Light bulb

Sue Healy’s post Open the Doors, made me reflect on my creative process which used to go something like this:

Have a great idea! Do the prep work. Write a first draft. Realise it needs a lot of work.
Panic about how I’m going to solve the problems. Tackle the problems, try to wrestle them to the ground. Go with the first solutions I can grasp at. Write a new draft……Realise it needs a lot of work. Panic about how I’m going to solve the problems. Tackle the problems, try to wrestle them to the ground. Go with the first solution I can grasp at. Write a new draft……Realise it needs a lot of work. Panic about how I’m going to solve the problems. Tackle the problems, try to wrestle them to the ground. Go with the first solutions I can grasp at. Write a new draft…..

You get the idea. It was exhausting.

Luckily, experience has shown me a better way. Now when faced with problems whilst developing new work, I try to relax and believe the answers I need will come.  My creative process now goes more like this:

Have a great idea! Do the prep work. Write a first draft. Realise it needs a lot of work….Relax and breathe:

Identify the problems and muse on them a little, write a little more….or not.

Go for a walk, read, watch, sleep, wait, until….

A magical moment occurs and I know what to do: relief and joy!

Write a new draft. Realise it needs some / a little less work…..Relax and breathe:

Identify the problems and muse on them a little, write a little more….or not.

Go for a walk, read, watch, sleep, wait, until….

A magical moment occurs and I know what to do: relief and joy!

Write a new draft…..

I now enjoy my writing so much more. I’m thrilled every time I “receive” the answer I’m looking for. I don’t panic and I don’t get drawn into desperate drafting. And although to begin with stepping away felt wrong, in the long run it’s saved time: it’s the best solutions that come.

Working this way means that “magical moments” are not rare events  – they occur just when I need them. I find this utterly thrilling and I’m eternally grateful for this inspiration – wherever it comes from.

I wrote the above post and then I came across this interview with Anne Tyler, part of which reads:

“In her second floor writing room in her Baltimore home, the novelist Anne Tyler likes to keep the windows open to hear ordinary life outside……..On the wall are printed a few lines from Richard Wilbur’s poem Walking to Sleep:

As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there,
Or a general raises his hand and is given the field-glasses,
Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind.
Something will come to you.

“I see those words as about getting an idea and making a book,” says Tyler. “I don’t get anxious. It will come to you, let it come in.”

If you liked this, read:
Time for change
Writing doubts: Crushed!