Sandy Nelson is an artist, creativity and life purpose coach, speaker and inspirational writer. She maintains a coaching practice in the Minneapolis area and around the world, and leads Creativity workshops and Self-Empowerment retreats. Her course Becoming Resilient is the culmination of more than 20 year’s experience and can be found at www.dailyom.com and she’s been interviewed on Blog talk radio. She regularly blogs on creativity for the Jennings Wire, www.jenningswire.com. She also created and instructs the Play Wizardly School including her Permission to Play Now courses, and you can sign up for her free newsletter The Muse News all available at: www.meetyourmuse.com.
Describe your desk.
I find I like to walk about when I write; so, I carry a notebook or paper with me. Often, I write in front of a window that offers a view into nature. But mostly, I love to work in a garden or park setting, any place with living plants. My creative work is very much tied to the natural rhythms of seasonal changes and the weather. I love to explore environments, reading the sensory experiences of a place and asking myself how they affect the people there.
When I was in high school, I had a teacher who knew how the student body would behave based on the weather outside. His predictions were spot-on, and it fascinated me to watch the tension of interaction between people, place, and weather. When I explore my ideas, I try to recreate conditions to expose the emotional expressions of each situation and the people that exist there. I work from questions. For example, I might ask, “How are the people around me reacting to the light rain outside?” I’ve noticed in this type of weather, people seem to be calm. When it thunders, people move closer, and lightning strikes make them edgy and at the sound of a loud crack they will jump. If I’m recreating a scenario where I want to explore the tensions between people I’d ask where it could take place. Who are the people? I could place them in a small building with a raging thunderstorm outside, which would present many opportunities to expose raw emotions.
Back to my desk ─ I have a laptop that I eventually use to knock out the final versions of my writing. My desktop is pretty basic; with a dictionary, thesaurus, note and print paper, pens, pencils, and lots of removable sticky notes. I couldn’t write without them. They help keep my process organized. I consider my desk a serious workspace and not the place I like to explore the dreamy side of creating.
What is your writing process?
I’m not a writer who jumps out of bed and immediately writes about anything that comes to mind. For me, this activity always seemed a silly notion. When I write, I want to have something meaningful to say, and too much brain dumping just for exercise frustrates me. I’m not a great typist, and my own script is very fluid and free. In fact, I’d much rather use a brush to capture my thoughts, because I can make brushstrokes quicker than the shapes or keystrokes required for words. However, the rest of the world reads words better than paintings, so I try to capture my thoughts whenever they arrive and put them down into notebooks.
Until I feel I need to actually get my ideas into a finished form, I don’t carve out a specific time to write. My writing process may appear a bit chaotic, but I know the moods that work for me to explore my ideas a bit deeper. I look for avenues in and out of an idea, probe, and perhaps even exploit what it is I'm trying to say or discover. Then I sit with it for a while, and go back and reread it; and, that can take hours, days, months, or sometimes years. I have a lot of journals full of bits and pieces, the starts and fits of new ideas to explore. Often, when there's a theme that runs through them, they become a much larger project. When I've explored many avenues of the same topic, a book can evolve. I think the most important action is that I capture the little fragments that flow through my mind. I know that at some point, I can weave them together. I can find the actual words and threads of ideas and then put them into something cohesive that has meaning and purpose, and then let that grow. My writing process consists of the continual weaving of my words and ideas until there's a volume of cohesive words to sift, sort through, and organize.
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