Saturday, July 23, 2011

16357--Work Softer

What's he talking about this time?  Creative process, I suppose.  Creating something, whatever the medium, usually takes some considerable measure of time and effort.  Less frequently than most of us would like does the confluence of elements occur to push us from the beginning of producing a work through to its completion without stopping.  Honestly, if that sort of thing did happen more often, there'd be a lot more creative types noted for being isolated lunatics misunderstood by the rest of the world.

So writers work in bits at a time.  Sometimes we work in large bits and sometimes in small ones.  We plot and plan and ponder, squeezing blood and sweat onto the pages.  Some might say we even scheme.  OK, that was me.  I've noticed on many occasions that writers would make ideal criminal masterminds.  In fact, I heard that the federal government had started hiring writers to conceive terrorist plots so Homeland Security would have a better chance to be as prepared as possible against whatever may come at us.

Whether we're writing fiction or not, we find our processes.  We stare at notepads or computer screens or blank walls or out windows.  We think and feel and we write.  We think of images to describe, lines of dialogue that inspire  and we press onward toward the finish.  Of course, I've also heard that some writers dawdle, procrastinate, doodle and find all manner of other things to distract them from their work.  I'm not pointing any fingers.  I'm sure you know who you are.  You probably just need a break, a little time away from your official workspace.  So you go do some chores around the house or go out for some shopping or a movie, time with friends and family.  For some people, that's all that's needed to come back refreshed and ready to write more.  Some need time asleep, perchance even to dream, to really recharge the creative drive.

Some of us find we're almost never done with writing.  We might step away from the formal setting, but almost everywhere we go and whatever we do we find that some part of our brains are still working, churning ideas to the surface for us to scribble into our handy notepads.  We'll catch an overheard bit of random conversation, or spy a couple in heated discussion and reach for the notepad before we even realize we were doing it.  Then, while you think you're occupied with something else entirely, BOOM!  The innovative solution to sticky plot thread drops in your lap and brings a complex layer of nuance that you hadn't even realized was there all along!  And feel that adrenaline surge as you become aware that your busy subconscious is even more brilliant than you thought it was, plotting behind your back the whole time.  Good thing it's on your side.

Too often it isn't about pushing.  We push for a deadline.  We push through physical or mental weariness.  We push and push ourselves to work harder.  Yet why are we pushing?  We're pushing because there's resistance.  We push and create more resistance.  That can't be good.  We espouse the value of hard work, but also remind ourselves that working smarter is more effective than working harder.  So what can I tell you?  Don't force it.  Step away. Get a little distance.  Breathe.  Work softer.

Is there a method that works best for your own personal madness?  Does isolation and perserverance serve you better than taking a breather?  Is there something else that gets you where you're going?

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