Friday, 18 September 2015

Calling creativity to the fore - demanding its presence.- Linda Strachan

I was once, many years ago,  invited to visit a design studio. I was keen to speak to the people there who spent their
days drawing and creating images as a job.  I thought how wonderful that must be, to be doing something so creative all day, every day.

I have always had an interest in painting and drawing but it has never been more than a casual hobby that occasionally made its way onto our walls.

But I have never been able to draw to order, it was always more of an impulse and like this charcoal drawing.

I had taken the photo of a beautiful bronze coloured baby Zebra when on holiday and I was looking forward to painting it and using such vivid colours.

At least that had been my original idea but one evening, when I didn't have easy access to my  paints I started drawing it in charcoal, which turned out not too badly - but there in was the problem.  I was sure that if I tried again it would not turn out as well.  So I never did try to paint it after all.

There are things here that resonate with writing and my life now.
I made a comment  to one of the illustrators at the studio, that I am now quite embarrassed to recall.  I said that I could not just sit down and draw, I needed to feel in the mood.
His reply was embarrassing,but it stuck with me. He said...

"Yes I come in here and I have to be in the mood 9-5 every day!"

He was right.  When your job is being creative you do not have the luxury to wait for the muse  to suddenly appear, not least of all because that does not pay the bills!  I was approaching it as an amateur and he was a professional.

Now writing is my job and I know that it could be very easy to sit about and wait for inspiration to strike and lose days, weeks and even months of potential writing time.

There are definitely times when life just gets in the way of being creative and you have no physical or emotional energy to spare  and you need a complete break for a short time.  If there is great stress or difficulty in your life for a while it can be next to impossible to be creative, to let the mind flow wherever it wants.

Everyone is different but one thing that often emerges in all the discussions about writing is procrastination. Doing everything else but getting the words written. We all suffer from it now and then.   But soon with the encouragement of other writers, even if it is just a few words each day, just a little peer pressure can help.

Recently the  amazingly prolific writer Barry Hutchison suggested that other writers might like to join him in trying to make sure we all wrote all through the month of July. Summer can be a difficult time with holidays, children and family ties making even more of a call on a writer's time.  So he suggested  a twitter hastag #writethroughjuly and every day those who wanted to join in would announce their word count for the day.
There were just a few of us bit it worked so well that we decided to continue with #writethroughaugust,  By this point I had managed to add almost 47,000 new words to my WIP (work in progress) and had clocked in every day for two months even if it was only a few hundred words.  In September a few were either finished books and starting new ones, or due for some
time editing so #WriteThroughSept is now half way though, with editing and plotting as well as word count  reports.

We are all pushing ourselves to get something written each and every day and somehow we are finding that the creative spark is there when we go looking for it.

Even if I am sure that what I am writing is absolute  rubbish, that fear must be pushed to the back of my mind while I get the words written and push the story forwards.
The fun bit for me is in the editing, when there is a rough diamond waiting to be found when the dross is cut away.

Yes, that chap was right. I've written lots of books since that day  many years ago, and  I now turn up every day and creativity is there hiding in the background waiting for me to pull it into the sunshine and make it glow.

What makes you call on your creativity?


Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and the writing handbook - 
Writing For Children.

Linda is currently Chair of the SOAiS - Society of Authors in Scotland 
(Please note, any views and opinions here are her own.)

Linda's latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me . 
She is Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh.

Her best selling series Hamish McHaggis is illustrated by Sally J. Collins who also illustrated Linda's retelling of Greyfriars Bobby.

blog:  Bookwords 


Joan Lennon said...

Love your baby zebra drawing!

linda strachan said...

Thanks Joan.

Penny Dolan said...

That hashtag sounds a very useful device! (Like the zebra too.)

Nick Green said...

I think the questions has parallels to this one: 'What motivates a prisoner to keep returning with a spoon to the tunnel he is digging, day after day?' He doesn't have to wait for inspiration.

Becca McCallum said...

I'm trying to do that just now. Get myself to write, and allow myself to write rubbish. I find it so hard because I keep wanting every word to be perfect.

linda strachan said...

It certainly has made me turn up eith words written., Penny.

linda strachan said...

We need that sense of determination to keep going, Nick.

Becca, if you worry about whether they are perfect it might stop or slow the flow if the story. Get to the end of the story then you can go back and polish it until it sparkles. Otherwise you can spend a lot of time perfecting eords snd sentences you might later delete at the editing stage.

Becca McCallum said...

Thanks Linda - getting the first draft done is my goal for this year...editing it will be my New Year resolution ;)

Linda Strachan said...

Apologies for the spelling, I was posting from my phone!! :)

catdownunder said...

I sometimes sit down in the morning and think "I don't want to write a blog post today" and a nasty little voice says, "But you have to do it."
I am sure it shows when I think I don't want to but any sort of writing or creativity has to be given a regular work-out. I really admire people who can do it day in and day out and get results.

rjsolution said...

Een tafelblad dat in de tuin en in de woonkamer kan worden gebruikt? Kies voor het graniet tafelblad en ontdek al zijn positieve eigenschappen!