The word creative conjures up thoughts of imagination given free reign—no rules, no conventional wisdom, no catering to categories or expectations. Absolute freedom. Ah, heaven! If you’re writing just to please yourself, that might be the be all and end all of things.
However, if you’re writing for publication, there’s also the matter of control…controlling your writing schedule to hit deadlines, the storyline to keep it on track and proceeding apace, your characters so that they won’t hijack your story. (Those imaginary characters have no sense of control but all the creativity that comes with the lack of any consequences in the “real” world. Yes, I talk about characters as if they’re more fact than fiction, with thoughts and motives of their own. That’s because when writers are truly immersed, they often feel as though they’re channeling the story as they hear it in the character’s voice rather than really guiding things along. Just like a raging river sometimes needs to be redirected….)
Anyway, if you’re a writer, you’ve clearly got creative down pat. Here are a few suggestions to help you with your control issues:
1- Set a schedule: a consistent time and place for writing. Just as they say that you should study under consistent conditions to aid in memorization, setting a regular schedule will precondition your brain for the proper mindset so that when you sit down to write you’ll be better able to launch right in.
2- Eliminate distractions: For some this means writing on a computer without Internet access or having a dedicated writing room or office where the day-to-day is shut out. For me, it’s freehanding everything out first in a notebook. I’ve even tricked myself into upping my word count at each sitting by using college-lined paper rather than wide-ruled. I find that I still write two pages front and back per day, but, of course, I have more to show for them when I transfer my words to type.
3- Make sure those around you know that writing time is sacred. If you don’t treat it as such, though, neither will others, so stick to your schedule. Don’t give yourself permission to do anything but stare at the page or screen or whatever for the allotted time. It’s amazing how incredible a motivator sheer boredom can be. Chances are you’ll find yourself writing away rather than facing the void.
4- Do not compare yourself to others! Some people write amazingly fast, some don’t. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t work on improving your output (as I did with changing the rule of my notebook paper), but don’t force yourself to become a book a month writer if it normally takes you nine month. Chances are the quality will suffer. That said, if it takes you more than a year per book, career momentum will be difficult to develop and maintain, so set yourself goals and challenges, make yourself accountable to a critique partner or group for a certain number of pages per week or month to help you pick up the pace.
5- No time? No such thing. I’m always amazed by writers who work eighty hours a week, have four kids and still manage to put out wonderful books. Their trick is efficiency, and, often, creating more hours in the day by waking up early and using time they wouldn’t normally have to write.
One of my authors told me recently that the best thing she’d ever heard in a workshop, the question that most resonated with her was: “What would you sacrifice to achieve your dreams?” Yes, dedication might mean that you miss drinks dates with friends or that extra hour of sleep, but it will all be worth it in the end.
The long and short of it is that creativity is only part of the equation that gets you from point A (idea inception) to point B (publication). Because publishing is a business, there are production schedules and all kinds of things external to the muse that you’ll have to heed. Training your muse to come when you call is an important skill for long-term success.
For more from Lucienne, check out these sites:
Her website: Luciennediver.com
Agency site: knightagency.net
And don't forget to check out Lucienne's books at the links at the top of this entry.