Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kate Messner & Linda Urban: Music, Mountains, and Mocha Lattes: Sustaining a Creative Life

Kate Messner and Linda Urban are both award-winning writers of many books for kids, from picture books to middle grade novels.

Together they will present a mini-keynote.

Kate tells us there are times when it's more important to get your butt out of the chair. Counter to what we are often told. Sounds good!

Science supports taking a walk when we are stuck.

At a point when Kate was stuck, she started hiking, and found climbing a mountain is exactly like writing a first draft: the beginning was full of roots, it was muddy in the middle, toward the top it started to rain, and when she was ready for the million dollar view, it was cloudy.

But that hike gave her an idea for the book. It's not always the big things. Sometimes we just need a small thing to keep going.

Kate climbed that same trail again and this time the summit was different. Sometimes when we go away and come back, even with writing, things can look a lot different.

Other lessons Kate learned from hiking that can be applied to writing:

  • Even when the trail is unmarked, you can find ways of moving forward and you can benefit from those who were there before you.
  • Sometimes a trail can start out one way and then you realize it wasn't the way you thought it was going to be.  
  • Thing that look impossible to climb can be managed. You only have to find one next place to go.

For Linda, getting out of the chair is not going for a walk, it's getting up and moving to another chair.

At a time Linda was stuck, she came across a red ukulele in a window. She bought it and started to play. Learning and playing released dopamine and quieted the existential hecklers that had her stuck on her latest novel.

The release of dopamine and small success allowed her get back to the novel and make progress. Her story was free to run a little wild. As she kept playing and learning the ukulele, Linda was seeing and hearing things in different way.

The experience was also a reminder that learning new things can be really hard and that is what kids go through too.

At this point in the talk, Linda has been coaxed by Kate, and the crowd, to sing her sad-ogre-cowboy song.

So worth it! Huge applause for Linda. And proof, that as writing buddies, Kate pushes Linda out of her comfort zone, and we learn that Linda helps Kate to slow down. Kate and Linda share that they are writing buddies, and it is evident as they interact onstage. While they live 2 hours apart, they meet over lattes or lunch every month. They leave us with a  final thought: We need people in this writing world. Connect with your writing community. Find your writing buddies.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I want to find the key to releasing dopamine and quiet the existential hecklers.