We've all posted about when we write and how we inspire the muses, but I want to discuss the creation process deeper this time, and why understanding when you create your stories is one of the most important timeslots in your day.
I wrote a story about a blue-faced God whose expressionless features never answered a damned thing. My character asked over and over for God to answer, and God stared back at him with that blue-faced mask, still as a sculpture.
The reason that scene came alive for me is that I tripped inside of my head this fuse that allowed the worms to dig and excavate and root around anytime my mind fell idle.
I fell asleep praying to my blue-faced God. In my dreams I stood beside God and asked Him to solve my problems, show me the way, bless those I care for, and He stared through and above me and never said a damned thing.
You know how sometimes when your kid asks you a question, and you pause for a second to let their wheels click, and after a few beats the kid says, "Oh, I see. Nevermind."
You never said a word. You stared and let them figure it out for themselves.
That was how it was with my blue-faced God. He let me figure it out for myself, and I in turn passed that on to my character and let him figure it out for himself.
How's that relate to the overall topic of when you create? Let me tell you. I created that story at night, falling asleep in my insomnianic manner, rolling for a couple of hours in bed and in my head. I didn't write that story at the computer, or mowing the yard, or working out, or sitting around with pad and paper and an outline.
I wrote it in my dreams, and when I woke the next morning, I hammered out the scene that had cleaved itself from the hard-packed earth and puked up a blue-faced flower.
I nurtured that time at night. I let my mind drift to the story.
I allowed myself to ~create~ the story, and then, later, when the lights were on, I simply wrote down what I'd seen the night before.
King created Misery in his dreams on an airplane flight. Dante created Inferno in his dreams. Who the hell knows where Poe created his stuff, but it wasn't at the pen-and-ink table with the candle flickering. Then, later, they wrote it down, see.
The point here is to understand when it is that your stories come to life and nurture that time. Humor it. Make that time part of your daily routine. It may be different for every story, but find that creative time when your story is born and make time for it. Nothing is created at the keyboard or the outline tablet.
Your stories are recorded when you write, that's all.
My stories always create themselves in fragments. It happens anywhere, anytime. When I'm doing the dishes, typing up work reports, or simply daydreaming. Something pops in my head and says, "Wouldn't it be cool if..."
And off I go. It's never linear, but mindless thought is how I create.
I third what you two said. Some I get at night, all night. Some during morning sleep. That's the time after five or six a.m. when Bugsy wakes me up to go outside. During meditation. While driving. I actually get a lot while driving. When I'm randoming flipping around looking stuff up on the internet. Writing prompts from other people's blogs.
But I seem to get most of it in the morning. And I write better at night. Hmm...
Thanks for another provocative post, Eric.
And, btw, I love your prose: "I hammered out the scene that had cleaved itself from the hard-packed earth and puked up a blue-faced flower."
~that rebel, Olivia
I suspect that most writers hammer out their stories and come up with the ideas while doing mundane things such as drifting off to sleep, or washing the dishes, or grocery shopping, etc.
Too bad getting that wonderfully crafted story out of our heads to the paper is another thing altogether.
Personally I have a bad habit of waking up in the middle of the night and thinking through scenes. I would rather that inspiration strike at another time.
Without a doubt I do a lot of writing in my head before I even boot up my laptop. My first novel idea came to me one morning when I was one the verge of getting up. When I did wake up in bed I had the idea fully formed in my mind.
I do a lot of writing in my head while I'm driving my car too. Lots of time to think in those silent moments.
Great post, Eric. You got me trying to remember where I came up with a bunch of my other ideas too.
I've gotten ideas for the beginnings of or continuations of stories in the shower, as a passenger in a car, watching TV, and dreaming. While much happens at the keyboard, my first flash of inspiration doesn't occur there.
Nice to know about King and Misery.
I'm a big time daydreamer and when an idea comes that way, I follow it through. Sometimes I don't make it to the end of the "dream" before I start recording it. Good post, Eric.
I also do a lot of writing in my head, but I've got post-its and tiny journals all around me to record it. I also run dialogue while in the shower, which confuses the people I live with to no end (that's just an added bonus)
What I create when I sleep...
I hate writing that stuff down. It feels like the worst parts of my fears and anxiety pop in while I sleep. When I'm awake, I can keep the demons at bay. When I sleep... I feel like I am defenseless.
Mes: I'm as scatterbrained as you are, I think. I'm a bit-n-pieces writer as well.
Olivia: See, if you think about it, nurturing that morning time might be GREAT for your evening writing. That's my point -- we make time for writing, but we don't make time for ~CREATING~!
Crimey: I sleep through my best stories. If I can remember them the next day, then they're worth writing.
Jai: I create a lot in the car and in the evenings falling asleep. I just went to Houston and back today, from Dallas (long drive!), and for most of the trip I worked on my novel...
Theresa: Flashpoint of creation. I like that. Where's the ~flashpoint~ where your story was born. Not at the keyboard, I bet, and I'd ask this: Are you nurturing that flashpoint time as much as you care for your writing time?
Tracy: Funny that you say you have journal. I have a little 3" notebook that I call my Little Ocean, and I jot down ideas as they come to me. I keep it in the car so it's always handy. It is absolutely full of stuff, so random I look at it and wonder who the hell wrote that down!
I create in my head long before my fingers hit the keyboard--for the first time. Then my writing usually flows from beginning to end. The longest it's taken me to finish my completed manuscripts is 24 days.
Others never get finished, but I'm a firm believer that sometimes we just need to get stuff out of the way. And it's great practice for our other writer.
Great topic. My first paid gig was a dream.
Great post Eric - creating is very different from writing. I tend to create in that I-should-be-sleeping time too. I don't always consciously think of my story, but once the characters are in my head, I let them just walk around in my brain for a while - getting to know them.
My books all played out like movies in my head long before I ever began writing any of them. When I go to bed, while I'm driving - anytime my brain has room to roam.
Wow, you guys are all so creative! I actually do most of my imagining while I'm typing. Ihave a story idea and break it down into bits...then just start typing. I'm kinda boring compared to all of you. =(
I don't generally remember my dreams and when I do I suspect I've been dosed with something because they're incoherent flashes cribbed from movies and daily life. If I wrote them down I'd be looked at askance by many, Im sure.
I remember reading your entry about the thirteen foot blue face and the naked angel...I was kind of riveted by the complete Dali-esque feel to it.
Interesting perspective, Eric. I used to be a lot more creative, but this whole working/mom/wife/dog mother/den leader/etc. life is just sort of sucking that out of me.
Which is why I rely on you to challenge me from time to time and add a little spark to that sleeping subconscious of mine.
Also, I want to let you (and your readers) know that I'm having a 100 Followers Contest with some great prizes, and I'm also hosting a Rainy Day Blogfest on the 25th. August has been so hot and miserable here on the east coast that I'm longing for some relief, even if it's only fictional.
Thanks, and have a great day!
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Great post. Whenever I'm blocked in my writing, I think of my plot problem at night and more often than not, I have a dream related to it...just like Coleridge or Robert Louis Stevenson!
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