A Valentine to Creativity

Creative writing is a lot like being in a close relationship, a comparison that offers helpful insight for writers getting started.

The initial burst of inspiration resembles a first, satisfying encounter. It’s the stage when both writing and bonding feel effortless, transformative. But just as the glow can wear off a new friend, the flow of inspired writing peters out. To continue, maybe you’ll have to do some research, or dig deeper into yourself, or simply devote time you’d rather spend on other things. What seemed like a wonderful idea begins to feel like too much work. You think of reasons not to commit to it—is this subject really what you wanted to write about? Trust falters—what if this piece of writing doesn’t go anywhere? What if I invest all this energy and have nothing to show for it?

Creativity, like intimacy, has bad days as well as good. Just as we don’t dump a friend during a bad time, it’s important to maintain trust in our creative ideas and hang in there with our commitment to them. One relationship skill can be crucial in this: listening without preconceptions. Once you have made a start and have words on the page, it’s time to listen to them as you would to a lover or friend. What are they trying to tell you? They will disclose both needs and treasures you may not have been aware of. Be flexible, responsive, even loving to what your own words have to say.

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