While going through my Twitter feed, I came across this question:
The question struck me in a very emotional way, and it made me think that I am not alone in the strange fear that has overshadowed my writing lately.
Am I creative enough or do I go too far?
That might sound like a paradox, and it is. 9 times out of 10, that is the one thing that stops me in my tracks.
Creativity is a strange thing. To some it is that spooky hand of inspiration that rarely condescends upon us mortals and grants us the glorious gift of inspiration and writing flow. That is not what I am scared of.
Creativity and the Illusion of Originality
It isn't rare that I have an idea for a story, but what follows is pure FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). While the plots are never identical, it is hard to come up with a story that doesn't feel like something I have read before. That shouldn't be a hindrance, but lately, it tends to stop me dead in my tracks.
Why do I care? I don't know. I really don't. I understand that there is only one story that has ever been told, and that every story fits into that mode. If you are generous, you can widen that out to 12, 20, or 36, but the fact is the number of possible stories is impossibly small. But like all writers, I want to stand out. I want people to not only like my fiction, but to love it.
I am trying to push myself to get past this and just write stories that I love, but it is hard to get through this block.
Creativity and the Curse of Too Many Ingredients
The other side of the coin is the question about how simple or complex should a story be. When I let myself go, I get reviews that call my work dense and hard to get into. When I simplify, I get reviews that say I didn't go far enough.
Maybe I am looking for that Goldilocks zone where I include just the right about of complexity while neither being too hot, or too cold.
I don't think that is the answer at all. There is a difference between developing my craft as a writer, and conforming my work to an unseen audience.
Creativity and the Pure Joy of Writing
The one thing I have learned over my career is that I have to write stories I love. Those are the stories my readers love too. That passion flows from me into the words and worlds, and resonates with the readers.
The path beyond fear is in the stories I love to tell and sharing that passion with the world. Only then can I write a fun story, and if they find an audience, that is a wondrous thing, but (as writers) we have to separate the audience from the work.
I would rather be unread for stories that I love than loved for a story I hate. That is really important.
I get my fulfillment in life from telling these stories. A fulfilling life is success greater than any other. That is where I have to keep my eyes focused. That is the real prize.
If you are having these same problems, let me know how you are getting through. Are you afraid of something else? How do you overcome your fears to find a better life?