On the Creative Mindset with Beth Barany

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On the Creative Mindset with Beth Barany, How To Write the Future podcast, episode 68

“The other thing that I do is I doodle. I’ve been doodling my whole life. Raise your hand if you love to doodle.”

In “Episode 68. On the Creative Mindset with Beth Barany” host Beth Barany, creativity coach, teacher, and science fiction and fantasy novelist, answers a question from a listener and shares the tools she uses to stay in the creative zone or for when she takes a break from writing to relax and get inspired.

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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.

Tips for fiction writers! This podcast is for you if you have questions like:

  • How do I create a believable world for my science fiction story?
  • How do I figure out what’s not working if my story feels flat?
  • How do I make my story more interesting and alive?

This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity

Transcript for Ep 68 – On the Creative Mindset with Beth Barany

Hey everyone. Beth Barany here. Welcome back. Or welcome to How To Write The Future podcast. I am here to support writers, science fiction and fantasy writers, who want to write positive, optimistic futures. Because I believe that when we vision what is possible, we help make it so.

I myself am a novelist, a science fiction and fantasy novelist, writing teacher, and a coach, and a burgeoning filmmaker. Yes, that is true too. More on that in some other episode.

All right.

Today, I want to take a question from one of my colleagues actually, who is a working writer herself.

Her name is C.P. Rider and she writes urban fantasy. And she specifies that she is especially interested in staying in the zone during distracting times.

And she asked me this great question that I would really, really love to dive into. And it’s about the creative mindset. My absolute favorite topic, separate from craft of storytelling.

So she “would love to hear what tools authors use to keep them in the zone while working on a book. Meditation, music, art focused, reading, anything that sort of thing interests me.”

So, yeah. Thank you so much for your question.

And I too would love to hear what other authors are doing. And I’m happy to share today with you what is it that I’m doing.

I do a lot of different things while I’m working on a book.

I love music.


So I actually use music while I’m writing and having a very extensive playlist that I keep adding to for the current work in progress. And I’m very particular about that kind of music. So, music really helps me stay in the flow, and music really helps me enter the zone.

So if I’m feeling a little bit low energy, or reluctant for whatever reason, I know that I can put my headset in and turn on my soundtrack.

Every single time it gets me in the mood. It like calms me and gets me just to relax into my emotions.

Music is so emotional.

And then from there, I have already practiced the art of bringing my emotional state into the work I’m doing, however, that’s showing up for the day.


The other thing that I do is I doodle. I’ve been doodling my whole life. Raise your hand if you love to doodle.

And I’ve just gotten more intense about it and actually brought in some more fun to it: different kinds of notebooks, different kinds of pens. I do free form. Some people I know love, love, love to do coloring books that allow them the same kind of thing.

So here-here’s one of my doodles. And it will be shared on social media and it’ll be shared, for those of you on the video.

And I just do these freeform, swirly things with lots of colors and lots of overlap. And I have so much fun with it.

So tapping into my creative flow when I don’t want to be verbal when I don’t want to read and I don’t want to write. Doodling – so using another part of my brain, the visual part, really, it just, it just helps me feel so alive in a way that feeds me.

So, what might that be for you?

What’s a nonverbal thing you can do and that invites you to step away from words that will get you both relaxed and energized?

Focused Reading – Reading a Snippet for inspiration 

The other thing my friend mentioned was focused reading and I would say I don’t always do that, but sometimes I do. I will open up a book, any kind of book- fiction, nonfiction- and just read whatever my eyes land on. And that is so fun to then notice how it inspires you and how your brain makes connections into your work. That is so fun.


Meditation, she mentions. Yes, I do short meditations. I do these three-minute meditations. 

And I use a fun app that I just adore because it’s very simple. It’s called Triple Flame and it’s a very sweet and gentle meditation app. And I’ll put that information in the description.

Three minutes is the minimum. You go up to 10 minutes. You could have music or not music. You can have a bell or a harp to bring you out. It has more customization than that.

So meditation is really a wonderful way to empty out, release, come to center, come to neutral. 

And just be, just be without the do. It’s a great way to recharge your batteries. This meditation app actually invites us to pause. That’s what they call it. To pause three times a day. I don’t always do it.

And you can set up the schedule however you want, but sometimes I might just pause for 30 seconds or I might just pause for a minute. And I can just feel how that lets my whole system just come to relaxation and it feels so good. And I notice on the days that I’m not meditating with this pause, I, I feel like something’s missing. 

And so, yeah, I definitely need to do more, be a little bit more diligent and, it’s so nurturing. It’s amazing how stopping and doing nothing is so nurturing.

