In my earlier life, I was quite creative. As a teenager, I’d spend hours going for walks, listening to music and thinking up stories. And while I never wrote most of them down, or even kept most of the ideas, the creativity kept flowing through me. As I grew older, I channeled it a bit more successfully. During my university years, I wrote a few short one-act plays that we then staged and were well-received.
But once I left my university life behind, moved into the “real” world and got a job… it seems my creativity had waned. I think it’s less that it’s waned as it is I’ve let the fire die down. All that remains currently is a faint remnant of the blaze, a few embers, glowing dimly in the ashes. Every so often, a breeze flows through and the embers glow hot, an idea forms in my head and I try to capture it while it’s still there. But I haven’t been able to stoke the fire enough to get it re-lit.
It’s time to rebuild that fire inside of me. I’ve let things lie dormant for far too long. The time is now. I need to recapture that glimmer of creativity and genius that used to flow so easily through me in my youth.
One way that I’ve been doing this is by reading more. I’ve begun reading more fiction again, trying to vary the style of book to broaden my horizons. I’ve recently started reading plays as well. This was something that always spoke to me in the past, so maybe this is where I need to reignite my fire. I just finished reading Paradise Lost by Erin Shields – a great re-imagining of Milton’s Paradise Lost, recasting Satan and a few other angels as a females. It really inspired me.
Another way I’ve approached this is by being more attentive to the things being said around me. I have a notebook on my desk at work where I jot down snippets of conversations that I overhear. Some of it is ripe for being included into a fiction story of some kind. I just need to find the right context to work it in.
The best piece that I’ve written to date was a one-act play called Toboggan. I co-wrote it with my friend Pierre during our time at U de M. It started off with a small bit of a story told by Billy Connolly in one of his comedy specials, and grew into more. I reread it now and I can’t even imagine how we ended up writing what we wrote. Looking back, I like to think that I was just letting the Muses flow through me and I was only the channel. One thing is certain though – we had a lot of fun writing it.
And maybe that’s the challenge now – I am trying to force the task and not allowing myself to have fun. I guess it’s time for a change of approach. While I do need to be more structured and disciplined with writing, I need to stop being so damned strict with myself. A few years ago, Isabelle and I came up with an idea for a story, for which I’ve written some of the opening portion…but I’ve stalled. I keep coming back to it, but when nothing comes, I get frustrated and talk myself out of writing. I need to put that one aside and just let something fresh come through.
It’s time to start watching some of the movies and TV shows that inspire me – comedies. I know that my strengths lie in comedy, so that’s where I’ll put my focus for now.
What are your tricks/habits/processes to spur on your creative side? Do you do certain activities? Do you work better with people? Alone? I’m curious to hear what others have to say. How do you find your muse?