Have you ever promised yourself to do something creative every day? Many times, I’ve promised myself to write a little something every day. But, soon as I make that promise, I’m lucky to keep it up for a week.
You know what happens? I just don’t feel like it one day. Then suddenly, two or three days go without me writing a single word. Sometimes, I just lack inspiration. There are days that I actually want to write, but can’t think of a damn thing to actually write about.
It’s usually something dumb that gets me to write. Something just sparks my attention to say something about. Or, I see something on the internet that just tickles my fancy and I need to commemorate that moment of inspiration with a quick freeform essay.
Then, there’s my poetry, a once-favored form of mine that’s been lacking in recent times. My best poetry comes from stray thoughts that somehow come across as poetic. Still, they can turn into full blown poems. I’m not a dedicated poet at all, yet, I have hundreds of poems. Many of them never got beyond a few lines, but many end up in some state of completion.
When it comes to novel writing or story writing, though, I’ve started more than a dozen different projects over the past several years. Only two stories are relatively finished, while most others are in various states of disarray. Some projects have morphed into other stories completely. After a while, I end up with so many conflicting ideas within the same project that I simply throw them on the back burner indefinitely.
Creativity can be immensely frustrating. You may look at artists and writers and it seems we sit around doing nothing. Actually, most of the time, we’re deciding what to do with our ideas. We have more crap to sift through than we’d like to admit and that takes us far more time than we realistically have in a day. Then, when you really come to realize that, constant insomnia suddenly seems like a very reasonable side effect of an overactive imagination.
You know what people who aren’t dedicated to creative pursuits on a daily basis really don’t understand? It’s how we source our inspiration. People often talk about meditation and how it can boost creativity or organize over-cluttered minds. Meditation does the opposite for me, it creates more stress by allowing my subconscious to litter my already overcrowded mind with even more ideas to muddle over.
In my case, creativity comes from a passion to create something fresh and uniquely my own. I have to get excited about something on a deeply personal level. Frankly, I get excited by some truly strange stuff. Yet, there are long periods of time where I simply can’t get inspired. I lose interest in things as quickly as I gain interest in them. I can’t stay on one topic for long. That’s likely why I rarely finish any of my stories. My focus shifts too much. This is fine for writing articles, essays, and poetry, but not for things that require structured planning such as plot or world building.
I once participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Sure, I wrote 50,000 words that year and technically “won” the challenge. Still, only about half of those words were anything I’ll ever consider usable. The story ended up going in three different directions that I couldn’t reconcile and it’s yet another back burner project. It was a struggle and a painful experience. It’s a project that I’ve tried to rekindle again with modest success, but it’s back on the shelf for now.
The next year, I just sat down and wrote without any sense of plot structure, rhyme or reason. I wrote whatever came to me as a stream of consciousness. I “failed” that year, and I’ve “failed” in every year since, yet I’ve now written some usable stuff, some of which is now published online! This sounds ridiculous and sort of against the spirit of the whole novel writing process, doesn’t it?
Actually, the entire point of NaNoWriMo is just to write. Producing a finished manuscript isn’t the point of the exercise. But, I had it in my mind that I needed a core purpose. I did have a good story, but the plot wasn’t fleshed out and the characters only developed as I wrote.
Creativity often ebbs and flows in ways that are often unpredictable. I refuse to fight with these seemingly random fluctuations anymore. I just let my brain do what it does, then when the inspiration hits me, I’ll just let it flow. On days where I’m not inspired, I’ll try and come up with some potential writing topics. I’m always going to need those.
My brain never stops moving. This is why I just brain-dump whenever I get the chance. I know I’m capable of writing the words. It’s the product that I’m unsure of, and that’s exciting! I’ve found this strategy helps to spark my creativity, something I can use everyday. If you find yourself constantly getting stuck in your creative endeavors, I’d encourage you to try something similar.
Just spend a little time each day just working on whatever comes to you, no matter how silly it seems. Write or sketch the first thing that comes to your mind and go with it. Do your favorite craft or try a new one. Use prompts if you’d like. Just create. It’s good for you.
Do you have any special ways to get yourself inspired to write or create art, whatever sort of art it might be? I’d love to hear about them.