Help! I’m suffering an explosion of creativity and I can’t seem to stop myself finding time and ideas for writing!
How It All Began
One recent evening I tucked myself into my armchair, put my feet up, pulled my knitting on to my lap and settled down in the flickering black and white light coming from my television as we fired up a couple of episodes of The Twilight Zone — our nightly non-guilty pleasure.
I love The Twilight Zone. The stories are so imaginative, they’re not afraid to take a dark turn (!); they’re stylish, well-crafted and intellectually stimulating.
I’ve been telling myself that they’re great research for my own story telling efforts.
And in a way they are. They’re all about a character (often a man, aged 36, oddly enough) who needs something, lacks something, wants something. Great stuff for storytellers.
But at the end of every Season 1 episode, I keep seeing this little line of text that makes me uneasy.
“Based on the short story…”
Short Stories Are Not Screenplays
I follow a lot of working writers’ blogs, but people who are getting paid to write the equivalent of short stories now are often working in TV. The influences they cite are other TV shows and writers. I follow those links and spend hours reading about how those other writers write and find success.
But I’m not writing screenplays. I need to remind myself how to show a scene in words, not images.
So I’ve embarked on another challenge (you know how I love a challenge, right?) and I invite you to come along with me.
Following Ray Bradbury’s prescription for writers (watch it here. It’s worth the time) I’m trying to read a short story every day, especially those from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — stories with some staying-power. I’m also trying to read one essay a day (though accessible, classic essays are proving harder to find than good short stories) and one poem a day (oddly enough, though poems are shorter, I’m finding it harder to rouse myself to do this part of the program).
The Results Are In
I’ve been doing this for just over a week and, as I said, I’ve been ‘suffering’ under an explosion of creativity. I’ve written one, long-for-me, 6,000 word short story and sketched out ideas for more than 50 more (yes, 5-0!) in a few different themes/genres, started my second story and written four blog posts.
And my kids are on vacation!
But I can’t seem to stop myself finding time to read and write.
I’ve rediscovered the joy of both reading and writing. I’m sneaking off, staying up late, ignoring people I love, to read — and little of it is on Facebook or Feedly or Twitter. I’m reading well-crafted fiction and non-fiction that has stood the test of time. And I’m bursting with ideas, references and imagery — I’m so full of ideas that I can’t hold them back. I simply have to write. (This is not always the case with me. I always feel better when I’m writing but I’m quite good at being lazy and grumpy instead).
Want to join me in being more creative, more productive, and more joyful? Start reading and writing today!
Here are some of the books I’m using to find short stories, poetry, essays and other inspiring non-fiction to read.