Mar 26, 2010

When Riff-writing Works

Dog-gone, where'd my creativity go?

Some days one little thing happens and it's like your brain has had the delete key pressed (I imagine a little old man with glasses rummaging through the dusty, spiderweb-ridden storage room looking for that good idea, but ultimately just shaking his head at the sorry state of my mind's hopeless filing system). 

Today was like that for me. I have three dogs, and I'm constantly advising would-be pet owners, that is one too many. This is especially the case when you have one dog that decides to be mean to another. Long story short, there is now a lot of sulking and soreness in separate corners. This small but stressful event is enough to leave me brain dazed.

The unlikely villain: 'Fossil'

So what should I do? Stare blankly at the screen and not write? Nah. That's when it's time to see writing as a task and... just do it anyway. 

I started to write in my journal, just riff-writing (writing without control of the direction, just putting down whatever comes to mind) and I was surprised at what I got. At first it was all about the dogs fighting and how angry and shaken I was. Not surprising because that's what was on my mind, but then my thoughts wandered to my father's dog that passed away this week after an amazing 17yrs. I remembered all the funny stories about this dog and then started to remember things about my childhood dogs. I also remembered reading a newspaper story about my dad when he was a young boy and he adopted a dog from the local pound.

Although at the time this seemed irrelevant, now that I think about it, I would like my 12 yr. old protagonist from Warracknabeal Kids, to have a dog. He's a boy growing up in the country, he has no mother - he should have a dog. Some of my riff-writing will be of value to my story. I'm excited now too, because I love writing dog characters.

So I'm suggesting when you hit those times where you are stressed or tired and you just 'can't think', don't. Write instead.

I did get a nice treat this week when I received this pretty 'Silver Lining Award' from Niki at: 
Wool' N 'Nuts a fun blog about writing and farming and more :-)

It was most appropriate and reminds me to see the silver lining in today's events :-)

I'd like to pass the award onto (well, everyone really, but here's a couple I picked out):
Rosslyn at Inkhorn Blue

My Dad's Best Mate, Clancy 
(named long before I met my husband and became Mrs Clancy)


  1. Nothing like a dog fight to rattle your cage. Congrats on the awards!

  2. Congratulations on the award. Sorry to hear about your Dad's dog passing away. Our pets do become part of the family.

    I like the idea of riff-writing. I can see how that would help. Great tip.

  3. Thank you so much for the award. I will mention it tomorrow on my blog and find those to pass it on to.


  4. I have two dogs. We thought about getting a third dog, but never did, thank goodness! I use my dogs to get writing ideas! When I take them for walks, ideas pop into my head. The riff writing things sounds neat, I'll have to try it.

  5. I totally agree with you - two dogs are enough. Sorry to hear about their doggie-spat but good advice on the riff-writing. It definitely works.

  6. Sounds like a great way to help dump all of the negative and distracting thoughts out of your mind. Getting upset definitely throws my writing routine off.

  7. It sounds like you were able to end up with a wonderful down memory lane! I'm glad you found some exciting and motivating ideas. Congrats on the award.

    I LOVE the cute doggie pics. :-)

  8. Charmain, thank you for giving me a Silver Lining award. You are Silver Lining to me, too. I feel your support. Good post on where creative energy comes from, and inspiration.

  9. I thought of you today while I was at a chess tourny with my boys at our local middle school. And, it is related to this post. The tourny takes place in the cafetorium. Towards the end of round 2, two dogs entered from stage left, nosed around on stage, exited via the front steps, sniffed around the lingering (hard thinking) chess games, and were corraled by a couple of kids, who I don't think belong to the dogs. No one said anything about the sudden dog appearance, where they came from, why they were there, or where they went. It's sort of a mystery, don't you think? If I guessed the breeds right, they were a Golden Retriever and a black lab. Wonder what they were up to?

  10. Nothing like pets to bring people together, I'm blown away by the responses :-)
    Thanks to everyone, I just got back from a trip to Sydney for a family visit, and now I look forward to sitting down and visiting everyone's blogs.
    Mary - that's always the way, as soon as you hear about something you start to see bizarre coincidences. I've noticed at off-leash parks all the labs gather together, like a club :-)