Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Creative Process

Does it take anyone else this long to be creative? All but the most fillertastic blog posts take me between 30 minutes to 3 hours to write; GameCola articles can run me about 1-6 hours depending on how many screenshots I'm taking and whether I'm writing about Mega Man 10; my latest 15-minute YouTube video has been in the works since April. As someone pointed out, I think my YouTube handle describes me better than I ever intended--like the Gemini Laser in Mega Man 3, I move slowly...but I always bounce back.

There are certainly side projects I've put on hold indefinitely, but if it's something I'm truly committed to, and if I've got a clear and reasonable path in mind to my end result, I'll usually keep at it. It just might take me a very, very long time.

For example, I started a walkthrough/FAQ for the PC game Jetpack a few years ago, and I stopped when I got busy with other things. I just went back to working on my guide last week, just to see if it was worth picking up again, and I had some fun with it...but I also began to wonder how valuable it was to continue being as thorough as I had been when I was writing the guide with all the time in the world on my side. At this point, I'll either chip away at it whenever I think of it over the course of the next few years, or I'll drop it entirely, or I'll just get lazy and write only whatever is most useful. The path to completion is clear, but doing it the way I used to seems unreasonable anymore.

As I may have mentioned before, part of what takes me so long to write is that I tend to deliberate over every sentence, which serves the twofold purpose of proofreading/editing as I go, and ensuring that I'm representing myself in the best way possible so that when I'm no longer around to clarify or support my statements, my words should be sufficient on their own. I realize I don't always succeed at that, but that doesn't stop me from trying, or from spending 30 minutes to 3 hours on a few paragraphs.

I think part of it is that I revel in the creative process. Even if I'm not actively producing anything, it's nice to be sitting in front of the keyboard with the potential to produce something. I assume the other part of it has to do with surrounding circumstances such as how much sleep I've gotten or how long I can work without interruption (for better or for worse). Whatever the case may be, it seems to take me an awfully long time to write or record just about anything creative, and though I'm sure I'm not, I still wonder sometimes whether I'm the only one.


Matt Link said...


You are most definitely NOT alone on this observation! I've found that sometimes, the more we think that we're alone on a particularly personal thing, the more common it really is, and in those instances, it's especially helpful to reach out like you're doing here. :)

In any case, I experience my own share of creative flow vs. creative block on all sorts of endeavors: Whether it's graphic designing something at work, drawing up a logo at home, or writing creatively, there are lots of times where the creativity just pours out of me and I can make something truly great in short order. And of course, there are plenty of times where it all seems to go at a snail's pace, and end up struggling and get caught in all the small details (though this is a great quality to have), thereby taking more time to pull off.

Sometimes it has to do with how I'm feeling while I'm creating. Some days I've got huge innovative bursts (art or writing) and it almost hurts NOT to make something of it. Other times, I'm not feeling so hot, and it becomes more difficult to be creative. And then there are those times where I'm feeling inspired, but I don't know quite HOW to express it, and it can become easy to give up when things get tougher. In those cases, it's the passion behind the work that helps me push through the time and difficulty and see things through to the end.

Other times, I think focus and distraction play a big key in how well the creative process works for you. I know that I tend to work better when I'm alone and have nothing around to easily pull my attention away.

The truth is, circumstances change over time, moods change from day to day, and we can't always count on the same techniques we've used in a different era of our lives or continually being "in the zone" day in and day out. Plus, our lives continually change, and we may wake up to realize that suddenly we don't have as many solid blocks time to as we used to (or the other way around). I know that in my college days, I had a ton of extra time to muck about with whatever I wanted. Fast forward to today, now that I'm married and taking care of a house, I've got less time to block out and have to change my approach to the creative process in order to accomplish as much as I used to.

I think what it comes down to is having and discovering the things you love to do or surround yourself with for inspiration that more easily puts you in the right mindset to be creative so that it's easier to get back there even when it doesn't come as easily. Also, I think it's important to adapt around how your life is currently and what you're involved in. It lets you be fluid in how you approach the creative process while still keeping a solid goal in mind for what you want to accomplish.

But those are my two cents ;) My apologies for this extremely long comment turning into a novel, and if you're still reading at this point I hope this helps alleviate some of isolated feelings on this, and thanks for posting! Glad to know it's not just me as well!

Flashman85 said...

Long comments are always welcome! And even if it takes me a month to respond to them, I do read them all. :)