Occasionally I post something here that is NOT a poem! I am taking a creative writing course at our local college and was recently asked to give a presentation on some aspect of writing. I titled it “Three Presents”. Some of my fellow students asked me to post it somewhere so they could read it again, so I thought perhaps some of my blog readers might also be interested in it.
Three Presents for Creativity
I don’t have a lot of experience writing short stories or anything much longer than an occasional epic poem. But there are similar challenges and techniques in all forms of creative writing and since most of my success has been with songs and poetry, I’ll be drawing on that experience for this presentation. I call it a presentation because I will be giving you presents. My middle name is Jean. So this evening I’ll be a Jeannie and give you three presents.
I used to wonder where the next inspiration would come from for a song or a poem and for a while it seemed that the harder I chased it, the faster it ran away. Then I realized that inspiration is very much like a skittish cat – chase it and it will dash up a tree and stay there untill you give up and walk away. Ignore it and soon it is in your lap, purring to be petted.
The first present I would like to give you is this –
The song/poem/story is already written – all you have to do is remember it.
This may sound simplistic, but if you truly believe that the piece is already written it takes a huge burden from your shoulders. You are not faced with the overwhelming, God-like task of creating something from nothing. All you have to do is remember. Will you need to edit? Yes, of course. You’ll probably need to do some rewrites before you’ve ‘remembered’ it clearly.
The classic stereotype of a writer is one who struggles and strains to capture something and put it down on paper, who closets himself or herself away from the world and “Writes”, with a capital W. The struggle is self imposed, the isolation unnecessary.
The second present is this-
Keep your creative well topped up and you will never lack for inspiration.
You are a spiritual being on a human journey. Your creativity knows no bounds but the ones you impose upon it. Inspiration and ideas dangle around you like ripe fruit on the vine. It is the creative water that fills your well. The well that you draw upon when you take pen in hand or sit at your keyboard. Allow yourself the luxury of observing, enjoying, and participating in new and different experiences and your senses will soak up creative water like a sponge.
Some writers are accused of treating their work like it was their child – and by this it is meant that they are oversensitive and protective – as though anything but praise is a personal affront. Instead of considering a critique, they immediately jump to the defense of their baby. Is it wrong to be so connected to your writing?
Present number three –
Yes, you are the parent of your work, and good parents know when to let go.
When a child is young, parents are protective and that is the proper way to be. But as a child matures, a parent must stand back and allow the child to stand alone, to become her own entity. It’s the same with writing. If you are still overprotective of your writing then your writing must still be as a small child. Take it home and nurture it, train it in the way it should go, and when it is ready to stand alone you will find the critiques that stung before are now just interesting perspectives and helpful suggestions that you and your writing can use to grow and become strong.
If you want to write then the most important thing to do is to actually write. Don’t plan to write, don’t schedule your writing, don’t wait untill the perfect plot lands in your lap. Write now. Write about anything and everything. Write everyday.
I would also like to give credit where credit is due. I found Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” to be pivotal in my development as a writer. I recommend it to anyone who wants to discover and nurture their creative soul. Her website is at http://juliacameronlive.com/
Now What? – Not a Poem…
As of Dec 24th I will have hit the elusive 366th poem in 366 days! Something to be proud of numerically at least. But I hope that within that deluge of literary litter there may lurk enough “good” poems to equal a reasonable book of poetry. I won’t be writing a poem on Christmas morning – not on purpose anyway – and I’ll probably take a little down time after that (possibly a day or two).
Editing. May not sound really exciting, but I’m going to share my experiences with the editing process. (You know I’ll post new poems too – I’m too compulsive to completely let go of the writing process while I’m editing). My objective in writing a poem a day for a year was to short circuit the inner critic and I think, on the whole, I’ve accomplished that. I’ve managed to crank something out EVERY day even if it wasn’t exceptionally inspired. Those of you who have been subjected to haiku written five minutes before I had to leave for work will attest to my tenacity and willingness to share my mediocrity as well as my strokes of (clears throat and blushes modestly) genius. Well the objective now is to accept and, dare I say it, enjoy the process of editing. I believe that editing can be as creative and rewarding a process as writing and I’m going to explore it (but I sure hope it doesn’t take a whole year!).
And Then What?
From there I’ll be exploring options for publishing. Amazingly, there are no publishing houses beating on my door insisting on publishing my humble book of poetry. Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to do it myself. And there’s another journey. I imagine that I’ll be writing about the research I’ll end up doing to get the book printed and distributed. A subject that could be quite dry unless I keep my rather odd sense of humour about it all – which I certainly intend to do.
So here we go, the final week of the “Poem a Day for a Year” series of self inflicted foolishness.
I will write you more poems.
And songs too and maybe even paint you some pictures.
Love to you all