Nine years ago I launched this blog. And each year, for the past nine years, I’ve been celebrating, congratulating myself, offering folks all sorts of discounts, free downloads, and the likes.
I think I wrote and published well over a million words by now. Probably even more. Who knows? Who cares?
After all, the blank page that I have to fill right now with words doesn’t care about my previous articles, short stories, or novels. All it cares is that I transform its emptiness into something worth someone’s time.
This is what being creative means: to turn the white page, the blank canvas, the empty document into something by sheer power of will, which is, at times at least, quite a painful process.
And don’t believe anyone who tells you that being creative can be effortless. They are trying to sell you something, whether it’s an e-book or e-course.
After nine years as a full-time blogger, and sixteen as a writer, I can tell you that there’s no shortcut for hard work.
That’s why today I’m sharing with you nine tips that… well… I’m not even going to pretend these tips are going to make the process effortless, but they are going to give you a bit of clarity, which I found to be extremely useful, especially when you’d much rather bang your head against your keyboard than struggle to string words together in a coherent manner.
On September 3, 1783, the United States signed the peace agreement with Great Britain that recognized its independence from the British Crown.
Painter Benjamin West was commissioned to capture the moment on canvas, but after he sketched the American delegates, however, the British refused to pose. The painting remains, to this day, unfinished.
“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”
I can’t tell you where to find your muse-guy. It might be a corner-booth in a crowded bar. It might be in your own house, in your own bed, as you struggle to fall asleep.
You might even find your muse in the subway, as you ride home after work.
Stranger things have happened.
I can tell you only that when you find this muse, every civilized instinct in your soul will disappear. You’ll suddenly feel this itch, impulsive as hell, a complete disregard for rules or consequences.
There’s this fun experiment I’d often try with folks. I’d ask them to imagine themselves winning the lottery.
They’d tell me all the things they’d do with the money, all the places they’d travel to, all the stuff they’d buy.
It was then that I’d ask them to tell me how they’d feel. Would they act differently? Would they talk differently? What about they way they’d carry themselves? Their demeanor, the way they’d walk? Would that change as well.
When I was a kid, I thought I was destined for great things. I was born on Christmas Day, exactly one year after they shot Ceausescu, the only ruler of a Communist country to ever be executed. Now, in the same spot, they’re building a shopping mall.
Maybe because I was born when I was born, I don’t really listen to what other people tell me I should do. I never did.
I don’t like authority. I don’t like to follow rules.
I am not afraid of the consequences of not doing what I am told. I am not where I’d like to be in life because I don’t like most people. I have long suspected they don’t like me back.
I am a rebel without a cause, garnering a bit of applause here and there from those who read my stories.