Thursday, June 28, 2012

on writing and creativity

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.” Annie Dillard

It's so tempting to store up words, to hoard them like treasure. But it’s also dangerous. Creativity and imagination are these amazing renewable resources. They’re the kinds of things where the more you use them, the better you get at using them. So if you constantly stockpile words, you end up being so busy holding on that there’s no room for you to catch any more words floating through the atmosphere. And so they pass you by. But if you use those words you love so much, if you fasten them into something now, then you open yourself up to the next ones. And there will always be more words. Like Annie Dillard said, most likely they’ll be even better ones.

It’s like a brand new bicycle that sits, waiting to be ridden. It’s perfect, pristine. You don’t want to take it out because you’re afraid of getting mud on the tires, or scuffing the paint. But if you don’t use that bike, it’ll rust up. And then it’s no use to you at all. And you’re no use to it.

Besides, there’s only so much time in a life. If you sit, waiting for that perfect place in the story to use your perfect words, what if that place never comes? What if the story veers off in an entirely different direction? Just like in life, it’s dangerous to sit waiting for that moment when x will happen. What if x never comes? Have you wasted all the moments before it?

Use your words. And your moments. Make the most of them now, so that you can be open to the next ones, the better ones that come along.

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