“This is not the main road, of of course. But someone has clearly passed here, and they never returned, which makes it a way...”
The thing that separates your creative self from your procrastinating self is often called ‘inspiration’. Without inspiration, life is both boring and somehow incredibly stressful.
I once had this landlady. Formerly a famous artist, she now consumed a bottle of JD every night, enjoyed racist conversation and often tried to murder me by leaving the gas on. She also had some pretty strange books, one of which was ‘The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies’ by Jonathan Black. I referred to it simply as ‘the magic book’. In the magic book it says:‘The reality of everyday experience is that thoughts are quite routinely introduced into what we like to think of as our private mental space from somewhere else.’
The author goes on to explain that ‘somewhere else’ are ‘Thought-Beings’, before telling us that there were two Jesuses, mythical Greek heroes existed in the flesh and that there are people out there who can walk through walls. Naturally, I believed all of it.
But here I’m going to start from the opposite premise, that ‘inspiration’ is not an abstract concept or a manifestation of the ~divine~. Let’s say ‘inspiration’ is actually ‘imagination’. When it’s not there, you can’t write, because you have nothing to say. When it’s there, whooosh.
Let’s even say that it can be induced, and instead of reading, you could now be writing. Here’s a way.
Yogurt: “Use the Schwartz, Lone Starr! Use the Schwartz!”
Lone Starr: “I can't - I lost the ring!”
Yogurt: “Forget the ring! The ring is bupkis! I found it in a Cracker Jack box!”
What if The Force, or creativity, is within you?
You can do spontaneous roleplay while you’re doing mundane domestic tasks. My partner and I play as we cook – we turn into Monsieur Jim, the French chef, and Edvardo the kitchen boy. You can also make up stories about people you see, or have weird sex. Creative one-person activities would include building a tent in the living room and holding a one-man festival, drawing your friends as mythical beasts or spying on your neighbours with meticulous notes (that last one could get you arrested).
If this sounds deranged to your tastes, you can simply dedicate time to creative activity on a daily basis. The key is that it has to be undemanding. The aim is to train your imagination, not to put you under pressure to produce.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, if you get used to living in an imaginative way, it’s easier to summon your imagination when it comes to writing.
From then on, you can get your 50 Writing Tips from Famous Writers and actually find it usable. What does Hemingway want you to do again? Wake up at 4am, write for six hours, then walk on hot coals barefoot and do another six? You might just be able to pull it off.
And if not, this is only one way to El Dorado. If you don’t get there, you might at least get lost in the right direction.
Take me home