I discovered this episode of Good Life Project this morning, featuring Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love among many other things. Her words are amazing and powerful. I listened in my bed staring at the ceiling mouthing “wow” after just 5 minutes. I think this one hour podcast may have changed my entire life.
As a writer, every single day I write things that are absolute garbage. But I keep writing and writing, just trying to get the first draft of my novel done, or trying to get some of my thoughts out of my incredibly over-crowded mind. Gilbert talks about this being my end of the bargain I have made with inspiration. I show up and I work, and somewhere along the way inspiration checks in. It may just be one moment after hours and hours and hours of hard work, but that one moment changes everything. I have been working on the first draft of my novel for three months now, and as far as the writing goes it is terrible. But the important thing is that I am getting my ideas on the page so that I actually have something to work with. It’s a lot easier to work with something than to create something from nothing. I read that somewhere but I can’t find the source now.
I am nearing the end of my first draft, and as I was writing yesterday I realized that my story needed to be sci-fi. It sounds crazy, I know. How can you write a whole story and then at the very end realize that it needs to be sci-fi? But in the moment that I realized that, I was the happiest I’ve been in the entire time I have been writing the book. Suddenly everything made sense. I went from thinking “this will never work” to thinking “this is how this is going to work”. After all my efforts that were so soulless at the time, inspiration finally came in and saved me. It felt like the moment that the original idea of my story first came to me.
So in the three months that I have spent working on this novel, I have spent maybe three minutes with inspiration by my side. The rest of it has felt like I am a “farmer plowing the fields” as Gilbert puts it. But that’s okay, because those three minutes proved to me that this is something I am doing because I feel passionate about it. This is something I want to put my soul into. My soul is a big thing though so it’s going to take a lot of work.
Gilbert also talks about the difference between creative works that are well done and creative works that have the artists soul put into them. She says that when you see something that is well done you admire it. Its a grand work of art and nobody can dispute that it is absolutely stunning. But she also says that when you see something that the artist has put their soul into, you can feel it. You can feel that passionate energy. I want to create a work of art like that. So that when my readers read my story they can feel what it makes me feel.
To me, that is the true essence of creativity.