I suppose tonight’s topic builds a little bit off of yesterday’s about music. It’s the process and benefit of creativity I think I want to write about tonight. And how I think it’s helped not only my life, but how I value it as something both fulfilling and necessary. I mean, I guess doing a journal is being creative in a way. You’re conjuring up words, thoughts, and stories out of your brain and placing them on a page. Hopefully in a way that benefits either yourself or the reader through some clarity or even just purging out the words.
Writing has always been very therapeutic, which is the main reason I started this month of daily journaling. I love the purge that comes with it. Just spew these words out, get them out of my head and in front of me. When I wrote my book (Southbound, signed copies available!) I remember finishing the first draft and being so excited and thinking “I’m done yay!” I didn’t realize that 80% of writing isn’t the writing, it’s the editing. The shaping. Now with a journal like this, I think this type of writing is 90% writing. I give a cursory re-read just to make sure there’s no horrible errors or something doesn’t make sense, but mostly it’s the exercise of writing I want to focus on here. But actual writing….so much of it isn’t the writing.
The idea of ‘process’ is something that I really focus on in a lot of areas of my life. Diet, exercise, announcing, writing, all of it. If I create my process and do the little things that make up that process, I’m going to see something real, tangible, and hopefully good at the end of it. I love that most things have a process, particularly creative things. Because I think for a lot of years I thought creativity just came in moments or flashes and that you had to capture them right away on pen and paper or whatever medium you used to express that sudden rush of creativity. But real creativity is filled with trial and error. With editing. With redos. With multiple takes. With tons of failures. Comedians like Chris Rock probably write thousands of jokes that are terrible and we never hear at all. They hone and craft every word, every syllable, every raising of their voice, to see how and where the joke will work best. And I guarantee that so many of them don’t see the light of day beyond a set at a comedy club where they’re working out their material. I love that about creativity, that it’s work. Because it’s a work that I personally find extremely fulfilling. I feel better about myself if I’ve been creative. I think that comes from enjoying the process of it.
I remember a writer friend of mine from Portland, Willy Vlautin, telling me that he used to clock in to write. He’d show up at his office at 9am and write until 5pm. He told me that was how he got real work done.
I have a lot of ideas come in and out of my head, as I think we all do. I tend to jot them down in my phone most times and come back to them when I have some time. Sometimes they sit there forever, sometimes they sit there for an hour, but I always want to keep any idea that comes around atleast jotted down. I had a dream a month ago that was so vivid and felt like a movie. When I work up I grabbed my phone and immediately wrote down the main notes of what I remembered. The next day I came up with a bunch of characters and was thinking obsessively about this story that I was just given in my sleep. Now, since that day, I haven’t even thought about it. It’s still in my phone, but I haven’t sat down to the do the work to flush it out. I got lucky with the initial inspiration and now anything that will ever come of it, will only come from work. Which is where the real creativity comes from.
I find being creative very fulfilling. A shift I made in the last couple of years was to get away from trying to be ‘happy’ and work on trying to be fulfilled. Because I think for me, more happiness tends to happen when I’m doing things that fulfill me. And that can range from stupid stuff like writing a song parody or a poem all the way to having an important conversation with a friend or doing some homework for work. It can come from writing this journal. I’m tired right now. I don’t particularly want to write this. But now that I’ve started, I’m enjoying it. And I know when it’s done and it’s a tangible thing that I’ve created, I will feel good. Fulfilled. And when someone reads it tomorrow, if they enjoy it, boom, more fulfillment. If they hate it, eh still kind of fulfilled! For me being creative in any way brings me great fulfillment. And I’m a happier person because of that.