Monday, September 24, 2012

Where do these ideas come from?

The creative process is endlessly fascinating to me: Anyone's creative process, but of course the only creative process I  have first hand experience with is my own.

Anyway, I'm constantly amazed by what the subconscious comes up with.

I think there is an implicit bargain you make with the creative parts of your brain.

You give it a chance to work, and lo and behold, it will provide.

But you have to give it over to the subconscious -- that is, you can't be distracted by anything else.  No books, no movies, no work, no other conversations, nothing.  You give over your time and energy and suspension of attention to that murky idea generator.

At least, that's the way it works with me.

Sometimes, the idea generator is overflowing -- sometimes it is dry.  I use the inner image of a well, that is either depleted, or full, or overflowing.  I can almost do an internal check, a sort of cartoony well that I can check the status of.

Sometimes, if the story needs a little pushing, I can let the less creative, but rational part of my brain come up with some fill-in material.  But I'm learning not to do that.  I'm learning to let the brain work on it.

There are some tricks.

One, being alone helps.

Two, not having anything on the schedule in the near future works.

Three, talking to oneself is very helpful.

Four, a kind of browsing, non-critical look at what you've already done, can help spark more ideas.

Five, other activities that can help spur creative thoughts: walking, showering, playing solitaire, napping, driving around in the country, and otherwise just sitting around with a sort of "on" button, but not trying to force it.

Six, finding a location where you've had ideas before, and using that location just for generating ideas.  (I've been using my bed, which is a surprise -- napping, thinking, just sort of drowsing, browsing. You have to be careful, though, not to let the sleep thing get in the way, or vice verse.)

Seven, a related creative activity.  I'm talking specifically about my blog.  Though there is always the danger that I'll use up that day's measure of creativity on the blog instead of on the fiction.

Eight, sometimes a little booze can help, but it seems just as often it can hurt.  ...

 Finally, it helps to strike while the iron is hot.  And it's been red hot lately, as hot as it's ever been, so hot that I was canceling everything else, ignoring everything else, even taking days off and going on writing holidays.

I was riding that pony for all it was worth.  (If this was a book, instead of a blog, I'd have to come back and swap out all the mixed metaphors...)

But I'm nearing the end, with just two chapters left that I basically know what I want to accomplish.   And it's just really tough.  I'm trying not to push too hard, but I'm afraid of letting the pressure off too much too soon.

And yes, I thought I'd finished the book 12 days ago, but it was only 30, 000 words.  In trying to fix that, I came up with a secondary storyline which I'm weaving in without changing what I've already written, and which I think very much improves the story.  Way more action as well as fantasy scenes, which were probably necessary.  

The writing went smoothly for about the first half.  Then started getting harder.  And, lately, it's just been as slow as can be.

This must be what it's like climbing a mountain -- that last 100 feet is brutal.  Just as you are at your most tired, it becomes the hardest.

No comments: