Naturally Creative

making time to create ~ 30 minutes a day

Author: Anastasia Suen (Page 1 of 18)

Failure is an Event

“Failure is an event — it is not a person.” Zig Ziglar

Failure is part of the creative process, but that doesn’t make it easy.

When something doesn’t work, you have to start over (and over and over).

The flip side of failure, the other side of that coin, is the fact that we all experience it.

As a developmental editor I often read early drafts of stories without any real problems for the main character. A story starts when something changes, when the main character suddenly has a problem to solve.

Without a problem, the story doesn’t feel real to us. It is not our truth.

Another common early draft scenario I encounter is a story with a problem that is quickly solved.

Stories with problems that are easily solved don’t feel quite real either. Where are the failures? Where is the struggle that we all experience?

The stories that satisfy are the ones where the main character fights an uphill battle as things continue to go wrong. The situation gets worse as the story continues.

Despite all of the problems, we keep reading because we have been there too. Even in fantasy story that takes place somewhere we have never been, we identify with the main character because we have been there on an emotional level. We have lived that experience in some way. It is our truth.

This is why we keep reading until the story reaches the final battle in Act 3 and at long last, the main character finally figures out what to do.

You have to pick yourself up and keep going.

Creating isn’t easy. It is hard.

But after all of that failure, success feels so very good.

Failure is an event–

in the stories we write

and the stories we live.

Will you make time to create
and fail –and then keep creating this week?

P.S. Now that this blog has evolved into writing about my day job as a developmental editor, it makes more sense for me to share these posts on my Developmental Editor site at ASuen.com. This will be the last post on this site.

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Go to Work

“Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.” Chuck Close

This week’s quote by Chuck Close may seem harsh, but it’s actually based on neuroscience. Studies of the brain show that if you do something over and over, it becomes a habit. Scientists call this “habit learning.”

When making time to create has become a habit, you don’t have to be inspired to create each day. You don’t have to decide to do it. No willpower is necessary. When making time to create is one of your habits, it’s something you do everyday . . . automatically.

In the 2011 study A Critical Review of Habit Learning and the Basal Ganglia, the authors Carol A. Seger and Brian J. Spiering wrote,

We identify five common but not universal, definitional features of habit learning: that it is inflexible, slow or incremental, unconscious, automatic, and insensitive to reinforcer devaluation.

Notice, that like nature itself, forming a habit takes place in small incremental steps over time.

But once a habit is formed, it is inflexible, unconscious, automatic, and insensitive to reinforcer devaluation.

In other words, habits are hard to break.

As A. M. Graybiel explains,

fully acquired habits are performed almost automatically, virtually non-consciously, allowing attention to be focused elsewhere.

You won’t need to be inspired to start creating. As Chuck Close said, you “just get up and go to work.”

If creating everyday isn’t a habit for you yet, here’s another tip from A. M. Graybiel.

habits tend to involve an ordered, structured action sequence that is prone to being elicited by a particular context or stimulus.

It’s an “if/then” scenario. To create a new habit, you link it to an old one. You build a new habit by linking it to an existing one.

If you (insert an established daily habit here)
then you (insert the new habit you are trying to develop here).

If you eat dinner at home,
then you clean up the kitchen.

Use what works best for you, what comes naturally, to find thirty minutes a day to create. The habit you link to will depend on your lifestyle. Writers I have worked with over the years have used these scenarios to set aside time for writing their books each day. Maybe one of them will work for you.

If you want to write after you drop the kids off at school,
then you work on your manuscript after you get home from the carpool line.

If you want to write during your lunch hour,
then you work on your manuscript after you eat your lunch.

If you want to write after you wash the dinner dishes,
then you work on your manuscript after you wash the dinner dishes.

If you want to write after you put the kids to bed,
then you work on your manuscript after the kids are in bed.

Will you go to work and create this week?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Still Learning

What will you learn as you create this week?

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Page 1 of 18

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