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A Spark to Light a Fire

A spark. An idea. The germ of creation.

I've recently been involved in some discussion with a few authors about this. What to do when the ideas dry up, when fear of failure, and even fear of success, interferes in the creative process.

It's all too easy to fall into a pool of negativity, which perpetuates itself. The only way to escape the cycle is to pull yourself out, ignore all outside influences, and listen to that voice inside you and write.

Whenever I get down about something, I have a friend who doles out the tough love. She'll tell me to suck it up and write. Oddly enough, this simple, obvious advice works for me.

But what do you do if all that fear makes it impossible to trust yourself? When you look at your work (as an artist, painter, insert creative job) and overdo your edits, trying to make it more right, when really you're making it more wrong? When the fear of not succeeding causes your ideas to dry up like the Sahara?

I feel for artists having these issues, because it's all too easy to fall into a trap. And let's face it; we've all been there at some point in our lives. I've gone through depressing phases, or spurts when I just can't get myself to type. But then my muse kicks my butt and won't leave me alone until I write something. Even if it's crap, it's something.

And wham. This post has started my muse. Fear makes wonderful conflict. Suddenly I envision new stories. A hero who's afraid to trust his instincts. A heroine who refuses to live her life, mired in past mistakes. A painter who fears he's lost his muse gets sucked into a world in which his private demons come alive.

My point is it's possible to take something stifling or bad and turn it into something that works. But talking about it or wishing it to happen isn't the answer. It's putting pen to paper and writing. Or fingers to keyboard, paintbrush to canvas--take your pick.

A little something to stir your creativity on a Friday. Take the bad and turn it into something good. Like the rain outside today. It's watering my flowers and giving me the perfect excuse to sit inside and write. :)

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Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Marie,

Your post is incredibly timely. I have a deadline looming and I'm having the devil's time getting the words out. Every sentence I write seems hackneyed. I catch myself using the same phrases over and over. I love my characters but I'm smothering them by over-directing.

All this is making me fear and avoid the work. Your post reminds me that I've just got to say "screw it" and write through the fear. I may be creating crap, but I'm going to make my deadline anyway. And then, we'll see.


Marie Harte said...

Best of luck, Lisabet. There's nothing worse than deadline pressure. Which reminds me, I have things to do, and not a lot of time to do it!

And I'm with you on the repeated phrases. And the overdirection. Good points...