Tag Archives: reading

5 Things to Try if You are Stuck in a Creativity Rut

This past week I read this great article about writing in difficult times. This is my favourite part: “So resist the urge to judge yourself harshly for however you’re handling these days. Give yourself credit for any small, positive steps. And give yourself permission to try something new, even if it seems silly and pointless.”

People are reacting very differently to this pandemic. Some writers are saying they’ve never been writing more while others are saying they cannot write a word. Personally, I am writing a lot. However, what I am struggling with is reading as many books as I used to. Perhaps I’ve exchanged my reading time for my writing time?

Whatever boat you are in, these are some of the things I am doing to motivate myself creatively.

I am writing a story with someone else.

This was not my idea. It was suggested by another student in my creative writing class, but I jumped at the idea. One of us starts a story, writes for 15-20 minutes, and then the other continues the story. We work on the story until we decide that it has run its course.

It’s challenging to continue to write a story someone else has written, and I have learned so much. Also, I am writing stories in genres I would not normally do, which is a lot of fun. I highly recommend this activity.

I am watching baking shows.

I don’t do a lot of baking anymore, but I have started to watch baking shows with my daughter. Right now we are on season 2 of “The Great Canadian Baking Show”, but we have also watched a couple of seasons of “The Great British Baking Show”. I am amazed at the creativity of the bakers! If you get 10 writers in a room with one prompt, you’ll get 10 different stories, and it’s the same with bakers: if you get 10 bakers in the room with the same instructions, they will come up with 10 different baked goods. 

Watch this great interview of the hosts and judges of season 2 to give you a taste of the series.

I have joined a book club.

OK, it’s only a book club of two, but it’s with one of my writing partners who also happens to be a prolific book reader. We are meeting online once a week after we read a couple of chapters to discuss the book. Our first book is “Open Heart, Open Mind” by Clara Hughes.

I make sure I move my body.

Whether it’s taking a walk everyday or getting out in the garden, this is very important. Plus I get some of my best ideas at these times. I am also trying new forms of exercise like qoya. Give it a try! You never know what you like.

I am trying new recipes.

This week was the first time we ate garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is an invasive weed, but it’s also edible, and so since I was already pulling the plants out of my garden, I decided to see how they tasted. Yes, they are bitter, but you can boil it for about 7-10 minutes if you want to cut down the bitterness. We don’t though. So far I have found the tastiest way is to put the greens in an omelette. We have tried many different (non garlic mustard) recipes recently—I am trying to get my daughter involved as much as possible—including oat bread, sloppy joes, and this yummy and healthy version of date squares.

Garlic mustard and dandelion omelette with back bacon and garlic

Tip: The Brian Henry course I am currently taking is the most fun course I have had in a long time. I’ve made some connections while also learning a lot.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler


Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, 2019

I have never been to the Eden Mills Writer’s Festival before, despite the close proximity of the event. This year I won tickets though, so it was the perfect opportunity to check it out.

Opening Night

The opening night was fabulous! Both Marina Endicott and Guy Gavriel Kay read excerpts from their latest novels. After Endicott read the key scene in her novel, “The Difference”, I wanted to rush right home and devour it. Alas, although I won that novel and GGK’s, “A Brightness Long Ago”, I have yet to achieve that goal. But soon enough!

Marina Endicott

Both writers were witty and engaging. I particularly enjoyed GGK’s answer to a question about writing process. He said that he doesn’t like giving writing advice, because writers are looking for a key. There is no key: everyone has their own way. Do you know whether or not a person has outlined a novel or not when you are reading it, he asked. That gave me a lot to think about.

Saturday Workshop

Marie-Louise Gay reading her latest book “Fern & Horn”

I participated in a “Writing for Children” workshop on Saturday. The facilitator was Marie-Louise Gay, who is most famous for the “Stella” series. Gay’s goal in the workshop was to help us see how children see the world. Gay said that she never puts messages in the books that she writes. Instead, she wants to promote the pleasure of reading and the discovery of things. She pointed out that in fact it is only adults who are interested in what message a book has, never the children. More to think about!


Eden Mills is a beautiful little town, and most of the festival’s venues are outdoors. Some are even held in residents’ backyards!

We stuck mainly to “Jenny’s Place”, which is the children’s area.

The first speaker we saw was Mireille Messier, who talked about her books that aren’t even out yet (but will be soon), “Treasure” and “Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War”. I was surprised when Messier told the audience that “Treasure” is entirely in dialogue. When I first started studying picture book writing, we were told that this was a big no no! Hmmmm…Perhaps the trend is changing.

Mireille Messier reading “Treasure”

We also got to listen to Kevin Sylvester, Jess Keating, and Eden Mills writer Janet Wilson. Sylvester entertained with his three drawing tips. Keating, whom I saw last year at “Telling Tales”, which is next week, did a wonderful science based talk with lots of audience participation. Wilson tugged at our hearts with her presentation on her book “Our Future: How Kids are Taking Action”.

I bought Jess Keating’s latest book, “Elements of Genius: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray” for my daughter. While writing my daughter’s name, she accidentally spelled it wrong, but without hesitation turned the mistake into a little rabbit drawing. A genius move!

I will definitely go again to this gem of a festival.

Have you ever been to the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival? What stories do you have to tell?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler