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June 29, 2010 > Writing - a creative outlet

Writing - a creative outlet

By Suzanne Ortt

Do you have a story to tell? Why not write it? When you decide to take the plunge, pick your spot: a quiet corner in your dwelling, a table in a nearby park, a coffee shop: all will work. Tools needed: a spiral notebook, pens or pencils with erasers or a computer (laptop or desktop).

Diaries, once a common activity of youth in past days, have seemingly met their demise, probably due to cell phones, texting, and no time to write. Journaling, the current replacement (at least with adults and some teens), is on the upswing. This activity can address personal life issues, provide a quiet time for reflection, and relieve stress.

In today's book world, memoirs are rampant. Writing a personal history is a valuable exercise; the goal does not need to be publication. As with journaling, it can be a healing and mirroring process. Memoir writing gives insight into one's self. Friends and family will welcome such reading, especially if it is family oriented and the writer decides to share.

The more ambitious will try their hands in varied ways. Novels and short stories are among the more popular methods.

General fiction, science fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, and romance are appealing genres. Non-fiction and biographies, while of more narrow focus, add diversity to potential genres.

Poetry is a tremendous and specialized field. Poetry receives mixed reviews but is highly esteemed by many. In this area, haiku, a traditional Japanese verse, is so admired. It has three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Try making a haiku; it is a challenge.

A time-honored approach of writing improvement is a simple one: writing. The more one writes, the better one will become. Remember the old adage, "practice makes perfect."

Currently one trend is timed writing. Select a topic and begin free associative writing. Just write down whatever pops into your mind. Do not edit your work; just write. In the beginning, allow five minutes. Later you may advance to ten minutes. This process does free your creativity and the approach is more conducive to notebooks, not computers.

Support of fellow writers benefits writing skills, learning, and sharing with others. Writers' groups are readily available. One such is Fremont Area Writers (FAW), the Centennial Branch of California Writers Club. DeVry University is the location for the monthly meetings. DeVry is located at 6600 Dumbarton Circle, room 204, Newark. Business matters and occasional original readings take place at the start of meetings. The highlight is the encouraging and enlightening speaker. The fourth Saturday of the month is the day; the time is 2 - 4 p.m. Visitors are always welcome. Check out the FAW website for detailed information:

FAW's Open Mic Nights are held monthly on the third Thursday of each month, from 7 - 9 p.m. at Barnes and Noble Bookstore. Its address is 3900 Mowry, Fremont. Come to listen to original works by fellow writers and to read your own. Each presenter is allotted ten minutes.

Modern twists for creative writers are up and coming. One author is writing a novella in serial form. Each day, she texts a new segment on Twitter. She has a following that eagerly awaits the next episode. The current trend includes blogging. Just write at your own schedule. Proverbially, the "sky is the limit." Comments can be helpful critiques. Think outside of the box for more means to showcase your writings.

A good mantra for fledging scribes is this quote by Sylvia Plath. "And, by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." These elevating words appeared in the June 2010 FAW newsletter.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (a writing guide)

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