Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creativity and the Art of Wasting Your Time

There's a quote out there that says something like, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

I apply it to writing, but it applies to painting, or music, or even engineering - anything that takes passion, creativity, and drive to accomplish.

It's easy to tell ourselves to take chances, but it's so much harder to implement. If I know that I can get, say, 1000 words a day by sitting my butt in the chair and doing nothing else for an hour, why switch it up? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But even when you have set methods that work for you, I think there's a lot of value in doing something new every once in awhile, if only for the sake of it. Stretching your creative mind can be a huge waste of time. It can also push you to think differently. And even if it never shows in your work, it's valuable for your mind. It's like travel - sure, you could live a happy life without ever going five miles from your hometown. But do you want to live like that?

One time I sat down and forced myself to try freewriting for 30 minutes. I filled up five notebook pages with complete nonsense that I immediately threw away. Another time I did an "interview" with the main character of my WIP. It did nothing for my WIP, but that interview made me think about how some of the answers I gave the character didn't make sense... And how I wanted to write a book with a hero those answers would make sense for.

And then I wrote it.

What are you going to try?


  1. Every now and then, I submit to anthologies looking for stories with a low word count. (Sometimes as low as 1200 words!) Not only does it force me to clean up my prose, I also use those very short stories as opportunities to try new things - different POV, different tense, etc. Even if they don't get accepted, I'll still have a polished piece I can publish on my own somewhere down the line!

    1. That's a great idea! Wow, 1200 words - that's intimidating. Definitely something that would stretch my brain out. I'm gonna have to give that a try!

  2. Love this. Every time I want to try something new, I freeze up. But I'm always so glad I did.