Creativity: Getting tiny sparks to burst into flame

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The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Doubt. Negative self-talk. Despair. We have all likely experienced those moments when we are certain that our creative wells have run dry and that we have no more words to offer up to the world. When we are beset by those times sometimes referred to as writer’s block, how do we regain those sparks of creativity and find the kindling needed to encourage them to burst into full flame?

Last month, I attempted and (actually!) finished a writing event during National Novel Writing month. Flash Nano, an event created by Nancy Stohlman who asked participants to sign up to receive a writing prompt every day and to then write a story of up to a thousand words. Each morning last month, I found myself trying to bend my mind around some unusual ideas, very quirky prompts, and then proceed to create a piece of flash fiction.

I must admit that as the month progressed, I actually eagerly looked forward to what that morning email would bring. And although it’s wonderful to now have a file folder with thirty flash fiction stories, some of which I will definitely invent the time to edit and polish while others will linger in that folder forever, my biggest takeaway was learning more about creativity. Specifically, how I became attuned to the role creativity plays in my writing life.

This was a private experience for me, I did not post my stories to social media sites, or share them with others. It was instead a journey down a path that led to internal examination and discovery. Each morning I found myself considering many divergent ways in which to approach a story based on prompts that sometimes didn’t even make sense to me. This creative discovery process was something I have never fully appreciated or spent much time in reflection about it.

Through this discovery journey, I have come to understand that many aspects of daily living are in fact creatively inspired. It seemed that from one day to the next, my sense of creativity was heightened and I began to notice how this permeates all aspects of my life. From what clothing I would choose to wear that day to what foods I decided to prepare and even extending to what type of exercises I would choose to engage in. Creativity is afoot even if we think it is not.

And the best part of this entire writing exercise, was that the more time I spent working on these ideas, the quicker they came to me. By the last week of the flash fiction event, my writing came more quickly and with much less struggle. It almost seemed as if the more creative sparks I experienced, the more these ideas became like pieces of kindling. And for all of the ideas that I didn’t actually use, I have set the remainder aside in a notebook for some day in the future.

Hope you are experiencing the warmth of the creative path in your life! Stay healthy and safe!