If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

C.R.E.A.T.E. with Cathy Pickens



This past Saturday, a friend and I drove to Charleston, S.C., to hear Cathy Pickens speak about C.R.E.A.T.E. (Capture, Ramble, Engage, Act, Tweak, Expand). She described her research, discoveries, and methodology about how creativity can he harnessed, developed, and nurtured.

Known in the mystery writing community as a past President of Sisters in Crime and current Secretary of the Mystery Writers of America, Cathy writes the award-winning Southern Fried series, featuring lawyer Avery Andrews who returns to her small upstate South Carolina town to practice law and ends up solving murders. At Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cathy is recognized as an award-winning administrator and professor of business law and ethics.

Into this mix of accomplishment, she has brought her own quest to learn how the creative mind operates and as a result has written a nonfiction book, C.R.E.A.T.E....Your Path. Hopefully, it will be published soon, because what Cathy has to say is important, inspiring, and invigorating for both business and fiction writing pursuits.
Cathy begins her presentation by handing participants a page with twelve circles and asks that they draw as many things with circles as possible as quickly as they can. When she calls time, she has the class compare results. Some draw within each circle, others draw around each circle, and still others combine several circles to create a picture. No answer is wrong. Seeing the variety opens minds to new approaches.

Even though she believes persistence trumps talent, Cathy has discovered that every creative venture is developed in stages. By using the acronym C.R.E.A.T.E., she demonstrates the progression of the creative process. The first stage is to "capture," or observe or recognize the potential of ideas. Cathy recommends using your filing system of preference. She keeps a hand-written notebook handy to record observations, leaving space to categorize entries and provide a rough index when the notebook is full.

The second is to "ramble." At this point, the creator has to venture out of his comfort zone, read and study what he wants to do, test his limits, and confront his fears. Cathy speaks about a childhood experience of telling her grandfather, a man adept at dealing with children, that she was afraid. He gave her comfort by responding, "What's the worst thing that can happen? They may kill you, but they can't eat you." (I think it prophetic that a future mystery author would find that phrase reassuring. After all, isn't it part of the hero's journey to encounter a symbolic death in order to revive and reestablish himself?)

Stage three is to "engage," or encounter "the voice of doom" yet continue on with the task. The fourth stage is to settle down to work, to "act." Stage five is to "tweak," to edit or revise. Cathy cautions to make this fifth stage an internal process at first, then solicit feedback gradually so the creator maintains control in developing the result. Finally, the sixth stage is to "expand," or when you reach the end of one project, be ready to proceed to the next.

Anyone who has heard Cathy speak knows that she brings life experiences and humor to her presentations and that she can distill a concept as well as provide excellent additional resources for participants who wish to delve further into a topic. If you have the opportunity to attend her C.R.E.A.T.E. workshop, I strongly encourage you to go. What you learn will help you approach any task with new eyes and enhanced vision.

What have you done lately to spur your creative juices?

7 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I'm sorry I wasn't able to attend the meeting. It sounds like Cathy is a great speaker and has an engaging topic.

For me, the issue is not creativity, but selection. I've always said about myself that I am filled with ideas - and sometimes they are even good ones.

In thinking through Cathy's C.R.E.A.T.E. process, I can get most stuck in engaging the voice of doom -- and so realizing it is just one of six steps can be helpful in getting past it.

Thanks for the great summary of Cathy's process.

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

Thanks, Jim. I always learn from Cathy. She'll be at Malice Domestic, so I hope you can see her there.

Meanwhile, CONGRATULATIONS on the launch of your new book, Bad Policy. Hope it's a great day for you!

Warren Bull said...

Sounds like an interesting approach. For me reading the paper, listening unobtrusively and meeting people who would make good character are sources of inspiration.

Gloria Alden said...

I've heard Cathy speak often at Malice and find her quite interesting. I love her mystery series, too, and look forward every year to getting the latest at Malice.

I have more ideas than I have time to put down. Like Warren, I get a lot of my ideas from the newspaper.

E. B. Davis said...

Like Jim, I always have ideas, but it is getting an idea to transform into a workable story. What Cathy proposes seems to be applicable to all of the arts, not just writing. Glad you found it helpful, Paula. It is an interesting process.

B.K. Stevens said...

I enjoyed your summary, Paula. Like Cathy, I jot observations and story ideas down in notebooks (and sometimes, depending on time and energy, type them into a master list). Some ideas have hibernated in the notebooks for years or even decades before something wakes them up; sometimes, combining a new idea with an old one leads to a story.

Carla Damron said...

I love this conceptual framework. Cathy is wicked smart. This needs to get published SOON!