authenticity / career / creativity / expat / learning

Featured #ARTYOGAPLAY writer: Anna Widgeon

I am pleased to introduce you to my latest creativity soulmate and November’s featured #artyogaplay writer Anna Widgeon. With lots of smiles and a calm vibe about her, she is originally from Michigan and calls Antigua her temporary home for now. Anna is a creative individual with an amazing musical ability, a knack for understanding people, and a talent for sharing entertaining stories from her travels abroad. Most intriguing to me is that she is a repeat participant (SIX times!) in National Novel Writing Month. I hope you enjoy learning more about Anna in this month’s interview.

1) How do you get creative?

There are a lot of things that happen to work for me, but music consistently works. I have different Spotify playlists for every story idea that I’m woking on, for many of the life stages I’m in in as I move through them, and even different moods that I want to put myself into. I’ve never considered myself to be a music aficionado, but these days, I don’t even attempt to write novels without music. 

I also watch people. A lot. I find myself wanting to know how and why people find themselves in their situations. And what will happen next. Some of these answers I can discover through…research. Other answers I have to make up. And the challenge of making it up always gets my creative juices flowing. 

2) Why is creativity important to you?

I’m not an exceptionally creative person by any stretch of the imagination. But what creativity I possess keeps me sane. It also helps me develop into a more thoughtful, compassionate, and brave person. Creating things reminds me that I’m alive. 

3) Since leaving your job as an attorney and moving to Antigua, what have you become present to in your life?

My soft heart. In my last few jobs, it was important for me to protect my heart from the very heavy situations in which I was immersed. Since leaving my most recent job, I have been learning that I really am a sympathetic softie, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Breaking down the carefully-constructed barriers around my heart is sometimes a messy and scary process. But it allows me to be more fully engaged in my life. To love people better, and to let people love me more. 

4) Do you have any advice for people on how to bring in more creativity, yoga and/or mindfulness in their lives?

Slow down. Sit in silence in a beautiful place. Spend some time with the oldest and/or wisest people you can find. There is power in slow, purposeful thought and movement. There can be breathtaking magic in the still moments. Or the moments between moments. I didn’t see much of that it when I was lawyering. But I’m learning to see more of it now. 

5) You will be launching a “NOVEL NOVEMBER” Club in Antigua with Nicole. What have you gained by committing to writing a November over the last 6 years? Is it difficult to do this challenge? Any advice for first time novel writers?

I’m not a runner. But I’ve heard that runners routinely reach a point where they think they can’t go any farther and then push through it to find that they could go much farther than they had imagined. That’s how National Novel Writing Month is for me. I did this during college and during law school. Some years it’s harder than others, but it’s never easy. I’ve learned that I can do it (I’ve reached the 50,000 word goal every year so far), so now I don’t let myself have any excuses for not getting it done. I have also gotten faster at it. I’m not sure if I’m writing faster or thinking faster (or both), but it used to be a 2.5 hour commitment to get my daily goal of 2,000 words written. Now I can write 2,000 words in an hour if necessary. They’re not always pretty, but I have written some very powerful scenes while writing too fast to think about what I was writing. 

Advice: 

– don’t read as you’re writing

– don’t stop to edit 

– don’t be afraid of where your story is going 

– do take advantage of the forums as necessary 

– do participate in word sprints, challenges, or dares 

– do tell (supportive) people what you’re attempting 

6) Why should people join the “Novel November” Club?

Having a novelling community is incredible and priceless. I’ve done novel-in-a-month programs before. But in November, the structure and support of National Novel Writing Month provides the extra boost to give me the energy, stamina, and motivation to get across the finish line (sometimes strutting, sometimes limping). And for the experience to be complete, there really should be a live aspect, if possible. There’s only so much love a website is going to give you. But a combination of word sprints; comparing notes on plot progress, finger cramps, coffee consumption, lack of sleep, erstwhile characters; and weeping in public while typing is what makes the experience worth coming back for. 

7) Tell us a little bit about yourself. Do you have a website, Facebook page? What is the concept behind your blog?

• My friends back home like to describe me as “a lawyer with the heart of a social worker.” I prefer not to describe myself as any kind of a lawyer, if possible. Not because I’m ashamed of the profession, but because everything else people know about me suddenly makes less sense when the word “lawyer” is introduced into the conversation.

I’m unabashedly into hugs. I ask strangers for hugs maybe a little more often than is respectable. Being a girl in Antigua makes this easier, because I can pretty much expect/request/demand a hug at the end of every conversation with every person if I want it. 

Writing novels keeps me sane. I’ve been doing this in one form or another since I started my first historical fantasy in the middle of Ancient Medieval History in 7th grade. In order to keep myself awake.

• I’m shy about being on stage, but singing, for me, feels rather a lot like flying. 

I’m incurably sarcastic, and because of that, I sometimes make a very bad first impression on people. (Not often though, to be honest.) 

Apparently my face screams “tell me all your drama,” a fact that I’m just now learning to embrace. I think it’s pretty much a super power, actually…

• I have an under-attended blog (authenticandeccentric.wordpress.com). One of my work friends once called me “an authentic eccentric.” I’m pretty sure she meant it as a compliment. I took it to mean this: “You’re weird. Not because you think it’s cool to be weird, just because that’s who you are. And I can appreciate that. Even if I don’t understand you.” So in the blog I’m just going about my business traveling the world. Being my regular, strange self but also trying rather hard not to try too hard. Which is a fun adventure in and of itself. 

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