It seems apropos to write about creativity given the recent struggles I’ve suffered (oh woe is me) as I attempt to complete my first fiction project as Kathryn Wise. Inspired by Henry Drummond’s chapter entitled Clairvoyance in his book The Ideal Life, I chose to write a five-book serial using a method called writing into the dark (sometimes called pantsing or discovery writing). The fifth and final installment is half written. My last writing session was three days ago. I had to stop.
Why did you stop, you ask? Because I was forcing it. I didn’t know it right away, at least not consciously, but there was something different. It felt like work. I wasn’t having fun. The dialog had turned uncharacteristically snarky as a poor substitute for what should have been said given the situation. The determined rush to the next twist was actually silencing the real story, the story patiently waiting to be heard.
I didn’t discover the problem until I returned to the previous day’s work and, for the first time, recognized that what I had written wasn’t the story. I kind of freaked out. I mean, I had a deadline, you know? I couldn’t allow this to happen; there was an expectation out there, a deadline, and a need to finish.
A need to finish. Interesting, right? Does creativity thrive when rushed? Well, yes, sometimes it does. I get flashes in the pan every once in a while and I consider it a gift at the time. But most of the time for me as a writer, the fruit of creativity ripens slowly, making its way through the layers of ideas that are half-baked, old and overused, or otherwise hindered by preconceived notions and conditions. And, of course, my pesky workaholic get-it-done self likes to step in and take charge when things aren’t going well, while ridiculing me for wasting time. But that’s a topic for my therapist, not you, my lovely reader.
I also realized that I’m suffering from low to middle-grade burn-out. After all, I’ve run the full publishing gauntlet four times since April 2018, and now half way around the track trying to finish the fifth leg.
So, what to do?
Last week before any of these struggles popped up, I read this post from an author:
My response to her was this:
I think of this as getting a heads-up from God.
Looking back at her post, I realize that I could easily have written it myself. Looking back at my response, I see that He was getting me ready for a break.
It still doesn’t feel right to stop striving, but that’s only because my large-and-in-charge project manager self (who says things like “we’ll rest when we die”) is still chirping at me. But I’ve fooled her this time. Writing this blog post is the best thing I could have done to avoid a terrible stumble on the track.
A couple of days rest may do wonders.