Digging through boxes of memorabilia (i.e. crap I can’t throw away) while at home over Thanksgiving, I came upon a pile of papers and old journals from the mid-90s. In my pre-teen years, I ran three e-newsletters – Beanie Baby Zine, The Broadstream Wanderers (Redwall fan fiction), and the Deep Forest Club (a kid’s environmental newsletter.) After noting the poor ROI on Beanie Babies, my thoughts turned to my progression as a writer.
This last year I have been writing quite frequently for three local and regional publications – sometimes several articles per week. And while this has made me a much faster and more proficient writer, I’ve noticed something quite startling: I don’t have story ideas anymore. That is to say, I don’t have fictional story ideas pop into my head while sipping coffee, driving, showering, hiking… no more light bulbs or “what-ifs.” I have a bookcase full of journals filled with random thoughts and story ideas – so what has happened?
I haven’t been practicing, silly. Creativity is as much a ‘gift’ as it is something you have to practice. Daily. Those journals filled with brilliant ideas didn’t fill themselves. Whenever I had an idea, I’d write it down. I would expand upon it. Develop it. And then more ideas would come. But by mentally categorizing myself as a non-fiction writer, I effectively shut myself off to creativity.
I guess admitting you have a problem is the first step. Therefore, like The Urchins did last week, I am making an early New Year’s Resolution to practice creativity and to stop categorizing myself – because who wants to be categorized?