Novel · Writing

The Conundrum of Creativity

I told myself the weekend would be for writing.  I told myself I’d find some time to actually put more than a couple hundred words on the page.  And, well, I certainly wish it was easy as declaring it so.  I wish this nurse knew what the heck a weekend is.  When you work nights, and get off of working three in a row, it can be a struggle to balance the free time…because I mostly just want to sleep, and my immediate waking hours are spent eating.

*sigh* anyway, my writing over the weekend was mostly in stolen moments.  But today I have a couple hours free for writing, and afterward I’ll do more research (meaning: reading and watching television, ha!).

If you Google “how to be a writer” (which, I must admit, I’ve done more times that I can count…), it comes up with lists and lists of tips.  Consistently, one such tip is to commit to writing each day.  Treat writing like a day job.  Set aside a space and time for writing.  That sounds easy enough!  And, that’s what I’ve based my writing rules for this project around (writing, a minimum, five minutes per day).

I do view writing as a day job in theory, but I also severely romanticize the idea of writing a novel.  This creates quite a conundrum in my head.  How am I supposed to sit down and dutifully write each day, inspired or not?  This very question is what has stopped me from expressing these characters on page, the characters that live and breathe and have a whole life in my mind.  The muse has come by, the idea has flourished, but the words are still inside.

The struggle that I’ve found in writing this novel in the past is that my momentum ebbs and flows.  That’s the conundrum of creativity, I keep telling myself.  Creativity is not always a present force.  It’s not always whispered plot points or the next line of dialogue.  And why should I expect it to be so?  Just as almost anything worth it’s salt requires commitment, so to does writing a novel.  A dull, time consuming, not very romantic commitment.

Another tip on such lists is that the beautiful writing comes in the revision process.  Some writers state that they’ve completely re-written a novel a number of times before it’s in it’s finalized state.  And I’m holding this tip close, because as I dutifully fulfill my commitment each day to this novel, I can’t help but groan in my heart about how shitty it is.  I feel like every other word is “said” and I can’t connect scene to scene in any inspiring way.

I felt the same way when I finished my NaNoWriMo novel in 2010.  Make no mistake, that novel was a piece of shit.  The idea was interesting, and I wrote 50,000+ words about it, but damn, when I re-read it that one time, I groaned the whole way through.  And I haven’t touched it since.  But, the encouraging point here is that, shitty or not, I wrote the whole damn thing.  And that’s really all I’m aiming for here.  Who knows what is going to happen when this story is finished.

Right now, it’s just getting the words on paper.  Right now, I need to continue to show up.  Later, it’ll be a pretty and nice story.

(I can already tell y’all I’ll be writing so much more on this idea as the writing progresses.  So stick with me!  And maybe groan along with me as this thing unfolds.)

What do you do when your creativity feels stagnant?  How do you talk yourself around, or into, the mundane side of creation?  Let me know in the comments.

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

2 thoughts on “The Conundrum of Creativity

  1. I feel like I relate to every single thing you’ve written here because I’ve always wanted to write something substantial but have always had the same challenges. The motivational ebbs and flows. The need for perfection in every line on the first try. Treating it like a job though also feeling like that’s boring because this is supposed to be creative and romantic etc. etc. all the things you said. I have started a few creative writing projects and got as far as 30000 words into one. Never finished anything of fiction though. Anyway, I too would read advice from writers and the one thing that stuck to me the most was about that editing thing. The writer, I can’t recall his name, said to NEVER … like, EVER go back and reread what you’ve done the day or even moment before. Just keep going. Because the idea is that writing is one state of mind while revision and editing is another. One is creative and one is critical and the two should never mix and mingle. So just write. Write like shit because it’s always shit on first if not second draft. And shit is better than nothing. All great novels probably start out being shit. This was supposed to be motivating…i don’t know if it was but I have total faith you can do this!!

    1. Julia! Thanks for the encouragement 🙂 I love the way you wrote that – creative writing is one part of the mind, and editing is another. Perfect, and so true. 30,000 is nothing to sneeze at! Happy to know that I’m not alone in the ebbs and flows of creativity. Thanks for reading x

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