I’ve read and listened to plenty of writers discuss their creative process – and like them I clearly have one, but it’s mostly a process of habits. Of work. Of shaping some chosen idea into something, but before that shaping comes the idea itself. It’s a lot like the chicken/egg thing, or the big bang theory (the theory, not the TV show) – of what came first. To quote Nancy Lowery, “what happened before what happened happened”.
I’m re-reading ‘Draft No. 4’ ~ a book on writing process by the very prolific and very wise John McPhee.
His thoughts on ‘how things show up’ are instructive. I’m reading pages I’ve read before but deriving a deeper and better message the second time through. My eyes opened wider, my ears are hearing more and my hard drive has acquired additional storage.
Ideas for my next story, my next column, my next ‘chapter’ don’t show up by design or from some creation formula.
Ideas show up when they do – not my choice and ideas are not people so they don’t get the credit or blame for a good idea or a poor one. The idea is in the mind of the thinker – but what puts it there? How does it arrive, where did it come from and who sent it? It’s a lot like the mystery parcel that showed up the other day. I didn’t order it, don’t the shipper – but it was addressed to me. What it is, how I’ll use it or whether I’ll care are yet to be determined. It’s like walking into a room of strangers, when there is no outstretched hand to greet you – you just wander in with hopes up and defenses down in hope that you’ll be ‘affected by’ someone. Inspired by someone. Something someone says will send your thought train running away downhill or over to the railyard for repair.
In my mind there is unlimited time, but in my diary/calendar there is not.
Thoughts must be used before they escape or lapse beyond their best before dates.