On the Creative Mind

I see inspiration as an energy bar like the one floating above your character’s head in a video game. The act of creation drains that bar, and your task is to fill it again by reading, looking at art, taking trips to new places, or even just creating a new experience locally.

Like many of us artistic-types, I struggle with boredom, depression; a dry well where flowing creativity should be. 

During the height of the economic crisis, as an unemployed college graduate (possibly unemployable with a BA in English), I withdrew from the world to live at my mother’s house in the suburbs temporarily. I applied for jobs daily, sending emails into a vacuum or the HR trash chutes. It was great prep for the rejections I will inevitably face as a professional writer, but drained my capacity to think of anything else.

I decided to use the lull in employment opportunities to write and finish a book.

I rewrote the first chapter of a work in progress six times. Trapped in a woodsy Plymouth village with no car and no job, I didn’t pick up my pen or paintbrush. I wallowed.

Then one day, my brother borrowed a truck and stole my bed. He put it in the spare room at his apartment in Boston and I had no choice but to follow.

I moved back to the city, miraculously found an only-slightly-above-minimum-wage job and started to dream again. Paying a bill or two late, I was able to take a writing class at Grub Street and wake my hibernating mind.

My brother and that class are to blame for starting the landslide of joining Grub Street, SCBWI, and my beautiful Every-Other-Sunday critique group who feel like family now. I’ve made great friends involved with the Boston Speculative Fiction Meetup Group and the spectacular Boston writing community.

I still struggle with keeping that inspiration bar filled, but what I learned from all of this is that inspiration comes from outside stimulation. The more I do and the more I see, the more I write.

So scrape together enough money to take the class you always wanted to, join a free local meet-up group, turn off the TV and read and read and read some more.

Monotony will become daydreaming and from that will come creation.

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
To him… a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god, and failure is death.”

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – – – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation.

By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”

-Pearl S. Buck-

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