Creative Outlets

So there’s this thing people like to talk about called “writer’s block.”

I don’t really want to talk about it, because I think it’s kind of like fear. The more we think about it, the worse it gets. I also don’t really want to talk about it because I have this huge test tomorrow that I most definitely should be studying for right now instead of writing this post. But I wanted to discuss creative outlets.

I usually try not to assume things about people but I’m going to make a guess here that for most of the people reading this, writing is – at least partially! – a creative outlet. What is a creative outlet? It’s something *ahem* creative that allows you to relieve stress. Unless you purely got into writing for money, I’m guessing that it’s a creative outlet.

Here’s what I wanted to take a moment to suggest: Writing shouldn’t be your only creative outlet. 

When writing is the only thing you turn to, it’s going to be devastating when it’s not working out for you. And there are going to be some times when the words just don’t come. There are other writing things I can turn to – working on other writing pieces than the one you’re stuck on, or writing what you know won’t happen to get towards finding what should happen next, or writing personal entries, etc. You can read (that isn’t a creative outlet, but it can help get the creative vibes going). Sometimes, this isn’t going to work either. Ah, yes, the dread
ed writer’s block.

So what can you do? You can turn to something else. Fun fact about me: I’ve played the violin for five years, and since then the viola for nearly eight years now (kudos to any of you who know what a viola is and special kudos to you if you don’t ). If you put that all together, there’s not really a time in my life that I don’t remember playing a stringed instrument. It’s been a huge creative outlet for me, whether I’m writing covers for pop music or performing or competing in regional/state competitions. Most importantly, when writing fails me, music is something that I can turn to.

Everyone needs something besides writing as their creative outlet. This can be drawing or singing or painting or playing an instrument or literally anything that you enjoy doing and that allows you to express yourself and be creative. (And hey, I won’t judge – I have friends who have somehow discovered creativity in math.)

This is a small drawing I did the other day while procrastinating on homework taking a moment to relax. 

Comment away, please. I would love to hear about the things y’all love to do and how you’ve found ways to express yourself. Have a great day, and if things a stressful, remember that it’s important to take time to calm down and do something you enjoy amidst the chaos.




The Great And Terrible Ten

This only makes sense every other time it happens, but whenever I’m feeling extremely stressed and upset, something that often cheers me up is reading a depressing book. I think this has something to do with the fact that what’s happening to me is never as bad as what is happened to the characters in the book. Regardless, my go-to book is The Fault in Our Stars because I can read it in a long night and because it is sufficiently depressing enough to cheer me up.

And if you’re a TFIOS hater, bare with me, because this post isn’t really about TFIOS. However, something that always sticks with me from the book is when Hazel talks about being asked to rate her level of pain every time she goes to the ER.

[The nurse] said, “You know how I know you’re a fighter? You called a ten a nine.” But that wasn’t quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating face up on the water, undrowned.”

This can be a mindset that applies to small things in our every day lives, but most importantly it is a mindset that we as writers need to understand will affect the shape of our plot and the ability of our characters. When something terrible happens to our characters – and terrible things will happen time and time again – we need them to push through. To move through the story, and to make the plot worth reading, we need our characters to be able to endure and survive and conquer the things that others would balk and flounder at.

This isn’t because our protagonists or any of the characters need to be the strongest or the bravest. This is because plots are the connections between a series of successes and failures, and because regardless whether the character succeeds to fails in the face of a challenge, they will face many things. Though you need to balance out the high-action plot points with some calmer moments for the characters to regroup, every moment is leading up to something great. And before your protagonist accomplishes their greatest success, they will experience their greatest failure. How they emotionally and physically deal with the consequences of their failure is something for another post, but the important point now is that they will have one failure that is definitively worse than others.

Your story needs a moment that is the great and terrible ten. There are countless posts online about why we must do terrible things to our characters to shape their personality and to develop a read-worthy plot. But amid all these struggles, one failure needs to trump the rest. Our characters, after all, are never infallible. Whether or not their motivation to conquer less destructive moments is because they know one will come along that will truly destroy them, despite all their best efforts, something will eventually get the best of them.

So give your characters things to overcome and give them the means to overcome them. Readers love to root for their triumphs and bravery. But make sure that you understand (when you are writing these moments) how they affect your characters. Not every trial can be a small failure, so make sure you understand what will constitute the moment that is the great and terrible ten.


Postscript: I wrote this because it has been too long since I posted and because this is something that I think is important, but I do think there are several points to this post that can be clarified and expanded upon. I hope to do so in subsequent posts, but also feel free to comment any questions you have.

Additionally, my previous post has now been updated to include, in few words, the things I meant to say when I first made the post but was at the time unable to.


A Very Happy Unbirthday

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

I’m sure I have no idea, but I do know that this is the kind of question that could inspire countless novels. Our stories need to have some sort of purpose and the reason we can take an idea and write it infinitely many ways is because it must be an idea that is subjective and complex and cannot be answered or solved in one definitive way, or is an idea that gnaws at you when you should most definitely be doing something other than considering the complexities of life. Even when the point of a story is one that has been made before, it must be a point/moral that can be expressed many different ways.

To both state concisely what I’ve just said and to give you a frustratingly broad suggestion: Write about life. Write about people. Write about unanswerable questions.

If you write about these things, you will never run out of things to say and ways to say them.