Creativity Blocks,Distractions and Oh, What Was That Other Thing Again?

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Steven Wright and I share a birthday in December and I just love that he sent me this last month. PS this has bugger all to do with this post.

I read a wonderful post on blocks to creativity just this week, which I subsequently posted to my Facebook page. Should you go there to read it, why not LIKE my page while you’re there? I promise to only appear in your news feed once a day and never try to sell you any books in a way that you’ll be able to notice. Okay? Lovely.

As I was saying about the creative blocks/being easily distracted/procrastination thing… After reading this marvelous post I began thinking about how I put off trying to be a writer for so many years and that yes, the reason is I have been a victim. I don’t mean someone fuffed me in the pie-hole with a duster and ran off with my copy of Woman & Home Magazine in some facepolish-and-grab incident. I mean I have been a victim of that old murderer of creativity – perfection.

I’m going to be honest here. I have stopped mid sentence in new books by other authors and skipped to the ending wondering where all this nonsense was leading, only to find I couldn’t care less if Sissy Burans grew up hating the fact that her name is an anagram of Sainsbury’s but it all ends well because she meets the man of her dreams there in the cheese and cream aisle. I’ve thrown books down in disgust and thought how much better I could do. I’ve done it for years and years. And yes, I’ve followed these thoughts up by actually putting pencil to paper and spilling my brains on the page, only to find the prose I told myself would be fine wine was just plain old juice. And not even nice juice. It was sour, cranberry juice – the stuff that nobody drinks unless they have a bladder infection. Apt because I had that burning desire to write and then, after having read my first few paragraphs of cranberry juice-esque ramblings, the burning was gone.

I’ve started writing what in my head was Jayne Eyre and ended up with Jane Eerie. I wanted to call my current novel about a woman who marries a porn addict, ‘The Secret Life of B’s’. I’ve written clangers worthy of a whole episode of ‘It’ll Be Alright on the Rewrite’.  (That, by the way, should be a writer’s Twitter hashtag). Corkers like: ‘His contorted mouth said nothing, but his eyes begged me to get him and his erection out of here now’. Oh yes, this line IS on my cutting room floor. I’m so ashamed… and yet comedically proud at the same time. 🙂

Finally, in my forty-first year of life I got the courage to keep going, writing a novel to completion. Then I shared it with a few trusted friends and family members, feeling sick at the thought of letting my little lamb go out to play with the other children. And as the feedback trickled in, perfection began to attack me again. It tapped me on the shoulder, reminding me I wasn’t good enough. Which is just as well because it wasn’t and as a matter of fact, the first draft NEVER is. For me, the second and third wasn’t either.

The real magic happens in the rewrites. You have to let your creativity run round the garden naked in front of a select few neighbours if you want to be a writer or creator of anything good. Perfection is still trying to attack me all the time, but persistence is my taser gun of choice these days. I won’t give up like I did ten years ago. I know I will keep writing, I will keep creating because it’s what I’m compelled to do. I’m currently on the first draft of book two and I’m not stopping to edit until all that cranberry juice is out on the table. But at least it won’t hurt when I break for a wee.

If the old me sounds like the current you, let it all flow. Write for pity’s sake!

And so, unpublished know-it-all writer that I am, I leave you with one thought: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ It isn’t my own thought because I was afraid mine wasn’t perfect enough for the occasion. 😉  Now, get back to writing your next bunch of #It’llbealrightontherewrite clangers.

Ohhh, I forgot to say something about being easily distracted…

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8 thoughts on “Creativity Blocks,Distractions and Oh, What Was That Other Thing Again?”

  1. Hi Heather and thank you for dropping by my blog, and completing your visit with a ‘like’. I’m about to set off for work, but decided to check out your site first. I’ll be setting off with a smile on my face thanks to you.
    I’ll be back later to read more, but just to make sure I don’t lose you, my Blogroll had your name added about five minutes ago. Till later.

    1. Hi Tom, thank you so much and also for stopping by. I don’t tend to write writerly advice posts given that my experience is limited in the world of publishing just now, but happy to be a blogroll addition on your site, which is a wonderful resource! And so glad I made you smile, I never tire of hearing that. Thanks for dropping by and taking the trouble to comment:)

  2. Oooh, you write so well! Natty turn of phrase you have there. Thanks so much for popping in and liking my post. Perfection, is I believe, the source of my own writers block. I find it very difficult not to edit as I write, interrupting my flow and stifling my creativity. I’m my own worst enemy. I have to be very strict with myself about when I can start editing.

    1. Thank you so much Adele, that’s a lovely compliment for a Monday morning. I have a rule about first drafts, it is this – write them! Don’t back pedal; don’t stop to chastise yourself, don’t even worry that you may have wandered away into someone else’s book. It’s good, I think, to have a rough outline planned out before you start to keep you on track but other than that, onwards! Everything can be fixed on the rewrites. I’m no expert because I only did one novel so far but the biggest thing I learned in the process was that the first draft was by far the easiest bit and very far away from the finished book.I felt this was important to share with other writers and aspiring writers who may be afraid to get started as I was for twenty years. The magic happens when you let your flow lead you IMHO. Crack on! 🙂 x

      1. I think you’re absolutely right. Not editing as I write is a huge exercise in self-discipline for me, but when I finally do let myself go with the flow, the results are infinitely better. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  3. Thanks for this. You seemed to have tapped straight into my own head this morning. Just got another rejection today, and I’m finding it a little difficult to shake it off. It’s that last quotation you’ve posted – “Am I really a writer?” – that resonates so deeply. Because I’ve been asking myself that all morning, and I can’t find an honest answer inside.

    I, too, suffer from servitude to perfection, and cranberry-juice attacks. Would love to trade titles of burning-urea-prose with you.

    1. Hi Lynn
      Firstly, thank you very much for stopping by and taking the trouble to comment. There really is no substitute for lovely feedback and knowing I’m not blogging away to myself 😉
      The second thing I want to say is that I’m a great believer in the right things just finding you when you need them and that, although I’m sure you’ve seen and read every great well-meaning quote and link about coping with rejection, (I know I have), it really only comes down to one thing. I LOVE writing and I have reached a peace within myself. This is what I want to do and nothing will stop me from doing it or loving it. If you write with nothing in your heart but the will to do it and share a message, really feeling within yourself you wouldn’t be able to stop even if ‘they’ tried to make you, then you are already a success and you are definitely a writer. You are living the creative life your heart desires. Money & recognition I’m sure are wonderful things – how nice it would be to make this work pay some bills! But don’t forget those rejections are only opinion’s. It is very well documented just how wrong people can be. If you know in your belly this is what you were meant to do, then you must keep doing it no matter what. I don’t know why, I don’t know what’s going to come from it, I only know it’s a fantastic feeling to be read and at least people like you give me that pleasure coming here to comment.
      Two things happened to me today – my novel failed to make the Bath Novel Award long list and my blog surpassed ten thousand hits. Ten thousand people read me! It’s the second thing that is on my mind today. It’s lovely. Concentrate on the positives and keep writing. Good luck! xxx

  4. We seem to be living parallel lives right now. My novel didn’t make the Bath Novel Award longlist either, and it missed the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. While I’m a far shot from 10000 hits on my blog, it’s still getting some action, and the positive thing I’m trying to focus on is the agency pitch meeting I have in London on 5 April.

    Writing gives me joy and pain in equal measure, but I doubt that I would ever stop. I did when I was a teenager, and I regret it. I came back to it during the darkest time of my life, and from that pain I rediscovered the joy it can bring.

    I just hope … well, that’s it, really. I just hope. 😉

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