Five on a Friday by Emma Newman

Beach Walk

About Emma Newman

Emma drinks too much tea, has too many ideas and writes too many stories. Only one of these is true. Her debut novel ’20 Years Later’ will be published in July 2011 by Dystopia Press. She blogs and gets up to all kinds of writing mischief at www.enewman.co.uk.

Emma’s first short story anthology ‘From Dark Places’, recently acquired by eMergent Publishing, is available in print and e-book book formats. You can buy a signed copy from her website :  and if you like dark short stories, join Em’s Short Story Club  to get an original short story for free in your inbox every month.

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Five favourite ways to replenish the creative well

I write. All day, most day. I write lots of dreadfully boring things to pay the bills, and lots of fiction to keep me sane, and hopefully, one day far into the future, pay the bills too.

They both demand creativity, and if I’m not careful, I can drain my creative well dry in the midst of deadlines. I’d like to share five favourite things that I do to replenish the source which fuels all my words.

1. Go on a day trip to an urban environment

I live in a very small town in the country. The rolling hills of Somerset are ten minutes from my door, and sometimes, just a walk in the countryside is enough. But what really starts to make me feel charged up again is taking a trip to a big city. Bath is the nearest to me, and walking its ancient streets brings ideas back in a torrent.

Recently I was in Manchester for my first ever book launch. I travelled into the centre on a tram with my family, and we passed an alleyway with an amazing fountain at the far end of it. I only glimpsed it for five seconds, but it thrilled me.

What’s most important I suppose is the change of scenery. No doubt if I was still living on the northern fringe of London, my craving would be for countryside!

2. Read a passage or ten from a favourite book.

There are some books of which I will never tire. Shogun by James Clavell, Dune by Frank Herbert, the Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, and many more sit on my selves to be thumbed through when I have run out of my own words.

Sometimes the images or ideas that reach up from the page are enough to rejuvenate my tired word brain. Sometimes they simply take me into their worlds and fill me up there. Sometimes they are just a reminder that at some point, each of those authors probably felt knackered and fed up and they still persevered. And look what wonderful books came about as a result!

Sometimes reading a new book can help too (I am always reading one or two I’ve never read before) but there’s always a risk that it will activate my inner critic if I’m not enjoying it. Going back to books I know are fantastically written keeps that beast at bay.

3. Play a game

We have an Xbox 360, and sometimes I just cannot take in any more words, let alone produce any. That’s the time to get out the controller and throw myself into imaginary worlds created in a different medium. And also beat the hell out of baddies…

4. Do the housework

I know that sounds like the most boring thing in the world, and couldn’t be further away from creativity, but I think that’s why it works. It also helps with feelings of being overwhelmed, as clearing out the recycling and wiping away the traces of a busy life allows a sense of order to return.

It also grounds me in my body. Most of the time I feel like a mind floating on a spring about a foot above my shoulders. Scrubbing the bath can bring me back into myself.

5. Take a long hot shower

So many stories have come to me whilst I have been massaging shampoo into my hair. Why this is, I have no idea. I suppose my mind wanders, and the pressure to create is lessened by being away from the computer. It might also be a connecting with my body thing again.

It doesn’t work with baths, strangely enough.

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Thanks very much Emma – great selection.

If you would like to contribute your “Five on a Friday” …just leave a comment. They can be five on a theme or just a random mix . Or if you’ve written a “5 on a Friday” leave a link to that in the comments too.

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