In which I think about creativity and falling in (or out) of love with writing

Ahoy there! Welcome to the blog. Or perhaps welcome back to the blog. I see that I haven’t been to play here since 2019, so a little catch up is probably in order to get things started.

*checks diary for the last 2.5 years*

On the other hand, we could ignore 2020 and 2021, pretend that it’s still 2019, and that worst thing to happen to any of us recently was being slightly non-plussed with the ending of Game of Thrones, and just crack on from there.

Deal? Good.

The reason for blowing the dust off the bloggy blog blog was that I wanted to muse a while about creativity. There is – full disclosure – an element of shameless promotion here, because these musings are totally related to the brand new online course I currently have running with Romance Writers of Australia. That course is rather wordily entitled Reigniting Creativity and Finding Your Voice and is a self-paced online course, aimed at anyone who wants to find ways to be more creative or who has maybe fallen out of love with writing a bit. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

Most of us who write – whether it’s novels or poetry or screenplay or extended dragon based battle scenes that lose sight of multiple seasons of thoughtful character development – start writing because we love it. We love the creativity. We love exploring our imaginations. And it’s a huge privilege to be able to take that love and turn it in to even a small part of your career.

Which makes it a bit awkward when, for whatever reason, we’re really not enjoying writing. And I don’t mean that ‘some days go better than others’ sort of not enjoying it. Or the ‘well it takes me a while to get going but once I’m in the flow all is good’ sort of not enjoying it. I mean the ‘What is ‘in the flow’? I do not remember that and suspect you’ve just made up a thing’ form of not enjoying it. With shades of the ‘Maybe I could retire. That’s a thing people do. I could get another job and never have to write another word again’ sort of not enjoying it. I’m talking about the point where the thing that you loved, and worked so hard to be able to do for a considerable portion of your week, is about as enticing as burying yourself in quick drying cement.

And there are all sorts of reasons a writer might feel that way. The publishing industry is tough. Months, or years, of rejection and nearly-but-not-quites do get you down. Writing with a voice in your head asking if this is what the market really wants can be wearing. And writing for publication is a treadmill – one set up with a ridiculously high gradient and no option to step off. When you finish one novel, you gotta start the next. Over time the well you’re drawing from – your own imagination and creativity – can be emptied. Add to that all of the stresses that affect us all – health, family, the imminent death of the planet we call home – and finding a creative spark can get tough.

And that toughness can be difficult to talk about. We all know that publishing is tough and we all know – because as writers we tell each other it constantly – that all you can do is just keep on keeping on. So when keeping going with writing feels impossible or overwhelming or panic-inducing it can be hard to admit it, even to yourself.

So I came up with the idea for the Reigniting Creativity course thinking that if I felt that way, other writers might as well. And writing the course really helped me. Normally when I write a course on some element of writing or editing, I’m trying to work out the most effective ways of sharing some knowledge or tools with my students. In this case I was really thinking about what I needed and what might be useful for me to try, and what I’ve created is one of the most personal and the most practical courses I’ve ever put together. More than being a learning programme, I think of it as a form of couples’ therapy for you and your writing mojo – a chance to reconnect, rediscover why you fell in love to begin with, and work out how to keep the spark alive going forward.

Writing it helped me. Genuinely, there’s one particular tool from the very last section of the course that I’m using week in week out as part of my writing practice to help me stay creative and remember that writing can be joyful. And you don’t have to be in the midst of a full blown writing breakdown to sign up. You can also do that just because it might be fun. I just hope that following the course will help some of you get your creativity flowing.

Author: Alison May

Writer. Creative writing teacher. Freelance trainer in the voluntary sector. Anything to avoid getting a real job... Aiming to have one of the most eclectic blogs around, because being interested in just one thing suggests a serious breakdown in curiousity.

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