Novel Boot Camp: Lecture 1 How to Be Creative

So, what does an aspiring writer do while waiting for the writing program to start in the fall?

I go to Novel Boot Camp!

Novel Boot Camp is a free summer workshop run by Ellen Brock. Last year was the first workshop and I’m excited to participate again this year. Novel Bootcamp includes lectures on various aspects of writing and also publishing. There’s also a workshop aspect where writers can share their work and receive feedback.

The first lecture is How to Be Creative.

I wasn’t sure what I would get out of this lecture because I felt I had no problems being creative. (Insert laugh here.) Then after finishing the lecture, I realized two things: I don’t know anything and I need to listen.

This part resonated with me:

You don’t need inspiration to be creative.

How you feel when on a creative high.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that the electric burst of excited inspiration we’ve all grown to love is often detrimental to the creative process. Instead of getting to work, we wait around for that “creative high” we love so much.

This myth of creative inspiration, of getting it right the first time, of putting pen to paper and developing a masterpiece without utilizing a plan, making a mistake, or hitting a roadblock is not just mythical, it’s damaging. It sends one of two messages to aspiring writers:

  1. I can’t do this because I don’t have creative inspiration.
  2. I can do this because I have creative inspiration.

Neither of these messages are true. Both messages limit writers by encouraging the belief that when you just get your magical amazing burst of inspiration, all the pieces will fall into place.

Well, they won’t.

For the rest of the lecture, go here.

I love writing, but I have a process. I’m creative, but I’m also grounded in rules and technique. I love exploring “what if” situations, but I have to map out where I’m going. Ellen’s lecture taught me that creativity can be cultivated into a skill. Her lecture also helped me accept that I’m not a pantser, but a plotter–and that’s okay! I’ve also learned that inspiration isn’t necessary to creativity.

Last summer, I had an idea for a novel, but when I tried plotting it out, it wasn’t right for me at the time. I had writer’s block for several months and I started doubting myself because I couldn’t find inspiration. When I started my copyediting certification program, I was hit with an idea and the character was so strong and vocal that I was dying to get her down on paper. Of course, I couldn’t because I had to focus on school, or at least that’s what I told myself at the time. Inspiration seems to strike me whenever it seems impossible for me to set aside time to do something with it.

Now that I’ve decided to be a writer, I have to build in time to be creative. It’s an ongoing process–allowing my creativity to flow. It sounds a little hokey, but it’s very fitting for where I am in my journey. For so long I’ve always downplayed my interest in writing as just a hobby. Now that I’ve acknowledged that I am a writer, I’m learning how to bring that part of me out more by giving it more time to create.

Ellen’s lecture really helped to validate that even if I don’t have inspiration, if I’m writing–writing anything–it’s still creating.


2 thoughts on “Novel Boot Camp: Lecture 1 How to Be Creative

  1. Pingback: Novel Boot Camp Lecture 4: Creating Conflict | Jennifer F. Santucci

  2. Pingback: Reflection on Module 2: Writing as a Vocation from TWSO | Jennifer F. Santucci

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