Webb's Blog

Read the first chapter of THE PUFFIN OF DEATH at


Sunday, June 7, 2009

The problem with creativity

Today I sat at my computer for a full eight hours, attempting to write on The Koala of Death before anything really happened. Eight hours of zilch! But when things finally did begin to happen, the ideas were pure gold. The eight hours before that, however, were ghastly. Clumsy sentences that went nowhere. Hackneyed ideas that had been used time and time again by other writers. Cardboard characters that refused to come to life. Nothing but junk, junk, junk.

Poor Koala!

Non-writers often believe that creativity is easy, that it's something we were "born with", that we just sit down and ideas automatically come to us as easy as switching on a light. But we writers don't have built-in light switches. We're just human beings -- complex people who have lives outside of our writing. We have relatives who are in trouble, friends who are ailing, spouses with whom we are quarreling. Heck, we may even be going quietly nuts all by ourselves!

The mistake so many beginning writers make is that they think they need to work out their problems and "get clarity" before starting to write.

Experienced writers know that when we approach the stories we're working on, we approach them with a load of personal baggage that would break an elephant's back. Yet still we write. Three-quarters of what we turn out during those difficult times may turn out to be crap, but it's that one-quarter of gold that keeps us writing.

* * *

"You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

"This stretch of the river is named Hell’s Half-Mile."

"The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about (the ego eventually falls apart like a soaked sponge), but simply written; it’s a dreadful, awful fact that writing is like any other work."
From Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers,
by Susan Shaughnessy


jennymilch said...

"Writing is easy. You just sit down and open up a vein."

Eight hours is a whole lot of blood, Betty...

F. M. Meredith, author said...

Have certainly been in that situation many times. It is wonderful though when the words flow.

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Alice Trego said...

Hi, Betty -

You've hit the nail on the head with this one! As writers we just have to keep writing, whether we produce crap or gold.

Thanks for your insight.

Alice Trego
WWW Pres Elect

Helen Ginger said...

I hate it when I can't think of what to write or when what I write is dribble. On the other hand, when it's going well, it's ecstasy.

Straight From Hel

Heidiwriter said...

Isn't that the truth! Well said, Betty. And congratulations for hanging in there and not giving up!