I recently wrote a blog about being creative here. In it I asserted that we are all creative beings, and that we hold ourselves back too often. My friend and fellow writer, Joe Stein, had the following insightful comment:

I also think that some folk have a tendency to give up if it isn’t going well. That’s a little judgmental maybe, but I have spoken with people who having had the creative impulse, don’t always realise how much further hard work goes into producing something from that impulse and then honing it into something more. If they then don’t get the encouragement they perhaps need, they don’t necessarily follow it through. We must have lost countless unfinished pieces of art, music, literature and so on, because of this.

I couldn’t agree more. We all know that famous quote from Thomas Edison: Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. And that leads to the discussion of what it takes to move your idea forward far enough that you have a completed project. For me, writing a novel takes a minimum of two years where I am both focussed and oblivious at the same time. The focus is easy. Once I decide to go ahead with the idea. I commit to it by working my way through a series of rituals:

  • I buy a new notebook, preferably a large, lined Black and Red with a red ribbon to mark pages. On the spine I write something general like Novel 5. I then put it on a book stand next to my computer to stare at me accusingly if it’s ignored.
  • I buy a new pen. I write everything longhand first and then type in my day’s writing as a sort of first edit. Writing with a new pen in a new notebook is my way of saying to myself, “Now it’s time for something special and different.”
  • I take my new pen and notebook to a place that is not where I do the rest of my administrative work. That can be anyplace, even just a different chair. But I need to feel that I am not only mentally, but also physically in a different place than I am during the rest of the day.
  • I meditate, which helps me move away from my daily to-do list and into the fantasy world living in my head.

Then, I’m off and as I said, for me that is the easy part. The harder part is being oblivious, dismissing the realist in me, the one who says to the creative idea, “No. This is silly. It will never work. No one will find it as compelling as you. And besides, it’s been done a million times before.”

So here is a quote from me which you can print out and tack to the wall above your desk (and forgive me if you’ve seen or heard me say it before, but it’s worth repeating):

NO is the death knell of creativity

As Joe points out, just think of all those potentially great pieces of art lost to the word NO.

AuthorSue on 31st January 2020 at 7:47 pm (Edit)