The Creative Process – it’s not always a flowing river, sometimes it’s a hot desert, with sandstorms and spitting camels.
I am on the creative journey of writing a script and have found that it’s called a journey because it’s definitely not a ‘creative stroll’.
There are many landscapes to cross through on this adventure, one of which is a desert.
For me, the most frustrating part of the process encompasses my emotions and the expectations I have on myself… and discovering this has been a process unto itself.
Yes, it seems that the creative journey is a journey that keeps on giving.
Initially I thought my problem was talent. Perhaps I’m just not that good… that’s why I don’t feel like some romantic, creative goddess, where ideas, characters and plot lines are tumbling, with ease, out of my psyche. That’s why this process of writing, feels like chewing a piece of really tough stake over and over and over again with no chance of swallowing and, no wine in sight.
During this journey, I imagine what real writers must look like when they are creating… waking at sunrise, sitting peacefully in a country cottage, their writing room; a haven, filled with crisp morning light. Steam from the tea beside them is rising delicately and as they look out their window, over the rolling paddocks where the cows are grazing, inspiration drops – BOOM. They catch a piece of the universe, type it down elegantly in a flow of genius that lasts for hours, and every word penned is ‘easy perfection’.
Not quite the picture of me.
I stand in the middle of my home office biting my nails. I go for a walk, return, write a few beats of the story, and then pick a part everything wrong with the beats I’ve just written – repeat.
But, through the beauty of sharing and caring, opening up about my frustrations and difficulties with mentors, friends and fellow writers, I have been encouraged to understand that, low and behold, I am actually normal.
Oh the relief.
I have discovered that I have expectations on myself that are too high, and, that I have some fantastical idea of what the writing process is, or, should be. What I am learning is that I must let go, not compare myself to the weird cottage fantasy and trust that every step I take has a place in the grand design of what I’m creating, no matter how far backwards I feel I’ve been flung or how far forwards I have managed to creep.
So, if you too are working on something and you’re feeling the sandstorm of creative confusion or the dryness of parched inspiration, please know it’s normal and that you and me… well, we’re not as bad as we think we are.
No, I don’t feel like a creative goddess today… I am not watching cows graze, and I have never felt like I have caught a piece of the universe. Today I feel like I am at sea, in the middle of vast ocean, waiting for the wind to push my sails, and that’s OK – because at least I’m waiting.
So for all of us on the creative journey, here is some inspiration from the greats that have gone before us – their words of encouragement can keep us buoyant at times when we might think we’re sinking… enjoy!
“It’s hard to make something that’s interesting. It’s really, really hard. It’s like a law of nature, a law of aerodynamics, that anything that’s written or anything that’s created wants to be mediocre. The natural state of all writing is mediocrity… So what it takes to make anything more than mediocre is such an act of will…”
– Ira Glass
“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.”
– William Zinsser
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
– C. S. Lewis
“All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by something whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
– George Orwell
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”
– Oscar Wilde
“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”
– Gustave Flaubert
Ira Glass, addressing the gap between what you’re doing and what you want to do!