I have worked with a number of authors, writers and people sharing their story this year, and a pattern is emerging. You are all out there, beautiful, full of passion and wanting to write, write, write! But, I also sense, all those sensitive souls that I am working with, that there is something else. Something that is like a little hand tugging on your skirt, giving you a sense of doubt...a little niggle that won't go away.
So, I have decided to share your collective niggles so that aspiring writers can know what they are getting in for! I hope you all don't mind! There are some 20 of you, and you have opened many of your hearts as you delved into the creative process with me.
And that is where we will begin.
The creative process
Why is it that is scares the bloomers off so many of us? Don't worry, it's me, too! I will never lose that fear that sneaks in when I don't expect it, creeping around my mind and trailing fingers of ice that are like jump-starters on my chest.
Creativity is an intensely energetic time. Perhaps it is a field, I don't know, but it vibrates at an incredibly high frequency if it is one. When I am in flow, it can be euphoric or downright frightening.
This is what happens for me. I sit, knowing that I need to call on that creative energy thingy that produces amazing things. Sometimes, there is silence. Frustrating, long drags of nothing. Some call it writer's block, but it can apply to anything requiring innovation. Perhaps it is a problem that won't go away. A new business idea. How to revive a business you already have. Cracks in a relationship.
Anything that requires a solution requires creativity. The left-sided brain might tell you that you need logic and reason. But in actual fact, quite the opposite is required.
And this is where I believe that fear comes from. Telling logic to take a hike is gutsy. Logic doesn't respond to that well at all. And the critic(s) will then pop up. It might be in your mind, or might be a relative, friend or someone of Facebook. They are out there, like X-file actors infinitely multiplied. They are also super easy to find.
But when we write, we have to call on our creative self, and the critic in us is there at the ready, fist curled, lips twisted into a vicious snarl..."Just. You. Write. One. Word. And. I. Will. Thump. You."
I mean seriously, who are we to think we are writers?! How dare we?!
It has taken me years to admit that I am a Creative. That title includes writer and author. One critic (whom I wrote of in my last blog) derided the fact that I had 'self' published. Horror of all horrors! Like a chef who owns a restaurant, how dare I?
So, back to me sitting waiting for the creative process to begin.
When I wrote The Bootongs of Bali, the process eluded me for many years. The draft sat in a drawer for a number of reasons, until finally, I figured it out. Here is what I have learned about the creative process. Before I could allow it to start, I had to come to terms with some stuff that isn't in the Word doc program or In Design app. Here is what I did, and what I continue to do.
1. Put aside all reason and logic. Creativity doesn't need it. Editing and proofing can come later. If you are lucky, you can pay somebody to do this.
2. Start. Turn up. Sit down. Pick up a pen or turn on the computer, and start. Got it? Don't argue. Don't listen to the critic. Just start. Don't, please don't, edit. Don't re-read your work. It won't help and you have time to do that later.
3. Know that you are a creative being. Every human being on this planet is. Everything we see has been created by 'someone' or by nature. Accept this fact. It is the truth. So as you sit there beating yourself up about not being a writer, accept the fact that at the very (big) least, you are creative. If you can speak, and you can form a sentence, that builds to a paragraph, you can write.
4. Allow the creative process to be, to happen. This is a hard one to grasp at first, but during The Bootongs of Bali writing, I 'got' it. Words flew out of my mind at a rate faster than I could type. I sat, glued to my computer's keyboard, for hours at a time. My back ached and from time to time, I had to stop to make notes of my future thoughts.
My mind was filling so quickly with the plot, that it could not get onto the screen fast enough. I was what they call, 'in flow'. I was allowing what I call my Creative Source to fill me. It was as though it was entering the top of my head at such a great rate of urgency that I had no choice but to turn up and honour it. Nothing could distract me, and nothing could stop me.
Once I allowed the creative process to take over, the rest took care of itself.
But, what happens when that stops? Quite often, fear sets back in again. I speak to dozens of writers who tell me they have written a book, experienced creative flow, but are now terrified to publish it.
Their fears logically are around money. "I don't have the money right now," they say, before spending thousands on another marketing campaign which they forget to measure.
I gently dig a little deeper. And that is when I find the fear again.
What if I spend all that money and it fails?
What if people hate it?
What if my mum tells me I am a lousy writer?
What if my brother thinks I am a wanna-be?
Add your own to the list. Give the fear a voice. Then look it in the eye and face that fear, and do it anyway.
If you can conquer the fear, you are well on the way to writing that book. It is real. It can be paralysing, if you let it. But if you can face it, you will open up opportunities to get that book in your hands, to be published, and experience the amazing feeling of having given birth to your book baby!
In Part 2 of Writing Challenges, I will talk about money and failure fears. I will share what you need to do, all the stuff that is non-negotiable. Where the money goes. And why, if you can come to terms with that alone, you will be 10 steps closer to living your dream of writing and publishing a book.
Clare is a published author and is owner of Creatavision Publishing, an independent company that takes visions and brings them to life. She has published three books this year alone, and is one of the few who can handle every part of the process. She privately consults for aspiring authors to help inspire and motivate them, guide and nurture them, on their book creation path. She is also passionate about the creative process, and runs workshops to help you step past fear and live the life you want.