As a writer, being a creative person is a pretty big deal. We pride ourselves on how creative we are and yet there are times when we feel we just aren’t creative enough. It’s sort of a Ping-Pong match between the two. Some days it’s one, and a whole lot of other days, it’s the other. There have been quite a few times when I personally felt like I lost the game all together. Many times I found myself asking “Am I creative enough to be a writer?” or “What can I do to be more creative?”. In the end though, maybe it’s more of a question of how can we be the right amount of creative to accomplish our goals?
I want to tell you a story. Something that happened to me over the last few years that changed my life forever (causing me to abandon my blog for awhile too — sorry!) and made me see things in a little different light, especially concerning the way creativity works.
It amazes me. Life. The journey we take. It takes surprising turns and we end up in locations we never thought possible. We have these big ideas of where we want to go. Sometimes we get there and we don’t even know it, because we get so wrapped up in all the craziness that is our life. Sometimes we don’t get there, but we arrived in a place that’s just as good or even better. And we think, “Wow, how did I get here?”
Living a creative life isn’t easy in this world of constant distractions and doubt. We wonder if what we are doing is right. We wonder if we should do this or do that. We fear what others might think if they find out exactly what we want or exactly how we think. We fear judgement and scorn. We fear failure. We fear success. We fear doing the wrong thing.
But even with all this tumbling in the back of our minds, we still feel the need to live our life the way we want to. That pull. That desire to just be us. It’s not just enough to live. We want to live a creative life. We want to be expressive. We want to experiment. We want to try new things. We want to do more than what we are doing. We want to be more than what we are, or maybe just a better version.
We also worry about how much we are getting done. Is our life where it should be? Shouldn’t we be doing more? Shouldn’t we be farther along than we are?
“But you also have choices. Yes — and choices are nothing less than the power of creation. Through them, you can create your own life, your own future, your own destiny… By your choices you might even create an entirely new world, one that will spring into being from the ruins of the old.” — T.A. Barron from The Mirror of Merlin
Is it luck? Is it perseverance? Is it some combination of the two? Or maybe its an age-old secret only handed down to a select few? Or maybe the answer lies somewhere else entirely? How do we truly become the person we always wanted to be?
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow
If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.
When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.
How many times have you felt like you’ve had a broken brain? You know… like when your mind just refuses to work? When a word is just beyond reach? When an idea can’t seem to fully form. Or how about when forgetfulness rules the day? Some might call that a bad day or give it a technical term like a cognitive malfunction, but I call it broken brain.
I get broken brain a lot. Too much actually. I can go whole days where words and thoughts just aren’t coming out like they should. Hell, I’ve had whole weeks like that. It’s frustrating to know the word you want to use, but can’t quite get it from the brain to tongue, or brain to page.
So is there a cure? Can this malfunction be restored? Can the broken brain be repaired?
We choose to become writers for many reasons. We do it just because we can (or want to), we do it because we love stories, we do it because we have a need to release the emotions inside, we do it to let the voices whispering to us out, and we do it as a challenge to see if it can be done. Those are just a few reasons. And some of us start writing for more than just one reason. But mostly I think we write because we are seeking answers to the complex world that we live.
Let’s face it, life sucks. Some days suck more than others, and sometimes whole years don’t need to be talked about at all. Many people fall back on things to help get them through those hard times. Things like alcohol, drugs, other people (usually the wrong people), copious amounts of time dedicated to escapisms like television, books, gaming, ect. and god knows what else. But as writers we are lucky, because writers have an outlet to work out some of those hard times.
Well, I just finished probably one of the most intense writing sessions ever since the writing bug bit me a little over 6 years ago. I can hardly believe it, but I managed a whopping 45,000 words in one week on a new novel idea. Yep, 45,000 in ONE week. The most I ever wrote in a stretch was 50,000, which was over a full month for the NaNoWriMo in 2010, so for me this is HUGE deal.
I’ve been sitting on this story idea since Janurary of this year. I didn’t write on it, because I didn’t feel like I had a story worth pursuing, but over the last few months the idea just kept building and growing until one night I picked up the computer and wrote two chapters without breaking a sweat. The next day I wrote three chapters and the day after that five, and so on. I just couldn’t stop writing. The ideas kept coming and my fingers kept typing (and I’m pretty certain my keyboard was smoking there for awhile). For my efforts, I ended up with the first seventeen chapters and other snippet scenes to my new book idea.
This marathon of writing didn’t come without a price. Unfortunately that meant I spent time on my writing that should have gone to other things like my four year old son. Now I’m paying the price with outright rebellion and lots of tantrums from my little guy. He wants his mommy time back. So whether I like it or not, my marathon has come to an end. I’m not entirely sure if it’s from the guilt of ignoring my boy, or that I’m just burned out from all the writing, but even still it was a beautiful thing to be in the zone like that.
I know that inspiration like that doesn’t come around very often (I’m the Queen of erratic writing), or maybe I should say that I unconsciously stunt that sort of inspiration because I can’t afford the time with being a full time mom, but I hope that I can one day ride that high again, because for a writer it doesn’t get much better than that.
Oh, and as for my new story idea…
Think Game of Thrones meets Star Wars and that’s all I’m going to say- for now. 😉