Passion and neuroplasticity vs. inspiration in creativity.
What makes a writer, a writer? Or an artist, an artist? Primarily, their creativity. But then, the world has more creative people than those who have actually pursued their creative arenas and produced something worth remembering. Why is that so?
Why are some people more creatively successful than others? Is it because they are constantly inspired by something and own a think-tank that overflows with the muse? Is it because their well of stories and thoughts never gets dry? Or is it because they put in more effort and prioritize their art over everything?
Passion and creativity
Creative people who realize that they cannot do without what they are capable of, pursue their art. And creativity bursts forth. You cannot say when the muse strikes you.
You cannot predict what elicits a certain idea in your head. So, the way to capture it is to be ready all the time. Passion doesn’t wait for inspiration. Writers better keep some sort of idea-recording tool — a notebook and pen, a note-making app on your phone or other gadgets or a voice-recorder if you like to speak out your thoughts.
Words get strung in the least way we expect and that string of words could portray a whole new world when you look at it later. I remember using such bursts of thoughts in my fiction books later.
“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” — Bruce Garrabrandt
Another aspect of creativity is its adherence to habit. Let’s take a glimpse at that — about habituation and prioritization.
Neuroplasticity and creativity
If you wait for inspiration to strike, you might wait a bit too longer than necessary. You might do much better when you make it a habit to sit and write, not to push yourself too hard but to let yourself experiment, make errors and rectify them.
This is because our brain (where essentially all thoughts and emotions originate from) is neuroplastic. Means, you can mold it into just about everything you want to be.
Habituation and prioritization
These are the two processes that press the buttons when you need to knead and mold your brain into what you want it to perform. The brain programs itself into acting upon what we make ourselves do. The more you do and think something, the stronger those synapses grow and the more it becomes a part of who you are.
The changes in neural pathways take place when the brain resorts to synaptic pruning. This is the process by which the brain deletes the neural connections (there’s one for every thought) which are not necessary or useful for us anymore, thereby strengthening the necessary and useful synapses and inculcating what is important to us.
For example, when you decide to work out, you just decide it, think about it and maybe get motivated for a day or two. You slip back to your sedentary state in no time.
But at the same time, instead of planning to work out, if you just start doing exercises, your brain runs the command accordingly — hey, she is exercising to stay fit, you better stay away from junk food or refined sugars.
The bottom line is — just thinking or planning doesn’t really cut the deal. Acting does. Your brain equips you to habituate something if you do it, not if you just think about it. Thinking precedes action anyway.
So you need to begin acting on your thoughts towards your goals. This works for writing and creative pursuits in general because habituating and prioritizing breeds consistency. And consistency is what eggs are in a cake recipe — a binder. Consistency binds together your efforts into one journey and destination, and subsequently, success.
So, when is the best time to be creative?
The best time is now — now when you are idling and poring over social media because you are uninspired.
The best time is now — now when you are constantly making guilt trips because you have not really felt like writing a new page.
The best time is now — now when you stall on opening your work-in-progress (or rather, regress) just because you have not felt inspired by your life or surroundings.
Your inspiration lies right in there — where you have written some words and left them to fend for themselves. Your inspiration dwells in those pages that are waiting for continuity. It is in there that you wove a web of beauty, that’s where you need to get caught again.
Within you. Within your art.
Sometimes, you need to carve out time from whatever mood you are in, and set to work. The mundane moments might as well be transformed by bringing on some words to the page, instead of waiting for the moments to become extraordinary by themselves!
This article was first published on The Brave Writer on medium.com.
What 15 years of writing carved into me
This is one of my most-read articles on my Medium blog. You shouldn't miss it either. :)
Writing, to be straightforward and honest, is a daunting job. Nothing less. Yet, we all want to write. Because, it is also a deeply gratifying thing to do. To be able to put forward our thoughts in words, to be read and to be appreciated for our work is an immense feeling. We all want it. Wanting to write is, for a good number of writers, just like feeding and freeing the soul.
However, many writers who start out quite enthusiastically slacken later. They are not able to get ahead through writing. They fail to find joy in writing. They do not see results. They barely can get themselves to work towards their writing goals. Many a half-written book has littered the bins and clouded the minds of writers. To make it to the end is often a dream they give up prematurely.
