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Writer's Life

How to Build & Use a Writing Bag of Writing to Fill Your Creative Well

I felt this was more suited for Writeropolis, seeing as how this is my creative hub. I originally published it around April 2019 on Raconteuse.

Being a creative person seems counterproductive in our go-go-go world. The recession did nobody any favors.

If you were like me, you were a college grad turned out right in the middle of it. That was not a fun place to be in financially, emotionally, or physically. I had a job through the brunt of it, but our cost of living allowances was canceled for a few years. I even had to drop out of school for a year.

We’re still feeling the effects of it today. How many of us are getting paid pennies, but expected to do four times as much work?

“It’s because you’re so good at it,” they say to your face to placate you.

What if I told you there was a way to do what you love every day?

A lot of us claim to be creative. We love to immerse ourselves in this always forgiving world that gives back to us many times over.

We’re good at what we do. We love to make art in our own ways. For you, it could be painting, sewing, jewelry making, drawing, landscape photography, journaling, knitting, or writing (my weapon of choice).

I have a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing. I knew what I was getting into when I essentially stopped my life to go after it. My favorite memory from the program was being around like-minded individuals. We all had different stories to tell.

I was a fish out of the water (I moved from Las Vegas to the Bay Area back to where I was born to get my degree), and many others were as well. I had come from the corporate world, and I was tired of smiling at people I’d rather kick in the eye, to quote a Smiths song.

But when given the choice to be creative, we never follow through. We make up excuses to convince ourselves that you’ll get to that creative project eventually.

I’m guilty of that. Are you?

creativity takes courage - henri matisse
creativity takes courage – henri matisse

It’s about taking the time to do it. Carving the time out is a phrase you’ve probably heard. But that’s what it’s come down. You have to etch the notches in your schedule to accommodate the time to do it.

I’ve found that it’s the only way I get words on the page, whether it means in a Google Doc or on a piece of paper.

So, I decided to take control of my creativity. Like anything, art must be practiced. Rehearsed. Revised. Until perfection. Whatever that means to you.

I put together physical creative tools into a bag I called the Writing Bag of Writing. They were all things that I had lying around, but they help jog my creativity when I’m feeling tapped out.

Don’t let the name fool you; a writing bag of writing can be used by any creative type that needs a little inspiration. Sometimes, you need to get out of your comfort zone to get creative. They don’t call it a creative rut for anything.

I look to my bag as a conscious effort on my part to be creative when nothing else is helping. It’s the kick in the pants you need to usher in the physical manifestation of creativity. Which then inspired me to create my new job title, Creativity Concierge. I want to help you be creative too.

Let me show you what I have inside of mine.

My Writing Bag of Writing!

mood board for the writing bag of writing
mood board for the writing bag of writing

In this first mood board, you can see:

  • Top left: painted ladybug stone I found on a walk around my neighborhood.
  • Top right: the bag I use to hold everything. I got it from the Folio Society, and I spilled juice on it. I tried to get it out, and that was what’s left of my hard work, ha. I feel very attached to the bag, so I never got rid of it. I like the story it tells, so that’s why it was suitable for my needs.
  • Middle left: Washi tape that I received from the Uniqlo booth at the D23 Expo in 2015.
  • Middle right: the fidget spinner.
  • Bottom: Various writing accouterments.
mood board for the writing bag of writing, part deux
mood board for the writing bag of writing, part deux
  • Top left: Watercolor paper, to practice drawing and painting
  • Top right: Adult coloring book.
  • Middle left: Lined notebook.
  • Middle right: Construction paper.
  • Bottom: Pencils.
mood board for the writing bag of writing, part trois
mood board for the writing bag of writing, part trois
  • Top left: Journals
  • Top right: Colored pencils
  • Middle left: Index cards for plotting
  • Middle right: Post-It Notes for plotting
  • Bottom: Page markers, to help me make notes in books

How does this help you?

I let the creativity flow. Creativity doesn’t mean it’s 100% perfect right away. Sometimes, you need prompts from physical objects to clear the detritus from your brain. That’s what each piece in the bag does for me.

I’ll play with the fidget spinner for a few spins.

I’ll write a conversation between three characters using three different writing utensils.

I’ll start unloading words from my brain in the notebook, using a timer of two minutes. I don’t stop writing until I hear a beep.

I’ll start and finish a page in the coloring book. Or, maybe I’ll start one and not finish it, but move onto another page that catches my fancy.

I’ll put different pages from the construction paper and make something. Anything.

There’s no rhyme or reason for creativity. No Writing Bag of Writing is going to tell you how you should be creative. It’s a precursor to helping you be creative in your chosen medium.

Make One of Your Own!

You can absolutely use this idea to make your own Writing Bag of Writing.

If you have a reusable bag that can withstand being tossed around, use that. Free canvas bags from conventions are always a good one. The reason it should be a bag is that you need to be portable.

Fill it with similar items to mine: spare pens, pencils, markers, adult coloring books, a camera, notebooks of various sizes, an old magazine or two, scissors, a stick of glue, an MP3 player, a backscratcher, watercolor paints, a book of writing prompts, a bottle of water, whatever you feel is going to inspire you. Personalize it.

I’m not going to tell you to use it once a day, once a week, once a month, once a year. Use it as many times as you want. Use it when you feel the least creative. Use it as playtime, or a break from the grind. Replenish it as needed.

My one recommendation is that when you feel like using it, don’t stay home. Go to the library, the park, your favorite coffee shop, the beach, your college campus, somewhere familiar but not someplace you go every day.

I want you to get out of your comfort zone when you use it. I don’t know about you but I get too comfortable and too distracted at home.

Can you consume creative writing in 10 minutes or less?

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