|The mani half of a mani/pedi.|
Does this happen to you, too?
For me, the surest way I know to kill an idea is to envision it as a final piece--to see its shape or game, to plant the way I want it to work on the reader. The minute I think “I should write a poem ABOUT x,” I don’t have anything else to say. It’s the “ABOUT” that kills it, specifically. I’m sure some writers are able to create brilliantly, according to plan. But if I know where I’m heading, I suddenly don’t want to go there anymore. (Weirdly, this isn’t true in any other area in my life....if I know the ending to a movie, I’ll still watch it. I’m not particularly spontaneous. I like inventing little routines and rituals.)
I still write little lists (in my tiny notebook, or on the simulated legal pad on my phone--isn’t it funny that it’s yellow?) that I use in my writing process, but I use these very differently. Instead of writing the concept for a poem, I write an image or phrase that occurs to me, that I overhear, or that I overhear from inside my own brain. For instance, one from 408 days ago (the phone tells me this!): “in a joking manor” (that has to be a typo I read). Another, 43 days ago: “mani/pedi.” Another: “the petite mermaid.”
I don’t know if these will ever leave my notebook or phone, but they might. Mostly, this is because I have no idea what these poems would be about. The “mani/pedi” ingredient might turn into a poem about pedicures, but it might also be about candy, or about Lee Press On nails, and how we used to get those to put on each other during sleepovers, or about how much I hate my nails. “Mani/pedi” might go all oranges/sardines on me, as I work.
One of the thoughts I have while writing that excites me: I have no idea where this is going, or if it’s any good, but I’m going to keep working on it anyway and see what happens.
I have learned that if the framework is more interesting to me than the content, whatever I produce will be useful only as an exercise. I will be less present as I write, and I will make something formulaic and unsatisfying.
How does this compare to what you know of your creativity? What habits kill your ideas?