All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Creativity and Shoveling Snow

In case you didn't hear, a snowstorm rampaged through the Great Lakes region this weekend. While the foot of snow dumped on my house and others was nothing compared to what the east coast is bracing for, it was still enough for me to be quite annoyed. And, of course, by annoyed I mean having every routine in my weekend disrupted while I shoveled out the space around my car, cleared my front walk and removed plow snow from the curb every few hours. Shovel, rest, repeat. Most of my other routines - including writing - had to be put on hold, save for food and sleep. However, I still wanted to get some writing in.

The answer came naturally - I got in my writing while I slept.

No, this post is not about some odd condition that allows people to write essays while they sleep (although in college it seemed a lot of students had such an affliction). This is more about using our creative tools whenever and wherever possible, and putting them to work even when we have little or no control over them. In this case, I am referring to the creative process where we put together the bones a story before we flesh it out in writing.

I will not say that I am the most creative person. I have my moments, as do we all, but usually I just have the typical ideas that wouldn't blow anyone's mind. When I write, I think about these ideas, dig out the emotions underneath them, start finding a few words to bring them to life, then place them on the page. It's an elaborate, complex, and oftentimes boring-to-watch process, but it works. But if you notice, a lot of that process requires nothing more than brain power, and we use a lot of that when we sleep.

This is a technique I use when my mind wants to write but I am too busy, tired, achy, sore or worn out from shoveling too much snow to write. I simply put some paper or my laptop by my bed and go to sleep. When I sleep, I dream. When I dream, the creative craziness is uncontrollable, and there's no reason to tame it. I let my mind wander around wherever it wants to go, see whatever, do whatever, and run its course while my body rests.

When I wake up, I give myself a simple mission - start writing what I remember. Not just the images, but the emotions, the sensations - I apply all those steps of my process to the story still lingering in my memory. If I dreamed about a rabbit that talked like my fifth-grade teacher, I type up my conversation with the rabbit. I use adverbs and adjectives that solidify this dreamscape, and don't worry about the story's sensibility. I capture the strongest scenes in my head and churn them onto the page, all from the comfort of a warm bed.

I have often been surprised on what a creative release this can be, particularly when my mind needs that type of freedom but my schedule is simply unable to comply. In this moment, I no longer feel my aching back or sore muscles. I merely experience the freedom of writing

And it feels good. Better than shoveling snow, anyway.

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