Friday, February 2, 2018

3 Ways to Put Creative Processes for Writing Into Practice

by Cathy Baker @CathySBaker

Yesterday, Lynn Blackburn reviewed Light the Dark…Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process. If you missed it, here's the link to A Book For Writers to Challenge & Inspire. 

As I read the book (I confess, I’m not quite finished), I considered ways to personally apply their wisdom to my own writing projects. Today, I’ll share some of those ideas along with practical ways to put them into practice.

While we won’t hit any word count goals, we will glean from the creative processes of three acclaimed authors in these three genres.

Fiction: Stephen King
While admitting that a good opening line is tricky, Stephen King says there’s one thing he’s sure about. “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” He also believes the opening line is a quick introduction to the writer’s style.

Open five favorite books and write out the first line. Jot down what you learn about the author’s writing style and how the opening line invites you to begin the story. Be as specific as possible, carefully observing how authors draw you into their world.   

Bonus points: Share your favorite first line, either from your book or another’s, in the comment section below.

Non-Fiction: Elizabeth Gilbert
“When it comes to developing a worldview, we tend to face this false division: Either you are a realist who says the world is terrible, or a na├»ve optimist who says the world is wonderful and turns a blind eye.” Gilbert, however, promotes what she calls stubborn gladness. As one who struggles with anxiety, I found her collection particularly inspiring. One line that stood out above the rest was this: “My path as a writer became much more smooth when I learned, when things aren’t going well, to regard my struggles as curious, not tragic.”

Set your timer for 25 minutes (I thought you’d like this, Pomodoro fans!) First, jot down past or current struggles. Then, take a few moments to review each struggle. Is it possible to infuse stubborn gladness into some of the situations to bring a fresh perspective?

Poetry: Aimee Bender
In Bender’s collection she shares her love of memorizing poetry. “Part of the reason the memorization appealed to me is I felt like I want these lines available to me at certain times of my life—if something is difficult, or something is joyous, I want to feel like I have access to words that will help me think about and express what I’m feeling. We can be so vague in our memory of books. Paragraphs that we loved become slippery, then gone.” She shares how memorizing poetry helped her own writing. “The work of tinkering with the language that exquisite, that well-wrought, is so exciting—it reminds you what art can do.”

You know what’s coming fellow poets. Choose a favorite poem or psalm to memorize. Speak it aloud to hear the lyrical movement in each line. Are there three, four, or five beats? Then, write out the poem. Engaging two senses speeds up the memory process.

Did a particular line from one of the collections above inspire or challenge you? 

3 ways to put creative processes for #writing into practice - @CathySBaker on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cathy Baker is an award-winning writer and author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach as well as Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. As a twenty-five year veteran Bible instructor, she's led hundreds of studies and workshops. She's also contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. In addition, her poetry can be found in several popular anthologies. She and her husband, Brian, live in the foothills of the Carolinas where she one day hopes to have her very own Goldendoodle.


  1. Wonderful suggestions Ms. Cathy. What great ways to put action to theory. God's blessings ma'am.

  2. Great tips! Thanks for these ideas, Cathy.

  3. Love these tips!
    I am constantly checking first lines of books since I learned most agents reject manuscripts after reading the first lines.
    Thanks to my grandpa, I am use to memorize poetry (in Spanish, of course).
    Thanks, Cathy.

    1. You're a wise man, Ingmar. Not only do you check first lines but you also memorize poetry. Kudos to you! God bless...

  4. I love memorizing Psalms, so this one is easy. Psalm 100
    I've checked several first lines of my favorite mysteries and they are:
    1. "When I look back now, these long years later, when age has taught me that the word family is much more complex than I ever imagined, what happened to me all seems so magnified, dramatic in that way things can only be when you're young and your blood flows hot and fast, and tears seem to coat the world, blurring it like dime-store eyeglasses." from Earlene Fowler's MARINER'S COMPASS

    2."So still and silent was the fog-wreathed form that it might have been an angular, black boulder, but there are no boulders, angular or otherwise, to mar the immense flat tidal plane that is Mont St. Michel Bay." Aaron Elkins' OLD BONES

    3. "Bloodhounds can make you laugh and cuss in the same breath; they are endearing, faithful, and can sling drool ten feet in any direction." from Virginia Lanier's DEATH IN BLOODHOUND RED.

    1. I'm hooked, Jackie! All three leave me wanting more. Thank you for taking the time to share your favorites. :)