Lara Candland Asplund

Lara Candland Asplund is a writer, musician, librettist, feminist and writing-teacher-mentor to many Scholastic Award-winning writers including Portfolio Gold Medalist Mackenzie Jacoby and 2013 Portfolio Gold Key winner Sid Peery. We asked her to share her inspiration, and she sat right down and wrote you all a letter!

Dear Artists and Writers,

The most successful artists know a really good secret: you’re a lot more productive when you’re having fun, when your alpha waves are flowing. Here are some tips for learning how to mine your summer creativity to keep you going all year!

First, get inspired by Joss Whedon’s practical approach to being prolific, by incorporating fun, lots of rewards, and friends into your artistic practice.

Next, find a group of creative friends and set a weekly meeting. This will give you someone to be accountable to and weekly deadlines.  If you can’t find locals to work/play with, I know a lot of students, as well as professional writers and artists, who have creative partners with whom they work via Google Hangout, Skype, etc.

Settle on a project or group goal. I love the story of how Joss Whedon came up with his fantastic indie film Much Ado About Nothing from a group of friends he had over to his house on a regular basis to read Shakespeare aloud. They ended up filming the movie in his house, and created the piece collaboratively as they met. Here are some ideas for projects and weekly meetings:

  • Poetry night: find a poetic outdoor location
    Bring blankets, snacks, and flashlights. Bring a favorite poem to read to the group.  At the end of the night, write for twenty minutes and share with the group. Repeat weekly.
  • Create a Facebook or Tumblr page
    This provides a space where members can post readings, films, artwork, words of inspiration, etc. to keep motivated.
  • Publish a zine 
    Hold weekly meetings to create the zine together.
  • Play my favorite party game: exquisite corpse!
    Publish a handmade book of the best poems to come out of the game.
  • Take field trips to museums, films, readings, plays, or hikes 
    At the end of each activity, hold a 20 minute writing session and then share your responses, whether they be sketches, notes, lists, poems, etc.

I can’t wait to see what you produce!

Yours in artistic solidarity,


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