Friday, October 24, 2014

Writing, a semi-creative endeavor

The professional world of writing is a world of paradoxes. You need to follow the rules but know how to break them. You need to write everyday but you need to build a platform. You can't chase the trends but those who buy your book do. You must engage with your fans but never your reviewers. It can be tricky for a writer to figure out what's the correct thing to do and which hat you need to where for what occasion. It's far more difficult than simply writing.

This is why I'm beginning to consider writing a semi-creative endeavor. Even the most creative aspect, actually writing a story, has limitations and constraints. And outside writing, it takes a lot of disciplined, plug-in-the-pieces hard work to be a successful writer. The key thing is to find the balance that allows your creativity to shine through, combined with the nuts and bolts that put you in the best position to succeed.

Creativity is about spontaneity. It's about doing what your heart tells you and what feels right. It's a mental state full of joy, anger, exhilaration, frustration, and passion. It's what draws most people to the page, the reason we want to be writers. The realization that it isn't enough can be a let down.

For me, the answer is to learn to love both sides of the equation. Sure, I appreciate a fine meal, a masterful creation of a great chef. The combination of tastes, colors, textures; a unique blend that instills a sense of wonder and delight when the first morsel hits your palate.

But I also love In-N-Out (or McDonalds for you non-Californians). The brutal efficiency of a system that churns out food that's the same every time, put together by high school kids working on an assembly line with little or no thought towards what they're making. It's so efficient and functional that it's beautiful.

The idea of making a master chef follow a recipe book is sacrilegious. The thought of what would come out of a kitchen filled with random kids given no instructions is downright terrifying. As a writer, you have to learn when to cook and when to put your head down and do the job.

I've been putting my head down a lot lately, and after a while your neck gets stiff and it's hard to look up. It's important to stay flexible, to come back to the well that feeds your creative side, and open your eyes to the big, bold world out there. To all you fellow writers struggling with real life, and to those lost in the dreamworld of your own creation, enjoy the ride and find the beauty everywhere.

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