Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Creativity is Subtraction

Mondays are very sneaky, aren’t they? Just as you get used to living in the weekend, BAM, Monday wakes you up at 6 a.m.

YES. One way I personally interpret this – and I feel there are many ways to read it – is that editing is also creativity. In order for me to write and not edit as I go, I’ll include cliches and wrong words in the first draft of a novel or short story or even poem. I’m trying to get my ideas down, and in novels, twists and turns and psychology. Those are the most important things in the first draft. When I edit, I accentuate my writing style. I delete all unnecessary words and cliches. When I add something, it’s necessary, and when I change something, it’s to make it original. I adjust the character’s voice to sound like them in particular. I consider editing part of the art of writing.

Another way I interpret this is the very reason I love flash fiction, and the shorter the better. I recently wrote two 16 word pieces. I started with something 21 words long and whittled it down to 16 words with careful consideration of tense, anything that slowed it down, every word counting for more than it’s worth, and meaning behind the meaning. I came out with something much stronger than the 21 word version.

My opinion is that creativity is many things, and nothing can be left out. Creativity is subtraction (careful wording), addition (fleshing out characters), multiplication (creating series), and division (anthologies). It’s the only kind of math I care to do.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Risk and Failure

Monday keeps coming around again, but I didn’t send it an invitation…

creativity-risk

This is so extremely true. Creativity isn’t about waiting for inspiration to strike, it’s about living in an inspired state. That’s how I see it. Some times are more creative than others, but if I don’t allow myself to live in my creativity, I start to lose my place in my writing. I literally can’t remember what I’m doing with a current work in progress.

That being said, taking risks and failing can be SO HARD! When you’re very attached to your work, it’s a part of you, so a risk is actually scary and a failure is devastating. This is what it’s like:

Risk: Let me try going in this direction with my story, I think that will work well. Yes, this is great, now I’ve spent a month on it and it’s really exciting. Oh wait, I hate it. Oh my goodness, it’s total garbage and doesn’t work at all. Oh no, now I have to start over!

Failure: I hate myself. I hate my writing. I hate everything I touch. I’m not worthy of a pen.

Yes, it’s that dramatic. But when we take these risks and we fail and we cry (and cry again), we also learn what went wrong and whether it could or couldn’t be avoided. We unveil another layer of our creativity, another secret to our inspiration. And finally, we learn that it’s worth it, through all that pain and torment, to do it again and again. And again.

2015 Writer Goals

New Year’s resolutions are not my thing. I don’t think they’re most people’s thing. But this year, I’m determined to make some achievable goals and accomplish them one by one because they’re achievable. I’m not going to promise myself ridiculous things, things that seem out of reach from the start. I’m promising myself things that are important to me, things I’m passionate about, and things I know I can do.

 

  1. Put time aside to read for pleasure. Why is this #1 on my list instead of something writing related? Because it is writing related. As an editor, I read loads of books per year in a critical manner. I read for errors, for problems, for improvements to be made. I read to help others, and I love it. But I’m reading in a very specific, professional manner. It’s like the difference between a doctor having a conversation with a patient and a doctor having a conversation with a friend. For the latter, he must come out of his professional capacity and enjoy the conversation. Likewise, for pleasure reading, I must come out of my professional capacity and enjoy the book. I truly miss enjoying books that I read because I feel like it, and I miss it because I don’t put aside time for it. I always think there’s something more important to be done, but am I not improving my knowledge, my understanding of writing by reading? Am I not understanding my own style better by reading other people’s? I need to fulfill the side of me that wants to read a book because it sounds good, and I’m determined to do that this year. I’m not going to follow any book challenges this year except for the Goodreads challenge to read whatever number of books you set for yourself. I set my goal at 60 and I intend to reach it.

 

  1. Do what it takes to write more often. Here’s the honest truth: I don’t write very often. I want to, but I get caught up in “waiting for the right moment” and being afraid that what I write won’t be right. Both of these reasons are just excuses – excuses I warn other authors against with a passion. I’m great at giving advice about this and even suggesting methods to avoid falling into those traps. I’m not great at taking that advice myself. One of those “what if I publish something and it doesn’t succeed” types of complexes. Well that’s garbage. How will I ever know if I never try? So I’m going to make sure I travel to places that inspire me to write. I’ve already planned two writing vacations for the first half of 2015. I’ve also bought a Chromebook to ensure I can write easily anywhere, whether it be in a notebook or a computer. Even going places like the library or a park or a bookstore inspires me to write. I discovered that in 2014. Now I’m going to apply it in 2015.

 

  1. Allow my creative side to blossom. I’m very interested in many more creative things than writing. Writing is my favorite way to express myself, and the best way in my opinion, so it’s most important to me. But I really enjoy creating other things too, like abstract art and needlepoint works. This year, I’m going to make sure I do those things in order to release my creative side in different ways and constantly indulge it. I have so many things I’d like to try in terms of creating abstract art, and now I’m not afraid to do them. I LOVE creating, even if the things I make are only for myself (although I love making things for other people). I already have some ideas I’m excited to put into action. And I have a needlepoint Kindle/book case I’m currently working on, so that part of the plan is already happening – and it will benefit my new pleasure reading habits! I’ll make sure to post a picture of the Kindle/book case. I like that it’s something I can use instead of a needlepoint that just sits around once its finished. My needlepoints will be things I can use or things that inspire me from now on. It feels so good to accomplish more than one thing at once!

 

  1. Learn to de-stress more efficiently. Although writing relieves stress extremely well for me, sometimes I can’t write because my mind is barraged with other responsibilities or concerns. If I can get my stress level under control, my creativity will be freed and I’ll want to write more often. I’m thinking that a combination of going to the gym a minimum of twice a week to burn off nervous energy and Tai Chi to calm myself on a weekly basis will get the job done. These two things will also benefit my body and improve my health. Any body with less stress is a healthier body. Any brain that can handle stress and remain calm leaves room for things that fulfill your spirit. That’s my goal.

 

  1. Do some volunteer work. Another thing that inspires me and creates good vibes is volunteering. I already know of a place I’d like to go back to where I volunteered in high school. I very much enjoyed it, felt excited and inspired by it, and remember fondly. Everyone was welcoming and kind and I was happy that I could volunteer when I wanted for what I wanted – no rules or restrictions based on how often I can volunteer or for what. I like helping others quite a lot, so I feel another side of me that has been unfulfilled for a few years would blossom and make me happy and inspired.

All of these things will make me feel well rounded as a person and help relieve some wants and needs that have gone unattended since I graduated from college. By doing that, I strongly feel my creative side will flow easily, and my creative side always leads me to writing – it’s my most treasured goal, pastime, and passion. 2015 is going to be an awesome year – I already know it!

What goals have you set for yourself as a writer or a reader this year? Do we have any of the same goals? Share below!