I am excited to be talking to the grade 6 girls at Haileybury this week about creativity and creative writing. Not only is it great to meet some of my readers, but it is also great to crack one of the biggest myths around about creativity - that children and adults think that they are not creative, that only a few special people, like artists, are.
Before we dive into this, I think it's important to first understand what creativity is. Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality - this can be tangible (something you can touch) or intangible (can't touch, like an idea). Creativity is not just coming up with the idea, it's doing something with that idea - turning it into something.
So, why is creativity important? There are so many reasons, and I am just going to touch on a couple of the biggies. Creativity helps us invent, imagine, create and communicate in fresh, new ways. It makes the world seem more vibrant, fulfilling and interesting. Stop for a second and imagine a world where there is no creativity. Gasp! I know, it's not worth talking about. And, the other big reason as to why creativity is so important is because it helps bring innovation and solve problems – both big and small. The world is changing quickly and more than ever, we need people who can think differently and solve these problems.
Every industry requires creative thinkers in the form of scientists, engineers, medical researchers, technology innovators, business entrepreneurs, artists, performers, writers and illustrators, designers, inventors, educators and parents. Those with the ability to "think outside of the box" will lead the future and make special things happen.
So, now we understand what creativity is and why it's so important, we can start to crack that myth that only a few special people are creative. If that was the case, why does our world contain the most beautiful buildings, churches, monuments, some historic, some new? Why are we able to cure diseases? Why are we living in a time when technology is leaping forward in ways we never dreamed possible? You see, we are already creative - coming up with new and imaginative ways of doing things and doing something about it. That means, every single one of us has the capacity and opportunity to be creative, whatever we are doing.
But, this is a big but, no one said it was going to be easy. Everyone is born naturally creative, but to make the most of our creativity, it must be given: opportunity, encouragement, training, motivation and most of all, practice. Everyone knows Mozart reached an incredibly high level of achievement in his field, but did you know he devoted thousands of hours of serious training and it was 16 years before he produced an acknowledgment of his work. I can attest to this personally, after spending the last 11 years writing, starting out as very average, and am sure I still have more to learn. It's important to remember that while creativity requires imagination and inspiration, it also requires critical thinking and evaluation. If you look at some of the people we most respect for their creative achievements, it's because of the extraordinary insights, breakthroughs, and discipline they have brought to their work.
Now that we have cracked the code on creativity, it does beg the question, how can we become more creative. What can we do? Well, I have been lucky enough to ask different groups of students, the future of our world, this very question, and I think that you will find their answers both inspiring and achievable.
So, now it's your turn. Challenge your own self-belief and go forth create and do. The world is yours to discover and help make into a better place.
I am running a competition to help encourage you to become more creative. All you have to do is come up with an idea on how you can be more creative. I will be sharing these ideas in my next newsletter and the top two ideas will receive a signed copy of Birth of a Destiny. Please get your ideas in by the end of June, and I will let the winners know when the winners are decided.
Go to the home page of this website and enter your answer in the Contact Form. The winner will be announced here.
• The second book in the Light Bearer Series is now with my small, but awesome group of beta readers, who, once I have their feedback, I will be able to make some more changes, and then plan to publish it. This process does seem to take some time, but hopefully, I will be able to keep moving things along and get book two out in the not too near distant future.
• Book three in the Light Bearer series is also now at first draft stage and book four is in progress. I can't believe that I am nearing the end of writing this incredible journey with the little world I have created, but I also know I have a lot of re-writing to go, so maybe by the very end, I will be more than ready to release these books into the world. Gosh, what will I write next? Ideas anyone.
• I am also creating new book covers for the whole series, so watch this space for a new and exciting look.
• I am also one of the authors who will be at the Bayside Author Expo this coming Sunday, 29 May from 1 - 5 pm at the Beaumaris library. There will be lots of awesome authors there, so if you are free, come along and say hello.
