Creativity in the Mundane: On writing among bruised banana slices
I write this post from my cluttered kitchen table. There are squashed, bruised banana slices at my feet, bananas that my daughter threw at the dog, who didn’t want them either. I spent the morning reading “Curious George Goes Fishing” a dozen times, wiping a tiny bum and playing peek-a-boo. I write fast, because as soon as I hear her stir, I know I have about five minutes to wrap it up before I need to have lunch ready.
This two-hour window – if I am lucky – is my chance to write today.
Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer, and I had an idyllic picture of what my writing life would look like. I imagined I’d write novels from a quiet outdoor bench on my farm overlooking the ocean. Cows mooing in the distance and crashing waves would provide perfect background noise to inspire profound literary greatness.
In my imagination, the farm never needed tending, the house never needed cleaning, bills never demanded payment. There was no day job to attend. In fact, money – spending it or earning it – didn’t play into my fantasy at all. If children did exist, they tended to themselves and their antics proved useful for collecting material for my books. I write with the breeze on my face, my butt never sore from sitting, my fingers never cold from typing.
(Side note: If you know of a real-life farm that overlooks the ocean, please tell me. I want to go to there.)
We boring grownups can chuckle at this ridiculous 7-year-old girl’s imagination, but I share it today because I think many of us subconsciously hold on to similar assumptions of the writer’s life.
I need hours and hours of uninterrupted time to write.
I need to be somewhere, by myself, in nature with a warm beverage in hand.
I need to wait for inspiration to strike.
I don’t have the time.
I need to write from an aesthetically pleasing location, or a trendy coffee shop.
I need total silence to write.
I have to [quit my day job, hire a nanny] to write.
I need to go on a personal retreat to write. Preferably in Bali.
I am learning the difference between writing and talking about writing is found in discipline. Writing in the little crevasses in the day. Waking up before the sun to clunk out a few hundred words before the day begins. Writing at night for twenty minutes instead of watching TV.
Writing with bruised banana slices on the kitchen floor.
Recently I had the realization that life is never going to get easier. It is never going to slow down. I will never have ideal writing conditions.
If I keep waiting for that day, my life will have gone by and I will have never told my stories.
What is the story that is burning inside you? The perfect time to write is now.
Creativity must be found in the mundane. To flourish, it must be fed regularly. It demands intention. For years I waited for moments of sporadic inspiration. What do I have to show for from those years? Not much. I talked a lot about writing, but I was full of crap, because very rarely was my “butt in chair,” as the great Anne Lamott instructs.
In Steve Pressfield’s brilliant book “The War of Art,” he talks about the power that is unleashed from creative consistency.
“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse [Greek god of arts and sciences] takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
I am working on becoming that magnetized rod. It’s not a mysterious process. It’s just hard work.
What about you? What are the things blocking you from creativity? How do you incorporate writing in your daily life?
Above image from Flickr Creative Commons, by ValerieMorrison-Photography.com