Monday, 8 July 2013

Staying Creative

There are lots of people who want to encourage creativity and those are the people who inspire others. Those are the sorts of people who you want to bottle up and release their wisdom when your ideas and motivation is stuck in the gutter.

But, there are people who don't want other people to be creative, have an imagination. They see it as dangerous, unproductive, time consuming, distracting. These people find it (I'm guessing) frightening, strange, threatening. Thinking outside of the box isn't encouraged much in schools nowadays. We must pass tests and not look at the wider picture. I found doing a creative writing degree meant I had to 'undo' some of my learning to start rethinking and imagining stories.

In Season five of Mad Men (a TV series based in a 1960s advertising agency in New York) one of the employees enjoys writing short stories in his spare time - many are published. One day the boss calls him into the office and tells him to decide - work or writing. Not both. It wasn't fair. Does that sound old fashioned?

This actually happens in real life too. Trust me.

As well as needing a thick skin for rejections you also need a thick skin against these people. The critics and the inner critic are working towards one goal - stop you from writing.

It's easy to listen and give in.
But you shouldn't give up that easy.

Some writers like to have quotes of encouragement stuck in their notebooks, on their desks and saved on their hard drives.

I prefer my beloved Pig-Dog who is getting a bit worn around the edges (he is over 20 years old and has been involved in several house moves). He sits near my desk and reminds me that I should listen to people who tell you that what you're doing is a waste of time or even if I say it to myself.

When I was at school (I must have been either 5 or 6. Definitely not 7 as I was still at my first school, before we moved) we were given some clay and told to create an animal. I pulled, moulded, stretched and kneaded an animal from a lump of clay. Until I came up with this creature. I was really happy with Pig-Dog. 

 "What is this?" The teacher said, turning it around in her hands, lipped curled.
What this teacher serious, I thought.
"It's a Pig-Dog!"
Wasn't it obvious?
"It's not a real animal."
I nodded.
"Don't you want to create a real animal? We may not be able to use this."
"I like Pig-Dog."
The teacher gave me a if-you-insist-look.
She placed it with the other animals.
"See, the others have made proper animals. Not made up ones."
"I don't want to make a real animal."
"It would be better."
I didn't want to spend my breaktime recreating an animal.
"I just remembered - it's more of a pig than a dog."
"That's good." She carved 'pig' into its belly.
It was the only way to shut up the teacher.
She wasn't impressed when I told the rest of the class that it was Pig-Dog.

I am currently stuck with my novel. bloody chapter ten doesn't want to play. But I'm not going to give up that easily! Maybe it's time to put Pig-Dog into the novel.


Sophie said...

Go Pig-Dog!

Great story. Also makes me sad that there are many people out there who don't appreciate creativity. Makes me think they simply don't understand it.

Christine said...


Jessica said...

Thank you Sophie and Christine :)