Many of us are convinced that “creativity” is something for the select few: artists, musicians, those Etsy artsy with the talent (and the time) to paint, knit, and upcycle wooden pallets into herb gardens or whimsical wine racks. Feeling anything but creative, we watch from the sidelines, scrolling and pinning it on our “someday” board.
We may feel uninspired, but the truth is we are born creative. Just watch a toddler play, or dress himself, or eat. He will find a million ways to explore his world and express himself. Often with crayon. On living room walls.
Feeling uninspired or apathetic doesn’t prove we are not creative. However, it’s a sure sign that we are running on empty. In fact, those feelings are the flashing gas light of our soul warning us to pull over and fill up.
This is my granny's recipe for Irish Potato Cakes. Knowing the right recipe is key to creating great food, but did you realize that every great movie, novel, play, and short story also has a recipe?
Even though they all differ, great fiction starts with the same basic ingredients.
I've had a few people ask about my writing process. I'd love to say that I sequester myself in a cottage by the ocean and the ideas come in like the tide. Or that I have a turret in an old stone house and my butler brings me tea. (Not now, Bates, I'm on a roll.) Or that I dress like my protagonists. Or write while running on my treadmill desk. Ya right. Or that my muse speaks to me like a Galadriel voice over.
The truth is, my process is pretty ordinary. It happens in the middle of my dining room. In the middle of my day. In the midst of all the family chaos. Maybe the fact that it happens at all makes it of note. Either way, I'm not as eccentric or exciting as my characters or many authors -- for me, writing a novel basically comes down to two things: getting stationery and getting stationary.
Sometimes, it seems that life (or writing) is just one struggle after another, one problem after another. On some level, it is. But if you look at it in light of the Hero's Journey, it seems to take on a whole new meaning.
Watch this great TED clip (it's only 4 1/2 minutes)
Here's an activity that I share with my grade 12 Writer's Craft class, but I think it applies to all of us.
Being a writer means being a lifelong student. Over the years, I've learned a lot about myself, the craft, and the business from some excellent resources. Here are some of my favourites on the Writer's Identity, The Art, and The Business of writing.