I keep teaching writers, coaching improvisers, and you can get as deeply into the mechanics of the magic of creativity as you like, but it keeps coming down to trusting your own instincts and the ideas that pop into your head, and running with them.
I have a student, well several students, who are so talented and are writing enjoyable, inspired, interesting things in class. I enthusiastically state this. Other students confirm this. Yet their minds and their words go to all the doubts they have in their writing, in their skills and abilities.
So, I have to create an environment where students are so busy following directions that they don’t notice that they are creating. The inspirations are always there, and if you direct their attention at certain details of the fictional world, of the qualities they give their characters, then you distract them from the doubts and fears and insecurities that otherwise creep in and interrupt the creative process.
I try to be more direct at times, so they have the information about what I’m doing, in case their minds ever get a chance to kick in and contribute to the cures, but mostly I am an artist of the bait and switch of attention. Look here, look here, here is the shiny thing you are chasing. Focus on it while I wipe away those pesky hesitations. Yes! Yes! You are good enough. You are valuable. You are doing this. You are creating. It’s important that you keep creating.
That goes for all of you. Yes. Yes. It is important that you write. Yes. Yes. You are good enough. And if you want to save some time, listen to the characters you create, watch what happens in the world and trust it, write it down. Approach your creations with the excitement and curiosity you would a good book. The act of writing is the same as the act of reading. It’s just that you are the first one to arrive in the world, and you are a guide to all who follow. Be an adventurer in your fictional worlds. Your editing mind will be of lots of use later when an “at” is out of place, or when you are writing a thank you card to your mother. But when you are writing a first draft of fiction, be lost in fiction. Be lost in your own creativity. That’s when we will follow you.
You will hear the doubts, after 20 years I hear doubts still, but I have learned to ignore them. They could have some basis in fact, but “WTF,” I always think, “this is going to be more fun if I just plow ahead and see what happens.” And you know what? It always is.
Try it, you’ll like it. Explore and expand you worlds first. There’s always time to tighten later. Let the act of creation be liberating and adventurous. How else will you go somewhere no one has gone before?
Go on. Have an adventure that is all your own. And then share it. We’d love to join you.