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Lisa On Writing

Creativity begets creativity. I sometimes wonder if surrounding myself with creative people will help me be a more creative person. I think it’s helped, some. Not always, but some. Sometimes, that’s enough. Sometimes, it’s not.

I sit back and look at the things that I’ve written and I find myself amazed that I was the one responsible for writing those pieces of work. I don’t remember writing them, yet clearly I remember the scenes and scenarios that took place. I haven’t written many things, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve never finished anything creative that I’ve written, that I recall, unless it was for a class assignment; and even then that’s chancy.

The one piece that I recall writing is a play from my college playwriting class. It was the first time I’d written anything creatively, that wasn’t a report, since my senior year in High School when I took a creative writing class. My work was ridiculed and torn apart in that class, rather than criticized in a constructive manner. It tore me apart, to hear people laughing at the things I laboriously worked over. I stopped writing because I no longer found any enjoyment in it after that. My junior year in college, I decided to try again. Writing the play was enjoyable because this class was exactly the opposite the one I’d written for before. It reminded me why I liked writing so much before.

The play is an unfinished work, obviously. It’s only 10 scenes, but I swear that I’ve written more than 10 scenes. I think I lost the newer scenes in a computer crash. It’s untitled. When I sat down to write the characters and the scene just came to me. I didn’t worry about the content, or whether or not I had an outline, or even how things were supposed to be pieced together. I just wrote, getting captured in the moment by the characters and the story they were trying to tell.

It was fun. I enjoyed every moment. The characters took me on an amazingly wild ride, and I’m almost certain that if I sat down to finish the piece the ride would only get longer and wilder as time progressed. The characters kept surprising me with the twists and turns they took in their lives, and the complex relationships they formed with one another.

The experience was thrilling and invigorating. It renewed my interest in writing again. It helped that the people in the class were not at all like my previous creative writing class. They laughed, sure – but this time they were supposed to laugh. The play was meant to be fun and funny, even though I am no comedian. They offered constructive criticism and made me think about the characters and the world I was creating. It also made me realize that writing wasn’t the frightening experience I had associated it with from that first class, something I was very much glad for.

Unfortunately, aside from a few one page false starts, I really haven’t put anything down on paper since then. Part of that is sheer laziness. I’m a procrastinator, and unless it’s something I absolutely know I have to do I probably won’t do it. Part of it is stress. I know if I’m writing for no one but myself I shouldn’t have to worry about detailing things, but I do. My mind starts racing with ideas and ‘what ifs’ and if I can’t get the ‘what ifs’ exactly right, then it stresses me and I get nothing done. I have lots of ideas. I just have absolutely no concept on how to organize those ideas into concrete thought and how to weave them into a story. People who are able to do so astound me. I find myself often thinking, "I wish I could do that."

I probably could do just that, if I changed my way of thinking and applied myself. Changing your way of thinking, however, is not an easy task. It’s often a scary and frightening experience, but it’s not impossible.

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