Why do they have to end it like that? What are they missing out on? What is it that they need to have to stay in writing? And why is it important to stay in writing for long to see any real results?
No one answer to these questions. But I know 4 P’s that helped me stay in writing. And staying in writing has helped me see my book published traditionally and allowed me the courage needed to embark on the voyage of authorship.
It is not easy. It is not meant to be easy. Because, writing is a job that requires self-discipline. Writing is a job that needs you to show up. It needs you to be ready to do all it takes to be successful.
Realizing these were what taught me about the 4 P’s you need to stay in writing.
Let’s not go all defensive here — Passion is essential. Like in anything you enjoy and want to keep doing, writing, too, calls for intense passion. You need undying passion for the written word to be a writer and to stay as a writer. Only passion can fuel your writing dreams even when you are about to burn out and feel like quitting. If it weren’t for passion, many great works would never have been written. So many great writers would never have been great.
If you want to stay in writing, you need to be passionate about the craft. Writing has to be something you cannot be without. Passion is what distinguishes between a story told for the sake of telling and a story told for the sake of the storyteller. Passion is what makes you write for yourself. Writing as a profession takes time and hard work to be fruitful.
The only thing that can help you to survive the depressing troughs of a writing career during the time it takes to build up is the unrelenting passion for the activity itself.
So when you feel like giving up, ask yourself:
“Are you really passionate about writing?”
Persistence is simply staying. To stay in writing with your whole heart. Whatever happens, if you feel like you are going to keep doing what you have been doing, i.e. writing in this case, you can say you are persistent.
Short stints at writing are not going to yield anything. To see the bigger picture, you will have to depend on persistence to help you remember why you are here writing. It is easy to lose hope very quickly especially when writing is such a taxing work but takes time to show results.
Without persistence, you will never find what you are capable of.
Despite knowing it all, if you still find it difficult to stay in writing, ask yourself:
“Are you ready to write, rinse and repeat, until something clicks?”
Sometimes, persistence is not going to be enough. It is going to take a little more than that to stay in writing. Perseverance is one step deeper than persistence. When you persist in writing against all odds, against all hurdles and disappointments, you have perseverance.
When you keep writing through rejections (which are inevitable in a writer’s life), you need perseverance to stay in writing. Perseverance helps you to see through the curtains of hopelessness. Perseverance makes your efforts goal-oriented. To persevere is to blend the long time that you have waited and survived while hoping for your writing to find a home. Oftentimes, it gets very difficult to persevere — no doubt — but when you have it all based in passion, it becomes a bit easier.
Avoid self-doubt to find the courage to persevere.
Hard work and quality pays off in the end always. If you are not convinced about that, ask yourself:
“Would you rather do something other than writing?”
Perhaps, this should come right after passion, but I have placed it last because most of the time, you need the highest amount of patience while waiting for your writing to catch attention. You can sail through writing a book if you have the passion, persistence and perseverance to do it. But once it is done and you send it out to pique publishers or agents (if it is a book), the months of waiting that follows could be your undoing. Patience becomes vital when you reach this stage. Many people step back from publishing because of this seemingly endless wait. Many writers resort to self-publishing because of this reason alone.
I waited 6 years for my first novel to be published. And now I am waiting for responses from publishers and agents for my second novel. At times, the wait really gets on my nerves and I almost lose it.
But then, I remind myself — this is what I signed up for. This is a pact with my soul.
So, if you do not want to cultivate patience and cannot wait to see results, ask yourself:
“Are you comfortable with spending time for something you cannot wait for? Is writing worth your time if you can’t find the patience to let it fly and find its own way home?”
Every job needs a specific sets of skills necessary to execute the functions needed to get it done. Writing does, too. To write and to stay in writing, you need talent but alongside, you need to work up your passion, persistence, perseverance and patience necessary to complete a project.
Writing is not for lazy-bums. It is pure hard work and very much capable of intimidating you. Garner the courage to polish your set of skills. Ensure you are constantly reminded of how the 4 P’s become indispensable when you consider writing for long term. Every time you slacken and feel like giving up, tell yourself:
“Passion. Persistence. Perseverance. Patience.”
Ask yourself the questions I have highlighted as quotes under each of these. The first step to getting things done is realizing what you are capable of. The rest will be channeled accordingly.
A blog on the art of writing and life as a writer.