Life is a regular balancing act of creativity and reason. Of balancing the left and right side of the brain. (And yes, I know this has been thoroughly debunked. And here’s Neil DeGrass Tyson doing it style. Still, you get my point.)
Whether you write stories, paint, sing, do performance art, make jewelry, or arrange flowers, most humans have a creative outlet. It seems to be wired into us, and there are lots of sites out there that will tell you how important creativity is, even in business:
While I think it’s important to foster this creativity in myself and others, I don’t really know how as I never had it fostered in me. As I was growing up, creativity was something for young children. When you reached a certain age, you put your imagination behind you and focused on the important and grown-up things like math, science, and tearing apart literary books looking for meaning rather than writing your own novel.
So, I’ve had to figure out ways to coax out my own creativity, especially when I’m writing a first draft of a story.
This first draft is when I’m making something out of nothing. Piecing together electrons on a page to tell a story. Granted, my first draft is strung together with paperclips, duct tape, and pipe cleaners, but it has brought into being something that didn’t exist before. Something ready to be engineered into a coherent story driven by the characters.
Getting that first draft onto the page is hard. I’d love to say I’ve found the magic bean that lets your fingers dance across the keyboard as worlds, characters and plot fill the screen. Man, oh man, do I wish I had that bean. Mostly, my creative process involves butt to chair as I struggle to turn off my internal editor and throw words onto the page.
If I poke at those words too much, “edit as I go”, the creativity dies and I’m back into edit mode.
The magic bean is gone.
But, like most things, if I practice turning off that internal editor, I get better at not listening to her and better at letting thoughts become words on a page.
Eventually, a story materializes. Then comes the editing to make those paperclips and duct tape into something I’d want to read.
And there lies my issue.
I have two books written and in various states of revision. But I haven’t figured out how to turn on the editor to get those books publication ready while not losing the skill of getting words onto the page.
I recently got some great advice from an editor, but I haven’t acted on it as I know I’ll lose momentum on the story I’m currently writing. I’ll forget, as I have so many times in the past, how to let the words fill the page.
This may sound silly to you, but my magic bean is a fragile little thing.
I’ve learned from experience how hard it is to write new stuff after setting it aside to spend time on revisions. I’ve also learned putting a story on hold to go back and revise earlier parts of that story or even revise another story altogether is a death sentence for the story in question. I simply won’t go back to writing it. Or if I do, it’ll only be after “revising” everything I’ve already written a dozen times (which will just be cut in a later true rewrite once the whole book is written).
I clearly haven’t figured this out.
But I have to find a way. I have two completed manuscripts waiting to be revised then queried to agents or self-published.
I need to find a way to squeeze this revision time in between my full-time job, family, and creation of new work.
I need to figure out a way that once the editor brain turns on, I can turn it off again so I can put new words to the page. I just don’t know how to do it yet.
How about you? How do you get in the zone to do your creative activity, whatever it may be? What’s lures your muse to you? What sends her running off and how do you get her back? Do you have any issues balancing your creative and analytical sides?