The Creative Cycle

The Creative Cycle

I’m intimately familiar with the creative cycle and I’m sure you are, too. Though rarely do I experience all stages of the cycle in a single hour. But such was the case today as a new story idea surfaced.

Here’s how it went.

  1. Now this, this right here, is an idea. Oh yes, this is perfect. I love this idea.
  2. Oh for fuck’s sake, there’s no obvious conclusion, there are plot holes galore, this is barely even a half-baked concept let alone a story with legs. Another ‘idea’ for the bin. An idea that was never really an idea at all.
  3. Hang on a minute, I guess I could do this, that’ll make it sing all right …
  4. Maybe this is an idea. Maybe this isn’t total rubbish. But then maybe it is … I just don’t know.

And arriving at stage four is a comfortable place to be.

As my Creative Writing tutor George Ttoouli once said—and I oft quote—if you’re not sure whether a story is good or not that’s a great place to be. If you think it’s perfect you’re likely deluded (for what is perfection but an unattainable illusory concept). If you think it’s terrible you’re likely right. But if you’re not sure, if you’re uncomfortable … well, that’s the creative sweet spot.

Of course, George likely said it much better and more eloquently than I have.

So that’s the creative cycle, from self-loving to self-loathing and all shades in between.

When things get tough, persist.

Sooner or later the cycle will come around.

Sooner or later you’ll find the creative sweet spot.