I haven’t felt in touch with my creative self recently, even though I’ve posted about the same number of blog entries. When I have a few quiet hours on a weekend and sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, instead of feeling inspired to create stories I’m likely to start reading a novel instead, or maybe just daydream about how I’d like to redecorate my house and plant new flowerbeds in my backyard.

That’s when the nagging voice at the back of my mind starts up again, asking where are all the stories I ought to be writing? When I examine that question more closely, it strikes me as the wrong question—or at least an incomplete one, packed with assumptions that don’t seem to be tethered to anything in present-day reality. And we all know what assumptions make of us, don’t we?

Donkey standing in a field.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Unpacking the assumptions gives rise to a lot more questions than what seemed to be there at first. Where did I get the idea that I was supposed to write stories whenever I had some free time on a weekend? Most likely, that came from letting myself get too busy several years ago. Well, okay, I’m not too busy now, so why are those feelings of pressure still there?

Besides, I never had a strictly regimented writing schedule where I produced a specific number of pages at the same time every day, unless you want to count the time I wrote a vampire romance novel while waiting at my daughter’s physical therapy appointments after she had a knee injury in high school soccer. So there’s no particular quantity of stories that I can reasonably assume I ought to create in a week or month or whatever, given the fact that my past experience has been nowhere near that predictable.

Some of it probably has to do with cultural attitudes, in that our society tends to dismiss writing stories as an insignificant, silly hobby. That leads to worrying (often subconsciously) that if we haven’t done much with our stories lately, then maybe the naysayers are right and our creative work will never amount to anything. And if we have an especially prolific week or month or whatever, it gives us the idea that if we’re not sustaining that level all the time, then we’re not doing our best and something must be wrong.

Another assumption in need of deconstruction is that I ought to be writing stories, rather than engaging in other creative efforts such as writing nonfiction entries on this blog—which in fact I’ve been doing quite regularly. Why do I feel that I’m not doing enough unless my creative work includes stories, in particular? What gave me the idea that I can best express myself through fiction? That’s not necessarily true—or at least, it’s not necessarily true at all times. Maybe I’ve been doing more good for myself and my readers by writing nonfiction posts that spark reflection.

Because stories are drawn from real life, maybe those daydreams are telling me that I need to recharge my creative energy by getting out and doing more in the real world. Maybe they’re telling me to spend some time discovering the right questions!

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