Weekly Musing: Living Creatively

My own creativity is something I finally started listening to when I was already into adulthood. What I mean is that is when I started giving in to urges to just do something, anything, to get ideas, thoughts, emotions, my voice out I always held back. Eventually I figured out it to let it out. And guess what? I think it has made my life so much better.

Creativity has been something that has always fascinated me. Even as a kid I remember watching behind-the-scenes specials about how Fraggle Rock was made, how HBO’s opening sequence before each show was made, or special effects behind movies. The older I got the more I was still fascinated by how people came up with their ideas for books, movies, songs, art, whatever and however people expressed themselves. I am one of those people who still buys DVDs mainly for the special features and commentaries. I love searching for interviews with my favorite musicians and writers whenever they talk about their process and inspiration.

I was jealous because these people had managed to tap into a side of them I hoped I had. Deep down there was a voice desperate to get out but I couldn’t figure out what my avenue would be. I can’t draw; my stick figure people look like they have orthopedic problems. I can sorta play an instrument but I’m a mediocre musician on a good day. Composing my own songs is out of the question and my singing voice is best left to the car. I’m okay at taking pictures but not enough to fire up my creativity. Dancing is out as I trip over flat surfaces.

Finally it dawned on me to explore creative writing. After all I was a strong writer in school and had on and off come up with stories, even beginning some. The more I got into writing, not only did I become a happier person, the more I wanted to explore creativity and what fuels it. It has also given me confidence to explore other avenues of creativity.

It’s interesting to see how doing one creative activity can snowball into others. For example, I have always enjoyed cooking, more so when I started going off script. With the exception of baking, an activity I only do around Christmas, I view most recipes as suggestions. If I don’t have a particular spice, I’ll substitute. I like being able to increase or decrease the level of heat in a dish. I love playing around with different flavor combinations especially since I enjoy food from all over the world.

Another example of expanding my creativity is recently I have taken up coloring. Now on the surface this doesn’t sound like much, but for me coloring is a way for me to create art. I never really liked coloring as a kid because I was too busy trying to stay within the lines and color realistic-looking cats and dogs. But with adult coloring books, the designs are abstract so I don’t feel as if I have to conform to the norm which I sorta natural rebel against. Conformity = confinement as far as I’m concerned.

Having different creative outlets benefits my writing. Firstly, I have to concentrate completely on whatever that other activity is. Once my brain loses focus is when I start making mistakes. Secondly, engaging in another form of creativity rests the part of my brain I’ve been using for hours to write. Anyone who thinks using one’s mind isn’t physically exhausting hasn’t really ever used his or her brain. Thirdly, it allows for expressions of emotions and thoughts which simply cannot be express in the written word. This is why music, art, dance, etc. exist.

Perhaps I’m odd but somehow I’m able to turn off my writer’s brain when I do other activities. Or maybe I’m burying whatever issues I’m struggling with subconsciously yet my mind isn’t really “off”. No matter how I do it, the rest refreshes me so that when I turn on my writing brain it opens up the flood gates. I think this might be true for other creative types. I know writers who also paint, draw, or are musicians. There are actors who also sing, dance, or write for fun. Artists who write, make films, or play music as well.



Weekly Musing: Chaotic Mess

Oh, what a difference a month makes. I have completed the first month of the initial revision round on my historical fiction novel and it has gone a lot differently than I had envisioned. Physically my working space is a mess with papers, folders, and pens strewn about. From a creative standpoint things are also a giant mess. I had no idea just how much I would still be changing my mind. More than once I’ve altered where the story opens. I also decided to replace some character names because I wasn’t honestly never fully on board with the original names I straddled them with.

Issues I knew I’d have to deal with I finally got to and it wasn’t pretty. Most were research related and I got those nailed down. I hope anyway. As I noted above, I have this tendency to change my mind. Fingers cross I’ll let these thing stand for a while. The problem with me and research is not only do I get sucked into a black hole, which I usually enjoy, is I spend probably far too much time double, triple, and quadruple-checking facts.

In the back of my mind I am paranoid should this book get published, if I have even one thing wrong, even if it is something small, I will get blasted for inaccuracy. This is a product of observing and participating in various online discussions. It fatigues and frustrates me to point out nothing will be 100% accurate, especially in fiction. While I’m not the lone voice in this, it still bothers me trying to reason with idiots. Explaining authors can only do the best they can with the information they have falls on deaf ears.

