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!