The creative process can be so confusing, frustrating, and yet exhilarating… each in their own separate moments, and yet can be all at the same time. I read a quote today, pasted to Facebook:
“I know the voices aren’t real… but man, do they ever come up with some great ideas!”
So… how real are the voices? Is it a piece of my unleashed mind, or are they separate entities infiltrating my subconscious? Do they work for my benefit, or for their own agenda? I think that all of the above might hold grains of truth. But I’d never come clean to that on a psyche exam.
In a February 1976 Writer’s Digest Interview by Robert Jacobs with Ray Bradbury (R.I.P) :
“You have to live in a cloud of emotions. You rev yourself up. Give yourself time in the middle of the afternoon, or when you’re waking up early in the morning, when you’re in that kind of wonderful, euphoric state in-between, on the verge of dreams when you get a kind of nuclear bombardment of all kinds of fragments of ideas jumping around inside your head and hitting each other. They begin to fuse and detonate each other. It’s a very hard thing to describe. You don’t have any control over your mind at a time like that, and you don’t want it, see? Let it run wild! Then watch it remotely at the bottom of your skull. Look up at all those things running around wild, then jump up and run over to the typewriter and feed them in!”
I’ve always said that my best writing is in the morning when I first wake up, before/during that first cup of coffee while my brain is still in that semi-sleep state (and trust me… I’m not even fit to get behind the wheel before that 1st a.m. caffeine bump). I really don’t have control over my mind at that time. The words tumble out of my pen faster than my thoughts can process. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit the end of my steam for the morning and go back to read what I’ve written… only to have it surprise me… characters appearing where I never planned, dialog and actions taking a different direction. The voices in my head taking over.
The sad thing is that the voices are usually right. I’ve read characters popping up where they hadn’t been planned to make an appearance, and thought… “Cool. Wish I would have thought of that.” I’ve even written entire chapters and gone back through, examining what the characters were doing and told them: “Oh no… that’s not right… you guys can’t do that. It doesn’t fit the story.” That particular manuscript I put away for a year and a half before I could pick it up again. I re-read what was written, and the light bulb went off in my head. I could see what the voices were trying to tell me, and couldn’t argue with the direction they had chosen. My editor told me it was the best thing I had written (at that point). I took the kudos, because if I explained where t had really come from… huh… is it plagiarism if the voices do the writing for you?
Let go and let yourself write… create… whatever the process is that you are trying to accomplish. We have a tendency to think ourselves out of our own innate creativity. Shut up for a while and let the voices take over…