Creativity is tricky. Trying to be creative is even trickier.
In recent months, I’ve found myself searching for more of an outlet for my creativity. Writing stories is my first creative love, but the fact is that it comes with several limitations, some of which I may be unnecessarily imposing on myself.
I also struggle with a lot of the mental aspects of sharing my creativity with others, especially through social media. How much sharing is too much, too revealing, too damaging to my own privacy? Ideas run through my head all the time, and I feel compelled to share them with people, but I often don’t, or perhaps more often I share them in person with my wife or my friends. That type of creativity sharing can be quite cathartic, but it leaves open the question of whether, and what, and how I share my creativity beyond that limited group of people.
This very post comes out of a sense of frustration that I didn’t have something else to write about. So, I’m going to do some unpacking here and see where it takes us.
Limits on My Creativity
I mentioned above that it feels like there are limits to my creative outlet in writing stories. As soon as I wrote that, I thought that many of those limits must be self-imposed, so I’d like to examine them. In no particular order:
- Not enough time
- Worries over my copyright
- Keeping ideas about my fantasy world-building close to the vest
- Limited formats
- Limited platform(s)
Five off the top of my head; not bad. That should be enough to delve into for a bit.
Not enough time
I’m not a full-time writer and likely will not be in the foreseeable future, so this limitation is partially by circumstance. However, I think it’s also due in part to the way in which I approach writing. I primarily write novels or at least short stories, and so sitting down to write 100 words doesn’t feel like much of an accomplishment.
Now, look, I fully realize that every little bit counts towards the greater goal. I get all the writing mantras. But it can be difficult to maintain that steadfastness day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month as you churn over a longer story.
Worries over copyright / protecting my ideas
I’m combining items two and three, because they feel very much related, although still different
Worries over copyright infringement is not easy to navigate, especially online, as I discussed last week. But even beyond the notion of someone stealing my work, I’m quite protective of my creative ideas, especially when it comes to my world-building universe.
With enough prompting, I can quite easily ramble about the myriad ideas I have for my fantasy universe, but I sometimes worry that speaking my ideas out loud will… release them from my mind. As if the words roll off my tongue and the ideas themselves evaporate.
Strange, I know. I’ve learned to be careful about how much I reveal about my stories, my ideas, and where I might take them, because I don’t want to lose the drive to write them down. Speaking them out loud is a form of sharing them with the world, but I know I can develop them in so much more depth and with more coherence if I write them down. So, I try to “save” my ideas for my writing, or maybe only discuss certain aspects of them, if I want to workshop them with someone I trust.
Another piece of “protecting” my ideas springs to mind.
Limited formats / platforms
I’m also combining items four and five.
I realize that there are tons of platforms out there where I can publish stories for various online communities to read. Wattpad, Tumblr, Reddit, IngramSpark, Kindle, this blog… and literally hundreds or thousands of other websites I cannot even name.
But does publishing my story in one space restrict me from another? Is a freemium story platform like Wattpad too open to exploitation of my ideas? Is there just too much damn content online for any of this to matter? I have no clue.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m in the process of reassessing how I write and publish my stories. I love the idea of publishing novels, and I will continue to strive for that. But if I’m only publishing a novel once in a blue moon, then where do the rest of my ideas go? Is there somewhere else I can put them to get them into the world without feeling exposed — to copyright infringement, or loss of my ideas to the ether, or whatever else?
These questions bug me, so to this point I’ve resigned myself to the full self-publishing process with novels, novellas, or short stories, because it feels more official, and safer.
But I think I can find something else to fill the drawn-out in-between spaces — spaces in my head, in my publishing schedule, in my day-to-day schedule where smaller ideas can be nurtured and thrive. I just don’t know what yet.