My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad.
The highs and the lows. The piña and the colada.
— ELLEN DEGENERES
In all areas, I believe balance is key to living a peaceful and successful life. As the saying goes, “All work and no play” makes for a dull life. But what about all creativity and no responsibility? Even if that were a possibility, I’d like to argue that this would not make anyone happy.
You see, daydreaming and creating are important, yes, but without a strong left brain to come along and order those thoughts and make intelligent decisions, an all-creative person may be left with a pile of useless “art” that no one else wants or is able to see.
Some argue that you can be smart or artsy, driven or creative, head-led or heart-led, but I say you can and should strive to be a mix of all these things. Everyone has a measure of creativity in them — whether or not they foster it is what makes the difference. Everyone has smarts and drive and a responsible side, but some ignore those parts of themselves, while others value and practice them.
Embrace And Grow All Sides Of Your Brain!
Spend time daydreaming and brainstorming ideas each day, but also spend time scheduling yourself and your writing and organizing your notes. Spend some time focusing on the non-artsy areas of your life, thereby giving your artistic side a much-needed nap. When you come back to being creative again, your juices will be eager to flow, rather than tired and in need of replenishing.
The truth is, the well of creativity can certainly grow by using it. All areas of the brain grow with use and practice, just like any muscle. But creativity will also grow when you give it a rest, take the pressure off, and realign your focus for a while.
There are good reasons for a writer to keep his or her day job, and not only for income. Sometimes the mere task of having another thing you have to focus on for a while will give your story-making creative brain the break it needs. Plus, your creative side may thrive better if you aren’t relying on writing for your income. Your creative side really doesn’t need the kind of pressure that comes with grocery bills and mortgage payments.
The Conundrum Of Current-day Society
Yes, we respect artists through the ages, we value them and their contributions to society, but our society does not make it easy to make a living as an artist. Artists are on their own, for the most part, needing to perform, perform, perform in order to make even a meager income from their craft. It’s too much pressure for the creative brain. Even if your hope is to make a living from your art, I encourage you to keep thinking of it as a hobby for your art’s sake. Relax your creative mind at every turn to avoid creative burnout.
On the other hand, if writing is your “business,” or you want it to be, I encourage you to spend some time honing your business skills as well as your artistic ones. If you hire out the business work, take up another artistic form as a hobby. You see, the creative brain, in order to thrive, also needs opportunity for creative playtime — a time without anything at stake, and we all know that businesses have plenty at stake.
What does balance look like in practice? Whenever your story ideas start to feel flat or incomplete, take a break and do your taxes. Or paint a painting. Or turn on some music and spin a few pirouettes.
©2017 by Denise Jaden. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com.
Story Sparks: Finding Your Best Story Ideas and Turning Them into Compelling Fiction
by Denise Jaden.
Practical and inspiring, Denise Jaden's approach celebrates the imaginative sparks that make innovations of all kinds possible while pinpointing the precise tools writers need to fan their unique creative flames.
About the Author
Denise Jaden wrote her debut novel, Losing Faith, in twenty-one days during NaNoWriMo in 2007. Denise’s other young adult novels include Never Enough, A Christmas Kerril, Foreign Exchange, and Avalanche. Her nonfiction books for writers include Writing with a Heavy Heart and the NaNoWriMo-popular guide Fast Fiction. Her latest how-to writing guide is Story Sparks, out in 2017. In her spare time, she homeschools her son (who is also a fast drafter of fiction), acts in TV and movies, and dances with a Polynesian dance troupe.