Monday, January 16, 2012

Cocktail Party

Yesterday I gave a motivational/inspirational/how-to-accomplish-all-your-writing-goals-and-dreams talk at a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators schmooze in Carmel, north of Indianapolis.

I began my presentation with an exercise/game I learned from creativity guru Cynthia Morris. It's called "Cocktail Party," or at least that's what I called it yesterday. In the game you project yourself forward to the end of the year, or to some point in your future, imagining that all your wildest dreams have already been accomplished. You are surrounded by bright, creative dreamers who have also achieved great things. You have all come together to celebrate your accomplishments, without shyness, without envy.

So: you approach somebody at the party, introduce yourself, and then say, "How was your year?" You listen as they tell you of wonderful creative breakthroughs and well-deserved recognition. "What about you?" they then ask. And you tell them.

It's quite an amazing thing to project yourself into a place of confidence and success. Some people in our group yesterday had trouble doing it. "I think I'd like to have my book finally accepted," they'd say timidly. No! In this game you say, "I'm thrilled that the middle-grade novel I've been working on for the last three years was accepted by HarperCollins in a two-book deal."

In my own case, I found that it was illuminating for me to see what I was hungering for by what particular kind of success I was projecting for myself. I found myself saying, "It's been a good year. I took some creative risks I'd never taken before and really went out on a creative limb, and now my experimental novel has just gotten its third starred review, this one from Horn Book." I DO want to do something different this year. And, while all we can control is the effort and not the outcome, I'd love love love to have that level of critical recognition.

For ten minutes yesterday, I had done it, and I had it. It's something to hold on to, to inspire me and guide me, in the eleven and a half months ahead.


  1. Thank you for your insights yesterday, Claudia. It was fun to imagine what the year can really be like. You had some great insights!

  2. Thanks, Kevin. It was such a treat to connect with Indiana authors in my new state.