If you’ve spent any great amount of time on writers’ forums, talking to writers, following them on Twitter, you’re likely to stumble upon this saying: “Writers write.” Meaning, “The only thing that separates writers from non-writers is that writers are, at a rate that is generally considered productive, creating pieces of writing of various genres.”
If you’re anything like me, your reaction to a claim like that is, “Wait a second. It can’t be that simple.”
Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wrong.
In my last post, I threatened that I’d talked about active creativity. Well, it turns out that I totally hadn’t, and I suck as a blogger. Here’s that post that I promised about a month ago.
“Writers write.” What does that mean? Besides, like, the ridiculously redundant elaboration I wrote previously?
“Writer” is a word composed of two things: the word “write” and then an “er” at the end, which tells us that whoever this word is referring to does the action that “write” entails. So the sentence, “Writers write” is kind of redundant, but it is a truth.
Writing, for a writer, is a kind of self-making. (Oh God, here she goes again.) In this act of writing, you’re defining yourself as a writer, but as you define yourself as a writer, you also define your writing. While you produce, you create a product that eventually defines itself. Are you a writer of fantasy, of YA, of literary fiction? Non-fiction? Poetry?
Just as writers can’t be writers unless they write, creative people can’t be creative unless they are actively pursuing that creativity. Creativity isn’t a quality that will remain constant, available to you throughout your entire life. Neuroscience disagrees – eventually, those cogs stop turning, and you get kind of boring. But the same thing goes for qualities like “good at math.” You’re not going to be good at math all your life. Eventually you’re going to hit a roadblock.
How do you overcome something like this?
I believe it’s a constant engagement with whatever pursuits you’re interested in. Creative pursuits, especially, can’t be pushed aside. You have to constantly be thinking about them, constantly moving forward, constantly engaging whatever you’re working on, so you can further define yourself, your work, and keep producing long after you’re young whippersnapper days are over.
Passive creativity is easy – it’s just waiting for the muse to strike. But the muse is never striking when we want her to be, and why should we wait for her, anyway? Active creativity comes from the self, the human, and is a challenge. Of course it is. This was never going to be easy. Where’d you get that idea? Creativity is hard work. It’s about thinking, writing, nurturing, and, eventually, producing.
Blamo. Obligatory pontification over. Since the fam and I are heading to Universal Studios for winter break, be prepared for some pictures of me in Ravenclaw gear. Also, with an owl plushie.