In Others’ Words: Creativity

Often when I’m trying to be creative — write a scene in my work-in-progress, for example — I strangle my muse because, well, I’m trying.

I haul out all the techniques I’ve learned to write a strong, compelling scene. And then I back my scene up against the virtual wall because I’m trying so very hard to be creative.

There is a time for remembering the rules. And there is a time for surrendering control — all the Do’s and the Don’t’s, the Musts and Mustn’t’s — and letting creativity flow.

Sometimes I block my creativity with a litany of “I can’t’s” — an odd sort of way of controlling what I produce. Saying “I can’t” over and over again saves me from the embarrassment of failure — and the satisfaction of any sort of success too. Too often I forget that creativity doesn’t have to be perfect.

In Your Words: When do you feel the most creative — when you are in control or when you surrender? When was the last time you experienced a time of creativity?


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  1. April 19, 2013, 6:41 am   /  Reply

    I just love your photo today. Well, everyday. But this one makes me want to get a paint brush and try to create something similar. When was the last time I was creative? Maybe when I was trying to talk the policeman out of a ticket? Nah, yesterday when a character spoke to me and said, “Don’t you know me at all? I’d never say anything like that. ” And so I walked around and dug deeper into her character and created a much better scene.

    Great post!

    • April 19, 2013, 10:10 am   /  Reply

      Isn’t it wonderful when our characters stand up and fight for themselves — and challenge us as writers?

  2. April 19, 2013, 6:53 am   /  Reply

    This is a great post, Beth. I think sometimes I’m trying to be creative when I’m revising my story. Sometimes what’s needed is to re-write the scene. ๐Ÿ™‚ I take a step back, think on what the character’s feeling and thinking and re-write. It usually flows pretty quickly when I’m not “trying.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 19, 2013, 10:11 am   /  Reply

      There’s rewriting — and then there’s the times you have to toss a scene completely and start all over again. Surrender. And find the better scene. The story behind the first reaction.

  3. April 19, 2013, 7:13 am   /  Reply

    Beth, as always, your topics call to me with perfect timing: God’s working His encouragement through you ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d love to say that I’m most creative all the time, and whenever I sit with my laptop before me the words flow without a hitch. But, that’s a fantasy. Truly, creativity comes when I surrender and am not purposely thinking about plotting, characters, etc. For instance, often in the shower. And then there was the drive home from work yesterday when suddenly this voice was telling me to introduce a new character into my story, which of course will dice things up a bit. And here I was thinking I was reaching the halfway mark. Ha.

    • April 19, 2013, 10:13 am   /  Reply

      I understand the whole: “Oh, I thought I was halfway but now I’m not” scenario. ๐Ÿ™‚
      And yes, the shower is great for mulling and surrendering–maybe because it’s a time of relaxation?

  4. April 19, 2013, 7:37 am   /  Reply

    Most of us are probably most comfortable when staying in control, but the most fun and soaring flights of memorable creativity come from surrendering in writing–and in life. Thanks, Beth.

    • April 19, 2013, 10:13 am   /  Reply

      Yes, staying in control is preferred — but not always the best thing to do in life or in writing.

  5. April 19, 2013, 8:07 am   /  Reply

    Once again, perfect timing!

    I am done Book Uno, but Book Dos is wrestling with Book Uno, in my head. not like, for real.
    I want Book Dos’s MC’s to have enormous conflict, but I need that to be polar opposite to Book Uno’s MC’s. Soooooo, yeah. Time to put on the ipod and think.

    • April 19, 2013, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      Understand completely.

  6. April 19, 2013, 8:09 am   /  Reply

    Wow, great post. Thanks for reminding me to surrender. Always, in my life, when I truly surrender everything to God, the Great Creator, avenues open and good things happen.

    • April 19, 2013, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      I am thankful you were encouraged today, Holly.
      It was a good reminder to me too.

  7. April 19, 2013, 8:11 am   /  Reply

    I feel most creative, when I surrender, and forget about the rules. I tend to be a rule follower so this can be tricky. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a happy weekend, Beth!

    • April 19, 2013, 10:15 am   /  Reply

      You’re so creative, Coleen — that’s one of the reasons I love to read your blog!

  8. April 19, 2013, 8:38 am   /  Reply

    Great post, Beth! I definitely feel most creative when I let go and surrender. I can always tame the craziness later. Better to start out with some extra sauce then grind out controlled, dry ideas. That’s just me!

    • April 19, 2013, 10:16 am   /  Reply

      I enjoyed your fun post over at The Writers Alley today — ve-ery creative!

      • Amy Leigh Simpson
        April 19, 2013, 12:51 pm   /  Reply

        Thanks, Beth! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. April 19, 2013, 9:57 am   /  Reply

    I feel most creative when I let go and surrender. Although, I do love to have control over…um…everything? lol

  10. April 19, 2013, 10:51 am   /  Reply

    I feel most creative on walks and in the shower – the two times I can’t get to my laptop. Wonder if there’s some correlation? Or maybe a conspiracy? Lol.

    • April 19, 2013, 11:54 am   /  Reply

      Understand your dilemma, Kim! LOL

  11. April 19, 2013, 11:22 am   /  Reply

    My most creative moments happen right after I pray to God, asking Him to direct my words and fingers to bring the best out of me for the work-in-progress I’m working on. He never disappoints me and always gives me the right things to write. Although, sometimes this takes a few days as I must do my part to get out of my own way. You know, that whole surrender thing you were talking about. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not always the easiest thing, but always the most productive!



    • April 19, 2013, 11:56 am   /  Reply

      Indeed, indeed, Andrea.
      I’ve started listening to Hillsong’s “Lead Me to the Cross” each morning before I write a word.

      • May 1, 2013, 9:36 am   /  Reply

        That’s a great song, and the perfect message to hear right before writing. It sets the scene to honor God, which is why we write in the first place. Love it!

  12. April 19, 2013, 11:53 am   /  Reply

    All too often the Doubt Dragon has my creativity in a choke hold. Only when I refuse to listen to the voices so eager to silence me and instead surrender to the joy of the creative process do the words begin to flow once again.

    • April 19, 2013, 11:56 am   /  Reply

      Yes — doubt or joy?
      It’s a choice!

  13. November 14, 2013, 2:19 pm   /  Reply

    […] image for a quote by Julia Cameron is from article: “In Othersโ€™ Words: Creativity” by Beth […]

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