When I began writing novels a few years ago, I didn’t believe I could write creatively. I was a good freelance writer (which is quite different from creative writing) – no, make that a damn fine freelance writer. I could take whatever I was given, re-work it and churn out something my clients were always pleased with. But how to develop creativity was something that escaped me. I was sure it was not possible. I just was not that type.
My son Kyle changed all that. He challenged me to write something creatively and I began a memoir. Surprise, surprise, the writing flowed and I discovered a new talent and something I enjoyed far better than regurgitating someone else’s words.
Everyone has a creative side to them. I’m convinced of this. The trick is to discover it. This doesn’t mean everybody can write creatively. On the contrary, creativity takes many different paths: art, sculpture, painting – and those are just the ones we generally associate with creativity. But what about gardening or flower arranging, event coordination, tailoring a wedding gown, baking an upside-down pineapple cake, creating a wreath made of wine corks. Creativity takes so many forms.
What works for one person does not necessarily work for another when releasing your creative side. When beginning a new writing project most writing teachers tout the usual:
- Outline and begin drafting
- First drafts are no good (I disagree)
- Revise till you can’t stand the novel any longer
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these steps, but I realize I don’t do this … and maybe you don’t as well. I toss around ideas in my head for a long time. Sometimes what sets me off is a great lede (this is a journalism term) – something I was always good at when writing for the Ottawa Citizen in my interning days. That hook generally sets me off in the right direction and the characters start flooding my brain with their stories.
I hate outlining. Instead of helping it hinders me. I feel obliged to follow the formula I’ve arbitrarily set up and it works against me. What I do instead is mull over my ideas during my walks with my dog Indy. He rares off looking for uneaten sandwiches that school children have chucked in the ravine and I march along thinking. Something always comes to me.
Another great way of boosting creativity is to let your subconscious do the work. Keep pen and paper handy by your bedside. Close your eyes and let your subconscious work on where your story (or whatever creative project you’re dealing with).
What’s your creative secret?