Finding Your Creative Spark

As a fairly new writer of regular online content, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with things to talk about. I am a naturally solitary person, preferring not to waste a lot of time talking about unnecessary things and putting as focus as possible on doing things that I find fulfilling, or at least entertaining. My hyper focus on basically not being bored soaks up a lot of my attention and leaves me with little in the way of what we typically call the “creative spark”. For a writer, this is a critical part of coming up with engaging content that people want to read.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll already know that this is a problem for me. While I have thus far been able to push myself into keeping up with a regular posting schedule, this is mostly because I keep my writing in line with the way I think: short and to the point. Most bloggers are going for word count, and this is important for maximizing your exposure due to the way that modern search engine algorithms work, but I’m simply not able to bring myself to submit to that way of writing. When I have a point, I just want to make it in the clearest possible way I can. Wasting your or my time expanding on a subject that we already understand keeps us from moving on with our day.

On the other side of things, however, is the other forms of creative writing I would like to get into. I believe I mentioned in the past that I wrote a full length novel, which was placed in a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. While I was able to get the book completed and I even self-published it on Amazon, it is the only major writing work I’ve been able to get completed. I have outlines for two additional books to complete the story, but the urge that propelled the first book into completion simply hasn’t extended to the rest of the story. The motivation just isn’t there.

This has been the status of the work for a couple of years now, and isn’t really the reason I’m writing this today. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a new idea for a story I think would be very interesting to read, and a part of me feels excited to start over with a new work. However, I find that when I really start to think about sitting down to write it, I am unable to summon that creative energy I had when I sat down to write the first book. This is a wall that every author has to climb over each time they have an inspiration for a new novel, but for me the situation is a little bit different.

A good writer has the ability to pull readers into whatever it is that they’re putting to paper. When you read their work, you are pulled in a very natural way into whatever subject it is that they are writing about. Each writer has their own voice and approach to conveying information, and deviating from that rarely results in a work that people enjoy reading. For a work to be truly interesting and engaging, it has to conform to the way the author can write in a natural way. Anything else will come across as stale or fake or any other number of negative adjectives.

For myself, I have always enjoyed fantasy adventure novels because they take me to amazing places I’ll never see in my real life. It is the seed for my current desire to get out of the normal daily grind and go see some of the world. I grew up on adventures and I’m ready for my own. These are the kinds of things that inspire some of my more interesting writing ideas, and because I identify so heavily with the genre it seems natural at first for me to want to sit down and write stories in that same vein.

The problem arises when I start to realize that my writing style and creative energy simply isn’t compatible with that kind of story. I’m great at coming up with interesting ideas and fleshing out the mechanics of a story. In my youth I was a fairly prolific Dungeon Master, leading my friends through epic adventures in the supremely popular Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. It’s one thing to tell a story from such a high level and allow others to develop the story; it’s quite another to actually do it yourself.

One of the critical parts to creating a successful work of fiction is understanding how to reach people on a personal level with your characters. No matter how interesting the world or storyline or major events in your story might be, if your characters aren’t relatable then you will be unable to gain any serious attention from your readers. Epic battles lose much of their intensity when you don’t really care if the participants live or die, and few people will find interest in a romance between two very underdeveloped and boring characters. No matter how creative you might be in other areas, if you can’t pull it all together with a genuine sense of emotion you will be unable to make the story work.

This is where I find myself in my writing. Like many things in my life, I have a firm grasp on the technical aspects of writing and I’m fairly creative when it comes to thematic ideas and coming up with an interesting arc for a story. The problem arises when it comes time to actually get down to the gritty details of developing characters and making them genuine. As a fairly anti-social person, I don’t have the emotional experiences required to convey the kinds of things that make adventure novels truly interesting to read.

Perhaps the hardest thing a person can do is learn to accept his limitations. While I would love to become like the great fantasy writers I grew up admiring, the truth is that I just don’t have the abilities required to make it happen. Just because one wants to become an actor or singer or other such thing doesn’t mean they have the basic minimum requirements to be successful in that venture. In the end, there are simply doors that are closed to us based on our talents and abilities. Sometimes you can break through those doors and even find the success you crave, but the sad truth is that most people end up just wasting their lives pursuing things that were never meant to be.

One of the great things I’ve learned about myself is that I am very self aware and I know and understand where my strengths are. Although I enjoy writing, it is important for me to remember that my talents lie not in creating fantastic adventures but in conveying complex information in a way that is easy to understand. My gift is the ability to teach others. This is the reason why I have been able to keep up with writing so many posts on this blog; the complex topics covered here are difficult to understand without being broken down in certain ways, and I have the ability to do that. Thus I have come to accept that I need to confine my writing to those things that mesh well with the way my mind works.

Too many people go on and on about following your dreams, but sometimes the dream you have isn’t the dream that really works for you. It’s nice to fantasize about being someone other than who you are, but it’s a dubious proposition to believe that you’ll be truly happy living a life that isn’t really you. Being creative doesn’t mean fitting yourself into the image of someone else; by definition it’s the exact opposite of that. Learn who you are and figure out what works for you, and then build your dreams based on that. Chasing the dreams of others rarely works in your favor.

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