Writing about Writing: Dissecting the Creative Process

Sometimes I think about writing, and I think that writing should be as simple as putting pen on paper, or pulling up a Word document followed by the quick tapping of keys. Sometimes when you have a story to tell, the words ought to pour out of you effortlessly onto paper -no hesitation, no second guesses. I often think that this is ideally what being creative should feel like, a sudden burst of inspiration that guides your hand to produce something more than good, something to be proud of. 

I yearn for that to happen much more often than I should, somehow feeling like I would only produce good work if it came from someplace that wasn’t my own brain. My mind conjures up the image of the reclusive, struggling writer, bin overflowing with ink-stained papers balled up in frustration, as if that’s the only acceptable image of an artist is a struggling one. 

My creative process in reality, goes something like this. A tiny spark of inspiration sets things in motion, a meek little voice in my head saying “Hey, if you’re not too busy, maybe writing about this thing could be kinda cool. But only if you have the time of course, no obligation.” What follows is mental tug of war of Ancient Olympic proportions. As I struggle to find the best word to start a piece with, another much stronger, much more assertive voice in my head laughs and says, “Are you kidding me? That idea is beyond the realms of stupid. Oh by the way, you’re kinda stupid.” The little voice goes, “Hey but this one person said they liked this one thing you wrote the last time!” in retaliation. The big voice laughs and says that they were just saying it for the sake of being nice. 

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Sentences typed are erased and rephrased multiple times, in the corner of my brain is a mountain of rejected drafts. The creative process can sometimes feels like a long hard road paved with spikes, the big voice of reason doing its best to resist every forward step because creating can really hurt sometimes. Like that time in kindergarten when someone laughed at your drawing (Yours wasn’t that much better, Carol.), or that bad grade you got for an essay in high school that could only mean you’re not meant to write. 

And in the court of the creative mind, bad experiences are worth 10 times more than good ones. The defense presents evidence 1a: A recent genuine compliment; the prosecution counters with evidence 1b: A decade-old embarrassing memory, an offhand remark, non-constructive criticism. Court is adjourned, the prosecution almost always, wins. 

However, for better or for worse, the little voice in my head never does die down. After being dormant for a while it always comes back, timidly asking if I would perhaps like to write about it, or if I would maybe some day commit to writing a novel, and in the other corner the big voice stirs. And as much as I would like it to be, my art shall never come effortlessly. So I imagine smearing war paint on my face because yet again I will march towards battle for the little voice. As much as stepping on a spike would hurt, it will always be a challenge worth undertaking because really, the only way to tame the big scary voice is to JUST. KEEP. WRITING. 

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