Tuesday, March 13, 2012

creative process

I don't work the same as other people.  As a creative person and a "thinker," I've found that my creative process necessarily requires dry spells, periods of writer's block, and other "breaks" from producing content.  Don't get me wrong; I can spit out some content if I need to, but if I've not allowed myself creative space, I'll know well and good that it isn't high quality. 

The downside to this creative process is that if I have to fit into somebody else's mold, I become depleted, leading to less quality in what I do (this is not to say there are not times to just "get it done").  There may be time periods when I appear to be doing little to nothing.  But it's like letting my fields lie fallow.  If it isn't done, the land becomes depleted and exhausted and cannot bear fruit.  I must let my mind lie fallow from time to time.

The upside to this creative process is that intriguing thoughts come into this empty space and fill it up. In the midst of a current dry spell, I found myself interacting with people who believe very differently from me on a Huffington Post column.  The commenters were aggressive though I tried to be respectful.  I finally came to realize that they were coming to the table with lots of wounds and assumptions that simply come from their experience, just as I was probably assuming things about them.  I decided not to be offended.  But I did find myself intrigued by one theological/Biblical issue raised by one of these commenters.  I suddenly didn't want to know the answer in order to convince them anymore; I wanted to know the answer to the quandary in order to enhance my own understanding.  And then I found myself being forcefully pushed into reading Scripture intently with a mind to really hear what was being said.  I was curious again (the key to creativity, growth and knowledge).  I was on the edge of my seat--and still am.  The theological question is not one I have fully resolved yet, but I am well on my way.

Questions make life exciting.  Not knowing all the answers and yet having something to discover makes life meaningful.  If I could wish anything for people in general--and people of faith in particular--it is that we maintain a curiosity about the world.  But this curiosity cannot come to us as easily in the drudgery of daily life.  We must come aside, in whatever way--even if it is simply in a dry period of doubt or lack of inspiration.  And we must trust that inspiration will come again.

This is the only way I have found to write, to create.  Endure the time of fallow ground, for the bloom will come again.


  1. As a writer, creative thinker, sometime musician and general all-round creative person, I can identify completely with this and think you have written a very good post.

    I am always coming up with ideas, for books, stories, quiz shows and so on; I used to write songs for a band I was in. At the time of writing, it has yet to really benefit me but my aim in life is to be a successful published author and I try to work towards this every day; it's one of the reasons I maintain a blog, to keep my hand in so to speak.

    You can't 'force' an idea, you can't force creativity, as I think it comes and goes; sometimes you have a dozen great ideas and other times nada; Nothing at all!

    I believe creativity is a gift from God; those who have it should be grateful; it's creating something out of nothing. Think of all those great inventors and writers and thinkers who created whole worlds from the imagination and helped shape the modern world; where would we be without the steam engine, Internet, telephone, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck and etc and etc? Creativity is something that brings us to a clearer understanding of who and what we are; closer to the angels than we are to animals.

    You wrote: "If I could wish anything for people in general--and people of faith in particular--it is that we maintain a curiosity about the world." A curiosity about the world-marvellous! I couldn't agree more! Coming from the background I do, quite poor and working class, it is my love of literature and reading, of all kinds of topics, that has gave me an intense curiosity about so many things in life and the world; without this curiosity and wonder we might stagnate and become bored; life itself is a wonder to behold, and so many things in it.

    Thanks for posting a great post!

    1. I like how you said that you can't force creativity. Sometimes "just do it" is good medicine for writing. But there are times when you try and try and nothing is there. Why is this, I wonder? One of the great mysteries of life!

      It's fun to hear your story of coming from a modest background and how literature inspired you. This makes me think of the verse that says "Without vision, the people perish." I think the reason so few rise from poverty is that no one has given them vision of something to aspire to, something beyond where they are. They get socked into their current surroundings and world.


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