If you need a reason to avoid your creative endeavor invoke the muses, those Greek goddesses of poetic inspiration on whose mercy the creativity, wisdom and insight of all artists and thinkers depend.
Some days it is tempting. When the words won’t flow, blame the muses, or better yet, pick a specific culprit. Perhaps Thelia is keeping the witty repartee from making its way onto the page or Melpomene is concealing the nuance of the plot line that should devolve into tragedy. After all, blame a goddess and you have the rest of the day free.
However, while many (all!) creative people face moments of creative anxiety, those times when the words are buried too deep in the head to reach the page, or the threads of storylines feel like smoke on a windy day, the creators we remember work through their anxiety. Yes, work. After all, while there may be moment of effortless creation, most times it is start and stop and editing and revising and re-doing and questioning.
Here is how a few well known writers ignore the vagaries of the muse:
Haruki Murakami relies on repetition, rising at 4 am, working for six hours, then engaging in rigorous exercise, every day.
Joan Didion keeps a sacred hour, immediately before dinner, where she has a drink and reviews the day and sets a path for the next.
Henry Miller advises that “when you can’t create, you canwork.”
The common thread is habit. Every person is different; schedules and obligations are different. Not everyone can set aside hours in the morning, not everyone has quiet time before dinner (famously, for years, Maya Angelou rented a hotel room by the month, where she reported to work every morning, lying on the bed, propped on her elbows, isolated from distractions with the exception of her notebook, a crossword puzzle, and a deck of cards).
Habits keep the mind focused on the project at hand, and allow flexibility between pure creation and the work that guides creation to a finished project.
What are some of your creativity/work habits?
Because a blank page is always a hard place for me to begin, I start every writing session by revising the chapter just written. That gets me in the groove to push on.
So many writers – prolific ones – say this so it must good advice. I also like Hemingway’s advice to always stop writing when you know what will happen next.