What does creation feel like to you?
This question fascinates me because we have amazing artists and writers everywhere – from painters and novelists to engineers and architects. And my guess is that we all share the same adoration for the feeling of creating something new and amazing – and yet I’m betting this process feels different for each one of us. I’m guessing that each and every one of us would use a different set of words to descrive this elusive set of nuances that travels through our being from the moment that spark called a new idea hits us to the moment we stand back and admire a work we never knew could even exist just hours, days, or weeks before.
I’d like to hear about how you feel the creative process, but I’ll ignite your imagination by describing mine.
Creating is one of the most amazing sensations I’ve ever experienced. It starts as a very heavy, very adrenaline-infused feeling when the idea for something new first hits me. A crack of lightning or “spark” are common descriptors for a moment of insight that apply well to me. I actually have to often talk myself down from the high when an idea hits because, let’s face it, we all have day jobs and I’m not always in a position to execute when the moment hits! But I’d be lying if I said I don’t occasionally stay up until 2am because an incredible song or story idea came to mind as I went to bed – the kind of idea that wouldn’t allow me to rest; the kind that demands to be created.
As much as I enjoy the feeling of that first idea popping unexpectedly and welcome into my mind, the development and writing is my favorite part of the process. Writing feels very surreal for me. In some ways, it feels like meditation: everything else clears from my mind and I focus in on the world I’m trying to create. I become that world as best I can – ingesting the smells, sights, thoughts, and of course emotions that the world is emanating. The senses can be overwhelming sometimes, so much that I often stop what I’m doing, pull over, or take a break at work to write them out. The tension and suspense they create in me refuses to dissipate until I get it on paper.
Once I get started, and I get that first set of impressions on paper, it starts to feel like a flow. Not a smooth or continuous but fairly bumpy and sometimes frustrating. Each cycle begins with the same build up of senses over the scene I’m creating, followed by a tension that I can only describe as word mind-fuck puzzles: basically I mix and meld words, feelings, ideas, and sentence structure, mixing and combining until I find just the right combination to express what I’m experiencing. Then I write, stopping and doing more puzzles along the way until all the build up has flown through me and I’m ready to move onto the next portion.
Sometimes I stop there. Sometimes I don’t have the energy or the time to keep going. Sometimes I’m so excited by what I just wrote that I can’t help but move forward with the ebb and flow.
My creative process is not unlike a dam that builds and breaks over and over. It seems like it would be exhausting, but it creates such electricity and vibrance that it’s more akin to riding a roller coaster than starting and stopping a river.
Have you ever played Red Light Green Light? It’s similar to that. The tension builds as you wait to find out if the next words from the keader’s mouth will allow you to bolt forward or not. Then when you hear those anxiously-anticipated words “Green light” you bolt forward with everything you’ve got, releasing all that energy and running yours led ragged until the words “Red Light” pierce your ears and require you to stop. Except I don’t stop until every ounce of energy has left my being. I can’t stop. It’s like a sneeze that begs to be released. And it feels…amazing. It literally feels like electricity is buzzing through my veins to give power to inanimate objects. I’ve heard people say they have a hard time motivating themselves to write; that they procrastinate. I have just the opposite problem: the need builds all day at work, sometimes getting an outlet during my breaks, sometimes if I find time at the end of the day. But all in all, a day or two with no writing starts to feel like a broken roller coaster sitting just in front of the first hill, in that mere second before it releases to set its prisoners free on the wildest ride of their life. It starts to drive me mad!!! And when I finally get a chance to but that lever and let the coaster run wild it’s like this amazing relief. I can breath again. I can think again. I can live in the present again.
I suppose you could say it’s a burden, in a way. Needing to release these thoughts and feelings that build. But it’s only a burden if I can’t find the time to do it. And I almost always do. Almost every day. I’ve never had to schedule time to write because I need it like I need rest and relaxation. I need it like I need quality time with my family, cuddles with my kids, and kisses with my husband. I feel dry without it.
How about you? How does creation feel to you?