How to Find Creativity as a Writer
How the Hell Do You Do It?
That was a question I was asked the other day….how do I manage to be creative day in, day out, five days each week, fifty-two weeks each year, for the past three years?
This is the 904th article I have written for a site called HubPages. In addition, I estimate I have written over 3,000 articles for customers. In addition, I have written three novels. All in the last three years.
I do not tell you those things to impress you, nor to blow my own horn. I’m just giving you some background to explain why that question was asked.
When I was first asked that question, my first response was I don’t have a clue. Creativity just comes to me easily, but please believe me when I tell you it has not always been so. Growing up I was not a particularly creative kid. My creativity did not begin to blossom until I was in my thirties when I spent most of my time teaching school, and my writing creativity really did not show itself until I was in my late-fifties.
So where did it come from? Why was I such a late-bloomer? What happened to change me? And what can you do to experience the same transformation so your muse will speak to you on a regular basis?
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.
I think the most logical answer to that question is that I simply experienced life. Over the years I have held dozens of jobs. Over the years I have loved and lost. Over the years I have suffered crushing defeats and rejoiced over exhilarating triumphs.
Writers need experiences to draw upon. Of course we can simply go online and read about the experiences of others, and use that for inspiration, but it really isn’t the same thing as actually living it, is it? How can we really understand heartache unless a woman has crushed us emotionally? How can we discuss death in a creative way if we’ve never had a loved one die in our arms? We can write about such things after others have experienced them, but our writing will lack the depth necessary to truly be exceptional writing.
To put it another way, I can do research about the horrors of being raped, and I can write an article about it, but in no way will that article relate the raw pain that needs to be related, and would be related, if a rape victim wrote it.
So my first answer to the question is that I have lived a full life, and that full life has given me a warehouse filled with experiences to call upon when I need inspiration and information.
I would love to have a conversation with this woman
Why Was I Such a Late Bloomer?
I’m not sure to tell you the truth. I lost my father when I was nineteen, and it was a crushing blow, so I was no stranger to emotional pain at an early age…but…I just wasn’t ready at that point in time.
I needed to suffer more. I needed to be thrilled more. I needed to love more, laugh more, and cry more.
And I needed to be more willing to learn from it all, and allow my muse to tap into it all.
At some point in time I began to allow the reflective side of me to run free. I learned to see events through the eyes of a writer and not just a disinterested bystander.
It all took time, and for me, it all took until three years ago to finally erupt forth in a barrage of stories, articles, and novels.
What Can You Do?
The first thing I’ll suggest should be obvious if you’ve read this far: live life to the fullest. Although I’m sure there are writers who are inspired while sitting locked up in their writing studios, I am quite certain that there are many more who live life full-speed ahead and damn the torpedoes. Get up early and witness the majesty of the sun rising over the mountains. Take regular nature walks. Start a bucket list and then check off items as you live them. Live today like it might be your last.
Not only should you experience all that life has to give you, but you must be receptive to it all. By this I mean you need to open up your receptors and file away the sensations you feel while living life. I’ve often said that we all share five senses, and I use that knowledge often when I am writing. What did something look like, smell like, sound like, taste like, and feel like? If you go for a kayak adventure, take note of your physical responses to the stimuli while on the open water.
Many online sites will list prompts for you to use in kicking your creativity into gear, but I would suggest to you that all of life is a prompt if you are open to it. I can watch a mother nursing her child and I am moved to tears. When a bird eats out of my hand I am dumbstruck, and when a spider builds its web, the entire universe screams an eternal message to me.
More Things to Do
If you don’t own a digital camera then go out and buy one. A writer without a camera is like a fish without gills. Don’t trust your memory to capture moments of magic. Let your camera do the work for you.
If you don’t walk around with a notepad to record special events, you are also missing the boat. You can also go out and buy a cheap tape recorder. Listen to life, record what you hear, and then play it all back while in your writing space.
Meet new people, pick their brains, and gain an understanding of what moves them, motivates them, and greatly affects them in positive and negative ways. See life through their eyes, and try to understand how they feel when they are faced with certain situations.
Remember back to your childhood. Draw upon old memories. Listen to music, go to the art museum, hike through the woods. Creativity is out there and in you, but sitting around passively waiting is a lesson in futility.
And After You’ve Done All Those Things
Then it is time to listen to your muse whisper in your ear. You cannot force creativity. If you are open to it then it will come. I am convinced that writer’s block, that most-dreaded of writer maladies, is the result of trying too hard to do what should come naturally. Open yourself up and allow creativity to flow through your every pore, and on days when it is not flowing freely, walk away and enjoy the simple act of being alive.
So, in answer to the earlier question, a writer does not find creativity. I believe it is much more likely that creativity finds the writer.
Will you be ready when it comes a’callin’?
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”