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JunoApollo

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Reply with quote  #1 
Ok, I've a feeling I'm going to be a bit of an upstart here at Novel Factory..... but I'm new, and that's when people tend to ask the most pertinent questions, no...? So here I go...

Here's a story. My Mum used to do a lot of oil paintings. She was inspired by Nancy Kominsky in the 80's and loved her palette knife technique. In fact, I still have my Mum's very first ever painting - a white jug full of white and yellow daisies with a greeny-yellow background, all messily done in clumpy palette knife. Rough as all heck, and I love it. 

Anyways, she soon moved on to brushes and was a member of an art group for a few years. They used to have exhibitions twice a year and each artist had to produce at least three paintings for each one.

That's when the pressure came. Sometimes my Mum would be up late at night worrying about her paintings. Sometimes she got up early and tried to work on them and 'bring something' to them that she just couldn't quite grasp the night before...

But, you know when she did her best work? When she had a glass of Bailey's Irish Cream inside her. Or maybe two, or three... It always took a special kind of night, like a birthday or an anniversary, (she's not a drinker and always had to have a special occasion to be drinking alcohol) but if she had her easel in front of her, all of a sudden there'd be a butterfly put in here, and a wee West Highland terrier put in there, maybe a child with a straw hat and a pinafore dandering along the riverbank.... and the paintings always turned out fantastically well, and were always the first to sell at an exhibition.

I have to admit that a lot of the time when I'm writing I'm doing it after a wee beer or two. Maybe the odd Guinness thrown in there for good measure.... It's just how I write - as and when I can. If that happens to mean on a Saturday night when I'm just in from the pub then great. And I'm actually finding that I'm coming up with my best ideas that way. I'll go into my novel the next day and am quite taken aback at what I've managed to come up with. Impressive conversations, maybe the odd plot twist or two, I've even managed to add in the odd ex-boyfriend or two who show up to cause trouble....! basically, some brave stuff that wouldn't have come to me without a little 'help'...

Does anyone else use a little help when writing? I'd love to hear about it. Right now for example: Carlsberg, Guinness and Caffery's. But I had a really big day today 'proper work'-wise so I'm celebrating. And creating havoc in my book! And I'm loving the results [smile][smile][smile] 


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KellBrigan

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Reply with quote  #2 
(Yes, I'm going to cite Stephen King again.) Stephen King (see?) talks about writing as a form of self hypnosis, and I think that fits. Victoria Nelson details in On Writer's Block many psychological and emotional blocks that cause us to resist going into that state of consciousness and can make it hard to get started. As an adult child of two alcoholics, for obvious reasons, I don't think relying on alcohol as part of one's process is a good idea. That particular tool can go south in very nasty ways very quickly.

Another related read would be Albert Rothenberg's Creativity and Madness. Short version: he found that, for most creative people, dysfunctional behaviors like alcoholism or mental illnesses like schizophrenia can accompany creativity, but most people are more functional (i.e. not drinking, not psychotic, taking care of themselves, paying the bills) when they are actively working at their art, not less. Jackson Pollock's a great example of this. When he was drinking, his art went totally to hell. I like Flaubert's advice to a fledgling writer friend (even though he himself was more of a party animal than this implies: "Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

Personally, I have a very hard time getting started when I'm anywhere near a migraine, which, alas, is a lot of the time. Sometimes I use techniques like ultra-short "pomodoro" sessions, i.e. tell myself to write for just five minutes, which sometimes helps to prime the pump. And, I've started meditating again, which also helps. (David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish is pretty interesting, although I don't think his insistance that only TM "works" is justified.)  I retired a couple years ago, and you'd think I'd be great at time management, but it's still a chore. All this freedom is a bit disorienting, and a lot like checking into the Overlook Hotel (Yeah, more King) emotionally. All the old unsettled demons are showing up and getting resolved or reresolved, and I'm slowly becoming more productive. Long story short (too late), I'd rather rely on relaxation or productivity techniques than chemicals, but I definitely understand the difficulty of moving into a different head space.  

P.S. Impasto rules!
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JunoApollo

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks Kell for your reply, and for all your great insight. I can definitely see your point, and believe me, it's not that I NEED to have a wee drink in order to be able to write, I just find that I don't second guess myself when I'm 'merry' [smile] Having a tendency to not allow myself to put an idea down because I'm not not totally sure about it, has held me back with some aspects of this particular book. So yes, I do like it when I have the 'ah go on! Type it! Just type it!' attitude, hehe! It's really liberating. But no, I certainly don't rely on it.

Unlike when I first started writing yeeeeers ago, I'm using technology that lets me delete anything that I'm not convinced by, rather than having to rip the whole page out of the typewriter and scrunch it into a ball. Or I can cut and paste just in case I do decide that it's ok at some point in the future. So it's a better writing environment already. My house is in a perfect setting too - out in the countryside, large garden, birds visiting the feeders all day every day, cows in the fields either side, peace and quiet... bliss [smile] Holding myself back and not allowing myself to add certain aspects to the story or to a character is my big problem. So a nudge in the right direction is most welcome [smile]

{Don't worry, I have an alcoholic sister, father and a drug addict brother (makes for very interesting Facebook posts...!) and there's no threat of me ever going there - I know the pain and heartache it causes and the destruction too, my family has been torn apart by addiction. Certainly if it got to a point where I couldn't even think of anything at all to type unless I had a little help, then I'd know I'm in trouble.}

P.S. Isn't there something about big clumps of paint on a canvas? Big and bold and striking and in your face screaming "LOOK AT ME!!" hehe! My Mum used to paint violets too. The whole background was done with a brush, then the violet petals added with a palette knife - gorgeous [smile][smile][smile]

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KellBrigan

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Reply with quote  #4 
OT re art: The violets sound incredible.

