Where has Matt been? Abducted? Dead in a ditch somewhere? Lost in time & space? Fighting Loki’s forces in NYC?
I’ve been soundly in the grip of a creative storm. Well, several storms. I wrote over 25k words in a disgustingly short time about 2 months ago – that was one storm. Then, riding up on that was yet another storm on a different project (not even gonna go there on the blog yet). So… yeah… I’m still here.
While thinking about the past several months, I keep getting stuck on this idea of “creative storms.” I know we’ve all heard some variation of these:
“Write what you know.”
“Build your brand.”
“Don’t quit your day job.”
To all of that, I say: “hogwash.” Why? Because I don’t buy recycled advice any longer. Lemme explain.
You see, I always thought of myself as a very analytical person. Artsy crap was for artsy people. I never thought of myself as “creative” (and I’m sure some people would tell me I’m *still* not creative… bah – feck you, Billy). Anyway. After feeling like I’d burst if I didn’t get an idea, paragraph, page, game concept or some other creative construct out of my brain and into a more tangible form — I’m starting to believe in this idea of a creative storm. I’ve heard many a writer say they write “because they have to,” and then they go on to spout about “building their brand.” And by that, I mean – write within their chosen genre/series/whatever until their hand falls off. Many writers believe it important to build their audience and fiction in that way.
And I guess that’s all fine and dandy for writers.
But what about those of us who genuinely feel seams bursting with the need to create? If we were to call ourselves “Writer,” then what do we do when some other creative endeavor eclipses all else? Follow it? Or, do we abandon it in favor of building our brands and writing what we know?
And those are the questions which are easy to answer for me: ride out the storm. Embrace it. Turn my head towards the falling rain and smile. How can you write what you know when you need to be writing something else? How can you build your brand when you spend large chunks of time on disparate projects?
You can’t. And, I believe, you shouldn’t. Not if you truly believe your first, best ability is raw creation. I say: CREATE! Don’t concern yourself with the notion of “doing it wrong.” There is no wrong/right when it comes to creativity. Publishing the product is another matter, and perhaps not all works of imagination are suited for the general public… but that’s neither here nor there. I’m talking about that foaming-at-the-mouth drive to “make shit.” When you are gripped in such a drive, I think it’s important to follow it for as long as the creative fuel fills your tank.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to. After writing nearly 30k words on the next novel in the “Eden” series, I got caught in the grip of a new creative storm. I’m back to writing now and splitting my time between the projects more evenly.
In closing (yeah, I just started this paragraph like a friggin speech… groan), I urge all creative-types to ignore the advice you likely hear upon every visit to a tweet link or blog post on the topic of selling your fiction. Forcing the words onto the paper because you have to finish that series, or write within some artificial confines or for any other reason besides the raw need to “make shit” is a great disservice to yourself and your potential readers. When a storm hits, follow it. Put blinders to the “conventional wisdom” and see where you fall. You might just be surprised at what you can accomplish.