Creating Opportunities to be More Creative

As a writer, being a creative person is a pretty big deal. We pride ourselves on how creative we are and yet there are times when we feel we just aren’t creative enough. It’s sort of a Ping-Pong match between the two. Some days it’s one, and a whole lot of other days, it’s the other. There have been quite a few times when I personally felt like I lost the game all together. Many times I found myself asking “Am I creative enough to be a writer?” or “What can I do to be more creative?”. In the end though, maybe it’s more of a question of how can we be the right amount of creative to accomplish our goals?

I want to tell you a story. Something that happened to me over the last few years that changed my life forever (causing me to abandon my blog for awhile too — sorry!) and made me see things in a little different light, especially concerning the way creativity works.

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Writing, a Never Ending Journey of Exploration and Learning

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” — E.L. Doctorow

If someone told me as I first started writing about nine years ago that my writing would be a never ending journey, I’m not sure I would have set out on that particular path. Granted, most people start writing for a reason, which usually includes the buzzing of character voices and ideas that won’t shut up. That was my case, and even with that warning I probably wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter. I find writing to be the only way to get the voices to shut the hell up (yeah, that makes me sound pretty certifiable huh?). But it’s the idea of the never ending that might make most people bulk, though I have learned since then that never ending can be a good thing.

When I started writing, I didn’t even know how to put a decent sentence together. Of course back then, I thought I could do at least that much, but I was young, delusional, and a little stupid. I don’t even dare look back at my writing from the very beginning because I’d cringe way too much. It was embarrassing. Really it was.

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Finding the Time to Write

This year I decided not to do NaNoWriMo despite my success at doing the challenge the last four years. Mostly because my time schedule just wouldn’t allow for it. I resigned myself to “hopefully” completing rewrites/edits for two chapters of my current novel in progress, and I figured that would be a stretch.

Guess what?

I got four chapters done.

Freaking awesome. I know. Sure it may not be much, but I doubled my best case scenario expectations. And it feels good. It feels real good. How did I do it? How was I able to go from my recent writing norm of completing maybe one chapter a month to four? And still not skimp on my other “paying” work that needed to be done. Well, I changed things up a bit.

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Goals in 2012

It’s January 1st once again and like the years before I want to reassess my goals and where I would like to go on my writing journey. After a Year in Review, I have come up with some things I want to accomplish in 2012 to better the craft of my writing. 
The best way to get better at any craft is to study those who have gone before in the field you wish to know about. So if you want to learn to write what better way than by reading what others have written? Reading something every day is my goal, even if it’s as simple as a blog post. 
How can a person get better at something when you don’t practice? You can’t, so that’s my next goal to write every day. A good friend of mine once told me that it takes approximately 10,000 hours working at something to really be good at it. Looks like I’ve got a ways to go. My plan is to put a decent sized dent in that 10,000 hour mark.
A New Path to Walk
I have discovered a new way to approach my writing and the writing process through the book How to Be a WriterI plan on making the book’s exercises a regular practice not only in my writing but my life as well. Also my views on deadlines and publishing have made a 180 degree turn. I now realize that to save my sanity, I need to not focus on deadlines or publishing, but writing simply for the sake of writing and that is all.
New Niche to Write In
I have been struggling for some time with a niche to write in, so far I have dabbled in speculative fiction (my favorite), science fiction, supernatural and mainstream fiction. Recently I have discovered that I truly enjoy writing about past memories (mostly from my childhood), so for right now this is what my writing will be focused on, creating a bunch of short stories with the eventual goal of putting them all in one book for my son to enjoy, as well as my family.
More Blogging, but Not Scheduled
In this past year, I have struggled with my writing, but the one area that had the least of that struggle was writing on my blogs, which is interesting. Every time I wrote on my blogs (personal or writing) I didn’t consider it real writing at all and was upset that the blog writing took away from my other writing, and yet when I did get to the “real” writing I never got very far because writer’s block would settle in and not let go. This year I’m going to make blogging more of a priority. At the same time, I will not be pushing myself to create blogs. I had a schedule (on this blog) of posting Tuesday and/or Saturdays, which didn’t always happen every week, so I’m tossing out the schedule and posting when I feel like it and see how that goes. This blog (and personal blog) might end up with four posts a week or one post a month, we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Learning the Craft of Writing

In 2011, my main focus was learning the craft of writing, but for 2012 I think my focus will change to learning the love of writing. I will, however, still focus on the craft when I have a chance and have recently purchased a few writing books to read. I look forward to diving into Michael Knost’s Writer’s Workshop of Horror and Josip Novakovich’s Fiction Writer’s Workshop, and doing the fun looking exercises in Bonnie Neubauer’s The Write-Brain Workbook.
Be More Flexible
I have the personality- or perhaps more correctly- the learned traits of being a bit of an anal person. Yes, I said it, I’m anal. This may have some use in the world- though I’m not sure what that is- but mostly it just gets me worked up about stuff and sends me into supercharged panic attacks, which even spills over to my writing. This year I’m attempting to take a “chill pill” and not get so worked up about things. I’m not sure how well I will accomplish this, but a person has to start somewhere, right?
I think that sums up my goals for now, but I realize that things change. It’s a part of life (see that chill pill seems to be working already). All I can do is my best and make changes when necessary. It will be interesting to see what happens, and what 2012’s Year in Review will look like. Until then, a happy journey to all and I wish you the best in your own writing endeavors.