The Three People Who Will Kill Your Creativity

Posted on May 28, 2014


Victorian Tea cup with tussie mussie When I was a kid, every morning before school I would sit in front of the TV with my bowl of Captain  Crunch and watch Scooby Doo. They always went up against the best villains: Miner Forty-Niner, Spooky  Space Kook, and Vanilla Technicolor Phantom. Every time I sit down to write, I feel like the folks from  Mystery Inc., because I have my own evil triumvirate that stands in my way: The Critic, The Censor and  The Grammarian.

My critic’s name is Charles W. Endecott III. He resides in a lofty ivory tower and only descends to tell me (here he always makes a face like he just caught a whiff of a Porta-Potty the day after a chili cook-off) how very commercial my writing is. And by commercial, of course he means unsophisticated, paltry, and only worthy of being published on a bathroom stall. Your critic may not have a name, but it is that nagging voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough to call yourself a writer and maybe you should go put an application in down at McDonald’s. Only one person can decide if you are good enough to be a writer—you. Ignore your critic; sit down and write.

The Censor wears a black suit with a crisp white shirt. He served on the House Committee on Un-American Activites from 1947-1951. Now that he is retired he spends his time making sure that my thoughts don’t stray into deviancy. He actually just came to visit me in the last paragraph to remind me that potty humor is not appropriate. The Censor is my biggest challenge. “Mr. Hoenstine,” he says. “Are you now or have you ever been capable of appropriate or decent thoughts? Because I’ve been up here poking around and all I can find are dirty jokes, back-issues of the Onion and…well, unmentionable things.” Nothing kills the creative stage of writing for me faster than his voice. Close your door during your first draft. No one needs to see what kind of things escape from your brain. You can always scrub it clean in the revision.

The Grammarian is an eight-foot tall woman with horned-rimmed glasses, a beaked nose and a hair bun so tight that it looks like her face would tear right down the middle if she tried to smile. She carries around a yardstick that looks more like a Louisville slugger. I can be in the zone with words just pouring out of me, when all of the sudden I hit an idea and I’m not sure how to properly break it up and punctuate it. I stop and agonize over what to do. In the process, I have lost all momentum. When I hear the slap of her ruler against her palm, I know that The Grammarian is standing over my shoulder. I have to shove her back into her Victorian-era tea room where she can sip Earl Grey with her pinky extended. Don’t let doubt break your creative momentum, because the only thing harder to get back than your momentum is your virginity.

Eighty percent of the writing process is in the creative phase, and that is where most of us get hung up. Don’t worry about whether it’s Pulitzer-worthy, don’t worry about who you might offend, and don’t worry about the grammar. For the first draft, just write. You can worry about the rest of it in the revision process. Whether it’s for a high school essay or a family member’s obituary, everyone has stared at a blank sheet of paper. What separates a writer from everyone else is that a writer pushes through the obstacles and puts words on paper.

Write well, write often and just write something already!

Scott Hoenstine, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications.

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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