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20 March 2013

So, I was listening to a podcast this morning (as I usually do when I’m working), and one of the hosts said something along the lines of, “if you look at creative people, all of them did…”

I’m not mentioning the podcast, as I don’t want to come across as trashing someone I don’t agree with, an I’m not mentioning the thing she said creative people all do, because it’s irrelevant unless that thing was “breathe” or “consume nutrients and water.”

The reason I didn’t get my degree in creative writing (and definitely didn’t consider going on to get my MFA in that subject) is that I don’t believe you can tell someone how to be creative. I think everyone is creative in one way or another, and trying to quantify it, or produce a process to creativity — that shit is pointless to me.

So when someone says something to me like “all the great writers were alcoholics,” or “all artists are depressed,” I immediately discount it. Same for people who believe that there are definite rules as to how to write, or how to paint, or how to make a film. To me, there are no rules. There are no set processes except for the ones we devise for ourselves (which are, of course, subject to change).

My point, if I have one (I so often don’t) is to not worry if the way you’re making your thing (book, screenplay, photograph, film, interpretive-dance retelling of the Reagan Administration) is the right way to do it. Process is subjective, and is something I think each of us can refine and learn over time.

You don’t have to ignore those “rules,” or the processes other artists (in your field or otherwise) have used in the past, because you might find valuable elements in them. Or you might find that all of that stuff totally does not work for you — but you learned something. You know now what doesn’t work, and that’s valuable knowledge to have.

Short version — just go out and make the damn thing. You’ll figure out how to do it in the process.

Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 20 March 2013 1122

    Sounds like a good topic for a podcast or something…

    Of course, you know I agree. Some writers swear by outlines detailing everything. Haruki Murakami, William Gibson, and many other writers sit down without knowing the ending and write. The only rule I’ve ever bought into is you gotta do it.

    If you want to paint, you’ve gotta paint. Wanna write a book, then you gotta — ya know — sit down a lot and write it. Music…you gotta write that song or play that piece all the way through. Like you said: “Make the damn thing!”

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