The creative process is a curious thing. I used to think that creativity was a gift from the gods. A thing bestowed upon us at most inopportune moments, and if we didn’t take advantage of it as the moment struck, the genius would be lost forever.
That attitude is how I always approached my writing. If I wasn’t “feeling it”, I wouldn’t write. But what if I didn’t feel it for a month? Sometimes that happens – and I don’t write for a month. Then I discovered that when I needed to, it was like the well had run dry. Bizarre, if that gift already lies inside of me…
Over the months I’ve done a lot of reading and research about the creative process. James Altucher is one author who has hooked me on more than one occasion with his acerbic wit and unconventional wisdom. He, along with several others, stress the importance of exercising the creative muscle. It’s not a treasure chest meant to collect dust in my brain, opening at will when I need a nugget of gold every now and then. It’s a muscle that needs to be nurtured, coaxed and pushed to maintain its strength. You gotta feed the monster if you want it to grow.
What do all the successful writers suggest? That I write every day. Even if it’s bad. Hands down, one after another says this is the most crucial bit to the creative writing process. It’s much better to write 500 words of rubbish and then go back and delete it the following day, than to just sit around and wait for a moment of inspiration to strike. Because I’ve tried that method and frankly it hasn’t worked too well for me.
So, in taking some productivity advice from Jerry Seinfeld (I have a hard and fast rule of only taking advice from successful people), I’ve put a huge desk calendar on my wall. And every day that I write, I put a big X through that date at the end of the day. The goal is to have one long chain of X’s that never break. Little actions every day are more significant than one giant effort every few months. Every day I look at that calendar and it pushes me to continue the chain. So far, it’s been 9 days. 🙂
Since I plan on writing a book, I want to grab on tightly to my creative process so I can run alongside it when it decides to break free and run like a wild little unicorn.
Elizabeth Gilbert also has some pretty savvy thoughts about creativity that you can watch on this TED clip: