Saturday 18 October 2014

Creative Energy and Space - Linda Strachan

It takes energy to be creative, and a certain amount of space in your head.

To bring ideas out into the light of day and shape them, change them, discard some and let others blossom.  Making hundreds of little decisions, and some big ones. To decide which ideas are worth pursuing and which are only half-baked. To hold onto the reins of a story that is burgeoning and almost out of control, takes strength of will and the time and energy to see it to the end. There is then the sheer physical task of getting those words or images down in print, paper or computer.

It is not easy having an idea, or a whole pot of ideas, that stumble and crash into each other like bubbles, as you try not to burst or lose them. The ache as they disappear into the ether, slipping away before they are fully grasped or remembered, leaving hardly a scent of themselves - lost forever.
Sometimes they stick together and at other times are subsumed into one huge mass often unwieldy mass that needs careful cutting or shaping and at times brutal harsh editing.

Corralling them into a story, or a novel is not a simple process. Moulding the ideas that crop up almost out of nowhere, shaping the characters and plot, worrying about whether what you are creating has any worth at all.

All this requires creative energy.

It is hard work, not like scrubbing a floor or digging a ditch but concentration, sometimes head-in-hands exasperation and, thankfully, moments of sheer joy!
Ideas can be forced by a deadline and that constraint will at times produce an unexpectedly interesting result but there are other times when the chaos of daily grind, surroundings and distractions, however lovely or interesting, can make it so much more difficult.

A room of one's own, a place of quiet seclusion where the writer or artist can have all distractions taken away, to allow the mind to wander at will and the imagination to blossom, can make all the difference.

A walk alone where the waves lap at the shore...

or where the leaves flutter in the breeze...  

It  will let the imagination wander and often release a knot in the mind, letting the answer unravel in the subconscious.

At times like these it may be difficult for those around us who are not writers or artists to understand the need for that particular kind of peace and space.

While inside our heads our thoughts are wrestling with the problem, it may seem to the outside world that we are not actually working.
It may be difficult for others around us to  understand the kind of energy that is required to work the creative process.

That is why the company of other writers and artists is so important; those people who understand perfectly the stresses and strains involved and the drive to keep doing this amazingly wonderful, dreadful and compulsive thing we do.

There may be times when we cannot find that creative energy, for reasons as varied as there are people. But even in those times, which eventually pass, thoughts and ideas are lingering quietly in a corner waiting for the time when the creative energy returns.

It always does.

So give your creative energy time and space, and nurture it.  You know you want to!

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.

She has written 10 Hamish McHaggis books illustrated by Sally J. Collins who also illustrated Linda's retelling of Greyfriars Bobby

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

blog:  Bookwords 


Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely - be sure to find your own time and space, Linda!

Susan Price said...

So accurate, Linda! - I know those 'knots in the mind.' The only way to undo them is to get away from them, to one of those quiet places, and let them slacken.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Linda. I think you've just given me permission to carve out my own space and not feel selfish about it.

Linda Strachan said...

Thanks Sue and Susan.

Carol, exactly!
We all need to feel less guilty about making creative space for ourselves.

Penny Dolan said...

Good thoughts and photographs to rest the mind. We shouldn't be afraid of letting in the space for our own thinking time - and away from the daily thoughts and must-do lists.