Bring Playfulness to Your Writing with Nina Hart, Part 1
Bring Playfulness to Your Writing with Nina Hart, Part 1 – How To Write the Future podcast, – episode 59
“So, I decided I would go back to beginner’s mind. I would stop taking classes. I would throw out all of the rules. The hooligan got to come into play at that time, my inner teenager or troublemaker.” – Nina Hart
In “Episode 59, Bring Playfulness to your Writing with Nina Hart, Part 1,” host Beth Barany, creativity coach and teacher, and science fiction and fantasy novelist, talks to writer, performer, and fellow creativity coach and creative entrepreneur, Nina Hart, where they discuss how Nina decided to go back to the beginners mind with her writing and how she empowered herself to be her wild creative self.
Paulo Freire: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Freire
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About Nina Hart
Nina Hart is the founder of “Writing from the Top of Your Head” workshops. She offers writing workshops and 1:1 first draft book coaching, and is a certified KaizenMuse Creativity Coach and Gateless Method writing facilitator. Her first collection of surreal short fictions called “Somewhere in a Town You Never Knew Existed Somewhere” was a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.
Nina spends her time as a right-brained, highly sensitive, creative entrepreneur. She is passionate about helping writers find their voice and reclaim the hooligan kid spirit that most people have buried under an “adult” veneer. Nina considers herself to be an improvisational writer — she was a blocked writer until she rediscovered the curious part of herself who could play, experiment, and explore. She offers online workshops, writing retreats, and 1:1 coaching. She plans to offer a facilitator training in the upcoming year
Connect with Nina:
Website – www.writingfromthetopofyourhead.com
Sign up for Nina’s newsletter to join FREE creativity chats + prompts monthly via Zoom. You’ll also get other freebies like “16 Writing Prompts to Slay Perfectionism” ebook. https://nina.podia.com/creativitychatsprompts
ABOUT THE HOW TO WRITE THE FUTURE PODCAST
The How To Write The Future podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers.
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- How do I figure out what’s not working if my story feels flat?
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This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.
Transcript for episode 59 Bring Playfulness to your Writing, with guest Nina Hart, Part 1
Intro + Invitation
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Welcome to How To Write The Future podcast
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of How to Write the Future. I’m very excited to bring, this interview to you today.
A little bit about our podcast. This is a podcast for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive, optimistic futures and for anyone who cares about the future because when we envision what is possible, we help make it so.
Introducing Nina Hart, Founder of Writing from the Top of Your Head
I’m so excited to bring today, my guest Nina Hart.
Welcome, Nina. I’m gonna share who you are to folks. I love your bio.
Nina Hart is the founder of Writing from the Top of Your Head Workshops. She offers writing workshops and one-on-one first draft book coaching and is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Gateless Method writing facilitator. Her first collection of surreal short fiction called Somewhere in a Town You Never Knew Existed Somewhere was a finalist in Forward Reviews Indie Fab Book of the Year Awards. Nina spends her time as a right-brained, highly sensitive, creative entrepreneur. She’s passionate about helping writers find their voice and reclaim that hooligan kid spirit that most people have buried under an adult veneer.
Nina considers herself to be an improvisational writer. She was a blocked writer until she rediscovered the curious part of herself who could play, experiment, and explore. She offers online workshops, writing retreats, and one-on-one coaching.
She plans to offer a facilitator training in the upcoming year, so stay tuned for that.
So, Nina, welcome. I love your bio. I love hooligan spirit, and I’m so excited to have a conversation with you today. I feel like we’re cut from the same cloth with our playful energy and, really belief in, following the muse. So I know you gave me some awesome questions to ask you today, and I thought, well, let’s just dive in.
Oh, thank you for having me. I do feel like we are kindred spirits. So I’m really excited to have this conversation. I hope it helps some of your listeners.
Absolutely. I see so many writers who are blocked by perfectionism or that whole, am I doing it right? Or, just barreling forward and then sometimes getting experience from feedback that throws ’em for a loop and then shuts down their creativity. Or writers who are just struggling all alone also and really are afraid to get feedback because of their tender heart, you know, and their soul that they’re putting into their work. Or previous experiences of being criticized about who they are. And so I really welcome this conversation around creativity and flow.
