Inspiration from Cynthia Whitcomb

Veteran screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb gave a very inspiring talk last week at the Wilsonville Library as part of the Northwest Author Series. She spoke mainly on the topic of screenwriting and I was impressed by how readily she could draw up examples of her how-to suggestions. I think she gave us the equivalent of three hours of helpful material in one hour, which was inspirational in and of itself.

Even though  I’m not currently working on a screenplay (I threaten to take her screenwriting class on a regular basis but am always too booked up to take it), I so appreciated her insights on the creative process as it relates to writing.

She said a few things I really needed to hear after working hard and long on book two. Specifically, she emphasized the importance of taking down time after a spurt of hard work. Since this practice is not generally validated in hard-working America, it was really helpful to be reminded of the importance of rest right now.

Here’s an article Cynthia has written and reprinted on the creative cycle. See where you are in the cycle.

Are you an inspiration junkie but not big on the follow-through?

Are you all work and no rest?

Are you constantly “resting” without finding any traction in either inspiration or work?

A healthy creative cycle contains all three aspects. So I’m working on my rest muscle. Not only in the amount of work I’m tackling on a daily basis but in the way I approach my daily work.

In case I didn’t mention it, Cynthia was the one who mentioned the spinning ballerina in her monthly Willamette Writers Newsletter Column.

Remember her? Is she still spinning the same direction for you?

I did finally get her to turn left but only after a full day of student critiques. Apparently I “live” in my right brain. What can you do?

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3 Responses to “Inspiration from Cynthia Whitcomb”


  1. 1 Gabrielle Linnell March 1, 2008 at 7:11 am

    That article by Cynthia was extremely helpful. Thanks for linking it, Christina! I do have a problem with non-productivity. I feel guilty when I’m not working on something… yet every time I do take a break and come back, I write better. Nice to know that this is universal.

  2. 2 Karrie March 2, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    My mom is a visual artist. She and I were just discussing how we feel nervous during our bursts of inspiration because we know that they will fade. This article by Cynthia is the perfect answer to our anxiety. Thanks!

  3. 3 Tracey January 7, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Thank you for linking that Cynthia article. I do have cycles for my creativity and thought something was wrong. Glad to know it’s just part of the cycle.

    Currently I am working on a creative writing website, in the beginning I was super passionate, and over time it’s waned. I have stepped away from it a few times for sometimes a few weeks and once a few months. Than like you said something inspired me, and off I go building more pages.

    Now I know why I do what I do, and now I know to recognize if I stay in the resting or working stage to long what to do.


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