Keeping Momentum

When I sit down to write for the first time in a while, everything is slow. I can’t quite figure out what to write, ideas won’t fit together, and I have a hard time expressing what I want to and finding the right words. Its like trying to get out of an armchair after sitting in an awkward position, and you discover (possibly a moment to late) that your legs have fallen asleep. Its uncomfortable at first, and you feel like you’re walking on pins for a moment, but as soon as the blood flow is normal again everything works perfectly.

And that’s the same way with writing, you have to let your creativity flow and keep your momentum. I don’t think you necessarily have to write a ton everyday to keep your momentum, a few words on a story or some plotting might be enough. But you can’t let the flow stop.

For me, these blogposts might be enough writing for one day. At least my fingers got to write on a keyboard, and my thoughts could flow out in the form of words. This is still utilizing the same muscles that I use when I am writing creatively. It’s about keeping momentum, not about blazing ahead at high speed.

Sharing is Caring

So I like writing, and I’m not that afraid of sharing the things that I write. Not anymore at least. I used to be petrified of showing people what I write, well… other than my mom. These days I’m not that scared of showing people what I write.

I think my experiences in music has helped me a lot there. When I sing, I get immediate feedback from a teacher or conductor. In these cases, the feedback I get (good or bad) is genuine and impersonal. It is all about what I’m doing and how I can get better. The criticism comes from a mindset of growth, after all: there would be no point in telling me what I do wrong if there is nothing to be done about it.

This sort of process means that you have to separate your ego and what you are putting out, wether it’s music or writing. That isn’t an easy task, but I think it is the only way if one is to improve. You can’t take all the criticism you get into your heart and mull it over like some profound flaw. You just have to take it in, use it in your work and send the product right back out into the world.

Yes, I’m far less scared about showing my writing these days. Of course I get nervous and wonder what people will think, but my very being doesn’t depend on the response I get. I also generally share my writing with people I believe will take it seriously and give genuine and constructive feedback. And giving this sort of feedback is honestly a very nice thing to do for somebody.

It’s Not Nothing

So what do you do when you’ve been running around for 16 hours straight? Sleep. I really want to sleep. But I also wanted to write something here today. I didn’t know if I would have the time, and I haven’t really. But now, just before I collapse for the evening: I’m writing this.

It isn’t much, but it’s something. Sometimes you don’t have the privilege of choosing not to do something. Obligations and duty calls, and you just have to roll with the punches. That means you actually won’t have time to do all the things you want to get done, and it’s tempting to just leave it at that. But I figured I’d write this post. And it isn’t a bad topic, really: I sat down at the computer and I’m writing something, and that means I’ve written more than I would have otherwise. So even though I couldn’t write what I wanted to write, at the very least: I’ve flexed my fingers.

Deep Water

Tourists shuffled after the guide and her yellow umbrella. The view of the bay was stunning from the lookout, and everybody took out their cameras ready to ruin perfectly good landscape photos by posing in them themselves with wide smiles, thumbs up and sweat-spots.

Larry traveled by himself, so he’d have to wait for some of the others to take their own pictures, and ask if they’d take one of him. He leaned on the railing and looked out at the town below and the bay. A lone rowboat floated on the calm water. He could se the silhouette of a man holding a fishing rod in the little boat. Larry envied the fisherman, he was tired of the cramped tourbus and the loud talk all the time. Perhaps he would take up fishing when he got home?

He wanted to take a picture of the fisherman, and began fumbling with his camera when a┬ámovement by the rowboat caught his eye. Larry had assumed that the dark spot in the surface was deeper water, but… it was moving. He saw the huge shadow move towards the little fisherman. He wanted to call out, but there was no way he would hear him so far away. He turned back to the others.

– Miss Smith! There is a big shadow in the water! he called to the tour guide.

She waved back to him.

– Be with you in a moment, Larry! she said.

Larry looked out at the bay again. The shadow was directly below the boat now.

– Miss Smith! he called again and moved towards her.

– What is it? she asked as she met him.

Larry grabbed her arm and walked quickly back to the railing.

– That big shadow it moving! The fisherman is in danger!

– What fisherman?

Miss Smith sounded confused and Larry turned back to the water with his heart in his throat. There was no little rowboat, no fisherman and no shadow. Only the waves that rippled in the water bore witness that something had happened.

The Importance of Incentive

It’s difficult to get anything done. Especially if you don’t really have to. I spent so many years thinking of different stories, writing a chapter or perhaps a first act and then putting it down when the going gets tough.

Even now: I planned to work on my second draft this September and October, but this is September 6th, and I haven’t even started. I wrote the first draft during camp nanowrimo this summer, and it was all for that lovely little graph on my page. Each time It’s such a small thing, but it worked, I’m both delighted and ashamed to say. Is that really all that was needed? A visual aid?

I guess the key is that it is external, and it is what it is no matter what. If I have written 1000 words, I have written 1000 words. No more, no less. I think that gives me an anchor to reality. When writing you really have to get into your own head, and it is easy to get lost in there. Ideas that I’d rather write come from nowhere, I spend hours thinking of names for places or characters, and I fuss over details.

But having to keep a move on helps me get out of that rut. I can’t spend two hours on figuring out what this walk-on characters name is, I just have to call him Bob and keep going. But then September comes, and I realize that Bob isn’t a good name for this character. I don’t have much experience with revision, so I don’t really know how to find that carrot or stick to keep me moving.

Inspiration

Where do you get your inspiration? And how important is it? Creativity and the artist has long been connected in peoples minds by this misty veil of mystery. Inspiration is seen as a sudden flash of genius that will rocket your art into existence. This idea is beautiful bu it can also be detrimental to aspiring artists who spend all their time staring out a window, waiting for that flash of inspiration.

The trend nowadays seem to shift more towards demystifying inspiration, and placing a lot more value on the actual work of creating. The nitty gritty: techniques, developing a routine, helpful equipment and so on… This sort of environment among people and online has helped me a lot in developing and in my attempts at disciplining myself. I’m not afraid of the mystery of the artist. I feel like “the artist” as a concept is beginning to be more like the greeks concept of a painter or a poet: a craftsman. Simply someone who’s good at their craft. A part of me really like that idea: creating things out of thoughts, feelings and impressions like a potter might make a vase.

I do think inspiration is very important to, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like it is more of a continuous thing, the process of living is the same as finding inspiration: Meeting people and talking to them, taking in new impressions trough art, nature, philosophy or science. And as I work more and more like that potter making a vase, these experiences turn into material for new stories.