And I’m really curious for you, what was your personal process in learning how to create flow in your writing?
And you put in the note here that you’re allowed to mention the amusement park ride. So please tell us that story.
Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much. So much food for thought there, but I am one of those writers who through the practice of perfectionism, got myself a little stuck and, I had so many qualifications I had to pass through in order to be a quote unquote quote writer. And, I would go to writing classes and leave feeling so bad about myself.
And even if people weren’t criticizing my writing per se, I would still have a very loud inner critic that would, you know, make me really not wanna write because who has fun writing, if they’re attacking their work or if they’re in fear.
So, I decided I would go back to beginner’s mind. I would stop taking classes. I would throw out all of the rules. The hooligan got to come into play at that time, my inner teenager or troublemaker.
I decided to unlearn everything I had learned about writing and relearn to create and write in my own way, and that was a process.
I went over and over certain prompts that I’d received from a person named Marilyn who actually did lead a writing group, but it wasn’t a class, and she was in her eighties and she came up with these bizarre, kind of nonsensical writing prompts.
And I think there’s something about engaging nonsense, that sort of Dr. Suess-ian language that allows us to go back to our inner child. It allows us to start playing again and be curious and to drop the expectations.
So I just started playing in the Land of Marilyn prompts and other prompts that I gave myself, that once I had certain rules. if this is not fun, I am not going to do it. and I just started reconstituting myself.
The amusement park ride did come around after I had done some of that and I went back to Marilyn’s group and I felt–
This is very strange, of course, but these are science fiction writers you are working with, so let’s just go to that place. Right? Go there, going all the way.
So I felt the top of my head open. It’s the only way I can describe it. In Marilyn’s class, I felt like finally, I was not censoring what was coming through me. I was embracing it and curious and happy about it. And with every prompt– say it was a 10 minute prompt, I felt like I was like strapping into a little amusement park ride and going, Hmm, I wonder where we’re gonna go now.
And like an astronaut, I would just Go around the circle, and then at the end of the 10 minutes, plop, I would be back and I would be like, whoa. What was that?
Kind of in the vein of an improviser where you say yes to everything and after the improv is over with your partners, you don’t remember what you just did until you reflect back on it because you’re so in the moment and that’s kind of part of how I reconstituted my writing process.
Oh, that’s so beautiful. Your courage, the wonderment that you brought, and also that rule of it needing to be fun. I just love that. If there was one rule I could offer all writers, and it sounds like you too. It’s like, only do it if it’s fun. And even the hard stuff. The hard stuff can be fun too.
You know, lean into what is fun, what is juicy, what is attractive there.
That’s just wonderful.
And I’m really curious because I write fiction: was there a specific incident or that moment when you’re walking outta class feeling so unhappy and you’re like, why is my life like this? Is there a specific incident?
‘cause in fiction we talk about the turning point backstory that changes you in one direction or another, right? It can shape you for ill or good, not ill. Our characters start a story. They’ve been shaped by some marking event, something that shapes who they are in the moment on page one.
So here you are today, this writing coach who helps people embrace their inner hooligan.
I just love that. Was there a specific moment in time where you’re like, I don’t wanna be that kind of writer? I want something else. Do you have a story there?
As a writer, I’m so interested in what you just said because of stories and their power and how we do need that character to have that incident where they’re at a turning point. I do think it was when I realized I am not having fun anymore and these classes are painful and I don’t feel safe.
And I think I reflected at that time also upon my entire education in public schools in Cleveland, Ohio. There were a lot of good things about public school. There were also a lot of things that did not work for me. And I’ve got ADHD. I think I’m a different kind of learner and school, yeah, again, did not work for me.
And so when I was in high school, I started reading many books on education because I wanted to figure out why is this not working for me. So I read John Dewey A.S Neill, later, a little bit later, Paulo Freire, the great Brazilian educator. And Paulo says, “We are not banks to be filled.”
