Mythbusting Time: How Creativity Really Works

This graphic was borrowed from the popular TV show, "Mythbusters."

"You are not at the mercy of The Muse."

So saith one of my new favorite authors, Vinita Hampton Wright, in her delightful 2005 treatise on creativity and the spirit world, "The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life."

Her startling declaration above directly contradicts the novice, some would say amateur assumption underlying much of my writing life to this point: I'm helpless to create until inspiration comes.

No, Wright says. You must write each day and trust that the words will come when you place your hands on the keyboard.

There will be days when you're writing page after page of free-flowing prose. There will be days when it's time to stop, buckle down and edit what you've written. There will be days when much of what you write later lands on the cutting room floor.

But you don't ever need to wait for this phantom-like Muse to strike. It's not that The Muse is a lie. It's not that you won't still experience those lightning-bolt moments of clarity when the words and ideas rush to you unbidden, nearly perfect and whole with no alteration.

That's the beauty of this calling. You'll still get that rush. You'll still write paragraphs that flow forth from your fingertips with no warning. When the tide ebbs, you'll look back and marvel at words that can only be described as supernaturally delivered, because there's no way you could have written them on your own.

But the essence of Wright's wisdom is that the well can never truly run dry. Why? Because creativity is a divine gift, a godlike attribute bestowed by the Ultimate Creator to every single person. It's He who gives it, and His resources are endless, His universe is infinite, and His love for his creatures is perfect.

If we trust in that, the only responsible thing to do is come to the keyboard each day and write. If you fear the words won't come, pray for them. Plead for them.

But don't give up. As my fellow writer Andrew Rogers recently urged, go to that comfy chair, that austere office, that bustling coffee house, wherever it is you do the work of perseverance, and trust that the God who fitted you to your calling will be faithful to supply what you need.

Learn more

To learn about the practices, inspiration, beauty and dangers of the writing life, as well as how to more fully integrate your creativity and spirituality, read Vinita Hampton Wright's book, "The Soul Tells a Story." You can find it at Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

Read more posts in my Storytelling Sunday series here.

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