There's a whole lot of magic, and faith, involved in any creative endeavor, especially writing.
We show up with our tools, in this case, pen and paper, or keyboard and computer screen, along with the fervent desire to create something that doesn't yet exist. We chant the magic words, "What if?", and then we ponder and cogitate and dream, waiting for inspiration to slap us silly, convinced that brilliance is just around the corner.
Sometimes it's hard to hang on to that faith, though, because we don't really know HOW creativity works. When an idea bursts forth from deep within our brain cells, we act like cavewomen who have just seen fire for the first time. We are understandably afraid to believe that "whatever this is" will come back, that it wasn't just some sort of fluke. If only someone would give us the recipe, so we can reproduce that creative miracle whenever we need it.
What I love most about the creative process is this: it's a process. It's not called the creative schedule, or the creative checklist. It's a process, and we all have different ways of implementing it. It's about as personal as religion or politics or your favorite meatloaf recipe. Trying to force my process into a particular form would be the death knell of my creativity.
And yet. . .
I think we end up restricting our creative process all the time, without conscious intent. We conduct archaeological expeditions in the creative centers of our minds, eager to unearth fresh new ideas for our manuscripts. When our brain cooperates and coughs up all kinds of unusual nuggets, what do we do? Do we drop to our knees and thank every deity in existence for the beautiful gift of these wondrous ideas?
Yeah, not so much.
We barely give them a glance before we toss them into the trash pile, judging them as "too out there". Before an idea has had a chance to fully form, or to show its depths and nuances, we shoot it dead, declaring, "That'll never work. It's just too crazy."
It's like wishing on a star and then smashing the gift on the ground with a whiny, "I wanted something with more SPARKLES!" Or praying for a miracle, and then refusing it on arrival, since it wasn't preceded by blaring trumpets and hosannas from wing'd angels.
But let's go back to the idea that was instantly dismissed for being outlandish. This is the one you want to explore, because it's different, and fresh.
Maybe it hasn't worked before now because no one will even consider it. It's possible this particular wacky idea might be better than anything you ever imagined. Even if you don't ending up using it, it might have appeared on the scene simply to help you stretch your imagination, to prepare you for other ideas you might otherwise ignore.
So, when a notion looks like it's been wrapped in too many layers of crazy, deep fried in outrageous, and then topped off with a dollop of ridiculous. . .give the poor little nutjob a chance to explain itself.
We all want recognition for what we do. Our craziest ideas are no different. If we don't give them an opportunity to speak their piece, they will continue to poke and nag, and the more we swat them away, the more persistent they will become--like a child ignored by its mom, chanting over and over, louder and louder, until it finally gets the attention it requested in the first place.
Maybe these kooky ideas won't lead to anything useful, but what if they do? Or maybe they're blocking the really brilliant idea, only you can't get to it until you've dealt with the seemingly zany stuff.
This is where faith comes in, requiring you to believe in something when it's not entirely clear how it functions. The creative process is mysterious, there's no doubt about that. Yet if you're willing to believe that ideas for books appear out of nowhere, then you have to consider the possibility that these oddball ideas were entrusted to you, for your benefit.
As crazy as that sounds.
Zooming to the finish line of the A to Z Challenge! What a fun ride it's been.