While searching for equally brainy quotes about creativity, I came upon one that I love by Ray Bradbury, "We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."
Maybe it's just the way my brain works, but the combination of these two quotes brought to mind the sippy cup I used with my kids, the kind with a tight-fitting plastic lid and straw. Even when it was full, nothing came out of the cup unless the straw functioned properly. My son could toss it on the floor or projectile it across the room, but unless he hit the lid just right or learned to utilize the straw or the dog got it, nothing came out.
Sometimes it feels like I'm wrestling a stubborn sippy cup when trying to direct the creative energy to my pages. Wouldn't it be great if it came instead in a Big Gulp cup with a flexy lid like the kind that skids off when you bump it against the steering wheel?
The cup is a good thing. It captures the creativity and holds it until we need it. The pipe is definitely a good thing, because it channels the flow to the page. What can we do to keep the channel open and functioning? Here are some of my favorite quotes about creativity. It's nice that famous authors have blazed the trail ahead, whacking at thorny shrubs and palm fronds with their inky machetes. They know what they're talking about.
- Show up. Same time, same place. Or change the place, but know when and where you're the most creative. "I only write when I'm inspired, and I make sure I'm inspired every morning at 9:00 a.m. " Peter DeVries
- Don't empty your reservoir. Leave your last sentence or your last paragraph dangling, but don't bring closure to the scene. "I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. " Ernest Hemingway
- Bring your best to the table. Make it a priority, not the last of your to-do list. “...a writer should not so much write as embroider on paper; the work should be painstaking, laborious." Anton Chekhov
- Fill up on good writing, not junk food. Read widely and be discerning. “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King
- Dig deep. Don't chicken out. Write what only you can say. “Go where the pain is, go where the pleasure is.” Anne Rice
- Know when to walk away. Got frustration? Go polish the silver or wash the car. Do something that doesn't require thinking but keep your notepad nearby. “The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. ”Agatha Christie
- Write intuitively. Hold a loose rein on your outline and be open to surprises. “The only good writing is intuitive writing. It would be a big bore if you knew where it was going." Ray Bradbury
- We repeat, don't talk about your WIP. "I think it’s bad to talk about one’s present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act. It discharges the tension." Norman Mailer
For those of us who remember the Polaroid camera...
" Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can't - in fact, you're not supposed to - know exactly what the picture is going to look like until is has finished developing."
What does and doesn't work for you when staring into the creative vacuum? Is there a routine you follow or a special tool you use, a favorite quote above your laptop? Please, we'd love to hear!