Last week, in the midst of a busy coaching schedule, a busy writing schedule, and my always busy family life, I took time out for some creative banking. I don't mean I did some funny business with my income tax prep. I do mean I took stock of past, present, and future writing projects, and I discovered how much I have in my creative "bank".
If you've been writing for any length of time, you have projects you've left simmering on the back-burner and projects you've just plain left behind because it was time to move on. Those that are simmering might fall into different categories: undeveloped ideas with promise; characters and stories that exist in snippets and notes; outlines; completed first drafts; even final drafts of manuscripts that did not find their way to market for one reason or another. You may have complex emotions tied up with those back-burnered projects. Frustration? Excitement? Dread? A vague sense of failure? Of time wasted? A nagging exasperation that time is running out? The tingle of creative seduction?
Pull out your notebook, label it My Creative Bank, and for the next few days keep it next to your desk, take it to bed, carry it in your car. Begin a list of projects past, present, and future. In a paragraph or two, jot down the working title and what you know about the narrative. If you know the story, write a one-paragraph synopsis. If you wrote a detailed outline but it was four years ago, write down what you remember. Don't go searching back in your files for details. Just sketch out the basic premise as you remember it. If you've had three or four ideas for new stories rolling around in your brain for months, write thumbnail story sketches for each one. Perhaps you have a rough draft of a manuscript and you're thinking you might revise it with a different narrator or give it a contemporary setting instead of the historical setting you chose before. Write down your ideas.
See if your list continues to grow as mine did. Jot down how you feel about each project in your creative bank. I marked several "shelved with just cause". Others surprised me with their ongoing spark and energy. In a few minutes I worked out a beginning, middle, and end for two projects that had previously existed only in dream form. I plan to continue working on my creative bank.
When I began the list I knew intuitively that I would be able to see patterns and connections in my work, in the various projects--character constellations, thematic constants, the importance of setting and core imagery--and at the same time I would see range and variety. I feel gratitude for the richness of my imagination and the resiliency of my creative energy and flow. At a time when conventional banks may be struggling, we can enjoy the richness of our creative banks.
Labels: creative energy, creative flow, free writing tips, inspiration to write, overcoming blocks