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Author Topic: When Its Good, Its Very Good; When Its Bad, It Sucks
Ira Nayman
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Post When Its Good, Its Very Good; When Its Bad, It Sucks
on: December 13, 2012, 15:54
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When I sit down to write, I am usually in one of three states: unrestricted flow, restricted flow or no flow.

Unrestricted flow is the holy grail of writing when the words come easily and without restriction. It is the condition when the words feel like they are coming from another place, like you are merely the vessel through which they flow. (I don't believe it's anything quite so mystical - they are just coming fresh from the unconscious mind.) This happens to me a lot - in fact, I wrote an entire novel in this state. By analogy, I do jumbled word puzzles, and can often see the answer without consciously thinking about it a fraction of a second after I have glanced at the group of letters.

Restricted flow occurs when the ideas stutter. They still come, but not as quickly, and they require more editing. In this state, I am also more conscious of craft: I think a lot more about which type(s) of humour would work best in the given situation. I also sometimes have to leave holes that I will get back to. In the jumble puzzle analogy, I have to play with likely letter combinations, sometimes coming back to the letter group several times before I finally see the solution.

Finally, there is no flow, which is as dire as it sounds. Nothing comes. Some people refer to this as writer's block. Fortunately, it doesn't happen to me that often, and usually only for short periods of time. Unlike some writers, I walk away from the keyboard rather than frustrate myself trying to come up with something when there is nothing there; my time is more productively spent reading or doing background/business writing (ie: catching up on email or social networking) when I'm in this state. Sometimes, the answer to the jumble puzzle just doesn't come.

I have noticed that these conditions are related to my physical condition, especially how much (or, how little) sleep I had the night before. This is probably my biggest motivator in getting a good night's sleep!

Douglas-
Thompson
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Post Re: When Its Good, Its Very Good; When Its Bad, It Sucks
on: December 24, 2012, 16:36
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Hi Ira. Interesting post. I find that if I don't write for a while (say a few weeks) then I'm more inspired when I do write, as if it's some kind of weird liquid which is building up. Icky, eh? Can you relate to that?
Also my creativity ebbs and flows on some kind of cycle. When inspired, I might write several different things (poems, flash fiction, novel chapter) and design a few buildings all at once! It's as if creativity breeds creativity, but the pool is finite and needs replenished after a splurge. Sorry, this is sounding even ickier now, but you get the idea. Or do you!? The feeling of being a conduit for some external force is very familiar, have felt it since I first played with clay as a child. William Blake felt this too and even painted the bloke he claimed was giving him all the ideas.....

Ira Nayman
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Post Re: When Its Good, Its Very Good; When Its Bad, It Sucks
on: January 1, 2013, 21:37
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Douglas,

I totally understand what you are saying about the ebb and flow of writing. When I was younger, I would go for weeks, sometimes months without writing a word. Then, I would do something crazy like write a feature length screenplay every four months for 16 months. Unfortunately, because I have to update my Web site with new fiction every week, I have committed myself to writing on a regular basis regardless of how the ideas are flowing. (Fortunately, I developed a system where I keep a store of new pieces that I can draw upon when the ideas aren't flowing that I replenish when they are.)

I couldn't agree more with your observation that creativity feeds on itself, which has definitely been my experience. The way I look at it is that creativity is a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets and the easier it is to use in the future.

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