Monday, May 10, 2010

Nurturing Creativity

My sister sent me the link to this absolutely fantastic talk by author Elizabeth Gilbert.

I love the way that she says that the pressure of expecting a mere, single human being to be a font of creative genius is "like asking someone to swallow the sun," and that perhaps we need to try to overcome centuries of humanistic theory about the source of creative inspiration.

I also love the comparison of one's muse to Dobby the House Elf, lurking in the walls and suddenly jumping out at you. Not just because it's such an apt metaphor, but because it's such a pertinent example of how one person's faithfulness to their muse can create a whole new aspect of a culture. (That is a reference to Harry Potter, for those of you unfamiliar with J. K. Rowling's work.)

If I have a muse (or damon or genius or whatever you want to call it) it probably looks like a panther, staring me down with its yellow eyes, telepathing "Would you get off of Blogger and start writing already?"


  1. That was a truly motivational speech. I really like how she acknowledges the fears that success engenders, the expectations for the next WIP. Simply awesome.

    I'm not sure what my Damon would look like, but it certainly has a knack for not showing up when I open a blank page.

    Thank you so much for sharing this Christine. I got a lot out of it.


  2. I think writer's, or any creative people, have a muse. Inspiration hits, a new idea is born. But then that idea needs to be nurtured and worked on with a tenacity and passion to make it come alive. I don't think that's so much the muse's area, but the person's. The writer (artist) needs to compel themselves to work on it every day, to complete it.

    Is this making any sense? You may get an idea 'out of the blue' but then what you do with it, is up to you. (Sorry about the bad rhyme.)

  3. Anne, I think that's what she's talking about when she says "I'm not a pipeline, I'm a mule." But the point, if you watch it, is that those very intense, perfect creative moments that come about when we are totally immersed in and connected to our art... are really beyond our control. We can "show up for work" every day, but no matter how good we are, we cannot make ourselves produce those god-like moments that so inspire others around us. And once we stop trying, we can be more relaxed and accepting of the process and how it works for us, individually.

  4. PS the link didn't seem to be working this morning, so I tried using a different one.

  5. many thanks for sharing that. yes, it does remind me of me. i've had those moments when the story flows through me so quickly i can hardly type it, but i love how easily it comes. and then there are those times when it's like pulling a piece of yarn through the tiny eye of a needle and it takes great patience and perserverance to get it down.

    the strange thing is, i can look back at my first novel and i can't tell the difference between the parts that were easy and the parts that were hard. either way, i showed up, did my work and in the end i had a story that people like.

  6. and yes, i'm afraid of what people will think of my writing. will they like this story as much as the other one? will they like it at all? another thing to take to God.

  7. That was outstanding, thanks for sharing!

  8. Michelle, it's interesting that you said you can't tell the difference, because I often feel that the "forced" parts are so bad that they will feel forced to the reader, too. I'm going to spend so much time reworking them, that I think it's better to do something else and come back when I have a fresher perspective.

    I could be wrong, though.

  9. You always have the best stuff here! Thanks for this video. Very interesting.

    I just love your blog. I was telling a friend the other day that it's one of the shining gems of the writing blog world.

    This is totally random, but I just finished a fantastic book about book writing that you should definitely check out if you haven't already: Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers. I just finished it yesterday and it's filled me with a whole new energy for my morass of a book project. :) Just thought I'd share since I've discovered so much great stuff through your site.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Wow, Jennifer, I'm overwhelmed! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. It's rewarding for me to look up things that are helpful, to inspire myself as well as anyone who happens along to read it.

    And the blogfests are really fun, too. I love all the different topics and the variety of excerpts posted.

    I will definitely check out that book. Thank you for the recommendation!


I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.