Last night while talking to a dear friend and fellow writer, she confessed having a hard time jotting down the whirlpool of ideas that are spinning in her brain. I wonder if she was being hard on herself when she told me she sometimes doubted her creativity.
Today, I found an article by author and creativity coach, Emily Hanlon. She says, “The Inner Critic is terrified of the creative unconscious because it is the home of feelings, emotions, images and it is chaotic and unexpected. The Inner Critic likes order and loves the status quo, which is antithetical to the creative unconscious.” In the excerpt below, she explains more about this inner struggle we writers go through.Creativity is a subtle and magnificent dance between the rational and the intuitive, between the left and right parts of the brains, between technique and imagination. Both partners in this dance are absolutely necessary and are needed in equal proportion, which means that imagination is not more important than technique and vice versa. If you only live in the imagination, you will never get organized, you will never complete your story. However, if you start from the rational, linear, organizational part of the process, (i.e. Gotta have the perfect opening sentence and first paragraph... better yet, an outline...) you will never fall into the rich, passionate cosmic landscape of the imagination where anything is possible.
However, the main problem I have seen in my twenty-five years of teaching fiction writing is over-dependence on the rational part of the equation. People want to get the story written and get it out. (Whatever that means?) They want to leap frog the process, get the words down on the page and finish the story. This is to symptomatic of the goal-oriented society that we live in, a society that is striving upwards toward success instead of embracing the deeper, more powerful and life changing journey of descent that takes us into the creative realm of the true self.
When we write from the imagination we are writing what we "know" but from such a deep level of knowing that we don't know that we know it until it is revealed in our writing. This is often the truer aspect of self, the part that we do not readily show to the world, and sometimes do not show even to our self — at least not consciously. This is what makes the journey such risky business. This is also the great joy of writing; when we are true to the process, we discover worlds within we did not know existed.
An image I use to describe the intuitive journey of creativity is "falling down the rabbit hole" into Wonderland. This is a perfect metaphor for the creative journey which can never take place in the "real" or conscious world. Writing, whether it be fiction, poetry or nonfiction, finds its origins in the dark, fertile chaos of the unconscious — your personal Wonderland.