Alison Arnold and I asked some of our favourite writers how they protect their creativity – this is the first of the many honest, hilarious, inspiring answers we received. These answers are helping me – so I’m sharing them with you.
GABRIELLE WILLIAMS (Beatle Meets Destiny, My Life as a Hashtag, The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex, The Reluctant Hallelujah) on creativity—her answers are so funny, I'm off to reread her books.
How do I protect my creativity?
My creativity is regularly exposed to extremely disheartening situations, by way of the many many (many many, like, lots. Heaps of) crappy drafts I write. From drafts 1 through to about 6 or 7 my creativity goes through any number of emotions, including nearly-vomiting, tearing its own hair out, and threatening to walk out of my life altogether, before it finally starts leaning forward in its chair and taking an interest in what I’m writing. Once my creativity sees that I’ve stepped up to the plate and am writing something that is starting to work, then it feels comfortable to throw some ideas my way. In a funny way I think the disheartening days of the early drafts have their own protective element, because my creativity knows that no-one is ever going to see this early stuff, which means it is then safe to experiment with the crappy ideas, write the bad jokes, create the boring characters, and generally write pages and pages of lack-lustre rubbish before clearing through the dross and finding bits of gold.
Okay, maybe ‘gold’ is overstating it.
What do I wish I’d known about my creative process ten years ago?
I wish I’d known that the quickest way to come up with an idea was to quit writing - to tell my husband, and all my friends, and the people I work with that I’ve given up, that it’s all too hard, that I don’t want to do it anymore. That there’s no money in it, no-one likes what I do, everything I write is crap, I’m going to have piano lessons instead. The more publicly outspoken and never-going-back you are, the better. Because once you’ve made your declaration of No More Writing, once you’ve turned your back on the idea of ever publishing another book, that’s when the ideas start coming. And they’re not small ideas that maybe could be kind of good if you really put some effort into them. These are the ideas that you go, ‘holy shit, that’s a cracker, that’s really interesting, that really appeals to me. Bloody hell, now I’m going to have to go and write the stupid bloody thing’.