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.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Creative Familiarity

The other day I went to one of my favorite restaurants for people-watching and stirring my creativity. I hadn't been there since COVID forced its closure, so I had a certain excitement when I discovered it finally reopened. I decided I would go there for dinner, see how many faces I recognized, and start being creative about the many other souls wandering around there. Satisfaction for both my physical and creative hunger.

Unfortunately, when I arrived, the biggest thing I noticed was how many things had changed, and not for the better. Not only was the menu different, but the whole layout of the place had been swapped around. My usual seat was no longer in its usual place, most of the areas with clear sight lines of the crowd were swapped out, and the salad bar was gone. It was a different place entirely. And, of course, the menu changed entirely. This was no longer the place I remembered. All of my usual things were no longer their usual self.

Now, the first question that might come to mind is, "How does any of this affect the writer's task of people-watching and being creative?" Well, in all fairness, it doesn't. There were still people with faces whom I could watch, and the environment was very conducive to creativity. The part that disrupted me is that it was no longer my place for creativity. It was new, and I wanted familiar. I wanted to sit in my booth with a full view of everyone, enjoy my coffee and a salad as big as my head, and let my mind roam about the endless stories that flooded such a place. But no - I sat with barely a view of anyone, eating a house salad fit for a small rabbit on a diet, wondering where my experience went.

It was only after a day of processing this that I discovered I was in a common creativity rut known as familiar newness. Creativity is fed by new experiences, so we explore the world and see it from different angles and through new perspectives. However, even this can fall into a rut. When we discover something new, we get excited and explore it as much as we can. That becomes a trap, because long after it is new to our experiences, we treat it as a new thing and try to claim all these perspectives from something that rapidly becomes all too familiar. We feed our creativity empty calories, and don't get the nourishment we truly need.

Truth be told, the restaurant was perfectly fine. The changes they made actually created a new experience for me to undertake, but I was so wrapped up in familiarity that I failed to see that this was something that could stimulate creativity if I had been open to it. I wasn't, so I missed my chance, and just sat there and complained that the familiarity I subconsciously wanted was gone.

The takeaway from this adventure is to invite change as an opportunity to reawaken your creativity. As a writer, you create new worlds all the time, so be excited when the world around you creates something new for you. If your favorite restaurant changes the menu, see it as a moment to try a new special and have a new experience. Just find out about the size of the salad ahead of time.

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