While I can defend and understand what other authors do, it is problematic for me to apply the logic to my own work. I have to be vigilant in telling myself I am in the beginning stages of revision and that I have never revised a novel before. Techniques I apply to short stories have worked but I am also discovering my strategy must be different.

Nothing will be perfect yet I’ve already redone the beginning at least two times and will tackle it a third time before throwing in the towel to move onto the middle. I have re-arranged and re-re-arranged chapters, deleted others, switched chunks of a scene to either earlier or later in the book and even noted scenes I think would be better switched to the other character’s POV. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to condense basic information into a quick, easy-to-read file so I don’t have to keep flipping back to Scrivener.

I have learned that while I may be a naturally organized person with a brain that thrives best on compartmentalization, the other part of my brain, the one which controls creativity, apparently likes the chaos. Perhaps it’s the thrill of creating a giant mess and then working to put it back together into something better. I’m not very nice to myself.

But this chaos vexes me. I’d hoped to be a further ahead on my rewrite; not still stuck at the beginning. Looking ahead to August, it’s going to be a busy month personally. I ponder how much time I will while making sure I pace myself so I don’t fry my creativity. Yet this makes me feel as if I’m pushing myself more and more behind. While I have likened this to an extreme marathon, this first month has me feeling as if I haven’t even gotten off the starting line.


Weekly Musing: Oh, Look! A Squirrel!

If my somewhat crappy memory is correct, when I first started this blog over two years ago I believed I mentioned something about suffering from what I refer to as Writer’s ADD. What I meant by that is when I write, regardless if it’s an initial draft or revision, I can go along at a good clip then I just stop and do something else for a few minutes. Usually this is to help me think, like staring off into space, but truth be told there are times when those distractions are just excuses to not write. I’m not proud of this and I know the reasons why I allow it. Something I’m trying to work on that since I know my word count and efficiency would go up and shocker of shockers, maybe my anxiety would decrease some.

IMDb: It’d be too easy to say the internet as a whole since in 2015 that’s pretty much what a black hole the internet is. Of late, IMDb is the bane of my existence. Why I feel the need to argue with idiots about TV shows and movies is beyond me. I guess it satisfies my analytical nature and to participate in discussions. I’m also genuinely curious about others’ thoughts and perspectives. However, IMDb really isn’t the right platform for that. So many trolls infest it. Good luck trying to have a rational, logical argument with someone who clearly has the emotional IQ of a teenager who just sooooooo knows they are right. What’s worse is I wind up learning spoilers and have even come to loath a show or movie because of how nutty some of the fans are.

Games on my phone: I play three games on my phone. They manage to suck up my time because I tell myself I’m taking a break to think. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if these game breaks came after half an hour or an hour of writing but I stop after a relatively short period of time. I think it’s a combination of fear, anxiety, and writing gremlins creeping in to tell me to get stuck in a corner on purpose. Instead of just buckling down and tackling the problem, I justify it as a break.

YouTube: More specifically what are known as “crack” videos which are snippets of a particular show or movie people edit together with various pieces of music and dubbed over dialogue for laughs. Usually these videos are about 5 minutes or less which makes them incredibly dangerous. They’re potato chips. One just won’t suffice although if I see one more person using Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” or Dido’s “White Flag” I’m going to through something at my computer. But dammit, the lulz. So much lulz.

Spotify: This is a double-edged sword. I love Spotify because of all the new artists I’ve discovered, the playlists which help me tune out the world, and being able to create playlists for whatever I’m working on. However, dear god when an annoying song comes on and I have to stop what I’m doing so I can skip it. Or if I hear a song that blows me away and I have to stop what I’m doing and save it. And sometimes I just can’t get the right music mix and I get grumpy.

Oddly enough, there are common distractions which don’t suck me in. For example, Facebook. I can easily limit my time on that since most of it is just the same old same old. TV isn’t a distraction either since there is absolutely nothing on TV during the day I care to watch. I could very easily binge watch all the shows and movies I’ve got saved up but if I did that I’d feel so much guilt for wasting time. Same reason why I can resist the urge to play video games. Why those other things don’t feel me with as much guilt I have no idea.