Creativity: Skill or Gift

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”—–Thomas Edison

I have a friend that’s an amazing writer, but she doesn’t pursue her gift.  I told her that if I had one percent of her gift for writing, that I would do whatever I could to get my work out there. She looked at me and smiled, saying. ” Creativity is a skill not a gift.  Writing a story worth its gold demands hard work.”  I pondered her statement for a moment and decided she was right. Here’s why.

Most people feel that being a writer is one of those endeavors that’s limited to certain types of people. Those that are naturally creative, inspired genius or born communicators. Like them, I thought that creativity was this natural affinity or quality that you were born with, like being left handed.

Except you can be trained to be right handed, like my friend had been when we were in the third grade. People could train themselves to become creative.  Writing creatively is a skill not an inherent quality. Fact:  Mark Twain was not a creative writer when he was an infant. He wasn’t even literate. Nobody is born with the ability it is learned.

My friend told me finally, if I wanted to be a creative writer, the first thing I had to do was start writing creatively.  I found these simple guidelines on the net that has helped me with starting to become a more creative, stirring and inspirational writer.

1. Start writing. Just start. Don’t think of a subject, don’t think of a plot, a character, or a moral to your story. Just start writing. Overcoming the mental inertia is the hardest part of writing. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Just write for 15 minutes in an unstopping stream of consciousness until the clock says you’re done.

2. Keep writing. Write a little bit every day for 21 consecutive days. Even if everything you write is garbage, you are developing something that will be of incredible benefit to you in the future, and that is a habit. It takes roughly 21 days for a new behavior to develop into a habit. Allow the power of habit to work for you.

3. Read. In addition to writing every day, develop a habit of reading every day. When you write, you share a piece of yourself with your reader. That is why you need to always be reading, to grow your own knowledge and experience base, so you have something inside you worth sharing. Read from a diverse base of authors that you admire.

4. Keep writing. As you read, you learn. As you learn, your writing voice will change and grow.

5. Share. Whether it is a blog, a collection of short stories, or your letter of resignation, eventually, you will need to show your writing to someone else. This is probably the hardest part for most aspiring writers, but the only way that you will be able to succeed. Do not fear criticism, you will need it to identify your areas of weakness. Constructive criticism will also help you to identify your areas of strength. Share your writing with someone you trust is qualified to judge your work.

6. Keep writing. Write every day. If it’s already a habit for you, then it should be harder for you to not write.

In the above 6-step process for writing creatively, 4 of those steps are “write.” The more you write the more skill you develop. Much of what you write you will probably throw out, especially in the beginning. That’s to be expected. The key to having some really great ideas is to have a whole lot of terrible ideas along the way. That is what my friend meant when she said to me that creativity wasn’t based on natural talent. It’s based on continuous work, discipline, and perseverance.

Thomas Edison said, “To have a great idea, have a lot of them.

He also said. “The art of inventing, the conceptualizing and creating of a physical something that does not even exist yet, is the very epitome of creativity.

Edison recognized that the secret was not waiting for the ideas to come, but to work and push and continually experiment, until the ideas developed. Writing is the same way.

If I want to generate writing that is worth gold, I will need to sift through enough rocks and dirt.

Thanks for visiting. Tell me, what did you think?

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