I wrote this last week as Post It Note Poetry was coming to a close. For the month of February I was writing something new every day on the spur of the moment with very little editing or development. Dedicated crafting and revision is not the point of Post It Note Poetry.
Side Note: Post It Note Poetry presents its own set of creative issues and problems. I’ve reflected on them at the end of the month in 2013 (Post It Note Poetry Wrap Up) and 2014 (Lessons Learned from Post It Note Poetry). There is no need to revisit them again.
It has been a long while since I have written something new as I’ve been trying to complete the first drafts on some longer pieces (one of which is the stupid novella I’ve been saying I’ll write for the past 2 years). I have another short story (approx. 3.5K) that still needs work and has been revised and reworked numerous times.
What it all means is the process from idea to first draft, then edits, more drafts and finally, completion, is time consuming.
It’s the long drag between first draft and end of first draft (when you know the work has potential but it’s not yet realised) that makes me doubt. Even the short story mentioned above has been languishing for almost 12 months as I sort through various drafts, comments and plot issues.
Similarly, my novella and verse novel need some serious reworking in terms of plot. I started the novella with an outline but have realised it needs further revision. The verse novel started without an outline (trying different methodologies) and it needs a clear direction and focus.
On top of that, the latter half of last year was a creative wasteland in some respects. Work demands were a high priority and a creative sink hole as I worked through marking papers, editing students’ major works and completed edits on a friend’s 104K sci-fi novel.
It meant I approached January as a time to rebuild myself creatively. But it didn’t happen. Everything I returned to felt like drinking a cup of sand. It was exhausting. And I seriously contemplated bailing on Post It Note Poetry as I doubted myself and my creative abilities.
What to do, then, if you are beginning to doubt your creativity? I have 2 solutions.
1. Stick with your creative community.
Your creative community is your most valuable asset. I have a group of people I can rely on to listen when I vent, whinge, complain, throw a tantrum, doubt, despair, consider chucking it all in.
They were there either via text or Facebook or messaging. Most of the time they simply listened. Occasionally they offered advice or encouragement. I have a creative colleague at school and we have our “Mea Cuppa” sessions, talking through ideas or talking rubbish while having cups of tea.
If you’re not part of a community, seek one out either in real life or online.
2. Keep turning up to the page as persistence pays off.
Deciding to complete Post It Note Poetry meant I had to turn up to the page Every. Single. Day. to complete a poem. Some poems came easier than others but I was compelled to keep going.
Even if you think you are creating rubbish, it is all about priming and preparing yourself for the next project whether it’s something new or returning to complete something older. It’s like training is for an athlete. Do the practice, complete the exercises in readiness for the main event.
For me, March (and the coming months) brings new vision and clarity for the projects I want to complete and the new ones on the horizon. For right now, I’ll keep turning up to the page and pressing on.
How do you keep your creativity flowing when you have doubts? Leave your ideas in the comments.