Stories and characters always come to me late at night. When my brain is relaxed and the distractions of the day are quieted, voices come alive in my head. This is the product of an overactive imagination and a mind bent toward story.
The last several nights as I’ve stumbled from my bed to feed Annika, I’ve felt the beginnings of a new story begin to rumble beneath the surface. Words and phrases come to mind as she leans close to me, her eyes heavy and breathing even. The warmth of her body next to mine calms me, and the characters are slowly taking shape.
I don’t know who they are yet, or what story they’re trying to tell, but I feel them bubbling and fighting to escape. After I get her back to bed, I scratch out the pictures that are still fresh in my head on a piece of paper, then go back to sleep as the story continues to take shape in my slumbering mind.
This is my creative process. It’s always happening at night, and it’s slow. The stories don’t tumble out, but rather simmer slowly until they’re ready. And then, when the time is right, I’ll sit at the computer and let the characters write their own story. This is what works for me.
The creative process looks different for all of us. Some come alive in the middle of the night, others in the early morning hours of the day. Some of us need peace and quiet, while others work best to the pounding strains of their favorite bands.
However you work out your creativity, know for certain that what you do takes courage. You’re putting yourself out there each time you create something new. For every story you write, blog post you craft, photo you snap, watercolor you paint, room you design, and song you pen, you take a chance.
When you allow yourself to give in to the creative process, and then you are willing to share your work with others, you open yourself up to criticism and rejection. But you also have the power to inspire a weary world with your art.
It’s scary to give yourself into the creative process knowing that your control ends when what you’ve slaved over is handed to the public. When it’s given away, you are left to accept the adulation or rejection. This is terrifying and exhilarating, all at once.
Yes, creativity takes courage. But it’s also what keeps us creative types alive, so don’t be afraid of the process. Let it take you where it needs to take you. Then hand it over, confident that you were obedient to the craft.
Believe it or not, the world needs what only you can create. They need you to be faithful to the stories and the pictures that call you out of bed. Take confidence in that.
When are you most creative? What is your creative process, and how do you find confidence in the face of rejection?
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I just have to tell you, about eight months ago, my computer died. I managed (or my husband managed …) to save all my stuff off the hard drive, but what I did lose was all my favorite bookmarks on my browser. So eight months later, someone asked me what blogs I like to follow, and the first one to come to me was yours, and I couldn’t believe it’s been eight months since I’ve read your blog! I got some time tonight to just sit and read, and it was great. You have such a beautiful way of looking at life, and such a talent to put it into words. You speak to my heart.
I had to respond to this one specifically, because I’ve recently been through a creative process that was different for me. I got hit with the idea for a novel and cranked it out (about 80k) in four months. That’s a record for me. The characters just climbed out of the walls and spoke to me, showing me their world and pulling me into it, and I couldn’t help but write it. When it was done, I felt like I had a bloody, squalling newborn on my chest, and I couldn’t wait to share it with the world.
I don’t understand creativity. I can’t begin to guess where the ideas and characters come from, because it doesn’t feel like I make them up. It’s more like they appear to me, pre-formed, and I just put them in their places. Still, I would never claim that my stories are divinely inspired (YA novels are a long way off from scripture).
It’s late, and I’m probably rambling, but my closing thought is, we don’t have to understand it to enjoy it.
Oh! And I’m thrilled to hear you’ve found a literary agent! Congrats!
And I’m excited to see what your next story will be.
And I’m really done now. 🙂
I’m so glad you’re back. I have really missed you! 🙂 I was just thinking about you the other day. And I just love, love, love this comment. And I love that you cranked out a book. And I’m just so happy and excited! 🙂