artist, creativity, criticism, ideas, Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, Writer's block, Writing
Many people have asked me about writing, were do ideas come from, how do I find the time, etc. I’ve been writing for decades, starting as a teenager. I went many years without writing a thing, and many days in sequence being unbelievably prolific, writing one or more chapters at a sitting. Lately I’ve been a lot more disciplined about it all.
Permission to be an artist
Several years ago I was introduced to a wonderful book titled, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you are an artist/writer/singer/etc. please buy this little gem of a book. In a sentence: it gave me permission to be a writer. From that day, I set aside the early mornings for my writing, 5 or 5:30 in the morning (occasionally 4am when I just can’t sleep anymore). It is quiet and there are no distractions. My children are up at 6:30 for school so it gave me an hour or an hour and half to work. Doesn’t sound like much? Add it up. If I wrote a single page a day, that is a book in 9 months; 2 pages a day is a book in 5. That’s pretty good and is exactly what happened. But better than that, my mind became trained to create. When I sit down, I’m writing a few minutes later. What about writer’s block? It can be a real thing, but only if you let it. When good ideas are not coming, I go back and edit the previous day’s work. It’s housekeeping, it’s true, but it has to get done too. So I’m in the work, slogging away. And often the simple act of staying connected gives me good ideas and I’m able to move forward again. It all counts. Just show up.
Where do ideas come from?
Every artist and writer is asked this question. And it is unanswerable, not because the writer wants to keep it a secret or hide some special talent, but because none of us really knows. We read a phrase, see a television show, overhear a conversation and bang an idea for a story or an action for our lead character pops into our head. Maybe it comes from God, aliens, angels or from a very small man who lives in our ears. We just don’t know, but it’s magical and every writer experiences this magic. It’s like a small Christmas present in July. Just say thank you and write it down. I do.
Do you have a story in you?
I think there are a lot of people who have a story or two in them and are not writing it down. Why not? What is really the risk? What, that someone might not like it, criticize it, tell you it’s crap. Oh yeah, those guys. There are a lot of them and only one of you. Over time, you learn to say “so what” to their criticism and praise. None of it matters. The only thing that matters is that you are writing and writing and writing, numbing your butt cheeks, developing a concrete ass. Maybe something great will come out of your pen or computer, but only if you write it down, only if you release it to the world. And if not now, when?