Monday, November 11, 2013

Rule 6: Stop Trying

     I was a scared little kid. Here is one of the many examples. Many nights I would have the dream that I went to the dining room to get my favorite stuffed polar bear, Marco, and I had to get him quick, or this wicked little devil would appear and grab him away from me. In most of the dreams, I had to play tug-of-war with the stinking creature to hang on to Marco. Some nights I tried going quickly, grabbing Marco really quick, and running back to my room, but it didn't work. Every time I grabbed my bear, the demon appeared and wrestled with me. I don't remember ever winning, just the heartbreaking nights when the demon won and took Marco away with him. I hated it when that happened. Every night I made sure that Marco was with me when I went to bed, so I wouldn't have to get up and get him. Whenever he was with me, he was safe.

     "What does this have to do with writing?" you ask. I don't know. I started thinking about horrors that visit me at night and found this little memory, one of the terrors of childhood. But it does have a kind of application with the rule I was trying to write about.

     When I say stop trying, I mean don't try to force creativity. That's easy to say, but harder to practice, especially if you're-ahem- trying to write a whole novel in the space of a month.

     You can't be creative by forcing it. The more you force it, the more likely you are to come up with something that has already been done, or even done to death. This is where my little childhood memory comes in.

     I sat down, trying to find something to write about since I haven't published in a week. I was lacking inspiration. I figured I would try this, since it pertained largely to what I was trying to do. Then as I typed away at a metaphor, I found myself reliving a fearful memory from my distant past. And now that I think about it, it makes a nice analogy for what I'm saying.

     Your works, your creativity, are like the bear, Marco. You want the bear, obviously, so you're in my place. The demon is the fear that you are not creative, and that most of what you do is in imitation of others. Every night (when you sit down to write?) the demon comes and haunts you, actually threatening to take your creativity away. Then you're caught in a tug-of-war, you pulling your creativity hard toward you, the fear pulling it back. The harder you try, the easier it is for the nasty sucker to pull your creativity away.

     So the answer is to keep that creative mindset with you all the time. Constantly go through the things in your imagination, analyzing them, exploring them, trying to understand them. Don't let the fear get a hold of you. Keep that creative instinct close. Cherish it like it's a childhood friend. Trust it. You can only really be original once you stop trying.

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