1. Don't think. Creating a story or book has little to do with the intellect or language when we first begin. Our best ideas will emerge as a spark or image. Like dreams, they will make little sense. Followed, they will hold the key to the creative unconscious.
2. Creativity is cyclical. You cannot and will not be creative all the time. What is full must empty and what is empty will fill. Creativity has its own internal rhythms. Learn to listen to yours.
3. Nothing kills creativity faster than criticism. Don't share your work-in-progress with people who are critical or those whose opinions leave you vulnerable, no matter how much you love them. Good critiquing should leave you inspired, not deflated.
4. Spend time listening to your inner critic. He or she is not comfortable with the risks demanded by a creative endeavor. By becoming aware of the foul jabber of your inner critic, you can see how your own mind puts up roadblocks to your creativity.
5. Being a creator is risky business. Don't underestimate the tremendous emotional and psychic risks the journey demands. Learn to push ahead even when you are afraid. Learn to love the risk.
6. Don't be afraid to fail. Every successful creator has failed hundreds of times. Failure is an integral part of creativity. It doesn't mean you're wrong or stupid. It only means you've uncovered a path or technique that does not work.
7. Don't be afraid to write garbage. Every successful writer writes mounds of garbage. Give your work time to percolate. Play the What If game. For example, if you're writing fiction and a characters is sweet and loving and you're stuck, have the character mean and hateful. In the world of the imagination, anything can happen.
8. Nurture your creativity. It is as fragile as a budding flower. Open to the dance. Listen to music that makes you feel like flying. Go for a walk. Laugh with a friend, child or lover. Creativity is about feeling.
9. Be passionate. Creativity is passionate. Passion is always creative.
10. Learn your craft. And write, write, write! The more you write, the better you will get. Discipline yourself. Successful writers are disciplined writers.
© Emily Hanlon, 1996-2005. The Art of Fiction or How to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole Without Really Trying, Labyrinth Press.