Monday, September 26, 2011

Creativity feeds creativity

Last Friday I ran across a post by Ava Jae "Can you lose the ability to write?" I like what she says and to a point I do agree with her solution of pushing through and just do it. She writes:

"If you really want to write, if you really want to see your dreams come
true, you have to go out there and do it yourself. Fulfilled dreams don’t just
land on some lucky person’s lap—they’re chased down and snatched up by the ones
who aren’t afraid to put in the extra work and won’t stop until they see them

I agree that you need to go out and chase down your dreams. If I waited for inspiration to strike me before I started, my writing sessions would be few and far between. You have to have the self control and dedication to sit down and write.

That said, when I get stuck in a rut, or am having difficulties with a story, I find there are some things I need to do that don't necessarily involve pushing through with the writing.

Without fail, every time I come to a dry spot it's because my creative well is empty. I've been working on this novel so long I haven't had time to read a book just for enjoyment or watch my favorite movie again (I've already seen it before, why do I need to watch it again?). The only books I do read are on the craft of writing, or something about the publishing industry (there's a cheery read for you). I don't have time to have fun. I need to write, but nothing is coming.

Is writing always fun?


But when I hit the point where none of what I was writing was fun, I realized that I had lost sight of why I really wanted to be a writer in the first place (Hint: it wasn't for the tweed suit, smoldering cigarette and half drunk bottle of wine... well, maybe the wine ;) ). I started writing because there was something about it that I love. Something that caught my eye and drew me in.
I started writing for the magic. That part of the writing that resonates deep within your soul. That connects with you. I see this in my favorite books and movies. The part that makes me cry. Makes me believe in true love. Opens my eyes to the world around me. Shows me the darkest parts of my own soul. Those are stories that I come back to and watch again and again. Because, even after seeing them a hundred times, I still feel that connection.

So what does this have to do with "writers block" (or whatever you want to call it)? The only way I've been able to break out of that staleness is to reconnect with things that inspire me. Not just stories. I love working in my garden. Watching my finches flutter and squabble over the bath when I put it in. Walking the dog on the back roads where there's nothing but bushes and squirrels to bother me. All theses things are important to filling that well. All of them. And sometimes we have to allow ourselves to indulge in them. That why I love Lani Diane Rich's classes and podcast so much. Those are the things she talks about and teaches. How to love the magic of your story.

Now here's the hard part. Having the self-knowledge to know when you've filled your well and should get back to work. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you need just a little more time or if you've moved on to stalling or have some kind of fear of finishing. Only you can decide that. You have to know yourself. Know what you love. Know what you fear. Know what you are and what you want to be.

It's hard. But no one ever said it would be easy.

So to come full circle, once your well is full you need to push and force yourself to find the time and write. I love how Ava put it:

"Don’t have the time? Make time. No one else is going to do it for

And at the same time, force yourself to make time to do things that you enjoy. Writers have a tendency to feel guilty if they spend three hours looking for just the right songs for the soundtrack of your story or gluing little pictures onto a piece of mat board to make a collage. It's not waisted time. You're thinking about your story. You really are working. Then when you go to write, that creativity that you have been 'indulging' in will feed the creativity of your writing.

One thing flows into the other, we just have to keep the current moving.

1 comment:

  1. I'm honored that you wrote an entire post in response to mine, so thank you! :)

    That being said, I agree with the way you expanded on it, especially that last bit. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I don't necessarily have to be writing all the time to be productive--reading, listening to music, brainstorming, even daydreaming about my story is all part of the process.

    As you said, the point is to keep doing something. It all comes together in the end.