Motives, Ideas and Creativity

Why do I write? Because it gives me pleasure. It’s that simple. A persistent urge deep within pushes me on. When I ignore it, life seems a little less bright, interesting and fulfilling.

That said, I don’t deny the lure of publication and fame. I once knew a woman who told me romantic fiction was so formulaic, so simple minded that anyone could write it. She was certain this was her ticket to make some extra money. Needless to say, she never reached her goal. You see, she was motivated by practical expectations rather than a love of the writing craft. If you are happiest when you are writing, if the compulsion to write will not let you go, then it is a worthwhile endeavor whether or not you break into a publishing world whose shrinking bottom line makes access for new writers ever more difficult. Do not allow someone else to define your success. Do what you love. Make your work the best it can be. And rejoice in the process.

Having determined that you need to write and fiction is your niche, where do your ideas come from? One of the most cliched phrases is, “Write what you know.” Okay, that makes sense. If you have experience in a given field, profession, or place, using that knowledge gives you a leg up on the research you need to lend authenticity to your story. It is also true, however, that such expertise is not necessary to create a compelling story. I believe the most essential ingredient is to know yourself. Emotion is the lifeblood of any story. All humans experience the gamut of emotions necessary to infuse your characters with real-life hopes, ambitions, failings, prejudices, grudges, yearnings — the list is endless. Every experience you have had can be adapted and used in some way to propel your plot forward. Every person you have known has qualities and quirks that allow you to create interesting characters. The important thing is to be in touch with that part of your consciousness.

The rest depends on your creativity. How does creativity work? Scientists from multiple disciplines have studied that question, but I once read an article that summed it up in a way that made sense to me. It described the mind as a primordial soup of experiences and impressions, all of which float in randomness until some stimulus causes them to connect into a new thought. The process is generally impossible to force. Allowing the mind to range over a particular subject or idea without specific parameters is most likely to produce a new way of looking at it. The key is relaxation of body and mind so the mystical connections can form.

Some of my best ideas have come to me while soaking in a tub of hot water. Or traveling for long distances in a car. Or listening to classical music in front of a fire on a winter’s evening. Whatever brings ease of body and mind to you can unleash your creativity. Try it. You’ll be amazed at what pops out.

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