1. Quickly introduce yourself to us. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Victoria Fry, and while I wear many hats, professionally I’m a writing coach who serves as a creative catalyst for overwhelmed writers. I take blocks that seem impassable (both story and routine/habit-related) and break them down into manageable obstacles, then help writers develop a plan to overcome those obstacles and get on-track again!
2. What are your creative passions? What do you just love to dive into and get lost in?
Oh, goodness, so many ... the two that surfaced the earliest and are still around today are writing and drawing. I absolutely love writing contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and a fantasy novel that’s very dear to my heart (possibly because it’s been around the longest). I also love to knit, sew my own clothes and household accessories, cook spicy curries, bake short scones, and design video games in RPG Maker. I have a fierce love of making things from scratch, partly because things just taste or fit better that way, and partly because then I know what they’re made of. While I still use canned foods and buy clothes off the rack once in a while, it’s happening less and less, and that thrills me to bits.
3. Why does creativity matter to you and how do you make time for it?
Creativity matters to me because it helps me connect to who I am, to the person I want to be, to the people I care about, to the people I’ll never know, to the past, to the future, and to the Universe. If I couldn’t be creative, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. My life would be flimsy and colourless. As someone who’s dealt with depression in the past, that’s a reality I daren’t invite into my life.
[bctt tweet="Creativity helps me connect to who I am, to the person I want to be, and to the Universe." username="victorialfry"]
As far as how I make time for creativity, I stay flexible, and try to give my love to what’s most calling to me. There are times when I love digging into a novel for months at a time, researching and plotting and drafting until it’s done. Right now, though, because of the other things going on in my life, it’s more important to me to stay calm and relaxed and joyful, so I’ve shifted gears. I work on my novels when I feel like it, but otherwise, I make sure to do a little something creative every day, whether that’s knitting a few long rows on a shawl or sketching a wolf or doing some writing prompts. I believe our creative inclinations and needs ebb and flow in seasons, and this is my spring moving into summer, a season of renewal and joyous exploration.
4. What does your creative process look like?
One thing that shows up in my creative process no matter what is that I rarely create in silence. If I’m writing or drawing, I pretty much always have music playing through YouTube or iTunes. If I’m doing something like knitting, I’ll watch a crafting podcast or an episode of a show like Jessica Jones on Netflix.
I used to find that I needed lengthy chunks of time to get anything creative done, but these days I’m getting better and better at harnessing the momentum of little bits of time, snatched here and there, amongst the larger ones. It doesn’t feel like much at the time, you barely notice it, but it adds up!
5. Sometimes, creatives get stuck or blocked and struggle to create. Has this ever happened to you? What happened?
Oh boy, has it ever. Setting aside the shorter blocks I’ve encountered over time, I once faced a block that paralyzed my writing process for months. It was over a year before writing started to feel friendly again.
A few different things created this block, but one of the biggest causes was that I became too dependent on definitions of “success” that weren’t yet mine to inhabit. I started researching the publishing process, getting an agent, all that sort of thing, in my mid-teens, and when I wasn’t published, didn’t have an agent, several years later – even though I know, in retrospect, that it just wasn’t my time, I wasn’t ready – it hit me hard.
I also got intimidated by a project that seemed to just keep growing bigger; as much as I loved it, I was also exhausted. Writing wasn’t fun anymore, ever. That was an incredibly sad realization, but a humbling one, too. I realized that I didn’t have to write, strictly speaking. I could do something else. Whether that would make me happy was a story to which I still didn’t know the ending.
6. How did you push past this block and get back to creating?
- I gave myself time, for one thing. I didn’t beat myself up for the fact that I was considering giving up writing. Instead, I gave myself the time and space I needed to feel it out. I knew that if I went back to writing, it would be for the long haul, but that was a big commitment and I needed to be sure.
- Secondly, I gave myself room to play. I started swing dancing. I read voraciously. I had adventures with wonderful people. I wrote, too, bits and bobs, but I put as little pressure on it as I possibly could.
- Finally, I made up my mind to give it one last try. Maybe it wouldn’t work out, but I knew that if I didn’t try, I would always wonder. Both my writing and I deserved that resolution. I started developing the story idea that had been noodling around in my head for a while, developing the characters (incidentally, one of my favourite things about writing!), and writing the rough draft.
In the end, it was a mental shift more than anything: I needed to redefine my definition of “success” with my writing, so that they were less externally based and more about the creative process itself. While it’s still a goal of mine to sign with the literary agent of my dreams (the same one, years later!) and traditionally publish my novels, I’m less focused on the end result and more on the process, on the craft, on the joy. This has brought me more lasting satisfaction with my creativity than ever.
7. What advice would you have for other creatives who afraid to create or who struggle to find time, motivation, or inspiration to create?
I would say, first and foremost, that it’s okay to struggle; it’s okay to be afraid. It doesn’t make you any less creative or any less of a real writer.
Secondly, I’d say to have a look at what that fear or struggle is trying to tell you. Doing morning pages, a la Julia Cameron, is a fantastic tool to help you figure this out, but you could also meditate or talk it out with a friend or writing coach. Fear is often a sign that we’re on the brink of something fantastic, and your struggles, if you look closely, are often pointing you in a direction of less resistance, which isn’t always a bad thing! If you’re struggling to write at night, stop trying. Write on your lunchbreak or when you’re doing laundry instead. If you’re struggling to find long bouts of time to write with kids running around constantly, embrace the short snatches of time to write character sketches or develop a plot point. If you’re struggling to figure out where your story goes next, get to know your characters a little better instead, because they usually have the answers.
Thirdly, the more I move through my own seasons of creativity, the more important I believe it is for other creatives to be able to do the same. I go into more detail about these seasons over on my blog, but I think even the acknowledgement that our creative energy and our processes are cyclical makes a BIG difference, because we stop bashing ourselves so hard for not being “on” all the time.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Step away for a little while if you feel the need. Your creativity will always be there. You can always find each other again.
It’s okay to be afraid. It doesn’t make you any less creative or any less of a real writer. @victorialfry (<<< tweet that!)
8. Where can we find out more about you and connect with you?
You can find scrumptious, writing-related goodies all over my website, Something Delicious! I’m currently deep in the midst of developing a course for writers struggling to make their life match the writing lifestyle of their dreams, which you can keep an eye on here (and get some bonuses along the way!), but you can always connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Do let me know which creative season you’re in, I’d love to hear from you! And Emily, thank you so much for having me; this has been an absolute delight.