New Ways for Writers to Think About Creativity … and Why You Should Give Yourself a Break

21 Dec 2009


It’s sometimes hard for clients and copywriters alike to remember the writing process: It’s one part hard work (sweat on the keyboard), one part art.

And sometimes, the “art” part can be hard to pin down. You’re blocked, distracted. You’ve had a bad morning, you’re stressed out about something … but you still need to make your deadlines. You’ll find that some days you may show up for work, and the creativity just isn’t there (this happens more than you think!).

Now, listen to what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say. She’s the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love (which I haven’t read). This speech is long (about 20 minutes), but very interesting – she talks about the history of writers and artists, the preponderance of mental illness and neurosis in creative types, and offers a new perspective on the creative process – and why we should all give ourselves a break from time to time.

For this writer, I really appreciated Elizabeth Gilbert’s analysis. Creative genius is an elusive thing – it comes at certain times, and never when you expect it (at the gym, in the middle of a load of laundry, while you’re watching TV).

You have to show up for work every day, but understand that your creative genius might not. It’s something that can be hard to understand: why your first draft taglines just really aren’t good (at all). Whether you’re a copywriter, fiction writer, screenwriter, technical writer, playwright, a beginner or a seasoned expert, this is the duplicitous nature of the writer within us all that we have to deal with.

Again, writing is one part hard work and one part art – in reality, writers are workhorses. Can we expect writers to be genius all the time? Absolutely not – as Elizabeth Gilbert points out. But when the creativity isn’t there, when your genius doesn’t show up for work when you do, sometimes you have to make up for it with good hard work.

Or, just give yourself a break. Your genius will show up eventually, just maybe not today.

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