Time Out Tuesday – What We Learned

Yes, I know it’s not Tuesday. What’s your point? This is what I was thinking about today, and since it’s the last day of SASS, I’m going with it. If you are looking for the comfort of familiar routines, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place.

Well, obviously we can’t say that SASS was an unqualified success. I didn’t achieve my goal of writing a new story every single day of September. I’m not sorry I tried it (though maybe sorry that I picked September to do it…more on that later). I was able to get some answers to my questions about what it would do to my writing. I wanted to know if creativity is something I have a limited supply of (so that when I use it up, it’s gone until it regrows) or if creativity would breed more creativity (so that the more I write, the more ideas I had). There probably isn’t a definitive answer to that question, but here’s what I did learn.

1. For me, the ideas come easy and the words come hard. It wasn’t coming up with the idea for each prompt that wore me out. It was the time it takes to write it all out. Giving up every single evening to write made me feel a little resentful some days. I know, resentful of whom? No one was making me do it. I don’t understand feelings. I just have them sometimes.

2. Creativity doesn’t get killed by using it up. Creativity gets killed by the stress of real life. As I mentioned above, it was already getting harder to write, but I didn’t start having trouble coming up with a good angle for the stories until my life kicked into overdrive during my kids’ birthday week (two within four days). I just happened to get the flu that same week, so I was barely keeping up with all the parties and cakes and special birthday nights out. I was so stressed out and exhausted that I finally stopped even trying to write for a few days there. Hence the failure of SASS. But back to the creativity part. I think I learned that creative ideas grow out of a relaxed mind. When the brain is crowded full of crazy details and/or so tired that it doesn’t function right, how is it supposed to come up with brilliant ideas? So for now, my new theory is that creativity doesn’t “run out” nor does it breed more creativity all by itself. Creativity grows out of the rest of life…as long as it isn’t trampled by the rest of life. That will give me something to think about for a while.

3. Too much production does reduce quality. Even though I think I was able to come up with some cool ideas this month, I didn’t totally love anything I wrote. There was a lot that I was satisfied with, but nothing that shone. It wasn’t because the ideas were weak. I just didn’t have the time to put into each one to develop it and take it to that next step of quality. Knowing there was a new one to write tomorrow, I had to just throw out whatever I had and let it stand. I don’t mind doing that. This is a storytelling blog, after all, and I do tell stories to the kids on the fly from time to time, but those stories are usually quite shaky. I think I prefer to have a couple of days to think it over and get it right, or at least to have the chance to recognize that what I’m doing is sub-par and put it aside in hopes of a better idea coming along later.

4. Everything I write is personal. Even when I look at something and know that it is crap, getting criticism from someone else feels like a stab wound. It makes me want to give up forever. Melodramatic? Um, yeah. And I hate myself for being melodramatic. I’m not a fan of drama. But it’s the truth, just the same. No need to explain how I found that out this month, but let’s just say I had to erase a story I posted and it hurt to do it. It was just a silly little story on a silly little blog that no one reads. I hated that story, and it deserved to be erased. But it still felt like a failure when someone else confirmed it. Ouch.

So.

Because of everything I learned this month, I feel a shift in the way I think about this blog. At first I really hoped to use this space to connect with other storytellers, but that doesn’t seem to be happening, and I’m okay with that. Maybe someday. For now, I’m going to make this a place to try things out, to test my theories and experiment a little. I’m working on a novel right now (in my other spare time). It’s the second in a series, and I love writing it in a way that I can’t love writing shorter stories. I’m hoping what I do here will help improve what I do there. Oh, and I do still hope someone is out there getting some enjoyment out of this craziness. Things are more fun when they’re shared.

New experiments on the horizon:
-Saturday Words of Wisdom
-Prominent Plot Poems
-Re-rewriting
-Build a world month

Stay tuned. It should be fun.

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