Creativity is Hard

I finally came to a conclusion the other day. There is no process that is ever going to make creating easy. The fundamental problem is that whether you sit down and write a detailed outline or you just sit down and start writing prose, you have to imagine the story that you are going to write.

If you go the planning route, you still have to imagine what is going to happen in the story. You may put off some of the details until you start expanding on the outline in the first draft but you are going to have to create them at some point.

If you are a “pantser” (writing by the seat of your pants), you are probably going to wander around while discovering where the story happens and who the characters are. This will result in inevitable sections of the draft being cut from the first draft because they don’t really advance the story very well. Your reader is probably not going to be as interested in all the backstory you wrote while getting to know your protagonist as you are.

That’s not to say it is a total waste of time to do that exploration. If it helps you get a better picture of who that character is, the rest of the story will probably benefit from it. And I have a strict policy of not deleting those scenes entirely when I edit them out. They might come in handy in a different story sometime.

The same problem can arise when you are expanding your well planned outline. You may be writing along and discover that the plot you had planned so meticulously just isn’t working out when you actually write the story. The good thing is that there is less actual writing effort lost when you have to go back and rework your outline. There is still the effort that you put into coming up with the plot to begin with though.

I often write with Scrivener. The thing I like about it is that I can take a snapshot of my work, give it a label, and come back to it any time I like. I might find that the scene that I edited out of the beginning of the story actually has a place in the later part of it.

I talk as if I know what I’m talking about and I do to some extent. But the truth is, I’m still learning. I see myself improving but it is slow, hard work. But taking note of the things that I learn, as I learn them, is a good way to remind myself of them later when I get stuck.

Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, wash your hands frequently, and keep social distance or at least wear a mask.