September 07, 2013

Creativity Boosters - Ramona Heikel

This summer I had the unusual experience of seeing two short stories published. I had drafted both of them in the same month, and both were based upon writing prompts from the same book. I’ve been wondering what was so magical about the situation that produced two successes, compared to my many other stories that have never seen the light of day. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Nothing Else to Do but Write

For the whole month of August 2007 I was in Denver visiting relatives. I had the most luxurious schedule: write in the morning, socialize and help with meals the rest of the day, and go to bed early. What made this a uniquely productive time was that I was practically forced to write in the mornings because, for various reasons, I had nothing else I could do, except check my emails. I hadn’t experienced this kind of freedom since I was a teenager, when I was my most productive with writing and drawing.

Head Space

This circumstance not only provided me with time, it also freed up my thoughts. Suddenly life was simple. I had few decisions to mull over, since each day was a pre-planned routine, and had few interruptions in my morning solitude. I could write in bed before I got up (a very imaginative time of day), eat a snack if I was hungry, and walk in the park. All of these quieted my mind.

Jumping off with Writing Prompts

What to write? Often I like to get started by using a writing prompt. Launching without any idea whatsoever is like pushing a car. Beginning with a kernel of an idea is like turning the key in the ignition and letting off the brake. I also enjoy playing. Allowing my mind to toy with a character or a predicament is like recess at school: carefree, energetic and full of laughter. If that prompt doesn’t inspire me, I turn the page to the next prompt. (By the way, the book I used, and still use, is The Writer’s Book of Matches.)

Enjoying the Story and Characters

I wrote about six short stories that month, but only three of them stayed with me after I returned home, and those were the ones that made me smile. The scenes in these stories were places I wanted to be and the characters were people I liked. Their interactions were light-hearted and gentle and the conflicts were everyday relationship concerns, not the threat of evil, harm or catastrophe. It was a pleasure—not a chore—to return to these stories and tweak them over the years. It’s the same concept as finding a type of exercise you like to do so you will keep coming back to it, ultimately having success in keeping healthy.

It was a rare opportunity to have all four of those conditions come together at one time. But it helps to keep in mind how much they can boost our inspiration. We can try to facilitate at least one or two of them as often as possible, which I know will make a big difference in our creativity.

Here’s wishing you all four of the above!

(If you want to know more about the stories and where they were published, you can visit my Happily Writing blog posts for each story: “InclementWeather” and “I Guess I Robbed a Bank”.)

Posted by Ramona


  1. Sulo Moorthy2:07 pm GMT-7

    Congratulations on your publications.
    Thanks for the valuable information you've shared.

  2. Congratulations, Ramona! I'm celebrating with you!!! I appreciate your analysis of what made August a great writing month for you. My writing time has been minimal, but hopefully that will change in the next couple of weeks.

  3. Thanks, ladies! I look forward to your next posts :)

  4. Congratulations, Ramona. So glad your writing has flourished. Your analysis of the writing process is great.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.