In the sixteen years since I wrote my first story, I’ve published five books, thousands of blog posts, and written a billion or so words that I later deleted.
When I first got started, one of my biggest fears was that I’d run out of ideas. I was concerned that I would burn out, that there won’t be any stories or words left in me. This doomsday scenario would play in my brain, over and over again, and for this reason I became a hoarder of… ideas.
Over time I’ve learned a really important lesson about creativity, and the human brain…
“Archaeologists have not discovered stages of human existence so early that they were without art. Right back in the early morning twilights of mankind we received it from Hands which we were too slow to discern. And we were too slow to ask: FOR WHAT PURPOSE have we been given this gift? What are we to do with it?” — Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
I think I wrote and published well over a million words by now. Probably even more. Who knows? Who cares?
After all, the blank page that I have to fill right now with words doesn’t care about my previous articles, short stories, or novels. All it cares is that I transform its emptiness into something worth someone’s time.
This is what being creative means: to turn the white page, the blank canvas, the empty document into something by sheer power of will, which is, at times at least, quite a painful process.
And don’t believe anyone who tells you that being creative can be effortless. They are trying to sell you something, whether it’s an e-book or e-course.
Anyways, here are some tips and tricks on being creative. It’s not going to make the process effortless for you, but it’s going to offer you a bit of clarity, which I’ve found to be extremely useful especially when you’d much rather bang your head against your desk than write another word.
When I was young and naive I was so desperate to become the writer I dreamed about that I wrote like a bunch of other people.
My words were not my own, the rules I blindly obeyed acted like a cage.
I wrote like one or two of my favorite authors, depending on the day. Sometimes I’d write with the kind of brevity only Hemingway was capable of, other times I’d struggle to craft the kind of complex sentence structure only Gabriel Garcia Marquez could manage to create.
After all, my first novel was sort-of like Great Gatsby, but from the perspective of a narrator much akin to Nick, hopelessly in love with a woman he could never have.
Whether you’re trying to fix a certain issue, start a business, market that business, or write an interesting article, creative thinking is crucial. The process boils down to changing your perspective and seeing things differently than you currently do.
People like to call this “thinking outside of the box,” which is the wrong way to look at it.
Whenever we submit a part of our soul that we translated into words, we do so armed with nothing but the hope that the person reading our work will understand it.
Sometimes they do. Most times they don’t.
Rejection scrapes the heart. But, well, there’s nothing to do about it. In fact, rejection is as much a part of being a writer as punching those damn keys. It’s as much a part of being a writer as edits and the rewrites and the social media marketing.
I’m a writer. I have spent the last fourteen years telling myself this. Reading at least a book a week since I was fourteen, spending at least 8 hours every day punching those damn keys, hoping to be rewarded by the muse with something that someone else can call beautiful.
And, yes, from time to time I did doubt it. I still do….