The More You Use It
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
A favourite Maya Angelou quote. She’s right, of course, phenomenal woman, great thinker, savvy human being that she was. I am learning this every day as I’m in a busy period of work at the moment, working on two books. One for Schnauzerfest: a project I’m collaborating on with Annabel Wilson and I’ve now begun serious work on my third book for adult readers.
This I’m excited about, it feels the right time and it’s now happening after a lot of deliberation; chapters are taking shape, content is appearing on my screen as I immerse myself in the process of creating another large, original piece of writing. My creativity is expanding the more I’m tapping into it.
My mind some days feels grasshopperish, as I jot down ideas, work on a phrase, try to produce something from snatches of writing made ages ago. I flit from thought to thought, make notes, sometimes write long, wordy passages that get scrapped the next day.
Ideas come at random times, sometimes from nowhere, or at least a place unknown to my conscious mind. An exercise I find helpful to get my writing moving is to settle down and for a set time, free write. Just write any words that come to me. It’s fascinating what comes out sometimes. Things my imagination holds but which I’m unaware is there until I open the tap. It’s like warming up before doing any exercise. I should have tried it more regularly years ago, maybe I’d have more books out in print by now!
Writing is what I love doing but it isn’t easy. Not good writing. Free writing is dead easy, there are no rules, no worries about grammar or structure or spelling, anything goes down on the paper during a free write. But writing something to publish is hard work. Again, trusty Maya Angelou offers me comfort when I realise how flipping hard some days it is to write coherently.
Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
She makes writing appear effortless but I know it is not. I take guidance and inspiration from many sources – all creativity is about being inspired by others. I make regular dips into these favourites, refreshing my skills, honing ideas.
Austin Kleon is fantastic at making salient points stiletto sharp. This is an all-time favourite from him which has many resonances for me, beyond my writing.
I encourage anyone with a wish to create something to do so, with their heart and soul, whatever it is. Do it well, do it honourably and enjoy the journey. For, as the great woman says, the more you create, the more you’ll have.
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