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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are you a hoarder of the writerly kind?

Are you a hoarder? I don't mean do you have a closet full of clothes you don't need, or a house full of 'stuff' you think might come in handy one day. I'm referring to the idea of storing up ideas, thoughts, creative impulses. Are you saving all those wonderful ideas, great lines, perfect rhymes, for the perfect story/poem/book/whatever, to use them in? Do you have a kind of reluctance or unwillingness to actually get these things down on paper?
You're not alone! I'm like that; and I think it's not an uncommon trait for writers, artists and other creative types. For me I'm coming to realise that it's possibly a problem. Like, it it is a kind of fear or protectiveness of some kind. Maybe it's paranoia that my brilliant ideas might be stolen, used by others without my consent. Who can say? All I can say is that for me I am starting to feel that it might be the reason (or at least a part of the reason) that I experience a block sometimes. Quite a lot of the time I am consumed by the need to be creative, to create, but I just can't.
I was thinking about all this, then the other day I read a story in the paper about a short story writer who has just published her first novel. In the story she's quoted as saying:
'I realised that the impulse to hoard is the opposite to the impulse that you
need to be creative'

Suddenly I thought, yes! That's exactly right: like when you have logjam in a river that stops the water flowing freely. It's exactly how I feel so often lately: all blocked up, nothing able to flow freely. The author goes on:
'What we need to do is just keep giving it all away, keep spending it all, keep
putting everything down on page.'

I guess that, when we don't hoard anymore, when we are in the flow of giving it all away, getting it all down as it comes, when we stop being so miserly with the words we are gifted with, then maybe the miracle happens: new ideas, and even more productivity just might rise to the surface.'

As that writer said, 'It just keeps on coming downstream'.

Ideas, as we all know, are such fleeting sensitive little things (or big things sometimes?) and they just sink and disappear forever if we don't let them out, give them free rein to do their thing. And I have another interpretation on that writer's 'giving it all away': I think it can be taken literally, as in giving the idea, the writing, the story away-to the world; to other people. We can get all fearful in this too can't we? We want to hang onto the brilliant (in our own mind) ideas for ourselves, either for ego reasons or for hope of future earnings or other rewards.

Well, now is the only time there is as all the self-help gurus will tell you. So, let's all just give it away. Get it down and out there. Who knows what will happen then? And if someone does steal your idea and write the next blockbuster or next Booker Prize winner? Karma. That's what will happen to them. Meanwhile you have shared the gifts you have been given with the world at the same time of clearing that stream of your own consciousness that will allow the flow of your own future winners.

By the way, I posted a newly written poem in my last post. I tend to hoard pieces like that. More out of shyness and inhibition that anything else. But it was that story I've quoted here that prompted me to put it right out there. Want to read it? Here's the link. Go!!!!


  1. "What we need to do is just keep giving it all away, keep spending it all, keep
    putting everything down on page."

    I cannot think of better words for a writer to be guided by, and the older I get, the more I feel it: just get it out, get it out, get it out...

  2. Yes! I know you are right. The words just hit me from that story in the paper. Now I just have to put it into practise! Thanks for commenting!


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