The Well Of Creativity
By Ken Robinson
September, 2007, 15:20
When you write, you draw from a well of creativity inside you. And just like when drawing water from a well, you have to allow it time to refill.
As different wells have different storage capacities, different people have different writing capacities. I've discovered that I can write for about four hours total before I start becoming brain dead. And according to David Trottier in his book The Freelance Writers Bible, after about four hours of work you begin to have diminishing returns. But some people, like Stephen King, write for ten or more hours a day. They often feel that once they get into the zone they shouldn't quit. And in some books they'll tell you to treat writing like a normal job and spend at least eight hours at it. But these estimates also include correspondence and other activities in that eight hours, so it's not all writing. And remember, time when you're not writing isn't automatically considered downtime. Rather, it's working on all the things you need to do to make your writing career a success. You might spend time making phone calls, writing people, sending out articles/manuscripts, and rewriting, which can also be considered writing since, as the saying goes, writing is rewriting.
To refill my well, occasionally I just take some time off and it slowly refills by itself. But if I want a refill in a hurry, I usually watch a TV show, movie, or read a book I really enjoy. In the past I played video games as well. But the one thing I always try not to do is waste time.
But you do require downtime, which allows your subconscious to refill that creativity void. Even though you may continue writing, if there is no creativity left in you, your work becomes dull and lifeless.
And being tired doesn't help, either. I'm sitting here trying to finish this column after working three 11-hour shifts over the weekend emptying out truck trailers. I'm also substitute teaching for the extra money, so my brain is tired and I'm finding it hard to say anything pertinent or interesting. Your energy levels definitely affect your level of creativity, so hopefully I'll catch up on my sleep deprivation soon.
As you manage your writing career, make sure you structure in downtime if it doesn't occur naturally in your schedule. And don't force the issue one way or another. If it's time to write, write; if it's time to relax, relax. If you can learn what your subconscious or the powers that be are trying to tell you, and follow their plan, it will relieve a lot of stress in your life.
Writing update: Here are some of the latest quotes from an email on the Costa Rica Project: "I had a very interesting meeting"; "We're on hold until I get a chance to do a follow-up"; "I will have more details this weekend."
This is the first time I've been confronted with Hollywood lingo in a meaningful way. About all that's missing is "let's do brunch." And of course I haven't heard back from them. But it worked out fine, as I had to get the second revision of the Drive-In screenplay done. I heard back after I sent it to the director, and he says he likes parts of it and the way the characters are beginning to form. So that's progress.
Keep Writing On! so you can make progress as well!
Ken Robinson, IN's Write On! columnist, winner of Bare Bones Int'l Film Festival Best Screenplay Award, has written over 10 screenplays, 3 episodes of TV series West Law, is executive producer for the feature Sacred Bloods, board member of the Oklahoma Film Society, founding member of Oklahoma Movie Makers. His email address is: Krobinson104@hotmail.com
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