The Creative Break From, Well, Your Creativity

What’s on the iPod: Where You are by Rascal Flatts

Before you think the heat’s gotten to me, let me explain the title of this post. As I was sitting crafting poetry the other day – me, the person least likely to have time to write poetry – I couldn’t help but wonder where the devil the urge came from. I love writing fiction, love writing business copy, can’t get enough article writing, but poetry? I love reading it. Writing it was something I did in high school and once or twice for college courses. I guess I just left it behind.

Until recently, that is. It started when I had house guests in April, taxes were due, and I couldn’t get to the computer to check email let alone work. I remember having a spare hour one morning, so I sat down to fulfill a request; a friend whose husband had passed didn’t want a card from me – she wanted a poem. She remembered my high-school scratchings (my mother was showing some of my poems to anyone slow enough to be cornered).

So in that spare hour I sat down and wrote a poem for her, spoken to her husband, remembering the reasons why we as kids loved seeing him and his family. Then in that same hour, I wrote another one. Huh? Where did that come from? Since then, it’s as though I’m pseudo-Emily Dickinson minus the macabre levels of depression.

Maybe it was the back-to-the-wall feeling that usually gets the creative juices stirred up, or maybe it’s because the chum churned up in my life recently needs somewhere to rest. I’m finding huge relief in the creative process that gives me a little break from, well, my other creative process. How weird is that?

I think I know what’s up. I’m writing the books because I want to make money on them someday. I’m writing articles, blogs, newsletters, press releases, white papers, etc. because I am making money on them. The poetry, so far, is the release valve. No pressure, no expectations. Just get it on paper and enjoy the hell out of creating something just for the sake of the creation.

And I think we all need that step away from the money train, so to speak. We look for things to do that don’t have the usual pressure to get it done lest we starve or can’t afford electricity. For me, right now, it’s poetry.

What’s it for you right now? How do you step back from professional creativity and find creativity just for you?

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  • Devon Ellington June 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

    That's great, but it doesn't mean you can't sell it someday. You're simply not under the same deadline pressure so to do.

    "I"m writing the books because I want to make money on them" — I hope that's not the only reason, because a book is far too big a commitment to just do it for the cash.

    Fiction, short stories, plays, poetry — yes, they pay differently than the business writing, and over a longer period of time. But, even when you do them as a break from the business writing, still keep an eye on the business aspect. Don't sell yourself short on them, and remember that, without the passion behind it, it won't sell.

    While business writing can be full of technical perfection and bells and whistles, fiction, short stories, and poetry need the passion in order to succeed on any level.

    Write whatever you want as your break, and then, later, go back with the businesswoman's eye and decide where to place it.

  • Cathy June 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    For those of you that follow Anne Wayman, you probably have noticed her Friday Fun always has a reference to Creative Copy Challenge. That does it for me.

    Twice a week, Shane Arthur, the creator of Creative Copy Challenge, takes 10 random words or phrases and you have to use all 10 in some creative copy-sky's the limit. I started being the unofficial welcomer (is that a word?) and used all 10 in my welcome. I also started a Death & the Detective series that I use the 10 once a week.

    I only get there on the weekend, due to work, but it is such fun to do something totally non-business & the community is the best!

    I did an email interview with Shane a while back if you are interested

    But, come join us-there's some great creativity going on-everyone is welcome & it's fabulous for stirring up the creativity.

  • Valerie June 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Great topic. I know I can be so consumed with making something marketable that it can take me away from that pure creative flow. So I try to set aside some time to just write purely indulgent stuff – the kind of thing I know will never be shown to my agent or a client. Sometimes that's the trick to unlocking a whole treasure trove of ideas.

  • Paula June 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Every now and then I'll have the urge to write a screenplay. Last year I had a blast knocking out 15 pages for the Mustard Museum's annual writing contest (it was their first contest for screenplays). I only learned about the contest about three days before the deadline, so I had no choice but to rush. All stories needed to involve mustard, so I did a comedic film noir mystery, "Condiment Confidential," in which a ruthless businessman is found dead in a vat of gourmet mustard.

    But more often than not, my creative outlets involve non-writing activities. Cooking, baking, knitting, crocheting, quilting. It sounds like I'm a little old granny, but I think I've always gravitated to those things since no one else in my family did any homespun things. As a kid, a lot of my friends had moms who baked cookies, but I knew since I didn't have a mom, if I wanted home made anything, I had to learn to make it myself.

    I've also had a life-long fascination of making something from nothing. So this year I'm getting into gardening a little – I have a mini kitchen garden than appears to be thriving, and just planted s small hosta garden in an ugly, unused area along the driveway.

    I really do pity people who have no creative outlets. There's such satisfaction in knowing you made something.

  • Devon Ellington June 30, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Oh, to actually answer the question, my pottery class fulfills the step back from professional creativity. Right now, I have the technique of about a four-year-old (hey, I only had one four-hour session so far), so there's no way I can consider it in terms of business. It's something that's just for me, and it's removed from anything work-related.

    Which is hard, because, as a writer, EVERYTHING is material!

  • Mridu Khullar June 30, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Painting, believe it or not. Though I hear many writers are closet painters, probably because of all the factors you've mentioned here.

  • Lori July 1, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Devon, let me explain. I pushed through the most recent book in order to meet the Nano deadline, and I loved every minute of it. But now I feel pressured to go back and edit. Real pressure. I know it has holes and gaps aplenty and I know what it needs. But I have to reread it all and make sure the edits go where they should and the new sections interplay well with the existing ones. That's why I equate writing books to make money – I've managed to find a way to suck the fun right out of it. I could kick myself.

    Still on vaca, but wanted to throw that out there. 🙂

  • becky July 1, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Huh – I coulda sworn I already said this…

    I love to art journal. I discovered it less than a year ago and I absolutely LOVE this medium for creativity. So much fun.

  • Michael LaRocca July 12, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Website design. In particular, my own site. Creative but without the investment of my writing (novels) or my editing.

    Back when I lived in China, I found relief through cooking. But now I live in a part of Thailand where it is always too hot to spend time in the kitchen. Always.