Snippets: The Stages of Un-Creative Writing

I don’t believe in the creative process, at least when it comes to writing. In my experience, writing is an act of obsession, insanity, and escapism. That being said, a writer can have a fairly normal life, filled with the unexpected channeling of weird spirits, crying in public, pacing in front of a computer, laughing alone in a room, and seeing visions. And that’s just stage one. Stage two involves no creativity either. Stage two is when Mr. Man comes in, reads your work, and says, “What the shit is this? This is garbage. Throw it out and start over.” Of course writers never listen to Mr. Man. No. We wait for stage three, when Mr. Kotter comes in, pats us on the back and says, “Did I ever tell you about my uncle Max?” Stage four is workshopping. People who have read your writing sit around a table and take turns talking about it. They start with what they really, really, really liked. Then they say what they didn’t like at all.  Then the next person goes and says exactly the same thing.  In stage five, you have an almost finished piece, and man does that “almost” burn. It can take FOREVER to get those not-quite-right words or phrases worked out. And it’s not a creative process; it’s generally by sheer force of will that the writer is able to wait out the tremendous block that has fallen upon him or her.  Stage six is “sending it out” or queerying in the case of a novel. This stage is just about as fun and creative as hitting yourself in the head multiple times with a sledgehammer. In stage seven, your piece either gets accepted, or you give up, take a break, and work on something else for a while, in which case the whole shitty process starts all over again. Yeah, it’s a pretty normal life. But creativity has almost nothing to do with it.

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