Years ago, before I had the skill or will to write, ideas came to me only occasionally. They were fleeting things that I could rarely hold onto, and it was even more rare for me to take an idea and turn it into a finished product. I was dissatisfied with this state of things, so I decided to spend a year learning about creativity. The knowledge I gained through books and experiments gave me the courage to move forward, and ideas were soon flowing so quickly I couldn't keep up.
Creativity is found at the intersection of courage and ability. The more practice you get taking the ideas in your head and turning them into tangible products, the more you'll be able to recognize and utilize ideas that come to you. Facing your fears, which is really what my year of studying creativity was all about, will help you learn to share your authentic self more fully and more often.
Inspiration is a function of internal and external factors. A rich and beautiful external environment can foster the creation of art, but only if we are able to absorb, appreciate and activate the creative energy that lives inside us. By the same token, even the most ideal artistic mindset can be tarnished by a stubbornly pragmatic external environment. It requires persistence and tenacity to overcome such opposition.
Creativity is our natural state. When we peel back the layers of our fear, we can discover a world of infinite inspiration.
Writing is both an art and a craft. The art is in the story you tell, and the craft is in the way you tell it. Learning to separate these two things can help you understand and accept any criticism you receive from an editor, whose ultimate goal is to improve the overall quality of your work.
Some authors are too close to their work to accept any kind of criticism. They take it far too personally, and suggesting ways to improve their writing is seen as an insult.
The best authors are able to separate their work from themselves. They see the value that a good editor can bring. They are able to acknowledge weaknesses in their writing and turn those weaknesses into strengths prior to publication.
Putting together a book can require enormous amounts of time and energy from a variety of people, as can be seen by reading the acknowledgments section of any traditionally published work. As a self-publisher, you may not have access to the number of experts involved in a traditional writing project, but you can select a core group of trusted and trained individuals and listen to the feedback they give you. This will strengthen your work and help you grow and develop as an author.
Perfectionism is a disease, not a virtue. It is ultimately rooted in fear and brings creative efforts to a halt. It has nothing at all to do with the pursuit of excellence or a desire to create a quality product.
When I am working on the rough draft for a new book, I do my best to suspend judgment so that I can focus on the task in front of me: creating my narrative and telling my story. The mindset required during this phase of a project involves trusting myself and my instincts, feeling completely free to create and not allowing myself to be held back by fears, inhibitions and unrealistic expectations. During this phase I only share my ideas with members of my inner circle who I know will encourage and validate my efforts.
Once my rough draft is complete, I can begin to evaluate and enhance the quality of my work. I can allow my inner critic to comment on the final result and get other trusted individuals involved who can constructively criticize and help me develop an exceptional (but imperfect) final product.
The best way I've found to hone my message is through repeated editing. I immerse myself completely in my words and carefully evaluate each sentence, making sure there is no waste or untruth. I've even been known to read my entire manuscript backwards, sentence by sentence, in an effort to see it from a new perspective. But eventually I need to stop editing and release my book, even though there are probably still a few errors in it. I never have and never will create a flawless book, but with patience and diligent effort I can write books that I'm proud to call my own.
Many people have grand ideas that never take tangible form. Their desires are disconnected from their actions, and their professed goals are never pursued.
You can avoid this trap by walking the talk. Don't wait for someone to give you permission to write by making an offer on your unfinished (or unstarted) novel. Give YOURSELF permission by writing daily, if you can, or as frequently as your schedule will allow. If you're not sure what to write about at first, describe the struggle to come up with good ideas.
Writing doesn't require elaborate rituals, perfectly organized workstations and large blocks of free time. All you need is a few spare minutes and a writing instrument or electronic device.
The best way to learn how to write is to just write. Let the work itself be your guide and your teacher.