For the past two months I've been working heavily (and steadily) planning and exploring my YA/New Adult sci-fi trilogy story idea. It's still evolving of course, but so far it has already been the most fun, fascinating, and exciting creative endeavor I've ever attempted. But more importantly, it's been a catalyst for some personal change, conquering of fears, and overall general sense of enlightenment. Here's why:
1. I HAVE AN IMAGINATION AFTER ALL!
I've already learned a great deal about myself with regard to what it takes for me to unlock my imagination. I've always been afraid of not being able to think up interesting things. You know how every kid who has ever asked an author a question probably began with: "Where do you get your ideas?" Yeah, well...me too, kid.
As an illustrator I know how to generate ideas by doing research and collecting all sorts of visual references and inspiration. But until very recently I felt completely mystified by how authors come up with their ideas. Not knowing any other way but my own habits, I began applying the way I work visually to generating ideas for a written story. Research (LOTS), books on writing, lots of reading, building a photo sheet of my cast of characters, illustrating some characters, etc. I'm also creating a music playlist of songs that key me into mood/tone/atmosphere/pacing and sometimes directly inspire the action of a scene. All this thinking and immersion has lead to original ideas! Who knew?
2. CONQUERING ONE FEAR HELPS CONQUER A LOT OF FEARS
Attempting to write is currently alleviating many fears, because I am staring them in the face everyday:
- fear of thinking of ideas
- fear I am stupid
- fear that I am unimaginative
- fear that I am supposed to be an illustrator but don't want to be
- fear that my only value is in what I produce/create
- fear that I have nothing to say
- fear that I will never express myself
- fear of disappointing myself
- overwhelming fear of aliens. (Yup. Imagining a sci-fi novel about aliens is forcing me to deal with a lot of my issues.)
3. I AM ADDICTED TO CREATIVITY, AND IT NEEDS TO STOP
Three important things I need to reiterate to give this proper context:
1. I have been dealing with Lyme disease for 3 years
2. I do not eat well (I would live on bread & water)
3. I do not exercise enough
My good friend John is a personal trainer (though if I were to give him a more accurate title it would be something like "holistic health and fitness guide"). He came to his career through practice rather than formal education, and his passion for his work primarily concerns bringing awareness to how our daily behaviors (our diet & movement) play a massive role in not only our long term health but also our potential as human beings. So much of what he says inspires me and hits very close to home. It's like I'm finally in a place where what he's saying is getting through. Because I'm ready now in ways I wasn't before. (Because I happen to be writing a book about human potential.)
I've never been fit, or especially healthy, but I'm also not significantly overweight. And I've never cared enough about my looks to motivate me to the gym based on appearances alone. But I have always wanted to feel healthy and alive. This whole time I thought my biggest hurdle in improving my health and getting over Lyme disease was my reluctance to change my carb-heavy food addiction (which is partly true). But in undertaking this new huge storytelling project, I've realized that there is a much, much, larger addiction controlling me. And it probably has been for my whole life.
It's an addiction to creativity and productivity.
I put so much value on using my time for "creative" purposes that I will choose that over anything else every time. I should not have to tell my Lyme doctor that the reason I don't exercise is because I can't pull myself away from my art long enough to fit it in. Like a drug, art makes me feel good. And I do it all day, every day, for at least 12 hours. Why can't I make 30 minutes to take care of myself? And why is it that (on the rare occasion) I do go a long period of time without creating that I feel so depressed?
Because I have a dependency.
The only part of myself that I have viewed as having any value or worth is that which produces. In focusing only on the part of my being that makes me feel good about myself, I ignore and neglect the parts of myself that make me feel badly about myself (i.e. my health).
Putting creativity above all else is actually destructive to the other parts of myself.
I need to find a balance between mind and body. I can not be a complete person without tending to all parts of my well-being.
And that's what I'm learning from trying to write a book.