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Retreating from FRUS-tration

November 10, 2013

Retreat Campsite

View from the retreat campsite.

Ahh…no worries, no cares…no ideas?

See, I’ve taken a writing retreat this week, got alone by myself, and after a day or two I was about to strangle a silent stubborn muse.  Until I felt the grip of my own angry fingers around my own scrawny neck.
Lucky for the muse (and me), I read Paul Schmid’s  post about creativity Saturday on Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo series.  Peter explains that most of his ideas come as a product of his intuition rather than mental activity.
The revelation was revealing. (Well…duh.)

I think his comments helped me see, for the first time, something I really knew all along.  He helped me identify my creative frustration: mental pressure and creative angst don’t generate creativity.  They force the lowest of notions, they foster the blandest of ideas.  They abandon spontaneity
Why, they deprive the spark of fodder.  But first they spit on the spark.

Speaking of spitting, I’m thinking now that creative frustration is well illustrated by that eternally bothered character we all know so well, Donald Duck.  When I can’t get a creative idea to form, I find myself flappin’ my beak, and with that raspy voice spittin’ and spurtin’ unintelligible curses Disney couldn’t risk saying plainly on the big screen.

And ‘flab-dabbit,’ he has three nephews working for him. No, not Hughey, Dewey, and Louie.

They are instead:

  • MUST-tration: This devious nephew says, “you HAVE to do this.  It’s why you took your retreat.  You’re spending all this time alone, when you should be working or worrying about something. It’s why you took those expensive writing courses, signed up for half a dozen writing challenges. You’ve spent time and money and effort–it better pay off–it must!”
  • RUSH-tration:  This  critical nephew says, “Your time is running out! You’re old, and you need an idea now.  Get with it, your social networks are waiting for your success.  You’ve got to get back to real life next week…you better hurry.  You don’t get moments like this often.  Look!  The clock is ticking, and you’re not getting younger! Haven’t you been at this at least a year? Get in a rush, buddy. Your personal dealines loom.”
  • CRUSH-tration: This down-in-the-mouth nephew says, “Damon…it’s just too much.  You can’t do this.  Look at all the successful writers who are kind enough to ‘friend’ you and let you in this writing community.  But you just aren’t gonna get this dream.  It’s pie in the sky.  Forget it.  Just forget it. Crush that dream.

Now that I know my enemies, I think I’ll ignore them.
I don’t have to generate ideas, I just will let them come, let them find me.
I’m in no hurry.  Time is what it is, and anyway, it seems any worthy idea rolls in on a slow, white cloud in a blue sky.
My writing dream is a God-given dream.  I was made to love stories, books, and kids. No measure of criticism should change that.

There.  And thanks, Paul.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2013 7:59 pm

    Great post. I love it. Sending you hugs, kisses, and two pie pans. Now go outside Mr. and get some pebbles.

    • November 13, 2013 10:06 pm

      Thanks Lynn…got SO MUCH done! Great retreat. I recommend it. Love the pie pan idea.

  2. Christie Wright Wild permalink
    February 15, 2014 9:13 pm

    Damon, I LOVED this post. We all need to retreat from frustration. And I, like you, seem to work quite slowly. I’ll let the ideas come to me on slow-rolling clouds. However, when it drops out of the sky and into my lap, you can bet I’ll be running 100 mph with it to see it through its first phase. I’ve got to give it birth before it dies in the wind. And since I believe that writing for children is my God-given dream too, I am learning every day how to be more patient and understanding, more creative and disciplined, and more driven with gusto to go after it. Thanks so much for sharing.

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