The fragility of the creative process

Ever try to sit down and write or create something creatively, and then be interrupted?

I think everyone has had it happen.  Some people can put down the pen and keep the thought.  It never seems to work that way for me, though.

I start on something, and then there’s an interruption, and the thought disnintegrates.  There’s no immediate return to the thought, no picking up where I left off.  The thought is interrupted, and so I now have to go through and gather all the motes of thought that remain, put them back together and hope it’s still of value.

There’s always, I feel, a loss there.  Much like if you were to drop a valuable artifact, glue it back together, and then try to put it it into a museum as an exhibit.

With an exhibit, though, there are people who have learned methods to “restore” broken artifacts using processes that are far better, more accurate, and let the artifact retain it’s intrinsic apparent value far better than what I could manage with time and Elmer’s glue.

I wonder if there’s a corollary.  A process by which I could  “pause the scene” without thinking too hard, something that I could teach myself to do to the point that it’s instinctive, which would allow me to retain the thought.

I’m sure that any such process would be generally individual in nature, and that what works for one may not work for another.  I think I’m going to have to seek such a process, though.

Any suggestions?  What works for you?



Filed under Creative ideas, Thoughts

23 responses to “The fragility of the creative process

  1. Sorry about the double comment!

  2. hey, I just found something you might find interesting on this topic. take a look

    • I’d love to check it out, but for some reason can rarely get to “non-wordpress” .com blogs. I have tried for a couple of days to check it out. It’s a problem on my end, as this is not the only site I have an issue with, but I haven’t found the problem yet. 😦

      Thank you, though! 🙂

  3. Pingback: How do you deal with distractions from writing? | Sue's Trifles

  4. Happens to me all of the time! Problem is, it’s usually my own thoughts interrupting me (lol)! I like the outline idea, and I’m definitely going to check out too!

  5. For me it depends if I’m writing from my heart or from my head. If I’m writing from my head then I have the same issue, but if I’m writing from my heart, I can leave the piece half finished and come back to it in two days and I’ll be able to keep on going. What helped me to strengthen writing from my heart was SoulCollage, maybe you should try it, I think I even saw an online course for Soulcollage and creative writing. You can find more info here

  6. Perfect sense.
    (My comment just disappeared into cyberspace…an interruption of sorts, so I’ll see if I can reconstruct it!)
    I have two strategies. One is, “If I can’t remember what I was going to write it may not have been important”. The other is that I remember things when I am not trying to.
    Then I said, “There again, I don’t have many interruptions”. To prove me wrong the comment screen disappeared! And my posting from memory? Same content, different punctuation! Sue

  7. Reblogged this on The Student Becomes The Teacher and commented:
    For me, I need to go to my local Starbucks with a lunch and transform it into my writing office. As long as I have WiFi, my PANDORA/IHeartRadio radio stations and my Amazon Kindle Fire (cuz I’m a “Girl on Fire” . . . Sorry, bad pun), I’m free to write for hours (usually all day).

    • That’s a great “preventative” measure, I think. The issue for me, though is one you have probably had happen, so let me give you a scenario.

      You’re at starbucks, writing merrily, and a friend comes up and taps you on the shoulder. You engage them in conversation, and after a few minutes they leave. You turn back to your writing. You were in the middle of a piece that had you “in the zone”, inspired and writing with feeling. You look back at it and the flashing cursor and prepare to write more, but the feeling is gone. The thought has come to a stop and you can’t find the thread now. What do you do?

      Writing you a comment, I can see where I was and where I want to go, and it makes sense how to get there. Creatively, more often than not, there is no “goal” in mind. Maybe that’s part of the issue, that I need to know what the “goal” is. Maybe the first scene I write should be the end, or at least a scene further down the path.

      (PS-in order to just write on the blog I’m listening to Gnarls Barkley-St. Elsewhere. My two youngest sons are in the room, and stop me every few words to ask a question. Conversation and creative writing are two different things, though, you know?)

      • Don’t put so much pressure on yourself!

        Create an outline, a broad strokes plot of your story. That way, you’ll know where your story is going (and can change it if you don’t like your ending).

        In my experience, the “interruptions” give you new ideas for the work you’re writing. Just stick to a schedule like a working job (because you ARE working, right?). After 5pm, be off LITERALLY.

      • You are so right. That’s my plan for September when the kids go to school and I have that time free, but I’m anxious, you know? I want to write NOW! lol

        I think I’m going to work on outlines instead, though. I think you are right, I need a path to follow if I’m going to write more than 10 or 15 thousand words. Past that, and I need definite goals in order to get anything done.

        Thank you!

      • You’re welcome! 🙂

  8. In an interrupted conversation, one of the people involved may be able to backtrack and the thread can be picked up again. With one’s own thoughts it is a little more difficult. Sometimes it is possible to take yourself back to where you left off. Rather like trying to find a mislaid object. where was I when…? Sue

    • That’s true, but for me, it’s kind of like an “elmer’s glue” solution. When I am “inspired”, in that moment, there is no path, no plan, I’m just “going with it”. One thought leads to another and the past thought is almost forgotten. It’s not a conscious process any more than walking, for me.

      Think of rolling a ball down a rocky path. It goes on it’s own path and comes to a stop, and then you go and get it. You go back to the exact spot you were at before, use the same force and posture when rolling it, and let go. The thing is, you want it to follow the same path as before, but causing it to do so nigh unto impossible.
      I think that this is a part of why I have so many “snippets” of stories, but few complete works. It’s hard for every “toss” to go somewhere that I approve of. Therefore, I have to imagine that the problem is not so much of “retracing my steps”, but one of learning to be a better “roller”.

      Does this make sense?

      • I can so relate to this struggle. I get really frustrated when I get interrupted. Fortunately, I don’t live “in town”, so most of the people I know are out in the boonies where I live. So if I’m in town at a public place, I don’t get interrupted.

      • My house-with 3 adults, one near adult, and 4 kids under 12, along with the menagerie of animals we call ‘pets’ is something of a town in and of itself. I’m the stay at home dad, so when summer vacation is going-there’s simply no escape. I am (trying) to work on some outlines, as those are something of a different type of thought. 🙂

      • Writing fictionally or autobiographically are the two hardest types of writing for me when there’s chaos all around me. Your house sounds super busy. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I understand about the summer vacation with the kids. My kids are teens and homeschooled! BUT they’re both in high school and take some classes three days a week which gives me a break. They are taught by another homeschool teacher so it’s like a co-op deal. It’s a great break. 😉

      • I love Monty Python and the Holy Grail! I hear you in the frustration of having the kids around in the summer. We homeschool so we’ve always had them around all year which is fine, but in the last couple of years they’ve been taking a couple of classes elsewhere for high school and I love the break!
        When I’m working on something autobiographical or fiction, I have to have total quiet or my thoughts go crazy and I can’t get organized. 😉

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