Creativity may be one of the greatest gifts humans enjoy. And, while it is undoubtedly a gift, it’s one that must be exercised, developed and nurtured.
Indie Authors—like all writers and artists—rely on creativity for our very livelihoods. One fear we face is a loss of this precious gift. A stall in our imaginations, a glitch in our creativity software, an overload of the circuits that fire off original thoughts and ingenuity within us.
So, how can we avoid such a disaster?
Creativity Is a Process
The first step is to remember that creativity shouldn’t be taken for granted or assumed in our day to day.
Creativity is a process. And, friends, that process is … practice.
My writing partner-in-crime and co-podcaster, Mea Smith, and I examined the importance—and beauty—of practice during Season 1, Episode 45 of QWERTY Writing Life podcast. We share how our mindset on practice has shifted over the years as well as some of the benefits that have come from such a vital change of mind. You can listen to the episode or watch it on YouTube to hear our entire chat.
Something that took me a while to learn is creativity doesn’t naturally fit into time blocks or ever-shifting life schedules. With mental training and self-discipline, though, it can.
Let me explain.
I’m not a full-time writer. I’m a wife, homeschool mom, editor, freelancer and author with a full social calendar and various community responsibilities. My lineup is similar to most writers I know. Because we juggle many roles, we can’t always chase our creativity when it comes out to play. I’ve had some amazing ideas smack dab in the middle of my kids’ school days or church or a kid’s birthday party.
It took me a long time to learn how to take a moment when possible to jot down notes, in order to revisit that idea when I have the time, and then to move on with my current responsibility. It took me even longer to learn how to tug on the strings of that creativity when I do have a time block set aside for writing.
Without practice, creativity doesn’t come with a handy on/off switch. So often, I’ve thought (and heard other writers say), “I can’t write unless I’m feeling inspired. I have to wait for the mood to strike. When it does, it’s magic! But, it only comes on its timetable.”
That makes us and our process sound mystical and other-worldly, doesn’t it? Problem is, that doesn’t translate well into the real world where we have to cram creativity into brief time blocks between jam-packed schedules and often away from our comfy chairs and favorite drinks.
And so, we train our creativity. We mold our magic-making minds to fit our real-life time blocks or time constraints. We learn to write at our local public library during our kids’ one-hour book club, surrounded by one person with unrelenting hiccups and another who’s watching videos, without headphones … and we’ve forgot our own. So much for blocking out the distractions with music.
But, that doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been pursuing this Indie Author life full force since 2016, and I still struggle sometimes with this. But practice and determination has carried me far. In these first four years, I’ve written, revised and published three books, not to mention all the blog posts, podcast episodes, short stories and other books and stories that rest in varying stages of publication readiness.
Creativity is a process, and it’s a worthwhile one. It’s also one that can be molded for use in many aspects of life and work.
Creativity Extends Beyond the Page
Our creativity cannot stop with the page. The successful Indie Authors are the ones who take that creativity and mold it to fit every aspect of the business of being a writer.
Marketing and business management require truckloads of creativity.
This was another important mindset shift for me. I had to view every aspect of my business as a creative outlet—each different, requiring a unique approach and every one a necessary piece of the production. I frequently ask myself how I can stand out in the crowd of books being published every day. I look at other authors to see what they’re doing well that might be outside of the norm. I consider what I would want from a favorite author. And, I listen to what readers are asking for. Asking these questions and making these observations are only two steps in the process, though. Once we have a few answers and examples and needs in mind, our creativity must then take over completely to make each pursuit our own.
When I decided book club kits would be one of the best resources I could make for potential readers, I then had to think through what to include in them, how to market them, with whom to share the information and how to offer something unique from everyone else. I drew from lessons learned with technology, design, public relations, marketing and so much more. I pulled from conversations with other readers, booksellers and librarians. I recalled the fabulous book club kits my public library system in North Carolina offered. Once I combined all of this together, I then had to call upon my creativity to make this vision a reality—one that will appeal to potential readers.
Creativity Requires Fuel
Just like I looked around to other authors for ideas of unique marketing techniques or unusual extras to offer to readers, I also must look outside myself for the fuel required to keep my creativity going strong.
It’s the same concept as needing to strength train in order to build up and then maintain sculpted muscles. In order to maintain a healthy body, we must eat good foods that will keep up our energy levels and replenish anything we sweat out or lose throughout our daily routines.
To be fully functioning creative people, we must surround ourselves with creativity and consume as much inspirational content as possible.
Reading other books inspires our own works and provides us with an outstanding course in how to (or how not to) write stories that will impact readers and linger in their minds. Music awakens some part of our brain that then rocks out our own lyrics to the tune of our heart and soul. Studying art exercises the part of our minds that looks for various viewpoints from which to consider the same setting or scene or story. Television shows and movies are simply stories acted out and can improve our abilities to tell tales in such a way that our readers can see them acted out in their own imaginations as clearly as if they were watching a screen instead.
I hope you’ll join me in a shout of thanks for the gift of creativity. I also hope you will consider it differently than you have before. Practice with it until it’s something that listens to and responds to your urging when you have time to exercise it and explore its depths. Consider ways to draw from it for every aspect of your endeavors instead of just the obvious. And, finally, don’t forget to fuel it! Read, watch, observe … fill up your creative wells as often as possible.
Here’s to Creativity, my friend!