I do some painting, too -- primarily watercolor. I love to ignore the usual rules re. building elements and texture. This one (Malakoff Diggins, an old California hydraulic mining site) includes overlapping "washes" instead of "reserved whites" and some "Aquapasto," which is a texturizing goop for water colors. I like to work flat and use blobs that have a strong meniscus mark after drying, too. (Of course, the fact that it's impossible to keep anything wet for more than a minute when working outside in Northern California helps...)  

189115_orig.jpg   

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JunoApollo

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Reply with quote  #5 
Well, lucky you....!! I live in Northern Ireland where nothing is ever dry for more than two days in a row....!! Hehe!! We've had the most awful Summer, and it's raining again today :/ Still, we have lovely green grass.... [smile] 

I love your piece, especially the vibrant darker parts, and just the interpretation. You must be good!

One of my biggest passions is collecting decks of playing cards - it's more interesting than it sounds, I promise... Recently, there was a deck being funded on Kickstarter called 'Wicked Kingdom' and the artist's (Wylie Beckert) style is not unlike this picture you've sent (to the untrained eye, apologises if I'm showing my ignorance). She shares a few time-lapse videos of her techniques in her updates and they are truly mesmerising. She uses watercolours with oil layers if that makes sense to you? (I'm not a painter...) You should check it out. [smile]
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thenovelfactory

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Reply with quote  #6 
I think there's plenty of examples of artists who work well under the influence of some kind of brain-affecting drug (let's not talk about competitive cycling).

Personally I think it's fine as long as it is under your control and not the other way round, as you have both said.

I used to work best in the evening after one glass of wine, but it's a very narrow window because after two glasses of wine I can't think straight at all.

These days I work best first thing in the morning before all the day's thoughts have started swirling around, and that's a bit early for booze...

Beautiful picture, Kell : )

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Loretta Green

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KellBrigan
(Yes, I'm going to cite Stephen King again.) Stephen King (see?) talks about writing as a form of self hypnosis, and I think that fits. Victoria Nelson details in On Writer's Block many psychological and emotional blocks that cause us to resist going into that state of consciousness and can make it hard to get started. As an adult child of two alcoholics, for obvious reasons, I don't think relying on alcohol as part of one's process is a good idea. That particular tool can go south in very nasty ways very quickly.

Another related read would be Albert Rothenberg's Creativity and Madness. Short version: he found that, for most creative people, dysfunctional behaviors like alcoholism or mental illnesses like schizophrenia can accompany creativity, but most people are more functional (i.e. not drinking, not psychotic, taking care of themselves, paying the bills) when they are actively working at their art, not less. Jackson Pollock's a great example of this. When he was drinking, his art went totally to hell. I like Flaubert's advice to a fledgling writer friend (even though he himself was more of a party animal than this implies: "Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

Personally, I have a very hard time getting started when I'm anywhere near a migraine, which, alas, is a lot of the time. Sometimes I use techniques like ultra-short "pomodoro" sessions, i.e. tell myself to write for just five minutes, which sometimes helps to prime the pump. And, I've started meditating again, which also helps. (David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish is pretty interesting, although I don't think his insistance that only TM "works" is justified.)  I retired a couple years ago, and you'd think I'd be great at time management, but it's still a chore. All this freedom is a bit disorienting, and a lot like checking into the Overlook Hotel (Yeah, more King) emotionally. All the old unsettled demons are showing up and getting resolved or reresolved, and I'm slowly becoming more productive. Long story short (too late), I'd rather rely on relaxation or productivity techniques than chemicals, but I definitely understand the difficulty of moving into a different head space.  

P.S. Impasto rules!
   I agree with you however, I am bi-polar and my work suffers when I am on the depression side but when I am manic I get more writing done because of shear energy level.  I also think more grandiose and feel more creative and us tools such as Irony, metaphor,  and allegory more.  I tend to think more out of the box and see more connections between the physical tangible and emotional things, if this makes sense.   I do have to beware of overwriting at these times though.
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JunoApollo

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Reply with quote  #8 
This is what I'm getting at Loretta, thank you for your input here....

I didn't originally intend my post to be about medical conditions, but I suppose why the heck not, eh??? It's all about a state of mind at the end of the day. I've known myself to change my plot, change a character's history, and even come up with a whole other novel, while I've have a beer or three in me. And the next day they've all always still been great ideas, which I've stuck to and elaborated on in my book(s). 

If you personally write more (and better) when you're manic then just do it. Don't question it and don't try to excuse it (and I'm not saying that you are) but isn't it great to sometimes just. simply. write....?? Without questioning every comment, every sentence, every plot change, every character introduction...??? Type. Just type. And still love what you've come up with when you're of a different state of mind? 

Probably, the reason why I can say this is because I tend to only write when I have my 'me time'. Not a lot during the day, when I'm looking after the house and everyone in it. But during 'me time'. At night. At weekends. And yes, during those hours I do tend to pour myself a wee drink. If that makes for a great novel then brilliant!! If not... then I'll know for the next one. But I guarantee I won't enjoy writing the next one as much as I have this one [smile][smile][smile]
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Ghostly

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Reply with quote  #9 
Problem with booze is that it reduces the number of brain cells - both mine really struggle now to get started.
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