Natalie Goldberg, in her book Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, has listed many ways that writers can engage in the act of creating. “Timed writing is one way. Writing with a friend is another. It adds a healthy pressure.” Sometimes we can’t, or won’t, find time to write, practice, cook, or take our camera outside to catch whatever is in the yard. Setting a timer, then seeing what we can do within that ticking of ten minutes is one way for us to entice the Muse. One method I’ve used on a regular basis is meeting with a friend. As an accountability partner, with both of us having projects to work on, it limits the social chatter and gives us the space and the time we won’t make on our own to get some work done.
For some, writing, and any type of creation, in and of itself is enough. For others, and I think for most if not all, is the step to share that creation with others. “It’s important to read aloud what you write.” I agree with Goldberg. Reading aloud while editing is crucial since the ears hear what is missing, but the eyes automatically insert. But it’s also important to read aloud to others. In both writing groups I participate in, we read aloud what we’ve written. In one group, there is no feedback, which makes it less intimidating since what is shared won’t be critiqued. In the other group, since we’re working on an anthology, each piece needs to be edited. We do that as a group, with the author having the final say on how their story will be told. When we share what we create, it’s like Goldberg says, “Life wasn’t so bad after all. I connect with myself.” We do this each time we play with the Muse.
Oftentimes when we begin creating we don’t know what our “specialty” will be. We might begin by imitating. We write in the genre we like to read. We begin painting or cooking or dancing like the artist who inspired us to take a chance and dive into ourselves. “We have to break ourselves open. How do we do this? Well, the best way is writing practice…Probably the best way is to have a wild teacher who kicks you off the ledge…Get out of your mind.” Goldberg, Bradbury, and others have said it. The best way, the most conclusive way, the clearest way, but certainly not a way that is free of obstacles, is to write (or cook, paint, draw, dance, play an instrument, etc.). The more we do, the deeper we go, the more we discover.
“People come and go with writing. I understand. Writing is hard, but eventually if you are serious, you have to settle and be steady, even though your individual emotions change from day-to-day about it.” And that’s what happens with most creative pursuits. It goes back to making creativity a priority. Sometimes, we can return to something we set down for a week, a month, or years. Sometimes we can’t.
In my own pursuit of playtime with the Muse, I’ve been able to record a few stories. My novels and other writings are on my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com
What are ways that you get your self to be creative? Do you ever share your creations?