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Getting creative on class time.

November 27, 2011

I’m sorry I haven’t been a good correspondent for the past few weeks, but this course in Creativity has really sparked something in me.

I’ve been a professional writer for about 30 years now, and in the last four weeks or so, I feel more vitalized, more focused and more driven about my writing than I have in my entire life.

For the past two months, I’ve been juggling quite a few projects. One, of course, is my class work. And I have a full-time job. And I have a web business that deals with food and all things edible in the San Antonio area. I have also been in the throws of writing my first book with my business partner.

The volume is to be called “The Food Lovers’ Guide to San Antonio,” and the publisher, out of Connecticut, approached us because of the website, www.SavorSA.com (shameless plug, I know — please forgive me). We didn’t sign the contract until the beginning of October, but the deadline is Dec. 9. That’s about the time the semester ends, too. And something called Christmas approaches. And through it all, work and sleep have to fit in somewhere.(And my doctor keeps bothering me about that exercise thing.)

Well, we are more than 90 percent finished with the writing, which leaves a lot of cleanup work to get the final writing into manuscript form. And we have to deal with the appendix and the index, and we have to do a lot of praying.

It’s been a tremendous workload, but it hasn’t been overwhelming, largely because of the readings I’ve been doing for class. One was Julia Cameron’s “Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity,” one of the nicest, most well-intentioned books to inspire you to pick up a pen or a paint brush and start working. The companion book to that was Steven Pressfield’s no-nonsense “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,” in which the author invites you to overcome resistance, perhaps the most lethal illness creativity faces.

Their methods could not have been more different. Hers was a very gentle and encouraging approach to creativity, while his was masculine, forceful and blunt. Yet they both had the same advice: Don’t wait for inspiration. Just sit down and start writing. You don’t have to have characters, if you want to write a story. You don’t have to have a recipe in mind, if you want to write a cookbook. Just write. No excuses. And write every single day. In the beginning, it will be hard. The muse won’t strike when you are ready. But don’t wait for muses or any other supernatural force to call down inspiration on your head. Be a living Nike ad and just do it. And keep doing it.

One of my favorite writers, Anthony Trollope, would get up at 5:30 every morning and write for several hours before going to work. He did it while sailing around the world on various jobs for the post office (his day job), on holidays, on snow days, in the sunshine. He ended up writing more than 60 wonderful volumes of fiction and about two dozen volumes of non-fiction.

I, obviously, have not been anywhere near as prolific as he was, especially since I’ve been in journalism for 30 years and am only now writing my first book. But I have learned that the busiest times are often the most productive — and the most rewarding.

Just when I thought I couldn’t fit another morsel onto my plate, I find myself being called to pick up pen and paper often before going to bed or early in the morning to scratch down some ideas for poems! If you knew me, you’d know that poetry was the last thing in the world I would ever write, yet I’m discovering that playing with words in that new way can be fun. Yes, writing can be fun, even as it exhausts you and revitalizes you.

I haven’t written anything yet that I would want to share, but I don’t think that’s the idea. It’s part of accepting the words that are flowing out of me right now and channeling them in certain areas while letting the others flow free.

So, no excuses. Not from me and not from you. Start creating. And have fun, even when it proves maddening.

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From → #CMC11

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