• I am about to start an Instagram campaign and will be giving away some cool prizes, so if you haven't already, you can find me @trmilneauthor. Please don't be offended if I don't follow you back. It's not that I don't like you, it's just a bit strange for me (and probably you), an adult following a child. Hope you understand!
In each newsletter, I would like to include a book review by one of you, my wonderful readers.
This month, Annabelle has kindly reviewed Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell. Thanks Annabelle, you did a great job.
If you would like to review a book for my next newsletter, then, please send email me. Every person who is chosen to do a review will receive a signed copy of Light Bearer: Book Two - when it is released!
Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell is a beautiful story filled with adventure and mystery. This is one of my favourite books I have read; by the end I was sitting on the edge of my chair - it was so exiting.
Rose Montgomery is an orphan who lives with her three terrible aunts who boss her around like there's no tomorrow. She lives in a hotel on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Withering-by-Sea is a gorgeous book and you will be hooked from the minute you start. It is perfect for lovers of fantasy books.
I would recommend it for girls around the age of 8 to 12. My sister loved it as well, and she is nearly nine.
Annabelle (aged 11)
Withering-by-Sea recently won the 2015 Indie Book Awards Children’s & YA winner
To read other reviews on this book, go to:
I can't imagine a life without reading. I love everything about books - their covers, their smell, the bookstores that display them, authors who write them; but most of all, I love books because of the journey they take me on.
I can be sitting on a train, in my car, on my couch, but I am not there (sorry, for those whom I have accidently ignored over the years) - I am off observing a character, taking a holiday, having a little crush, adventuring through magical worlds. The only downside is when life gets back in the way, and I am forced to close the book, with a sigh. Soon we will be together again, my friend.
What amazes me is when people say they don't enjoy reading. People of all ages. I find myself drawing breath, hoping they can't hear my amazement. I truly don't know what to say, so I end up laughing along with them, like it's okay, When, it's not okay. Not okay at all.
You may be like me, and crave the written page, or maybe you feel reading is a chore, or just not your thing. If you are the latter, then I'm sure you have your reasons. But, I am here to tell you, it doesn't have to be that way. I know, because I have seen - first hand - children who didn't like to read, grow to love reading. With a little effort, it can happen.
First, let's spend a few moments exploring the merits of reading.
Here's 10 benefits of reading:
1. Practice makes perfect. The more we read, the better we get.
2. It actually gives our brain a workout. Okay, so there are no fit bits, or 2XU tights involved, but reading a book is much more complex for our brains than say, watching TV. Reading strengthens our brain connections.
3. Helps improve concentration.
4. Develops imagination.
5. Helps you become a better writer. All good writers, read a lot.
6. Exposes you to a rich and wide vocabulary. Now that's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
7. Identifying with characters in books helps us develop empathy for others. Okay, and also maybe a bit nutty - crying for people who don't even exist?!
8. It is truly a wonderful form of entertainment - and you can read anywhere, in a long queue, on commute (not whilst driving, people), or snuggled into bed while the weather rages around you.
9. Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind. hmmmmmmm
10. Helps you do better at school ie keeps the parents and teachers happy. Tick.
Okay, one more:
11. Because it is awesome!
Where to start?
If you're not much of a reader, perhaps I have started to convince you that it's possible. But, I don't know where to start? you say. Well, help is at hand. Here are some ideas of what you can do to spark the flame.
First, think about what you like to read. No one said you have to like everything you read. You may know what you like, or maybe you have never thought about, or explored the idea of what you enjoy to read. Well, now is the time to start.
The best (and cheapest) way is to borrow books from the library. Librarians are great people to talk to about books, and usually have the best recommendations. Most libraries can get books in from other libraries, so don't feel limited or overwhelmed by what is on the shelves.
Just start with something. See if you like it. If not, just send it back unread (on time and avoid the hefty late fees:), and get another. If you do, then yippee, you are onto something.
What to read?
The are many different genres of books to explore. Here's a link to a good list of genres to learn more about them.
