue. I got some support from Sharan and some friends, and realized that PT isn’t healing anymore. So I quit. I feel scads better after only two days. The very same day I did it, I found an acupuncturist who knows all about my rare disease (how about that!?) and will do Medical Qi Gong on me. That’s cleaning house.

Heidi R. Moore, writer and artist,


My mom’s fantasy: I am a domestic goddess who hosts grand dinner parties. My reality: I can barely cook a pizza without burning the house down. Result: A cabinet stuffed with beautiful, but unwanted table linens (gifts from my mom). Solution: I donated the entire unused collection to the Habitat for Humanity Home Store and can now open my cabinet without the constant reminder that I am NOT Martha Stewart!

Linda Johnson, writer and author of A Tangled Web,

I am purging and streamlining my physical environment to eliminate chaos and create a zen garden peace to allow my writing to flow. Today I shredded 2 bags of documents related to estate business for my parents and father-in-law.

Cathy Pelham, emerging writer and photographer


I’m prioritizing… and I found out that focus on my writing gets a higher rating than a focus on my cleaning… but not by much. Just 1 point more on a 15-point scale. So, it’s important to do both. But I write FIRST, and THEN I clean. This is the first day I’ve used my new system, and I’m liking it.

Ellen Jacobs, writer and author of “The Littlest Sparkler” (a children’s book,-in-progress)

I am cleaning out my sleeping in so there’s more of that sacred silent space to write.  DJ, emerging writer

Patterns of Mind

This spring, I’m throwing out my inner critic, the voice that tells me what I’m writing is crap! This won’t be easy. We’ve been attached at the hip (or the head) for a long time.  But in order for me to move forward as a writer, it must be done. Wish me luck.

Judith Marshall, author of Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, optioned for the big screen,

I was on the road, winding up the book tour for Blood Clay, when my husband did the spring cleaning. He shook out rugs, dusted, vacuumed – and painted the bedroom. When I returned, he opened the door with a flourish to show washed-out yellow walls and tired woodwork replaced with a vibrant cayenne red and creamy white. It was a daring choice, and the right one.  So I’ve been trying to do the same thing in my writing. Be bold! I remind myself. Go into the dark places, yes, but I don’t need to focus only on the hidden and buried and painful. I am seeking places where joy and light suffuse the mind. I am letting go a little more, being open to that character making an unexpected move – it’s a gift from the writing gods. I’m shaking the cobwebs and accumulated dust from my thoughts and opening doors that have been closed for too long. Welcome spring!

Valerie Nieman, writer and author of Blood Clay,

What needs to be reorganized to support your writing life?


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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

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

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