January 3, 2013
Creativity Isn't Always Fun
I open my previous chapter. It's a mess. Too fast when it needs to slow down. Too slow where I need to pick up the pace. The dialogue feels tinny. The word choice is bland. It is pedestrian at best. I open the outline and reconsider the beginning. Have I made it too simple?
I begin typing and it feels less like writing and more like working out. The words are clunky. The phrases are trite. I use too many adverbs and it reads like an over-seasoned steak. It takes awhile to get into the flow and even then, it still requires more deliberate thinking than I had imagined.
I would love to say that it eventually works for me, but the truth is that it doesn't. The end result is a two-thousand word mess that I will rework over and over again until it works for me. Still, buried within the mess are some ideas, plot twists, descriptions and dialogue that will work wonderfully.
Creativity isn't always fun. True, there are moments when it is a thrilling ride, but there are also moments of tedium, of insecurity and anxiety. It isn't always that moment when you surprise yourself by a rare flash of brilliance. Often, it is wading in complexity, overwhelmed by detail. It is intellectually challenging and emotionally draining.
There's a tendency to think of creativity as a trip to the candy store or a ride on a roller coaster or a mindless moment with finger paints. But sometimes it isn't fun. To make anything that matters requires a certain level of stamina and faithfulness. I suspect this is why so many teachers are tempted to define creativity through a collage culture where the tech format makes it look great regardless of the content. We want to spare students the painful, boring, uncomfortable side of the creative process.
I'm an advocate of play. I'm a firm believer that classrooms should be more fun. But I also see a need for the more uncomfortable aspects of creativity. I want my students to feel challenged intellectually. I want them to learn to plough through the roadblocks, to deal with the details and to work under deadlines.
photo credit: jef safi \ 'pictosophizing via photopin cc
yep, I chose the picture as a vague "put a bird on it" reference