Is it possible to turn our creative visions, even those that haven't taken form yet, into purposeful prose? You bet it is.
Those who are just testing the waters of creative writing sometimes think that the ideas that come out of nowhere are silly, stupid, or worthless. Yet, the more we talk to other writers, the more we realize the stuff that creativity is made of is the visions we produce in our minds. And that's pretty terrific.
Unlike classes you may have taken in the fields of mathematics, computers, or science, creativity and the written word are not exact. Far from it. Sure there are rules to this game and you need to know them before you can break them. However, what shakes up a few analytical people is that creativity is so hazy.
Creativity is the way you translate what you hear or feel or see inside into a format that you share with the reader. Creativity is an idea processed into words.
If I were a brain scholar, instead of a writer, I could tell you exactly what hormones or brain connections get into the action during the creative process. For me, the process doesn't matter as much as how I get them into action? You mobilize creativity with practice.
Do you remember as a youngster learning a new skill? Do you recall learning to ride a bike, play a sport, or dance a complex routine? How about when you learned to maneuver through a favorite video game? These skills took tenacity and a willingness to make mistakes and take risks throughout the process.
I don't know about you, but when I learned to roller-skate, I wore off the skin on my knees but got up to try again. I never once thought whether I was going to wear those pavement-induced scars for the rest of my life. I was determined to skate with the other kids, and I did what it took. Luckily my mother had lots of adhesive bandages.
Learning these skills, you had fun. That's what creating and writing are about. What feels good to your ear when reading your writing out loud, what makes your heart swell, and what simply makes sense, become your creative vision.
Think of writing and creativity as recess for the brain. Not every creative thought must be attached to a novel, short story, book, or article. Not every creative effort must be connected with writing at all. I believe that the more "other" creative activities you participate in, from painting a barn to painting a picture, the more creative you'll be in your work.
Right now, take a moment to figure out ways to add more creativity to your world. I love to garden, and if you could come into my backyard right now, you'd see I'm a creative gardener. When I'm working on a knotty piece of plotting or mulling over research for a nonfiction book, I often head for the garden to cut, shovel, and water. No matter what you've heard, it's simply not true that I allow the weeds to grow so I can pull them when I'm having a writing problem.
In Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, she recommends every creative person take at least an hour a week and spend it doing something creative, other than write. She calls this "an artist's date." I do it and recommend the date for you too. If you haven't reviewed this important book on creativity, I urge you to make your first "date" a trip to the bookstore or library to get a copy.
Here's a starting list of creative activities to get you going. Notice that they have nothing to do with writing. Make your goal to add at least one more activity to your week. Better yet, add one to each day.
- Model making
- Working (in an enjoyable way) on the car
- Craft making
- Playing a musical instrument
- Woodworking and building
- Sewing, or other needle crafting
- Going to the theater
- Working with clay
- Cooking (but only if you love it)
- Doing puzzles
- Practicing yoga or a stretching exercise (written by Eva Shaw — look her up — http://evashaw.com/)