I have written, through the years, only when the creativity bug bit me. It might be 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon or 5 o’clock Tuesday morning.  I just waited around for it to bite then I’d write.

I’ve learned to bite first. I make an appointment with creativity instead of waiting for it to make an appointment with me. Now, I grab the keyboard or pen and start writing, and the creativity comes. Sometimes the creativity looks a whole lot like work. It’s not always fun; it’s not always easy. Writing doesn’t always flow out like a rushing river; it’s more like canoeing a ½ mile on a placid lake then portaging your canoe through two miles of tick-infested brush.

The most important lesson I’ve learned about writing is to actually put a word on paper or a computer screen.  I sometimes sit down at the keyboard with no idea what to write and just start writing. Usually, I follow a plan I’ve laid out, but sometimes I sit down with no agenda and begin to put words on a page; they always take me to new places.

I only get writers block when I think about writing. I overcome it when I actually start putting words on the page.  It might be as goofy as “See Dick run. See Jane run faster.”  But once a word makes it to a page, my imagination sees Dick as a chubby, middle-aged man who takes up jogging because he’s smitten by Jane, a beautiful woman nine years his junior. So Dick straps on the Nikes, puts his ear buds in and jogs along dirt-covered path in the woods. Well, looky there, Jane happens to be jogging the same trail!

I might have to hit the back button and delete entire paragraphs, but I have taken control of creativity instead of waiting for it to take control of me.

One of the best ways for me to bite the creativity bug is to write a story. While it may be hard to come up with new content about the topic of your choice, it’s always easy to write a story.  Describe how you felt when the stranger in the car in front of you at Jimmy Johns paid for your sandwich. Explain how you feel when your grandkids squeal your name and jump in your arms.

Start a novel even if you don’t intend to publish one. As you tell a story, you will discover the power of letting your words lead you to new ideas. Writer Annie Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, quotes E. L. Doctorow: “writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

This essay is a result of me just sitting down with a cup of coffee, my laptop, and no agenda other than to write.  I had no idea Dick would fall in love with Jane when I started writing, but now I wonder how Jane feels about him.  Does she even notice? Is she secretly laughing at him because he sounds like Fatty McWheezenstein? Will he continue to run even if she shuts down any advances?

I bit first.

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I’d love to hear of things that help you to bite the creativity bug!