I have a friend who works in Hollywood but what he really wants to do is write.
The problem, naturally, is that he works full-time. It doesn’t leave a lot of hours in the week to work on scripts. And you can’t force creativity.
Those were his words: “You can’t force creativity.”
My friend in Hollywood is wrong. You can force it. Actually you have to. I’m doing it right now.
I woke up thirty minutes ago with a familiar feeling and a languid idea. I said to myself that I don’t really have to write today. It’s Friday! It’s July! I have healthy drafts of two major projects out to collaborators for comments and I don’t intend on touching those projects until I hear back. I’ve had a very prolific few weeks and everybody deserves a day off now and then. Can’t I just skip my shift today?
I go through some version of this every three days or so. It’s very seductive, and, when you’re lying in bed and it’s cold outside the covers, the internal logic really seems to hold up.
My only defense is routine.
I get out of bed because I always get out of bed. I make coffee because I always make coffee. I will eventually remember to eat something. And I will read, listen to music, or just stare at the ceiling until I think of something to write. I will start.
I will start.
Writing is a lot like going to the gym. I rarely “feel” like going to the gym – I just show up because I’m supposed to. I spend the first ten minutes changing my clothes and shoes. I spend the next fifteen minutes stretching and doing mild cardio. When I’m warm enough I spend around thirty minutes doing intense exercise and I follow that with a cool down, possibly a sauna, a shower and changing clothes again. All in all in takes me about an hour and a half to get that crucial thirty minutes of intense exercise.
My writing shifts work similarly. It takes me about three hours to get that crucial ninety minutes of pure productivity. And at the end I’m tired. I’m very tired.
But oh is it worth it for those soaring ninety minutes. When I’m really working I feel like I could go on forever. I feel transformed. It’s that sweet buzzing space that we debase by over-praising: creativity.
I got there by forcing it. Actually I’m there right now. I’ve been awake for about an hour and I’m hitting my peak. This is as long as this blog post needs to be so I’m going to dig around for something else to work on before I lose my high.
Wesley K. Andrews