We all blame a multitude of things for our inability to start, continue or finish writing creatively.
I think I have heard and uttered them all myself: ‘You can’t expect me to switch ideas on and off, I’m not a word machine, I can’t work when I’m stressed, I only work when I’m under stress, I don’t have time to get on with, if only I had the opportunity to go an a writing retreat, if only I could eliminate bad thoughts…..and so on.
Personally, I have become a great procrastinator recently and I can only blame my behaviour for my seeming lack of productivity. I lay on the sofa yesterday reading my favourite new book about imagination and creativity. I came across an anecdote about the company 3M who only allow their engineers/ scientists/ product developers, call them what you will a certain amount of time in any particular area. They then take their skills to a different section and apparently it is this cross-fertilisation that has developed such products as Scotch tape and Post-it notes.
So, as I was reading, I was cross-fertilising (quite a skill let me tell you!) and had a great idea for a children’s book. I started scribbling on big paper and wrote for about twenty minutes before my pen ran out. Did I get up and find a new one? No. It was as if the frontal cortex was saying, ‘Yeh, you’ve proved you’ve had a thought, you don’t actually want me to work this through do you?’ I spent the rest of the afternoon making bread, eating said bread with honey then watching a DVD of the Mayor of Casterbridge. I did spend time dealing with the writing retreat’s correspondence and then used an hour writing in my journal complaining about how I can never get anything written down (which I have to say is a distortion of the truth)and went to bed in disgust.
I then read about how the poet, Auden was addicted to amphetamines and used these to enhance his ability to concentrate for extremely long periods and edit his work into the lean poetry we now know. Philip K Dick and Jack Kerouac also took the same route. My initial reaction was to wonder…just for five minutes you understand….. and then dismiss the thought before it took hold. What that did prove is just how hard it is to do the 99% perspiration required for any endeavour to be really worth something. That’s why I have an addiction to blogging, a few hundred words and I’m done and can go off and have another idea somewhere else.
Teachers had no idea how to keep me pinned down and concentrate on the task in hand when I was at school; there I was at an academic school with girls taking Greek and Russian in their spare time and all I wanted to do was write poetry and moan about not being able to write poetry. It is so easy to look outside the problem and blame everything and everyone else for one’s inabilities to get down to it. I have a character for a short story, I have the first few pages of a children’s novel, am halfway through a novel, got three chapters of another sitting doing nothing, a children’s novel waiting for me to release it on Kindle and I have spent two hours this morning dead heading flowers in the garden. I deserve my fate!
This blog started because I was listening to the radio; an item about a car survey caught my attention. The survey demonstrated that certain makes of car were more prone to problems with windscreens, headlight bulbs and wind screen wipers than others. The interviewer said, isn’t it perhaps the fault of the drivers, for example, if you drive a Renault you are a Galois-smoking reprobate, left winger who doesn’t hold with cleaning the car on a Sunday and maintenance, more a case of cause and effect rather than a problem with a car’s manufacturing record. It made me smile. I hold my hands up, metaphorically, at least, I am the Galois –smoking reprobate – sorry and I have not one to blame for my inability to get writing except me!
If you need a book to distract you from work may I recommend:
Lerher J, Imagine – How Creativity Works.
Published 12 March 2012 so hot off the presses!
If you need a retreat to eliminate at least one of your excuses for lack of creativity then come to Portugal, it’ll will give me a good excuse not to write while promoting your practice lol!