Expand your love of reading
Once you find something you love, then explore from there, gradually expanding your interests, learning what kind of books you like. Trust me, soon you will be hooked, and taking your book or ereader with you, wherever you go.
Once you are into it a bit more, there are lots of ways you can learn more about books you want to read, and share your love of books.
A book club is a great way to share in the joy of books and good conversation. You also get to read lots of new books you would never normally read, and this helps you broaden your tastes and make new friends, too.
Here are some great websites:
Fantastic for the latest book news and reviews. You can also join and become a reviewer of books.
Goodreads is an amazing resource for book recommendations and reviews. You can also join up and rate books to help other members choose books.
There's also lots of blogs out there to learn from (just google: tween book blogs). Here's a couple.
There are also books and websites that 'recommend' books for certain ages. You can get these books from the library, or there is an online version of one here.
It's possible to learn to enjoy reading
It is possible to learn to enjoy reading, even if you're a little late getting started. Go slow, but make sure you get started. Books are a true gift and pleasure, and can see you through all stages of your life. They can teach, comfort, dazzle and entertain. I wish you good reading, good day and good luck.
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favourite book.
Need more convincing?
Here is a great TED talk from author, Mac Barnett, about why a good book a secret door. It is very funny, and worth a listen.
Thank you to YA Reads, who conducted my first-ever online book tour from January 1 - 28, 2015.
For more information:
I have set up part of my website for VIP member only exclusive access. In this password protected area you will find additional information about the book, entries from Rose's secret diaries, and much more.
To ensure that you keep receiving the Light Bearer newsletters, you will need to make sure you have signed up to be a member. I will then email you the access password.
Available in bookstores
Book one in the Light Bearer series, Birth of a Destiny, is now available from Australian book stores to order. Some book stores will have the book in stock, and for those who don't, you can ask them to order it in from Dennis Jones and Associates.
Book Two in Light Bearer series
In other exciting news, book two in the Light Bearer series, is at final editing stage. I am still working out when it will be released, but I will let you keep you posted.
Want to know more?
If you want to know more about what is coming up, log into the members section of trmilneauthor.com and check it out.
Yesterday, I took up the #DoNotReadThis challenge to try and not read anything for one day, to raise awareness for the 773 million people from around the world who can't read and write.
Do you know how long I lasted? One hour. Possibly less. Okay, it was within minutes of waking. One of my children, who was planning to bake, asked me whether we had baking powder. Absently and half asleep, I searched the pantry and found it for her. As I read the used-by date (circa 2005 - oops), my husband looked at me in horror. 'You've already read something,' he (correctly) accused. I couldn't believe it. I knew it was going to be hard going for a day without email, books and writing, but I had no idea what it was going to be like.
I tried to start again, but I had to drive one of my children somewhere I had never been. Guess what I needed - the street directory. I went for a walk someone new and got lost and had to read the street signs so I knew where I was. I ducked into the shops for a browse and checked the price of a shirt before I realised what I was doing. My phone rung, and I looked at who was calling. In the end, I realised two things. One: I was hopeless at this challenge. Two: I truly cannot even grapple with what it must be like not to be able to read.
What would it be like not to know where you are going, what you are cooking with, how much medication to give a child, the joys of reading, the gift of reading to your children? It's unfathomable, but sadly there are so many people around the world who can't. And, it's not right.
As quoted on the website of the charity, Room to Read: 'Educating girls and women is widely acknowledged as the most powerful and effective way to address global poverty. Women who finish secondary school earn more money, have smaller, healthier families, and are more likely to educate their own children—breaking the cycle of illiteracy in one generation.'
I applaud Room to Read for what they are doing to try and address this issue, and will continue to look for small ways to help (clearly, not reading is not my strongest point).
I encourage you to try and do what I did: not read. I'm sure you will do much better than me, but I am also sure you will gain a better insight into how hard it must be not to be able to read. Join me, and let me know how you go. Happy not reading.
Check it out: http://www.roomtoread.org/