This is what happens when desire, conflict and risk are part of the daily creative workout

My work days are liberally peppered with all manner of creative pursuits. I work on paid creative projects and find often needed headspace by doing something completely different such as reading, running, writing or cooking. These pursuits generally take up around 30 to 45 minutes; I then get back to the paid work in hand. Complex or complicated these added ingredients provide considerable benefits in that they help me to breathe, relax, review and ultimately to be more creatively focused. The most important lesson to have been learned from this is that these pursuits are the essential ingredients of my day.

My interest in trying out other creative activities led me to look further into the idea of doing more creative writing and looking into the idea of a doing a creative writing course. I thought that ‘pure’ creativity might be discovered in words. I was interested in how words can be put together to form passages that not only enrich my understanding of the world around me but also help me in my quest for creative improvement. At the very least I wanted to test my creativity by putting down some words in a manner that might eventually have some other significance other than just their ‘literal’ meaning. This would hopefully lead me down a path of increased understanding of the creative flow from an entirely different standpoint — a challenge I would devour word by word.

So I signed up to do a very well respected ten-week creative writing course. Once I overcame the initial hurdle of writing the first few words, the words just flowed out of me. In my brief introduction to my tutor, I did say part of my motivation was the fact that I had these bouts of an unhindered flow of words — he must have cringed at the thought of this babbling naivety. But I continued this unfettered approach and chose ‘just to write’ and see what happened. I exposed myself in a way I had never done before. I don’t think I have ever been through a more enlightening experience. Not to say that the words were particularly compelling or the prose was worthy of a Pulitzer Prize but the shear and visceral feeling of letting go. Word followed word and so on until I felt this incredible rush of adrenaline that caused me to get up after a few sentences to walk around the garden with a massive smile on my face. I felt enlightened that a creative weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Had found my true creative self? I felt some sense of relief that I had finally uncovered my ‘thing’, or so I thought.

This ‘ecstasy’ soon faded when I found myself having to work harder to achieve better results through an improved structural approach to my writing. It’s very odd that I never thought of ‘work’ or ‘hard work’ as being anything to do with creativity — this was undoubtedly a challenge, but I loved it. The learning curves were numerous, but the steepest was learning to be more decisive in moving a story forward, although this challenge was to be the most enlightening part of the course. This particular challenge brought back my initial enthusiasm and excitement in wanting to progress and uncover something from this brand new creative pursuit. By learning to move the story forward, I learned to be more conscious of pushing my own story forward.

‘Desire, conflict and choice’ were words used in defining how a story should move forward and how the protagonist should experience all these things in the process of growing and progressing towards his goals and desires. How he responds to conflict dictates how the story moves forward and in which direction. Poor choices lead to less than desirable outcomes; positive choices lead to much better outcomes — but no matter what the outcome of each ‘conflict’ the aim is to make the person a better or different person for having gone through those experiences. By taking part in a creative writing course, I was studying the human condition and how ‘life’ is enriched by challenges and conflicts, no matter how big or small. Risk becomes the key to moving any story forward.

I persevered and continued to aspire to continued improvement every day at 6 am. As the course was online the feedback was always written as opposed to verbal; this gave a real ‘black and white’ nature to the critique. The method of feedback, at first, felt a little strange in its starkness, but as a writer friend of mine advised this is an excellent way to learn as you have to stand on your own two feet. You don’t get bogged down in the niceties of polite exchange and the massaging of the ego — one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. Anyway who the hell was I compared to my tutor, he is a published novelist — now that’s an aspirational goal.

The last time I discovered a rich vein of creativity was when I was eighteen and starting on an art school Foundation Course. Unlike Secondary School, I could do what I loved for every minute and every hour of every day. I was like a babbling brook of creativity, ever flowing with regular refreshing flourishes (terrible pros). I felt unhindered. The fact that I was producing so much allowed me to move forward much more quickly than if I was only doing it for an hour a day. I now understand that this creative flow is attainable every day of every week; it just needs to be put in motion. Once the first focused action has been taken then the rest flows. The creative writing course was the same, a daily commitment in the pursuit of creative improvement and learning allowed a flow of creative ideas and thoughts that perpetuated the next. That is not to say that there weren’t days when it was more of a challenge than others, but the commitment to doing it meant there were no gaps in the process of trying to move forward. It was self-perpetuating. The ‘desire, conflict and choice’ were ever present in moving the narrative forward.

I am now fully conscious of the fact that I am my protagonist in my own story. Daily ‘conflicts, choices and risks’ lead me to improve creatively and to a lesser or greater degree allow me some further insight into the creative process. I think the most important word used in this piece is ‘unhindered’. This is the creative sweet spot, and if it’s practiced and pursued in a focused manner, it makes for a much better creative existence. Who knows maybe some of the pros that I write may have some more meaning than just what is written in black and white. Whatever the outcome, I truly believe that everyone can pursue creativity. Find a starting point and let it flow.

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