Thursday, 13 December 2012

The creative process...

I recently revisited an essay I wrote nearly two years ago for a uni assignment. It was an analysis of my creative process. At the time my creative process was something I hadn’t thought about. I wrote, badly mostly, and that was enough. I didn't need to know how or why I wrote.  And there was a part of me that didn’t want to know. I thought that by delving into how I write I might uncover something unnerving or, worse still, jinx the whole business.

The essay wasn't good. I talked around the subject. Waffled. Made claims regarding my style. Foolishly and embarrassingly compared myself to other (great!) writers. In my defence I don’t think I knew how to analyse the process of my writing. It wasn’t something I’d ever considered before. A part of me thought it was self-indulgent, an obsession with self, the “look at me” phase we seem to be in. 

But since then I’ve become more aware of my creative process. It’s drifted in the back of my mind, never quite going away. I've been watching and paying attention. And that today, far from pronouncing it as self-indulgence, I think it’s a good thing. It’s good because I see now that all the little things I do before I actually sit down and start typing a story – the little things I’m often impatient with, the things I saw before as procrastination – are actually part of a bigger cycle. 

I've been working through these things I do, and the one that comes first is allowing myself time to think.

Photo courtesy Peter George

When I say ‘think” I don’t mean thinking through a potential story. Or even a chapter of the story. I mean starting with the very basics. The first character. I put that character into my head, in this case he’s a he and of a certain age, and I let him sit there. And he does sit because, as I said, he’s of a certain age. I see the room he’s in, I notice the details of the weather outside, and what kind of landscape he lives in. But that’s all for now. I'm not sure yet what he's going to do. At the moment he’s sitting there not doing anything. He simply is. 

And you might say, What?

But this is what I’ve learned. This is how it works and I’ve got to trust myself. 

And him... 

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