Miller: Creation vs. Work

“When you can’t create you can work.”

– Henry Miller

Mr Miller here provides a very good point (and a fitting one at this point in time for me). Writing is creation, granted, but what happens when the inspirational well drains temporarily, when other things take over mind space and we, writers, simply fail to squeeze out creativity?

Do we give up?

Hardly. I have often heard that writing is like a muscle: it needs constant exercise to grow strong, proper nourishment to recover and develop, and oxygen to rejuvenate and spiral onwards.

Do we give up when a muscle is weak? No, we work it harder!

As Miller says – if creativity is low, we can still work. Use previous notes and plans to work on your story, and if it’s too dry even for that – work paragraphs an sections individually. Do they work? Check consistency, grammar, flow and so many more technical parts. Use this time to your advantage, and it will be to your story’s benefit.

My dry spell has been going on for a bit too long now, and as deadlines come nearer, it’s starting to worry me. I will have to work, even if I can’t create at the moment. For I feel that the longer you put it off, the scarier it becomes. I have neglected my novel for a week or so now, and the mere thought of picking it up and continue working on it causes mild panic attacks inside my chest. Flutters only, but substantial enough.

But in Miller’s words: when we can’t create, we can work. A muscle even needs time to recover, and collect energy for the next killer work out. It must be okay that not every writing session manufactures wonders, I suppose. The important thing is that you at some point come back to the inspired/creative state.

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