It’s the same with art for me. I don’t consider myself much of an artist, but I love to draw. Trouble is none of it is ever good enough for me to do anything with. However, you only get better if you work at it. But every time I try to set my mind to it, I then go weeks if not months without attempting to draw anything.
It usually is something dumb that gets me to write, something that just sparks my attention that I just have to say something about. Or I see something on the internet that just tickles my fancy that I want to try and draw to commemorate that moment of inspiration. My best poetry has come from stray thoughts that somehow come across as poetic, and oftentimes they turn into full blown poems. I don’t consider myself a poet at all, and yet I have something like 200 poems. I’ve written more than those, but a lot of them never got beyond a few lines. That’s 200 that I’ve actually finished.
When it comes to novel writing or story writing, though, wow, I never seem to run out of inspiration for those. At least, to start with... I have started perhaps a dozen different projects over the past two years. None of them have been completed. Some have morphed into others. After a while I have so many conflicting ideas in my head that I just give up. Creativity is frustrating. You might look at us artists and writers like we just sit around doing nothing. Actually, most of the time, it’s deciding what to do with our ideas that takes us far more time than we’d like to admit!
You know what people really don’t understand? It’s where the inspiration often comes from. People talk about meditation and how it can boost creativity. It doesn’t work for me – not in that way. It just relieves stress and helps me put things out of my mind. No, my creativity comes from passion. I have to get excited about something. And frankly, I get excited by some truly strange stuff. But there are sometimes long periods of time where I simply can’t get inspired. I lose interest in things oftentimes as quickly as I gain interest in them. I can’t stay on one topic for long. I think it’s why I’ve never been able to finish any of my stories – my focus shifts too much, which is fine for articles and poetry, but not for things that require plot structure.
I made the decision a few weeks back that I was going to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again this year. I wrote 50,000 words last year and technically “won” the challenge, but only about half of those words are anything I’ll ever consider usable. This year, I’m just going to write without any sense of plot structure, rhyme or reason. I’m just going to sit down and just write words, whatever comes to me, as just a stream of consciousness.
This sounds ridiculous and sort of against the spirit of the whole novel writing process, doesn’t it? Actually, no. The entire point of NaNoWriMo is just to write. A manuscript isn’t the point. But I had it in my mind that I needed one, that I needed to have a core purpose. I did have a good story, but the plot wasn’t fleshed out and the characters only developed as I wrote. I ended up having a story that was going in three different directions that I couldn’t reconcile. It was a mess. I got to over 50,000 words – I can’t remember the exact number, but it was definitely over the mark. But 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. I’ll leave it be for the time being.
I’ve decided that my creativity ebbs and flows in ways that I cannot possibly predict. I refuse to fight with it anymore. I’ll just let my brain do what it does, and when the inspiration hits me I’ll just let it flow. On days where I’m not inspired, well, at least I’ll come up with some potential article topics. I’m always going to need those. My brain never stops moving. It’s time I just brain-dump. If NaNoWriMo is a major way to motivate me to do that, then so be it. I just hope I get some little inspirational moments from my muse and the “Interwebz” to help fuel the 1500 words or so a day I’ll have to churn out. I know I’m capable of writing the words. It’s the product that I’m unsure of, and that’s exciting!
I hope that this strategy helps to spark my creativity, something I could really use right now. 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 – 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.