For dreamers like me, creation is the ultimate high.
Imagining what can be is much more fun than simply living with what is. That’s wired into the DNA of every fiction author I know. The ability to visualize and create worlds, to flesh out richly drawn characters and to create compelling prose that hooks an audience: this is the ultimate in entrepreneurship.
Try this one on for size.
You’re sitting in school when an alien materializes and uses his powers to freeze everyone in class, except you. That strange taste in the milk you poured over your cereal at breakfast must have been some sort of antidote, secreted into your food by a protector, kidnapped by the aliens, only to escape with knowledge of how to defeat them.
You try to remember if any of your friends have been acting strangely and recall your sister’s new nanny seemed to know an awful lot about far-away galaxies. She poured the milk on your cereal today. In fact, she gave you the really cool watch you’re wearing right now! You raise your wrist, pointing the dancing numerals in the direction of the alien. A yellow beam shoots out at him. He screams as he dematerializes into a million microscopic dust particles. Before the rest of the class awakens, you press a button on your watch and a flame thrower vaporizes the dust.
“What happened?” your friends ask as they start to regain consciousness. You act confused, too. You can do battle better as an unknown warrior, moving among your classmates in stealth.
My grandson created this entire world in the space of about twenty minutes as we sat on the back porch and I took dictation. He wants to be a writer, too. I think he’ll be much more successful at it.
Creation of compelling content is nothing without creation of a compelling story to sell it. My grandson calls his character The Alien Bounty Hunter. I feel a book title coming on.
Somewhere along the way, most people lose the ability to create. They fall into an uncomfortable rut, get a job that pays ok and has benefits. And they exist in that world until something like Covid comes along to turn it upside down.
By then, their creation skills are so atrophied and the fear of not making the next house payment is so real that they look for more of what they did before, even though that job may end up being obsolete.
Writers can fall into the same rut. Amazon, BookBaby and Ingram Spark blew up the paradigm of hiring an agent and getting published by one of the big boys. And unless you’re a reliable revenue producer, those same big boys won’t invest, even if you’re under contract.
Creation of content, the aura of excitement you wrap around it and promotion of your writer’s brand are all up to you.
“If it is to be, it’s up to me,” is a well-worn cliché for good reason.
I’ve always been drawn to jobs where my future was totally up to me. I’d rather be riding the horse into be battle than be the horse and get shot because someone else pointed us in the wrong direction.
The plot twist in life is that we do create our own stories, even if they are conventional tales that everyone else knows to the point of boredom. We celebrate the innovators who can turn the prism so that what everyone else sees refracts into amazing rainbows of opportunity. We wish we had the courage to do what the entrepreneurs do, feel the fear and pursue that good idea anyway.
An author friend told me recently that she loves running her characters up a tree and shooting at them. When she gets stuck in the second act, she does that just to challenge her brain to find a way for them to overcome the obstacles, defeat the bad guys and grow in the process.
We love reading stories like that. The supply never outstrips the demand. The game is envisioning an audience and creating a world that becomes their addiction and characters they fall in love with.
In these extraordinary times, when paradigms about jobs are continually crumbling, exercising the muscle of creation is just what the doctor ordered.
Each of us who pursue The Craft start every day with a blank screen and a keyboard. As we grow in the profession, we learn the art of creation and can practice it even on days when the ideas are sparse and the motivation for procrastination has your muse by the throat.
Creation of value is the holy grail. It’s a learned skill and a set of habits you can press into service anytime, anywhere.
As you face your changing world, turn the prism and see what pictures are painted in the creative recesses of your mind. Try fleshing one or two out. Do it often enough and new patterns will emerge.
Do it long enough and your success in whatever you choose as your life’s work is guaranteed.