This post is about an experience that I had with the creative process through writing. It’s a story that happened to me this past summer while I was touring Australia with our business.
I’ve always loved writing. The act of writing has also cemented a special place in my heart, as it was the salvation that I had six years ago when I was struggling with depression as a result of being in the wrong career. Writing exists, in a way, as a powerful metaphor for me. Each day as I would write I would dig myself out of an emotionally dark hole, one word at a time. Writing served not only as therapy, but also as a continual refinement of my belief system. I can honestly say that I’ve found who I am through the act of writing.
I also love reading – particularly authors who I consider to be much more innately talented than myself. I love how a good writer can cause me, through their descriptive method, to transport into another world within my own mind – thereby completely eliminating my consciousness of “self”. Because I am fascinated (err, obsessed) with flow psychology I’m particularly drawn to good writers because of how easily I can induce flow in myself when I am reading their work.
Fast forward to today and writing is a daily habit that I cannot (nor do I want to) stop. My first book, Unsuited: How We Can Reject Conventional Career Advice And Find Empowerment is a non-fiction book that challenges some of the “common” assumptions about how to approach our careers, and looks deeply, from an intrinsic point of view, into our motivations surrounding work.
I started my second book literally the day that Unsuited was submitted for editorial review to my publishers. I had such a strong habit of writing that I wanted to keep the momentum. That’s also why I know that I was born to write because writing isn’t a chore for me, it is enjoyable. It seems at times that I can’t “not write”.
I was encouraged by a successful writing mentor to stretch my comfort zone. So I chose a format, for my second book, that I have always been intrigued by – the fable. I love allegorical fiction, I always have. I love books that teach philosophy through the use of a story. Now that my first draft is complete I am happy with the results. Hopefully you will also enjoy it should you choose to read the book.
When I started this book I had an idea in my mind about a general theme that I wanted to teach. I also could see the main characters. I created an suitable plot and proceeded to maintain my 500 word a day habit that I had fostered during the writing of Unsuited. Then I went to work.
I worked on the book pretty much everyday in 2014. New characters presented themselves. The plot clarified and crystallized. Progress felt steady. By August (the time of our two and a half week trip to Australia) I was – I’d estimate at the time – 85% done the book. A few odds and ends still needed to be finished, but generally speaking, I was ahead of schedule and excited about my progress.
Our first stop in Australia was in the tropical north Cairns region. We were staying at a little tourist spot on the ocean called Yorkeys Knob. It was a very peaceful location. Several of the nights that we were there, as the sun would go down, I would sit on our balcony and write. Inspiration seemed to flow easily here.
Then my muse decided that she needed to visit me.
One night, after I had completed a productive writing session earlier in the evening, I awoke from a deep sleep. I checked the clock, it was just after 3:00am.
Everyone was asleep. Our condo was black other than the light from the stars and the moon glowing off the ocean.
Immediately, as soon as I opened my eyes to check the clock, my mind was flooded with ideas about my book –
- This part of the plot is wrong. It needs to go;
- This character need to be introduced;
- This character needs to die – this is when he needs to die;
- You need to introduce this theme at this location;
- You need to get rid all together of this character. They add nothing to the theme or the flow;
- You need to set this part of the book in this location;
I typed out, at 3:00am, while my wife was sound asleep, over three pages of word document notes.
Then the muse vanished, as quickly as she had appeared. When I wrote my last impression, there was nothing more. I shut my computer and easily fell asleep.
When I woke up I was absolutely convinced that I had a lucid dream. So I reached for my laptop, which was sitting on the bedside table. Sure enough there were three typed pages of notes.
I went from 85% done my book to less than 50% done when I looked at the changes that now needed to be made. I didn’t know what to think, but when I looked over the notes again I knew that the impressions that I had made the book substantially better.
This past week I finished incorporating all the notes into the draft, and I can say, unequivocally, that the book is much better having made these substantial changes.
Since that night I have asked myself, many times, what is the nature of the muse? Where did she come from? How do I interpret this experience?
Truth is – I have no idea.
Anyone who ventures down a creative path will be able to relate in some way to this experience.
Sometimes ideas just come, like meteors from outer space. I can honestly say however that I had placed my butt in the chair for hundreds of days in a row before the muse whispered in my ear. I don’t know if that is a pattern, or a coincidence. I don’t know if the inspiration was always in my head, and I just needed time for it to work its way out, or if the muse truly is something greater than myself.
All I know is that being part of the creative process is really cool, and easily the most intrinsically rewarding aspect of my life. I love it. I will create for as long as I live.
Find a way to create.
Your life will never be the same.
You will never lack for fulfillment.
As you “create” something, so will you “create” fulfillment in your life.