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creativity

A Year of Yes: How Neil Gaiman changed the way I write in one minute

“I’m not an outliner or someone who free writes. I’m more of a gardener. I plant seeds and I see what grows. I plant pumpkins and I expect a pumpkin. But if I get a tomato, I’ll figure out what to do with that. That’s how I write. I love that magic moment when something happens on the page we’re writing that we didn’t know was going to happen. I get to be the first reader of my work, and it’s very exciting. And quite frankly that magic doesn’t happen often enough. A lot of writing is just laying brick.” ~Neil Gaiman, International Literary Festival in Dublin, May 2018

By an amazing stroke of luck, Neil Gaiman was speaking as the headliner at the International Literary Festival in Dublin while I was there doing research for my next novel this week. He’s one of my favorite writers, an inspiration for my own work, and to see him in person was thrilling.

Of all the beautiful advice he offered (and you can see my tweets from his talk here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1002678622765887488), this quote above is the one that affected me the most because it made me change the way I think about my own writing.

I’m a planner. If I were to self-analyze, I would say I like plans because I grew up with a lot of instability. I like order and organization of my tasks because I like to know what I’m doing and where I’m going, and I absolutely hate wasting time because I know what a precious and finite a resource time is. I can’t imagine a world in which I completely let that go. However, Neil Gaiman made me realize that maybe, perhaps, I can loosen the reins a bit. I certainly allow for new information and imagination in my writing. I’ve absolutely had moments where new characters and circumstances and obstacles show up that I never saw coming. That’s the fun, the magic, of writing.

But maybe I don’t need the next bit figured out before I sit down to write every single time. It’s at least worth trying, and giving something a try is where everything begins.

About Christa Avampato

The short of it: Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day. The long of it: My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events. While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series. A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist. My company: I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media: • I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference; • I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable; • I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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