Pent-Up Creativity


One of the best things that can happen to a writer is an epiphany. The sudden ideas and chaos flooding your mind with new creative things to work with can be overwhelming, until you’re able to write them down and get them all in order in a way that you can actual do something with them and actually have direction.

But what if you never get a chance to write them down? Such was my plague today. I got a sudden idea for a new project (which will go without further explanation for the time being) and I could envision it vividly. But I was at work, sitting in a lifeguard chair and trapped there.

So for an hour and a half, my leg worked itself like a jackhammer as the visions grew and developed, and I couldn’t write any of it down, and I just knew I’d forget half of it.

But since it was a creative idea, I was at least able to try to envision how the whole thing would go from beginning to end. Even that didn’t help much as new ideas appeared. A funny scene here, an ending there. I had to start over my mental movie multiple times, and each time the beginning stayed the same but it developed differently from there.

I had even remembered to bring my tiny notebook and a pen to jot down any notes that came to mind for… well, for anything. But I’m a lifeguard. It’s not like I can just look away from the pool for a couple minutes to jot down some notes. That would cost me my job.

I was twitching, I found, and my whole body was tense. I found I had to pretty much hug myself to keep the pressure from making me shout aloud. My leg switched from jackhammering to pivoting on my big toe until the end of the toe was numb. My usually smooth left-to-right, right-to-left head movement became violent jerking. I noticed I was hungry, too, but that was secondary. IĀ neededĀ to write.

And when I finally was able to, my fingers were the ones working like jackhammers as I pounded out everything that had been festering in my mind with as much cohesiveness as I could manage.

I finished a full first draft of what had been about to explode from me, and felt a lot better. My legs were (and still are) a bit sore, though.

I learned something, too. Envisioning your story and figuring out how things happen before you write them down is really worth it. However, it’s always good to keep a notepad around in case any accidental genius appears randomly. It’s the best ideas that are easiest to forget.


About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.

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