Nothing kills creativity like the word list. So it’s counterintuitive to write a post about creativity in an itemized list.
Why? Does it remind us of grocery lists, to-do lists, checklists and task lists? All that is work, all that is banal, all that is everyday, all that is the enemy of the ethereal muse? Or is it the spectre of the idea of a structure that sits like a phantom on Inspiration in a haunting list that makes us fear it?
Yet, today’s post on creativity is a list.
It is a list because it makes me see more clearly the false dichotomies we set up for ourselves between the romantic, escapist ideas of writing and everyday work that prevents many of us from being productive. In the words of Agatha Christie, “The best time to plan a book is while you are doing the dishes.” If that is so, why should writing be any less routine than dishwashing?
So here’s a list of a few of my favourite boogie monsters that stem from a romanticized idea of creativity. Feel free to add your own.
- The idea of perfection: That’s the spectre that haunts us while we remain unable to produce good enough drafts. But where does perfection exist in the realm of writing?
- The pleasantly fallow mind: That’s what lies in wait passively for inspiration as the months go by and risks turning into a wasteland simply by doing nothing.
- The whimsical muse: That’s what becomes an excuse. Inspiration is romanticized way too much by writers and readers alike while epiphanies come to only those who practice waiting for it.
- The idealization of some existing trend: That’s what traps us. Lack of courage makes many of us keep trying to produce something new by going over and over the beaten tracks. I’ve found Carlos Fuentes’ words useful in this repect, at least as a reader: “Don’t classify me, read me. I’m a writer, not a genre.”