We don’t deposit knowledge into ourselves. We are actually our experience. And who we are is what we bring to the world, and that’s what you bring out of students because they already know so much.
And I think once I empowered myself to realize that I know what I know, and that is my greatest gift to anyone else.
And to myself, like, instead of going to these experts who I thought were supposed to grant me permission to be a writer or whatever, I was like, No. This is who I am. So.
Oh, that’s so beautiful. And I just, I’m tearing up because, well, I don’t publicize this, but my Bachelor’s Degree is in Education as an Interdisciplinary Degree because UC Berkeley did not have an education undergraduate degree. I don’t think they do yet. Even though they have a school of education for your master’s or PhD.
So I read Freire. I read Dewey, and I actually read Freire in my Democracy and Education class where it was such a breakthrough class for me. I actually, quit college for some time after that class because that class is like, decide for yourself.
Hey, everyone in class shall we decide to give ourselves the grades we think we deserve from this class?
And the whole class was a discussion. The whole class was run as a participatory democracy with discussions about what is democracy, what is education, and that broke me wide open and made me realize I don’t wanna be in school. Why I’m in school? So I left. I was in au pair in Paris for a year. And of course, I came back to school ’cause I knew I would.
I did want that. So the freedom that he talks about it, it makes me wanna revisit his work. ’cause I was what, 19 when I read it.
So, I just love that you took it upon yourself to go, why isn’t it working? And what’s going on here? So beautiful.
Thank you. Can I interject that I was in San Francisco when I first learned about Paulo and I was at New College of California? I was like 21 years old, and my teacher taught a class called Education for Liberation. And Paulo came and taught us, I got to meet Paulo with Miles Horton. The person who founded the Highlander School in Tennessee. And Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, all those people went to study with Miles, and Miles and Paulo were friends.
So it’s all of these. I just needed to say that we were there, doing similar things probably around the same time, and I love it.
Yeah. That’s such a great synchronicity. I think you’re a generation older than me. ’cause this was in 1989, I think when-
Yeah, I was like in their early eighties.
Okay. Not too far apart. Yeah.
Otherwise, you would’ve met Paulo.
Wow. That would’ve been cool. So incredible. There’s so much wonderful things here. I know there’s a big movement going on to rethink education, Rethinking Schools, I think is what it’s called. I’ve been tangential to that, or just paying attention because I’m deeply, deeply interested in education and how we educate the next generation and how can you and I, we’re like, how can we bring creativity to the fore?
Because being able to exercise the creative muscle is what is, in my opinion, going to allow us to think differently and create new stories, create new paradigms. It’s the only way we’re gonna get out of the way we’ve been doing things– is to learn how to exercise that creative muscle and try new things and go to the edge and be bold and be a hooligan and take those risks.
Thanks for listening!
Thanks for listening everyone.
That was part one of my two-part interview with Nina Hart. Stay tuned for next week’s episode, where we will go into the value of permission to be creative. We’ll talk about how to elicit greater flow in your writing. There’s a fun writing prompt, dealing with jello. Plus, we’ll also talk about prioritizing process over product and self-care and more.
So, thanks again for listening to part one with Nina Hart, stay tuned for part two, and be sure to check the notes with this episode for how you can connect with Nina Hart and her program, “Writing from the top of your head.”
Please like, subscribe. And you know please share with the writers in your life who are writing science fiction and fantasy, and want to create positive, optimistic futures, because when we vision what is possible, we help make it so.
That’s all for this week, everyone. Take care and happy writing.
Questions for future episodes?
If you have any questions you would like me to feature on an upcoming episode of How To Write the Future, please write me. Let me know. I’m on all the socials. I have a contact form on my website, how to write the future.com. Your question can be featured on an upcoming episode.
You Inspire me!
Thank you so much, everyone for listening to my podcast. Your interest and feedback is so inspiring to me and helps me know that I’m helping you in some small way.
So, write long and prosper.
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ABOUT BETH BARANY
Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”
Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites:
EDITED WITH DESCRIPT: https://www.descript.com?lmref=_w1WCA
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SHOW PRODUCTION BY Beth Barany
SHOW NOTES by Kerry-Ann McDade
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