The Creative Process – From Dreaming To Reality

Here’s why people prefer to dream than to do something about their dreams.  The first stage is fabulous, it’s where you let all your ideas go wild.  You don’t censor anything, don’t tell yourself you can’t succeed.  It’s kind of like taking a drug that inhibits all your inhibitions.  I like that phase a lot.

Then you start to organize your thoughts and begin to create something real.  This part is where challenges start.  A lot of people give up at the threshold, and prefer to make excuses – I would if I could, but…  If you can push yourself over the threshold, though, it gets much more exciting than dreaming, and as challenges come up you deal with them.

Momentum builds and pretty soon you’re carried on the wave of your own creativity.  There’s nothing like it.  It’s also where you start to realize “hey, my dream could actually come true.”  It’s a pretty inspiring and energizing thought.

Then you’re done with whatever it is you’ve created and you launch it.  And without realizing it you’re back in the dreaming phase.  You think you’re being practical but actually you can’t help yourself believing you’re going to be an instant success.

You think of all the people who have managed to rise above the seething masses and be noticed by more than family and friends, and you think “this is going to happen for me too.”  It’s true, you have created this possibility, fashioned it out of a dream, worked on it in a real way.  You read and hear about the successes.

You even read about their challenges along the way but somehow it doesn’t sink it that probably you’re going to have them too.  You think, “well, it couldn’t have been so bad for them, because they must have known somewhere in their hearts that it was all going to work out okay.”

Maybe for some people instant success happens, but it hasn’t happened for me yet.  I have to constantly remind myself that that’s the operative word – “yet”.  I’m facing the reality that the challenges of this phase put you in a very lonely and scary place.  It’s the time you want to give up, because you’re swimming in a quagmire of self-doubt about you and what you’ve created.

It’s natural to look to the outside world for affirmation, and when you don’t get it, to believe you don’t deserve it.  It’s easy to want to give up.  But this, I think, is exactly the time when you have to stay and keep on going.   Live on hope.  Be grateful that you can generate it.  Try not to listen to the part of you that laughs, mocks, jeers “who do you think you are?  You’re a lunatic.”

I paper my walls with messages that remind me not to give in to that crap.  Remind me that the idea that I can’t succeed is as much a speculation as the idea that I can.  So why choose to believe the one that destroys my hope and cauterizes my creativity?

This phase of turning a dream into a reality is the hardest of all.  It’s a constant fight to hold onto faith and hope; remember the pleasure I’ve had so far in creating, and keep on reaching for it.  It’s a constant bloody fight to not give up.  But it’s the good fight.

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The world of the imagination vs the material world

I’ve often heard the idea that creative people have to suffer to be able to really create and I absolutely loathe it.  There’s a kind of smug martyrdom inherent in it.  What’s with all this idolatry of suffering, anyway?    The notion that creativity only comes alive when you’re in pain is anathema to me.

However, I can understand how people whose entire being is focused on creating may not be very good at dealing with the world.

In the world of creativity there’s no earthly consequence to anything you imagine.  You don’t have to deal with people or relationships.  It’s a totally free zone.  Just you and your imagination.

Which is very different to living in the world all the time, being impacted on by people, having relationships, getting your buttons pressed, making decisions that affect your physical being.  Dealing with the passage of time.

Personally I’ve always found this part of life very difficult to get my head around.   It seems clumsy and at times hard to comprehend, whereas the world of my imagination is so light and quick and responsive.

Alas I don’t think it’s because I’m a creative genius, I think it’s because I never learned.  When I was four years old I was conscious of not knowing what to do around other children, and believing they didn’t want to play with me because I was ugly and stupid.

The world of my imagination is where I feel very at home, but my allegiance is split.  I also want to have my feet on the ground, and much as the earthly experience is challenging and frustrating, I love that part of life too.  I love the challenges, the thrill of interaction, the feeling of being alive when I’m angry.

My day has been spent in reading my script through and making notes.   The world I’ve created was more real than my physical one.  It was wonderful, I love my characters, my heroine is absolutely wild, and the man she falls in love with is such a jerk at first, but he so changes.  So does she.  I create the action, personalities, relationships, situations.  I figure out problems and give them solutions as I see fit.   I’ve been a completely free agent.  I’ve spent the day without having to deal with any real consequences other than the simple ones of “oh, that doesn’t make sense, he/she wouldn’t so/say that”, or “move this along”, or “delete this scene”.  The worst consequence is “this damn thing is too long”.  How difficult is that?

It’s kind of weird to come out of it and re-adjust.  Sit down at my computer.  Do my daily grind to earn money.  Deal with my heart doing loop-de-loop.

The world of the imagination and no immediate consequence is very seductive.  But nothing comes without its price, and there’s a big consequence to letting go and living there always.  It’s lonely.  Nobody touches you.  Nobody loves you.  You don’t get to touch and love anybody else.  Anybody real, that is.  And you don’t get to stretch yourself, you don’t feel the thrill of life coursing through every part of your body.

So the material world is clumsy and slow and kind of thick in comparison to that of the imagination, but some of its consequences are pearls of great price.

