Thursday, September 24, 2009

C is for...


Have you noticed how creative everyone is? Everyone has a good idea, everyone is writing a book, or running a website, or painting, or writing music. Youtube is awash with talented amateurs singing, playing music and other such things. Any journalist you speak to seems to harbour ambitions of writing a novel or a work of non-fiction (I am no different) and so on.

What is creativity anyway? Where do ideas come from. The best book I have read this year was Leviathan (which I wrote several blog posts about). Where did the idea for that book come from? To write an entire book, a 400+ page piece of non-fiction, about whales. Whales. Why? In the bath? On a boat? Driving down the M4. Undoubtedly he had probably always thought whales were fascinating but to final conjure up the whys-and-wherefores of turning it in to a book is something else entirely.

I did creative writing at Cardiff for two years. I always did my best work when I was slightly hung-over, a bit punch drunk. I found my mind would be flitting around on to different subjects and more often than not one would become a credible idea. When I sat down to purposefully write something though, out of this state of mind, I would find inspiration impossible to come by. The shower is also a good place for ideas - although it's hard to write anything down when they do come. Paper goes soggy and laptops break.

And writing it down is the key. If you don't do that the idea always fades, even though when you thought of it, it seemed as if it was so good it would never leave you. I did National Novel Writing Month last year - 52,000 words in one month. It was hard work but the ethos of 'write anything, forget about how good it is' was an important one as it is much easier to go back and edit work you have written, rather than getting snow blindness but just staring at an empty Word document all day - 'you can't edit a blank page'.

Still, my book was terrible and has been consigned to the dustbin of history. But I've got this other idea...

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