Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Sunday, January 20, 2008

creative thoughts and actions

Again, I've been thinking over the last few days, how much writing is like physical exercise. I've been getting back "into shape" at the local YMCA for about the past two months. And it's beginning to show, because now, I feel like I need to take things to some other level, as they say. In the case of my physical exercise, I've kind of come to the conclusion that I need to work certain parts of me, that I haven't really been working over the past two months. This was simply because I didn't know, when I first started out, exactly what I needed to do. So I kept my exercise regimen rather moderate. Now, I think I can get a little more demanding of myself. No, I do know my limits, and I won't try anything too drastic. That's the way you end up hurting yourself. There's a man in one of my classes, who is living proof of this. But I want to ratchet things up a bit more.

Writing --- or any creative endeavor, for that matter --- is like this. You learn the basics somewhere, apply those for a while, till you have a good grasp, then you try things out. Sometimes, if whatever you're trying doesn't work, you can fall back on the tried and true. This is what happened to me when I first started writing. I was trying to write something that was not unlike Terry Brooks's Sword of Shannara. Believe me, it didn't work. So I fell back, tried something a bit different. Both of them had Neandertals in the story, but what I tried later, takes place in the near future. And that worked much better. I still have the drafts of that, and , whenever I finish what I'm doing now, I fully intend to go back to them.

But, perhaps when I was ready, my present Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals kept nagging at me to get written.. I knew it was going to take more work, and I shied away for a long time. But finally I started reading and doing the background research. And found what I was doing was more difficult than what I'd anticipated. Becuse the medieval source material is rather thin. Still, I dug and dug, and I finally got enough material on some of the historical characters, to create a credible story(I've still had to invent things that the source material, such as it is, just doesn't tell you about).

In this way, too, writing is kind of like exercise. If you get into an exercise program, you may find you are doing the wrong exercise for you at that particular moment, and you should fall back and try to do something else. For various reasons, I stopped doing one exercise program, and ended up, some time later, doing another, initially more compatible one. I think something similar happened with my writing. What I was working on, just didn't work, so I quit, did something else, and then laid the "something else" aside, because it was time for me to write what I'm writing now. And I'm told this happens in other creative fields, too, even , for example, to people who sew a lot or design clothes.

The thing is, with exercise and creativity, you have to keep working at it, if you expect yourself to become more competent in either. If you don't, your muscles turn to "flab", and your creativity just stops flowing. Which is a shame and a waste, because anyone can become reasonably fit and limber, and everyone has some creativity, whether "exercised" or not.
Anne G

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