Just Start Writing

By | March 10, 2011

Some people think they need to have a prospectus, or at least an outline, before they begin writing. I just talked with someone who was agonizing over the process of constructing a two-page sketch of what she was going to write.

I question whether such approaches can be called creative writing. Is not creativity the process of releasing one’s self from the bounds of convention and what is known to explore beyond? I think of the creative process as a picture puzzle without pieces. I open myself to any form of inspiration that will help bring the pieces together before me. I then look at what I have, get a sense of the picture that could possibly materialize from them, and start assembling.

Sometimes nothing comes of the process and I’m left with a collection of random puzzle pieces, and sometimes the process inspires me to go out and find more pieces to complete the picture. Seldom does the puzzle take form as though it came with all the pieces already in a box.

Creativity is a verb. Whatever the outcome of the journey, and whether or not I have something to show for it, I have ventured out on my frontier and gained from the experience. Maybe some of the puzzle pieces will fit in other pictures, or they might stand on their own as vignettes.  When I try to “create” a picture by filling in an outline, am I not following a formula rather than letting my imagination and inspiration take me where it will? My advice is to just start writing. Be in the now—don’t worry about what might come of it. A frontier is the unknown—how can you expect to outline when you don’t know?

I consider much literature resulting from outlines and prospectuses to be formula rather than creative writing. When I have a particular writing goal in mind, I might start with an outline. Knowing the approach could be counter-creative. I revise or ignore the outline whenever it gets in the way. I give myself the freedom to do this because my writing is a sacred endeavor, guided from the depths of my soul and sensitive to the voices of all the relations.


timjali on March 14, 2011 at 9:44 pm.

I think creativity could flow out of structure, they don’t seem to be mutually exclusive, exclusively speaking.


Tamarack on March 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm.

For me, it depends upon the origin of the structure. If I have an idea and I lay down an outline to guide its development, it acts like a roadmap to help get me to my destination. Without original inspiration, I see structure as an attempt to create something out of nothing. Imagine grabbing a map to some random destination and following it in hopes that it will take you to where you want to go.

Perhaps we could explore other options, such as waiting for an inspiration or creating an environment that encourages and supports creativity. Sometimes another person’s ideas trigger something in me, or I’ll work with others to help develop ideas of theirs that resonate with me. I think the idea that creativity has to originate with me is ego-based and does not honor my relationship with all.


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