I started this blog over a year ago, primarily to give myself a place to express thoughts and ideas, practice my writing in relatively safe yet public environment, and simply as a way to be creative. It’s been more than 10 months since my last post because creativity is hard.
Nearly 25 years after I graduated from film school I have done very little creatively. I explored other career options that seemed safer and surprisingly more interesting at the time and I didn’t have a need to be creative. I witnessed the struggles my friends and classmates worked through to eek out a living in the highly competitive entertainment industry while I jumped ship for a stable eight to five job that has since turned into my career. I have been happy with the choices I have made although I still get the urge to jump back into film when I see my friends’ and classmates’ successes as the credits roll on major films and television programs.
Over the past two years the urge to incorporate more creativity into my daily life has blossomed. At the end of 2014 I finally put forth my first significant effort to re-enlist in a creative endeavor. A little over seven years ago, I first discovered NaNoWriMo after reading an article by Jason Snell, the editor of MacWorld at the time. Up until this point I had never done much writing, but I would periodically recorded ideas in various documents scattered throughout my computer. I think deep down I always held some desire to be a writer, yet I had never acted on it. For five years either the creative urge wasn’t strong enough or I had not fully developed a clear notion that I could actually accomplish what NaNoWriMo asked of its participants. Finally, in October 2014 I made a personal pledge that beginning November 1st I would participate and finish NaNoWriMo by month’s end. I “won”, along with thousands of other successful writers, by generating over 50,000 words for my own novel, but what I had was no novel, it was an incomplete mess.
Finishing NaNoWriMo motivated me to keep up my writing. I made big plans to complete and edit my novel. I dove deep into many, probably too many, writing blogs and several books to hone my writing skills. I even created this blog to stimulate my creative juices in yet another outlet. I left plenty of time for reading and learning, but almost no time for doing any actual writing. This was my ultimate downfall over the past year and the first thing to suffer was my newly created blog. I continued to jot down blog ideas, story ideas, and any other idea no matter how crazy in my Scrivener Idea Projects document. What I didn’t do is execute. Without execution, there was no way I would successfully achieve any of my writing goals I had carefully laid out (I even writing a blog post about them).
I did learn quite a bit about myself over the past year in the process, so even with my lack of producing any finished projects at least I have something to show. Three of these lessons jumped out as being the most important to my future development as a writer.
First and ultimately the most important, I need to find time to write. Actual writing. Squeezing in a few minutes here are there. Complete writing. Working through the hard parts. Finished writing. Reaching the end where I would feel comfortable sharing the work with others. I am a pro at starting projects. Getting down the parts I am excited about is easy. Seeing them through, developing complete stories and characters, resolving problems and getting to “The End” is where I falter.
Second, I am a plotter even though I think of myself as a pantser. I made it to 50,000 words on my first two attempts at NaNoWriMo but as the deadline approached I found myself cramming in words by jumping around the plot to wherever the words would flow. I failed to generate any cohesive plot line or character development using this method, so I am not sure if there is anything salvageable or if it may be better to start over with a fresh, concise and well developed outline.
Third, if I am going to be successful I need to commit. Commit to writing each and every day. Commit to completing. Commit to deadlines and holding myself accountable. Commit to sharing and getting feedback. I’d give myself an “F” for each and every one of these today, but I’m throwing out the report card and starting fresh. Beating myself up won’t help my commitment but, at the same time, continuing to give myself too many free passes will have the same effect.
I could probably lump all three of these lessons together as a need for structure. I am a creature of habit, at times driving my wife crazy. This is why I should have known all along the I am a plotter. I’ve incorporated other demands on my personal and professional life by incorporating those responsibilities into the structure that is my life. It only goes that I can do the same for writing.
I have re-committed to this blog to reinforce all I have learned about writing and enhance my own creative process over the past year. I have amassed a long list of blog topics including expanding on all of the things I learned this year in a addition to the top three I have already mentioned. Time to commit. Time to execute. Time to succeed.
The difficult things we accomplish in life are always the most valued. Creativity is hard, but it’s worth it.