Our whole creative lives

We are creators. Everything we do in life is a process of creating something, as writers, artists, dancers but in every other job in life there are always creative elements. Indeed, this extends to our lives as a whole and our very existence as humans. We survive best with our creativity utilised, we need to.

An example of a job with creating in it is engineering. This is creating with skills and information, acquired in college or university or through a trade course. If you want to design a new machine, your basic design or prototype is a way of creatively using your engineering skills, using what you know to make the best possible model of your idea.

Or perhaps you’re re-designing the layout of a manufacturing process, same thing, you have the limits of each stage of the process and the product in mind and then you ‘brainstorm’ or ‘think outside the box’ i.e. use your creative juices to break the mould of what has been done before, to come up with a unique way of getting that product made. For example, combining stages, eliminating a stage, look at the start and end of each stage for small changes that can be made, look at the process as a whole to see if stages can be moved around, cut out waste in the process, etc…

As writers, without a doubt we create, and like an engineer, we learn and practice to hone our skills. Some of us do degrees and masters in the craft and some of us come up through the ranks with practice alone, or perhaps through the reading of books about writing or examples of fine writing in themselves.

And like any creative, there are days when we need to mull just that bit longer to solve a problem, for example in writing, we call it writer’s block. As an engineer, you don’t usually get unlimited time to be blocked, there is a deadline, a plan in place that has milestones to be adhered to, so most engineers brainstorm their way out of the block, come up with ideas to use, work the ideas, if stuck again, they brainstorm again and so on. Perhaps this is something that can help us push forward in writing. Brainstorm our way out of being stuck – what’s wrong, what’s not working and why?

We are creative in everything we tackle in our lives, even in the ways we avoid doing things, but like other aspects of our lives, we can use this knowledge to push through moments of struggle to help us put our writing in perspective as just another aspect of us creating something and use skills we may already have to keep our writing going.

The mind of a writer

Something popped into my mind the other day and I think I need to expand my idea of the mind of a writer because behind the skill of learning to be a writer I think that there are three aspects that get developed: our creative side, our ability to write and to edit the work.

The creative or imaginative side, of us is incredibly powerful but it is only a small part of writing, we have to write those ideas down and then be able to edit them to produce work that will generate something close to what we imagined in the first place for the minds of our readers. We learn the skill of:

1. Creating the story, from our dreams, from our imagination, usually using one of two ways or a combination of both.

We can write with the inner critic switched off and then figure out what the story is about through an analysis of the chapter and scene intentions (see use of a beat sheet described in ‘Nail your novel’ by Roz Morris)

Or decide on the story we want to write first, what will happen and the backgrounds of characters, write a synopsis or plan, and then write it.

2. Learning the craft of writing, the ability to find and place the right words down to produce the illusion for our readers.

3. Editing the story, analysing the plot and subplots by scenes and chapters, and beginning the re-write by moving into the writer/creator head again. Read and analyse the second draft. Re-write again. Analyse. Re-write. Back and forth.

 

I think we move between three minds as a writer and each mind can be learnt and developed:

The creative mind: free spirit, creates ideas, keeps the prose flowing, free-writing.

The writing mind: masters the craft of writing, finding the right words to place on the page.

The editing mind: critical thinker, analyser who can understand the overall imagined structure, the overall plot arc, the chapter arcs, the scene intentions, the layout of a scene, its paragraphs, sentences, specific detail, and the words that make the story come alive.

 

And then when we take our writer’s hat off, we become the person we are to the rest of the world.