My Path to Creativity

At forty-one, I discovered that I genuinely love to write.   Between my hearty appetite for reading and my wild imagination, stories have been flowing through my head since childhood, but I never summoned the determination or discipline to extract them into a permanent form. Feeble attempts to write always ended up as fragmentary stories because my dream to write was a soft and yielding goal instead of a purpose.

My first attempt was representative of this:

First Book

I forget my exact age at the time of this exercise, but I do remember feeling confident that I could write a book of my own. I gathered a few sheets of paper and pruned them to roughly the size of playing cards.   After deciding upon staples to be my binding of choice, I sat at the table prepared to create a masterpiece. Instead of keeping the tale short and simple, as the novice canvas would suggest, I began a saga that muddled on until I reached the end of the prefabricated pages. I must have sensed that the story was going nowhere because I didn’t think twice about tossing it aside, knowing that procuring more pages would just prolong the torture.

High school stomped through my life with all its hormone-raging glory. Throughout the four years I attended, I was bombarded with messages that I could not write from frustrated teachers who tried unsuccessfully to garner my attention. A minimal amount of encouragement was my reward for the minimal amount effort I put forth. Casting blame accomplishes nothing when the problem was simply a matter of mismatched goals. Teacher’s priorities were teaching and mine were boys, having fun, boys, friends and boys.

In college, one professor claimed to enjoy my writing. Perhaps writing about more interesting subjects, such as current events, allowed me to flourish in previously unexplored ways. It also could be attributed to the natural maturing that comes with age and a focus on learning that developed upon escaping the smothering years of living at home.   This professor suggested I submit one of my poems in a poetry contest. Somehow I advanced as a semi-finalist and even though I didn’t win, my poem was published! When I received The Coming of Dawn (copyright 1993 by The National Library of Poetry) where my poem resided, I found it was over six hundred pages thick, with up to six poems per page. Suddenly, I didn’t feel special anymore, much like the kids of today who get a trophy just for participating. I felt discouraged and gave up once again on believing that I could write.

After college I halfheartedly attempted to put pen to paper. Sometimes it would just be in a diary or some short story. Following a particularly debilitating heartbreak, I got the closest I have ever come to finishing a book and typed out fifty pages in an outpouring of emotion.   Unfortunately it was fruitless, since I still lacked the knowledge on how to plan a story.  I would start with a seed of an idea and a couple of characters, expecting the story to flow freely with no thought of plot or structure.   Like many falsehoods I believed in my youth, I thought that if you were a natural writer you would just know how to do it.

Fast-forward one decade and half of another; I am at home for almost six hours every day, totally alone. My third and final child now goes to preschool along with the older two in elementary. A formerly elusive moment is finally the present one. I love my kids, but my brain has been craving full use for years. I am referring to complete usage, not the decision-fatigued, sleep-deprived amount used when trying to figure out how to get your babies to go back to sleep in the middle of the night or the twenty-minutes during your kids’ beloved show when you try to cram in doing the bills or investments. I could finally commit to something big…but what?

Enter writing…again. I was committed this time and did my research. I read books on how to write, how to create a plot and how to make the story flow. I fell in love with writing as soon as I began my first project. Even when my new planning skills failed and necessitated a total rewrite of the first draft, it didn’t discourage me because I knew I was still learning and would only get better. Having finished three drafts, I am now on my final edits and polishing.  I enjoy editing my finished work, but at the same time I am anxious to begin my next. Writing is a true test of patience.

I’ll conclude with a piece of advice: If you have ever had the inclination to be creative in some way, start now. Fear of failure, or success, will fade the more you do it. Lack of knowledge and experience can be solved with a mixture of studying and doing, while remembering that the most important part is the doing.   Learn a little, do a little, learn a little more, and do a little more. Start somewhere and start soon. Start even if it is total and complete crap. Don’t think about selling it or about how it will make you appear to others. Create it because there is no better feeling than expressing yourself through your art.

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  1. Congrats on your first blog! Keep ’em coming!

  2. My favorite part: “Learn a little, do a little, learn a little more, and do a little more. Start somewhere and start soon.”
    So inspiring!! Thanks!

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