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, July 3, 2023

The Deluge and the Drought

Boy, did the skies ever open up yesterday. Here in the Midwest, we got a whole bunch of rain on Sunday. Some areas around Chicago topped off their rain gauges at over eight inches yesterday. To offer a little perspective, for the entire month of June, the Chicagoland area got about 2.2 inches of rain. Needless to say, all this precipitation, while very much needed, was a lot to handle. Streets and underpasses flooded, sewers overflowed, and thanks to some construction in front of my house, for a while I was the proud owner of a moat. So, to recap: a lot of rain.

During this time, I got some writing in. Actually, I got a lot of writing in. A whole bunch of it. Probably more than I should've, but I definitely needed to get it out of my system. For some of us, creativity is very similar to Midwest weather patterns: not entirely predictable, prone to wild swings, and often full of long dry spells. That's where I had been for a while, so when the weather trapped me inside on a Sunday, I tapped into that creativity and dumped a bunch of it onto the page. It was helpful, but sometimes I fear that after a big storm of creativity, the dry spell will return. And when it comes, I try to push myself to stay creative, even when I am not writing.

During my June writing drought, I won't say I had writer's block or anything. I had some mental fatigue, a little physical exhaustion, and a few late nights. What I didn't have, though, was an outpouring of creativity, so I diverted myself to other opportunities. I edited a few stories I was working on. I reviewed a past writing piece that I think would make a nice one-act play. I put the final touches on my novel that will be finalized this week. I stayed within the realm of creative action even though I didn't actually create anything new. Then, when the opportunity hit me on Sunday, I created all kinds of things.

There is, fundamentally, one problem with this strategy. Sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is start a piece. If, during the deluge of creativity, I write a few pieces to completion, I can call them jobs well done, but during the ensuing drought it is that much more difficult to try and create. That is what I face now - a few finished works, but I am not sure if I have the creative strength to start a new piece. I might just edit and revise what I wrote, but I am back in a creativity drought. Not a smart move on my behalf.

What I try to do during periods like this (and what I should've done Sunday) is create the skeleton for several things while I had the energy. By getting them started, I would've conquered the most difficult part, thus making it easier for me to continue working on it when maybe my energy isn't as high. I would have projects just waiting for me to return to them, which could ride me through the next creativity drought.

Here's the takeaway from all this creativity- and weather-related rambling: It takes a big push to set something in motion, so when you have the energy, take it upon yourself to write the first page of that big project. Get it off the ground and give yourself something to work with. The rest will come naturally in time, but that first bit is the most difficult to create. So if you find yourself in a creativity drought, thinking about some project on a rainy Sunday afternoon, write the first chapter. Write the first page; write the opening line. Get it started, and give yourself an opportunity to keep on writing long after the weather's changed.        

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