I have not written a real bite of fiction in years and I wondered if the ability to make-that-believe had been withered too far. Everybody, writers or not, should write a little fiction, once in a while. It’s just good exercise. However, that can be hard to do if we don’t already practice creativity on a daily basis. Like physical fitness, the less creative we are, the more inclined we are to be even less. Why? Why try something different? Is that really an efficient use of time?
Ironically, try to stay away from creativity – or fitness – for too long, and sure enough, life will demand that you be more creative – or athletic. For example, bus charging your way needs you to muster a quick burst of energy. Or, a boss, partner, or nemesis requires a better, or alternative, way of doing, saying, showing something. And at these times, we do not want our creativity to hobble out of its dilapidated hobbit-hole and start poking at ideas with a tentative stick. We want our creativity to spring forth and get its nose and paws into everything; all the while barking, drooling and snarling for the affection and attention of our best ideas.
Can anybody out there describe what it feels like to have a creative breakthrough? Does it feel something like reinventing the whole world? A new pair of eyes all of a sudden? To have awe for something so much that attention and motivation are effortless. Does the world suddenly seem more awake and colourful, if for a moment?
Imagine doing that every day! It’d feel great but we’d surely combust. Getting a great creative buzz, despite how good it feels, can also be very disruptive to a daily life. Reality needs me to come back to earth, too soon and too fast, and refocus on more daily and routine needs.
However, if we train our creativity regularly, like an athlete trains, we could stay more animated more often and still get our jobs done. For example, if a couch potato suddenly got up and ran 5K, that potato would be cooked! Ready for sour cream, chives and a dusting of paprika! A well-trained athlete, however, might treat a 5K run as a warm-up. There are creative artists out there that engage themselves this way every day. (But, I hope that never becomes common-place for them.)
Writing, and reading, fiction is a great tool for flexing creativity. No matter how short it is, fiction requires pure creativity – even when a writer/reader tries to base fiction entirely on fact. Fiction requires a new version of how things may seem to the writer/reader and always gives a new pair of goggles to look at the world through by the end of the piece. I have known this fact since the day I fell in love with fiction.
How great those new pair of googles are depends on the level of passion for the piece and the level in which you let yourself believe in what you write/read.
But how do I start, after being away so long and becoming so creatively conservative and slow?
First, I need to remember some basics. Fiction is not pulled out of the air. My stories come from only one source and that is me. Any research, any fantasy or science fiction and any external inspiration have to first be absorbed by me and my perspective before they can enter a story that I write or interpret through reading.
So, I could write a fiction on anything that I am able to imagine but who wants to write about anything they can imagine? I should write, or read, about something that I care about, or believe I could/should learn to care about. This provides passion for the story and characters that I am building in my mind. This makes the experience a lot more personal and challenging to write well.
By comparison, it would be easier to write fiction if the subject didn’t matter to me; that is, if I just wanted to tell an entertaining story. A writer/reader can still get quite a buzz from this kind of story, too. Unfortunately, for me, that’s always fallen under the category of why don’t I just write about anything? And hence, I have never found this type of fiction easier to write. I think eventually, every writer/reader will wants something more personal and challenging — and still be thoroughly entertained. A beautiful thing about creativity through fiction is that even if you only set out to spin an entertaining yarn, eventually, your own passion will seep into the story. Fiction is a great way to learn about yourself; to truly read in between the lines, yours and everybody else’s.
However, there is another important given to writing/reading fiction. After I pick a subject that I care about or think I can care about, I then need to try to read and write about the subject away from myself – try to accept the subject from the different perspectives, settings and situations that are presented or available. It seems like an odd thing to do but how else are you going to get new creative perspective on something you care about or think you know all about? How else is it going to become fiction?
So here is one great example as to why creativity, through fiction, can give us a great burst of energy. It works on some extreme paradoxes. I start and base my story entirely on me, I then try to distance it as far away from me as my imagination can take me. With that distance, so many things can happen. Down the rabbit hole as they say and – well, you have to try it, to believe it. Thus, the art of making believe.
cat image c/o: http://www.funnycatsite.com/pictures/peeking_out_of_my_boot.htm
baked potato image c/o: http://www.partybluprintsblog.com/party-themes/gilded-baked-potato-bar/
spinning yarn image c/o: http://knaughtyknitter.typepad.com/the_knaughty_knitter/spinning/
Alice in Wonderland rabbit image c/o: http://aliceinwonderland.wikia.com/wiki/File:627x900_1669_White_Rabbit_2d_illustration_alice_in_wonderland_rabbit_fantasy_concept_art_picture_image_digital_art.jpg