And I have a body that wants to be used, I have passions that need physical outlets.  I’d hate to get to the end of my life and not have engaged every part of me.  So I guess, hard as it is to make the transition between the two worlds, I’ll keep making it.  Hopefully I’ll get better at it.  I want the world of my imagination to have a big scope, but I also want to have love and give it, and to experience material abundance and stability.

In short, I want it all.  No martyrdom for me, thanks!

Probably means I’m just not really a creative genius.  I’m fine with that.

Blog traffic, Good Friday, Winkle pickers, Olives and Coffee

Holy cow!  I don’t mean that irreligiously or irreverently.  I’m just jumping around with pleasure.  Yesterday, even though I didn’t post anything, I had the most readers I’ve ever had in a day.   It’s going up by leaps and bounds.  Whoooeee!  You have no idea how much time I waste looking at my stats – let me just check, I say.  When the number changes as I’m looking I jump up and down, I want to greet whoever it is – Hey!  How’re ya doin!  Welcome!  And of course I yell Holy Cow!

Which brings me (via a tenuous connection in my brain) to what this day is.

Good Friday.  I wonder why it’s called Good?  Wikipedia will probably tell me.  I’ve started really enjoying the research facility of the internet.  For example now I know what winkle pickers are – they’re a kind of shoe!  With a pointy toe (named after the pointy thing you use to pick out the winkle from its shell.  So you can eat it.

It’s a very very tenuous connection, I’d say, (between a crustacean and a SHOE????  It originated in England of course!  Where they say “whistle and flute” and it means “suit”.   Imaginative race, the English),  but somebody made it one day – the tenuous connection, in case you’ve lost the thread of this sentence 🙂 – and somebody else liked and repeated it.  At first it was probably a joke amongst friends and now it’s an accepted part of the English language.

The beginnings of things that we take for granted now fascinates me, because everything always starts with one person – doing something inventive, out of the ordinary.  Often downright ridiculous in the view of the general populace.

Take coffee for instance.  a raw coffee bean is VILE.   The taste should be enough to ward off any kind of desire to do anything with it.   Who on earth decided to roast it then grind it up, and pour boiling water over it?  What would make them think of it?

What about olives – anyone who’s tasted a raw olive knows how ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING they are.  Bitter bitter bitter.  Eugh!  But some enterprising individual soaked some in water for two weeks and hallelujah, it became one of the most delicious edibles (that’s not a very graceful word, is it) on earth.  What would give them the idea?

Imagine the scene: some dreamer (according to her friends) picks a bunch of raw olives and sticks them in a bucket with salt water.  Said friends all laugh, “what do you think that’s going to achieve!”.

“I don’t know” says dreamer.”  Every day she tastes a bit of olive.  Still disgusting.  Eugh!  Spits it out.  Perhaps after a week begins to think her friends are right.  Maybe she should toss the damn things out.  Give up.  But for some reason she doesn’t.  She’s kind of stubborn that way.  So waves of doubt give way to the bigger idea.

One miraculous day she tastes an olive – and voila!  At first, people who haven’t been present probably don’t believe it.  And now?  Amazing, huh.

The creativity of the human race and the capacity to persist in the face of all logical argument that says “give up” boggles the mind.

Frustration has been building

Frustration has been building over the past week. I’ve hardly done any writing on my script, haven’t touched either my crime novel or my bio. I’ve been spending the time putting old décor brochures in people’s post boxes, paint effecting the furniture so I can sell it, trying to learn how to do a website because somebody said they’d pay me to build one for them – only of course I have to learn how to do it first, and I’m utterly computer illiterate.  I even said I’d try and sell a timeshare for somebody for money that will give me food for 2 weeks.

I don’t want to do any of it.  The work doesn’t make me feel good about myself or make me feel I’m part of the world, or contributing in any meaningful way. Doesn’t give me a sense of prospect. It’s just survival stuff which I’ve been doing all my life, meaningless work to stay alive. Work just for money – and some of it’s in the hope that I’ll get paid.  I don’t know how to tell you how lifeless it makes me feel inside. And I’ve let my writing slide. I’ve been writing my blog every day, and that’s good, but it’s not enough. I want to finish this script and novel by the end of the year. I do. I think I can. But not if I don’t write. And I need to write. For me.

So I’ve had this sense of urgency and panic. Today I said no interruptions or distractions. Today I write the novel and the script. It flowed so easily. I’ve done all the difficult and laborious work – figuring out the plot, writing it out scene by scene, you know, the structure. But most importantly I felt right. I felt I had a place in the world, something to contribute, something which could reach other people, touch them, entertain them. My life has value when I’m doing this.

I think of all the energy I put into those other things I think I have to do for money. What if I just took the risk and totally focused on my writing? What would happen? Would life support me? Which means, would people want to? Is my writing important enough? Am I important enough. Am I enough? It always comes back to this. I take the opportunities that come because I believe if I don’t I’ll starve or stay dependent forever. 

Some people draw money into their lives. Why shouldn’t I?  When I finish my novel, script and my bio, my chances of being published and earning from it are as good as any new writer’s. And since I’m willing to face rejection and not be destroyed by it or thrown off my path; I’m willing to persevere and work at believing in the value of my work, chances are that I’ll break through.

But am I allowed to be supported while I develop this novel and script and bio?  It must be possible.