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 ****, 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.

Failing Without Failing

Try Again Fail Better Samuel Beckett

We’re almost halfway through the year and as such we’re nearing the halfway point of The 2017 One Story Per Week Writing Challenge. It’s a tough challenge and many of us have slipped behind. There have been whisperings from writers about failing the challenge, about being unable to sustain the pace required to write 52 stories in one year.

But is it really failing if you fall short and write 40, 30 or even 20 stories in the year? Twenty stories in one year doesn’t sound like failure to me, it sounds like a damn fine achievement.

Which brings me to goal setting. See, every year I set myself 3–5 SMART goals, most of which are ambitious but I always believe I have a chance of achieving them (otherwise what’s the point of setting them?). I create goals that will push and challenge me. So much so that if I fail I don’t actually fail. I achieve more than I would have had I not set a goal in the first place. Had I just plodded along.



So, if you’re beating yourself up about not being where you wanted to be in June 2017, look at where you are now compared to the start of the year. And if you’re not very far along at all? No matter. You can’t change your past, but you can act now, and you can shape your future.

Keep on going.

Keep on failing.

Keep on achieving.