Do you think that creative writing is something you can learn? Many of the aspiring authors who join my Write a Book in a Week program ask me this question. They know they have a story to tell. Most of them are afraid they don’t have what it takes to release their thoughts into a real book.
Teachers can help you hone your craft. They can even teach you tricks to overcome obstacles to the creative flow, like writers block. But I doubt they can teach you to be creative.
Why not? Because creativity is a gift. It comes from within, and is personal to you as an individual. You either find it within yourself and work with it, or you don’t. It’s much the same with writing or painting. You can allow the creative force within you to come out, or not. All a teacher can offer to do is help channel that energy.
Carl Jung, the father of psychoanalysis, speaks of the creative instinct. Humans have innate instincts, which cause us to strive, build and create. So, if creativity is a basic human instinct, isn’t it available to all human beings? Jung says that the creative artist is one who has unusual access to the subconscious.
The subconscious is the key to access our creative energy. I’ve been reading a fascinating book, The Tao of Photography, by Dr. Philippe Gross and Dr. S.I. Shapiro. They’re both psychologists and photographers. Interesting career combination. A photographer myself, I love capturing images. It helps me concentrate on my surroundings, which sets the mood for writing.
The book applies the teachings of the Chuang-tzu, to the art of photography. It speaks of Little Understanding and Great Understanding. I love how those states of being are described:
Great understanding is broad and unhurried. Little understanding is cramped and busy. (Chuang-tzu)
Our daily lives are filled with ‘little understanding.’ Look at your calendar or todo list. It’s filled with meetings, errands and things to do! We are running around with our heads down concentrating on the small stuff (cramped and busy). What if we look up and around ourselves? What if we look inside ourselves? Great understanding is broad and unhurried. Think about what we could see and what doors may open.
Slow down and shift your focus not only to observing everything about life. When you look inside yourself, that’s when you have a chance of tapping into your creative spirit. Unless you do, no amount of concentration on technique (which can be thought) will ever help us listen to our inner voice. After all, aren’t writers always told they must find their own voice? To do that, we have to learn to listen and pay attention to the outer life surrounding us as well as our own inner life. It’s not a trick you can learn.
Suppose you do actually get past that cramped and busy stage. What will you find? If you’re lucky, you might tap into something wonderful… your true creative spirit. It’s about getting out of our conscious way. Letting the images, words, music, ideas and emotions flow. When we do that, we have something to work with.
In writing, that’s what the first draft is all about. This part is easy, if you allow it. I teach authors to do this in less than a week. I take an idea out of their head and down on paper. Then the more rational, analytical part of the brain takes charge. It refines what was created. Next, I help them by showing them the techniques of their craft. This is where the product of their creativity gets better and better.
But without that first draft there would have been nothing to work with. Nothing to improve upon. Maybe a first draft of a book should be a prerequisite for entry into my Write a Book in a Week course? (It currently isn’t – anyone who wants to release their book dream can join.) What do you think?
Wilko van de Kamp Author
WILKO VAN DE KAMP is the author of #1 international best seller The Freedom Project and several other books and e-books. He's also an award-winning photographic artist, and professional world traveler. His inspiration comes from traveling all over the world. He calls the Canadian Rocky Mountains his home, and the rest of the world his office. He has been capturing our wonderful planet, and it's beautiful inhabitants, for more than half his life. Wilko has spent his life traveling the world to capture awe-inspiring images for those who wouldn't see them otherwise, and to inspire others to embark on their journey of a lifetime. Through his art, writing and appearances as a keynote speaker he enjoys sharing his colorful experiences with the world.