Creativecraft: Creativity and the creator

If you spend enough time around creative types, you’re bound to hear the same lament: I’m a creator! Why am I not creating?

I suffer from this lament to the extreme on occasion, and while I could launch into the laundry list of reasons, real and imagined, that I don’t create even when I want to be, I want to focus here on one:

We creatives often make creating way too complicated.

Again, there are all sorts of reasons for that, both real and imagined, but the simple fact is that the act of creation is often simply a matter of doing it without concern for the outcome. Unfortunately, we often get tangled up in worrying about the outcome way before the product even exists, and the result is that the creating never gets done.

It’s easy and cliche to just claim the answer is to go create. The fact is creative types live in their heads, and all of those real and imagined obstacles to creating are real for those experiencing them. The single biggest success that any creator can have is overcoming them.

I can’t say what will work for anyone else, but I can say for myself the way over/through/around that block is often clear cut: simplify. My projects often become unmanagibly grandiose, and by letting them become so, I often can’t wrap my brain around finishing them. When I simplify them, they tend to come out, and sometimes even approach the level of grandeur I imagined.

My task going forward, then, is to simplify the approach I’m taking to what I create so that I’m actually creating. It’s a tall order even then. Here’s to doing it.

DLH

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Creativecraft: Inspiration

Fire it up!

I hate inspiration.

There, I said it.

Inspiration is an infuriating creature. It’s capricious. Fickle. Unpredictable. Unreliable. It rarely gets work done and is notorious for abandoning me right in the middle of something that needs done.

And it is indispensable to my creative process.

The fact is that every idea I’ve ever had, no matter what it is, is a child of inspiration. That relationship may be subtle, like a whisper carried on a breeze, or it may be unmistakable, like a lightning strike. Either way, inspiration births ideas and everything that comes from it.

Nevertheless, I hate it because I can’t control it. I want it to obey me and to produce on command. It laughs and disappears for days and months and years, only to return with no apparent prompting to dump a pile of ill-begotten offspring on me and disappear again.

So, it is a surprise when inspiration appears with the true intent of showing me a new thing, opening up a vista of possibility to me that had been heretofore obscured and impossible to get to.

This time, inspiration showed up in the form of an internet article about a dumpster fire toy. I know, right?

But that’s what it was. A spark that, pun intended, caught fire and burned away the dead wood that was obscuring my path to something I’ve been trying to find my way to for decades without success. Suddenly, there it is, the thing I’ve been looking for in all its glory.

A dumpster fire.

Yeah, inspiration. I hate it. And I love it.

Please don’t leave. Please come back.

DLH

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Worldview: The only way is forward

I don’t know about you, but the past few years have been particularly rough ones for me. To be fair, some of that roughness has been self-inflicted, but there as been as much or more coming from outside as there has been from inside.

It would be far too easy to descend into some kind of self-lament, but the fact is that such thoughts lead to nothing more than excuses. The fact is, as rough as the past few years have been, the next few are not going to get any better if I sit around complaining and waiting for others to do something about the problems I see them creating or advancing.

No, for each one of us, the only way is forward. Each of us has to decide whether we are going to wait and complain or to act. I choose to act, and I hope to inspire you to do so as well.

The way I see it, this year–2013–is a make or break year for a lot of us for a lot of reasons. I know I believe it is for me personally, and I get the feeling that a lot of people feel the same way.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Now, the fact is that I am about as inspiring as a drunk TI with anger management issues, so I will try to let others do the inspiring on my behalf. (See what I did there?)

Now, visit Caine’s Arcade.

Why kids? Because if they can do this stuff, what’s your excuse? And, here are some people who are inspiring me: Chris and Janine PlugerGene Logsdon. Gene Veith. Jennifer Grubb. Keba Hitzeman. Limor Friedman. Peter Hitzeman.

And, now, go find some things that inspire you. Then report back. I want to know what you’re doing to make this the year we make it!

DLH

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Writing: NaNoWriMo 2011 Day 8: A week in

[9860]

A week has passed since National Novel Writing Month began, and so far, I’m behind and having to work really, really hard to make this story I’m writing work.

And that’s ok.

What I have discovered over the past week is that there is a lot more to writing and to my style of writing than I originally allowed for. I tend to develop my stories in layers, often from a central premise, so that the layers become wider and wider circles, one covering over the one previous.

Why does that matter? Because now I understand something I haven’t for years: why my stories always seem unfinished after my first attempt at them. That’s because they are.

Now, how does that help me? Well, for one, it is making me realize that I need to loosen up a whole lot more while working on my first drafts. I need to let the story flow more, let it take wrong turns, let characters grow, appear, and disappear as necessary until I finally have a workable draft. I also need to focus more on developing my idea before I start writing so that I have a better framework to hang the whole story on.

And why should you care? Because I want you to see that writing is not just about creativity, inspiration, and desire. It’s also about style and craft and technique. Successful writers have to have both if they are going to succeed, and learning how to develop all aspects of your writing cannot help but help you succeed.

DLH

PS: If you want to read the final product of my NaNoWriMo 2011 effort, you can help make that happen by donating to NaNoWriMo and the Office of Letters and Light through my fundraising page. If I reach $250, I will post my story December 1st, and if I reach $500, I will also post an expanded version of my preview story January 1st.

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Writing: NaNoWriMo Day 5: The philosophy of writing

I have always tried very hard to make sure, as I am writing about writing, to be sure I do not presume or insinuate that everyone else should write like me. What works for me may not work for someone else, but what works for me might inspire someone else.

Today, I found myself being inspired by people who write in ways entirely unlike my own. Yet, in their own exploration of the art and the craft, I found kindred spirits and hope.

I think too many people dismiss writing for a variety of reasons, yet almost all of them spent at least thirteen years or more learning how to do it. Writing is what you make it, and I think the attempt opens pathways in the mind that are worth exploring for anyone.

So, whether you write fifty or five thousand words a day, write them. Mull them over. Savor them. Share them, if you will. Whatever you do with them, the effort will have been worth it.

DLH

Read more at my Writing site...