Below is a video I stumbled upon that I couldn’t wait to share. John Cleese delivers a humorous, fascinating talk about creativity and how we can increase it in our lives. Without further ado, John Cleese!
Well, I’m back. I was away last weekend visiting a relative and so didn’t have time to get my post up but your patience will be rewarded as I return this week with some new thoughts about writing. As you have had patience with this post, I regret to inform you that often you must have patience with your writing. I have tried to provide tips and tricks for making the process of writing less painstaking but this is a subject that really can’t be solved with anything other than sheer determination and pluck. Sometimes you’ll need enough pluck to defeather a goose, other times, only a small pullet hen. But this post is all about that wonderful virtue known as patience.
When I get an idea for a story, my first instinct is to hop into my comfy chair and start bashing the keys. I’m excited and ready to start exploring a world of my own creation. Sometimes I give in to this and the story goes somewhere.If I’m lucky, the story has enough internal consistency to hold together until I have to go around and edit. Other times, I start to write only to realize that something is amiss. For some reason the story isn’t adding up. Then I have to go back and figure out what when awry. Then there are the times when I know it won’t work and so I sit and try to make it work. In the latter cases, I still want to write and I can feel that there is a story that wants to be told. It’s like grabbing and object through thick cloth. I can’t quite tell what it is and I can’t get a hold of all the little details but there’s a form there, a particular combination of curves, angles, and bevels. It’s just a matter of keeping at it till something clicks and the concept emerges. And when it does, it can be a wonderful moment of epiphany. But until then it’s a hell of a struggle.
Orson Scott Card said in his book on how to write fantasy and science fiction that it can take months or even years to perfect a concept. That may seem like a long time but there is some truth in it which makes it imperative to develop the patience necessary to let a concept gestate. Writing is in no way a steady and simple process. Even in the best of circumstances, writing is tortuous, filled with dead ends and loops. In the development process, this is especially to be expected. Creativity depends on mixing different ideas together until something original finally catches your eye. Think of diamond cutting. You can’t just get the belt sander and start going to town. You have to take the time to examine and get to know that particular block of carbon. If you don’t it will shatter. Same with story ideas. You have to give yourself time to really consider every side and angle of the idea. Once that is done, you can begin to refine it. But all of this takes patience and time. For me, the less time the better but then again, this isn’t up to me. I am really just the mouth piece for ideas and if they are not ready, I can’t force them.
My current story is an example how patience slowly rewards the person willing to stick with an idea until it is ready. The original story spark has been sanded away over many months. I have toyed with different story ideas, character arcs, motivations, settings, and mythologies. At last I am arriving at a setting that seems to be remarkably close but not quite right. But as time passes, I also experience different things in my life. I see new things, think new things, and live through new things, all of which can be used as a jumping off point. But the key is that I’m giving myself time to really explore and determine what this story is. What kind of world do I want to bring the reader into? What characters will inspire the reader or make them sick? I’m not hurrying because in the end, if the story wants to be told, it will be. That is the important thing to remember. This isn’t a race. There is no reason to blast and blunder through. Instead give yourself breathing space. If the ideas don’t come now, they will later, they always do.