Talking Creativity

Posted By on July 8, 2010

My CP, Karen Whiddon, and I were talking (emailing) “Creativity” yesterday. Often, people think romance writers loaf about, spilling words onto lavender paper between bites of bonbon and sips of pink champagne.

Champagne tastes too dry for me, and thankfully, I can resist bonbons. I don’t believe in waiting for “the muse.” I don’t have a concept of a muse, and I don’t have tricks to “fuel the well.” I take that back a bit. The ocean literally waters my soul, but I think the ocean is my soulmate!  :-)

However, I’m too pragmatic for “creativity” exercises. I put on headphones to work. I’ve used a snippet called “Meditation on Rain” that I bought on iTunes, and it’s not that it inspires me–it shuts out the other noise in my head because I think I can only hear two things at once–the story and the rain. And I need to cancel out the extraneous racket in my brain.

I always think a story is seductive and alluring and the best idea I’ve ever had until I start working on it, and then it becomes–work. That has always been true. I used to love the first three chapters because it was all so new, like new love–but now the first three chapters are torture. Sheer torture.

I’m always scared as I write them because I feel as if I’m literally trying to grab a whole bunch of stuff that’s sliding around on a desk that’s floating in thin air, and as I try to gather them all into a coherent story, they all try spilling over the edge and flying away.

Like any writer, I want my job to be fun. It just isn’t right now. I think there’s a chance if I keep muddling through, it’ll turn into fun again, but it may not, and that doesn’t matter. I love writing so much, even when it’s not fun, that I have to keep working.

In most jobs there are steps to follow to get the work done. A lot of writers insert “creativity” here. For me, the steps are the process.

My process changes over the years–over a book, even. I used to be a clean writer. I’d noodle along until I had the work pretty much where I wanted it. Not so much lately. Toward the end of my recent proposal brawl with the tyrant tycoon, I finally realized I was getting the bones on paper (screen), but the final submission wasn’t going to be anything like those bones. After I gave in to the new so-called process, I sped up dramatically.

Right now I have half of Ch. 4, but I woke up today, knowing it’s completely off. I have to start again, getting to the heart of the matter. I began the chapter Tuesday in a scattershot kind of way, throwing stuff at the wall. Today, I remembered it’s all about the hero and heroine, and what happened between them at the end of Ch. 3 was a kiss that changes everything. That’s what I–and they–need to explore.

I don’t know anything about creativity any more. Seriously. I have to start work with a goal in mind each day. That goal may be as simple as what are they going to talk about
that gets to the heart of this story?

Writing is my slippery goal. I’m diving for it this way and that way and whatever way
brings me a few pages I can keep.  I have to critique my own smelly, stinking heinous writing–and grasp “what comes next.”

Because–as a reader and a writer–the best thing about a book is what comes next!

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