Writing and the Creative Process

If you’re an artist, writing can be an important part of the process.  The following points are from a post I made in a forum back in 2009.

Making a list — as soon as the idea hits you (do NOT take time to evaluate it) — is really important.

You may have a list of ten items that made you think, “Ooooh, I can do this!”

However, in the cold light of reality, you might be tempted to cross most of them off the list when you take a second look at the challenges.

Even worse, if you didn’t write them down, you might think, “Okay.  Bad idea. Forget that.”  And… you will forget it!

Instead, keep the list.  Write down everything, even totally crazy, impractical ideas!

What will happen is this:  You’ll see one or two items on the list that will work.  You’ll run with those to completion.

(The “to completion” part is key. I mean, we all tend to start something and stay with it only as long as it’s fun.  Then, maybe two days before completion, it starts moving into the “No Fun” category, and we’re back at some forum, buying things — income plans, business idea books, etc. — that sound easier and more fun.)

So, first, finish what you start.  (The exception is if it fails early and you can see how to use that information to shore up another great idea that you will see to completion.)

Then, go back to your list and re-evaluate the items you thought were impractical ideas.  With your new insights, and a little enthusiasm — after seeing the proof copy of your book, or even a few sales — you might see a different, more practical way to use the “impractical” ideas.

It’s like… the weird vase you got as a wedding gift might be truly hideous on your dining table, but it’d make a great planter on your patio, especially when the vase becomes partially covered with moss! *LOL*

Make that list.  That’s step one.

Take one great (or at least good) idea and run with it.  Don’t slow down to edit or anything until it’s completed.  You can go back and tweak it later, before you upload it at CS (CreateSpace.com).

A note about editing:  I’ve worked as an editor.  The greatest tragedy is to see a first draft of a book that was raw and full of creative energy, and then… the “polished” draft that the author sends is technically better, but it’s lost its energy.  Nothing will sell that book.

(If this doesn’t make sense to you, think of all the rock bands you loved when they were new and fresh and raw.  Their later work is more technically perfect, but it’s lost the energy.  It sounds derivative.)

The first version of your book might have earned criticism for grammar or whatever, but it had a spark that’d ignite enthusiasm in most readers.  It would sell, and might even go viral.

So, don’t edit as you go along.  You’re choking the vital energy out of your work.  It needs that spark to reach the finish line.

Edit when you have a completed book, not before… not unless it sputters and fails, early in the process, and you really do need to take it in a new direction.

But really, 80% of the time, the book will reach the finish line and need just minor edits.  You may not be able to see that, clearly, when it’s in progress.

Monet’s paintings didn’t look like photographs.  His fifth-grade art teacher would probably have taken his pencil away and told him he didn’t get the number of windows right in his cathedral paintings.

Copland’s music, “Appalachian Spring” doesn’t have any birds in it.  Not really.  Like Monet’s work, it’s his impression of something worth sharing with others.

Hold your books to a creative standard, not to some level of supposed perfection that you inherited from some English teacher, or a voice in your head that insists you need to try harder.

It’s the energy that makes a book great, far more than technical perfection.

You get your spark of energy from the initial idea.  That’s what’s preserved on the list you’re keeping, so be sure to write all the ideas down.

Keep that spark alive by not choking it with editing, or by showing your ideas — or your unpublished book — to others (or telling them about it) so they can provide fertilizer for self-doubts.

Be uniquely you.  Use every tool you can to maintain that unique voice, and keep the creative spark alive.

3 thoughts on “Writing and the Creative Process”

  1. I have been so inspired by your post and video. Thanks for sharing. I am trying to find my creative side and the quotation video is it!!!! I’m going to start my idea list right now. Thanks

    KIm

  2. Thanks, Kim! I’m delighted when my posts and other work are helpful to others. Your comment really made this an even sunnier, happier morning!

    Cheerfully, Ais

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