Mythulu Deck

So I want to mention one other thing that I do to help me go into the zone. And that is the Mythulu deck. I have talked on and off about the Mythulu deck for a few years now. And I just love, love, love this deck so much. Because it’s a card deck painted with commissioned art and designed by someone who wanted to create something that would allow us to think in new ways. And it’s specifically designed for storytellers in any medium, fiction writers, screenplay writers, comic book writers, and short stories, novellas, however, you do it, cartoons, television. Anything.

And it has six kinds of cards that have been divided up and color-coded. And it’s best to use it with a question that you have. And so I’ve used it to dig into character. I’ve used it to even spark what’s going on with me and just like, have a dialogue with myself about, uh, whatever might be going on.

And so you want to be intentional. It’s not like, oh, let me just see what this card says. I mean, you can, because it’s pretty, but it’s really great to just do it with a like, Hmm. What kind of character challenge might this book have? For example. And then I pulled a card. I pulled the card “Frenemy,” which is a picture of a dog and cat play-fighting.

So every card has an image and title and then a little description. And the description says, “Love-hate relationship with someone who simultaneously inspires and mercilessly harasses. Unbearable on a daily basis, reliable in a pinch.”

So what’s fun about that is you can take this verbatim and use it directly in your story. Or maybe something about this inspires you. You don’t have to use it as is. You can just be inspired by it.

And that’s also what I love about this deck. It is designed to get your brain going in a new direction, one that you wouldn’t normally go in. And I just love that because –

Brain makes predictions… 

Okay. Something I’ve been learning about brain science is – Your brain is constantly making predictions about what is going to happen next.

That’s why story structure is so great. That’s why readers and viewers can make predictions about what’s going to happen next.

But our job as a storyteller is to surprise our reader. Take what is known and understood and expected about what might happen next and the kind of story you’re writing and then surprise them.

Using a deck like this gets your brain thinking in new ways, hopefully. And because our brains are constantly making predictions, they are making those predictions 

based on what? Based on everything that you have experienced up to now. 

Everything. Brains are amazing.

So, if you want to come up with more surprises in your story, and get the juices flowing, the creative juices flowing, then you need new input, new stories, new images, new music, new thoughts, new people, new places.

So, if you can do one new thing today, that might be the way that helps you stay in the zone also.

All the ways you can stay in the creative zone 

So cards. Listening to new music, looking at art that you’ve never seen before. That’s also on my friends list.

I love looking at visual art that I’ve never seen before, exploring new styles.

Go out of your way to take a different way home, as you drive or walk or however you go.

All these things will allow your brain to receive new information. And with new information, you can make new patterns and new predictions and surprise your reader, and also surprise yourself, which will keep you engaged and keep you excited and keep you in the zone.

Special Notes about staying in the zone during distracting times 

And a special note about staying in the zone during distracting times.

I think I’m going to circle back to meditation for this one and a new, way of staying in the zone that I haven’t yet mentioned, which is journal writing.

Sometimes the distractions we can’t do anything about, but we need to clear our space, our head or energy field so that we can write. So that’s where meditation comes in.

And sometimes that isn’t enough and I find it really helpful to do free writing journaling, random words on a page to really clear the mind and face what is distracting and face what I can or cannot do about it.

When it’s the outside world, I really have to turn off all distractions and turn on my music.

When it’s the inside world and all the thoughts and worries and concerns, I really have to talk to myself and I do that mostly through journaling.

I would say – sidebar – I also do that by talking to good friends and sharing my thoughts with someone who is nonjudgmental. And I find it really, really helpful to just share what’s going on. And then that’s a form of clearing as well. Very similar to journaling. All right. I hope that helps.

Do you have questions for this podcast? 

All right, that’s it for this week. If you have any questions about the creative process, creative mindset, let me know. I would love to address them on a future episode.

You’re Invited to sign up for a Story Success Clinic 

And if you would like to come into the podcast and get coaching on your creative process and helping you have a stronger creative mindset, then, please I invite you to come and sign up for the 30-minute Story Success Clinic, where we can brainstorm together. You can get some free coaching. Each session is recorded and gets aired as an episode on How To Write The Future podcast.

All right, everyone, write long and prosper.

Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2012061

ABOUT BETH BARANY Image of 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: 


Author siteCoaching site / School of Fiction / Writer’s Fun Zone blog


Contact Beth: https://writersfunzone.com/blog/podcast/#tve-jump-185b4422580

Email: beth@bethbarany.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethbarany/


EDITED WITH DESCRIPT: https://www.descript.com?lmref=_w1WCA

MUSIC: Uppbeat.io

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SHOW NOTES by Kerry-Ann McDade


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