Creative writing

Yesterday I was helping my younger brother (who is going to grade twelve next year) with his course selection. He already knew most of what he wanted to take but was stuck with a last course to pick. What I ended up suggesting to him was Writer’s Craft, a course I took in grade twelve. We were both a little unsure about him taking it, but given the few options he had that seemed the most promising.

Writer’s Craft was a very good course for me several years ago. My teacher for it also happened to be my English teacher, so I had him every day for the entire year (my school was non-semestered at the time).

One of the things my teachers had us do was bring a journal with us to every class, and for many of those classes we did what were called “writing sprints,” where he would give us a topic of some kind and we would be given very little time to write something down. The journal would also hold other assignments as well.

When I look back on it, I still marvel at how I could be creative every other day for an entire school year. I don’t mean that to sound like I am the world’s most creative person or anything like that, What I mean is that for ten months, I was able to write creatively with barely any instances of writer’s block.

The journal itself is still fun to look at every now and then. We had several units; short stories, poetry, editorials, a very brief bit on songwriting and play writing. I really couldn’t believe some of the stuff I wrote in that I don’t know how I could do that now. One of my favourite poems I wrote from then was a tanka, which my teacher also really seemed to like. It goes as follows:

Sunlight hits water
Illuminating vastness
Standing on the edge,
Observing the world’s movements,
Feelings of restlessness grow.

It might come across as a cliché, but it was really a good glimpse into my state of mind at the time. I was itching to get out and see the world, and to some degree I still am. Other poems were certainly not my best work, such as a sonnet (I did not choose the format) I wrote about a girl I had a crush on at the time.

Since Writer’s Craft, though, my well of creativity has mostly dried up. I find to write poems I need to be in an extremely specific mood. Short stories are coming a little easier to me now, which is good, even though I probably will be doing a lot more non-creative writing if I get a job in my field.

A while back I read a book by Jonah Lehrer about creativity. While the book ended up having to be recalled due to fabricated quotes (from BOB DYLAN of all people), it did have some interesting points to make, such as that creative people can become more creative by learning a little bit about walks of life that aren’t theirs. For example, an actor might draw inspiration from hanging out in a lab. Stuff like that.

All I know for sure is that creativity is elusive, and it manifests itself in many different ways and times of day.

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