After writing my last article on protecting creative delusion, I lived happily ever after. And all this simply means is: I took my own advice (actually I took Neil Gaimon’s advice).
It wasn’t difficult to do as I wrote about how the popping of my creative delusion bubble inspired me to seek out knowledge and tactics from 5 enormously creative people who confronted antagonism & rejection. Debbie Millman urged us to lean into the “big, fat lump” in our throats as we pursue creative goals. Neil Gaimon reminded us that it’s not our job to know the rules that others create & Twila Tharp put it bluntly when she said
creativity is an act of defiance.
I could have added Ray Bradbury to this list, who consoles us when he says “the blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.”
You probably (hopefully) watched the video of Neil’s speech to college graduates and listened closely to his discussion on the absence of a “career path” in his life. Instead, he had a list of everything he wanted to write. He pictured this list as a mountain and evaluated every opportunity or project as something that would either take him towards or away from his mountain. You’ve got to admit, that approach is elegant in it’s simplicity.
Now There’s a Mountain on My Wall
Inspired I printed a picture of a mountain. Then I wrote a list. And scrapped it. So I wrote another list. But then I scrapped it. It appeared I wasn’t quite clear about all the things I wanted to write. As life would have it, I took off to Montreal and a story flew into my head while I was on the plane. I wrote a few pages of notes and shelved it. I didn’t remember “novel” being on either of my lists. Especially fantasy novel. People, I can barely tolerate Harry Potter. I’m not proud of this fact but it’s true.
Sometimes, we surprise ourselves.
Perhaps I unlocked something when I reaffirmed my commitment to writing, re-prioritized my time to reflect that commitment & re-imagined my identity as a writer. Exactly what would go on that list? I had to think about it. It was like hanging a big ole disco ball up in the fusty subconscious, which then jumped at the chance to answer.
When I got back, I made a final list & hung it up right beside my mountain. The last thing on my list was novel. Coincidentally, the day after, my friend Cassandra wrote about using the The 90 day novel: Unlock the Story Within. I promptly borrowed it on my kindle and within 24 hours, I was writing a novel. Still am. And in 90 days, I will have a first draft. In 5 days, I have over 13,000 words. And all because I was discouraged, took some advice & was willing to surprise myself.
If this issue rows your boat, you might try considering the questions below. But be warned: deep consideration of these questions could create real change.
6 Questions to Confound Your Expectations & Create More
- How could staying open to surprising yourself be a key to surprising (and delighting) an audience?
- How could you learn about a project, technique, or genre as you work towards completion on it?
- What type of writer or creator are you?
- What ideas do you say no to?
- What is your job as a creator? Is it to classify and define? Or is it to ideate and actualize?
- What is your mountain?
Thank you so much for giving me this space in your day & I hope it fueled you up. Till we meet again, BIG HUGS!
What an inspiring and informative post! Thanks for this.
Thanks! Can’t recommend the 90 Days book enough to get your going!
Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be suibcribsng in your feed and I am hoping you write again soon!
I’m loving the 90 Days book and how it doesn’t make me feel like I have to have it all together. I’m a day behind, but that’s okay. Even if I finish in 91 days I’ll be a happy lady 🙂
Cassandra, I agree – I love the intuitive approach since that’s what kind of writer I am. I don’t really know what’s in there till I sit down and start to write.
Thank you for posting this! I haven’t started the book yet, but I am putting it to the top of my list. You have given me a lot of food for thought until then!
Thanks for the great post! I haven’t started the 90 Days book yet, but you’ve inspired me to move it to the top of my list. The article has given me a lot to think about until I get to start it!
That’s awesome. I HIGHLY recommend it! Let me know how it goes!
inspirational- I have a current writing challenge so good to read what you have been doing – I was going to revisit the morning pages, now i will check out The 90 day novel: Unlock the Story Within. this might get my book complete 🙂
Susie, please do & let me know how you like it.
Great post! I love the questions at the end!
I love the mountain idea, Cynthia (then again, I tend to love Neil Gaiman generally!)
I think that staying open to being surprised is one of the key things I’m trying to embody. I’ve had many goals in my life – some of them I’ve achieved, some I haven’t, and some I’ve let go of because they’re no longer relevant for me.
I think one of the issues I have when people talk about the importance of deciding on a goal and committing to it come hell or high water is that it doesn’t leave room for them to change and evolve as a person (and I guess that counts for the mountain idea too). Something that’s hugely important now may have just turned into a nagging “should” a year down the track, so I love the idea of flexible goals, and of coming back and reviewing my goal list regularly to make sure that everythign I’m working on is still relevant for me.
It’s not always easy to do – I HATE feeling as though I’m not following through on something I said I’d achieve. But at the same time, doing something for no other reason than that 12 months ago I thought it was a good idea is… probably not the best use of my energy!
Thanks for a great post.
Tanja, I know the feeling. Defining goals is an ongoing dilemma.