Thursday, September 27, 2012

Habits and Creativity


I like to think of myself as a creative person; I’ve created imagined worlds, such as the mythic Pandara in my two books about a foundling with special powers, done a parody of Alice in Wonderland, with a gritty urban setting and some rather strange creatures, and in my Al Pennyback mystery series, I have my hero jumping from one unsolvable case (which he solves in the end) to another.

At the same time, I’m a creature of habit.  I’ve always been somewhat anal retentive about certain things; I always put my left shoe on first, I brush my teeth from the left side of my mouth to the right, and I always sleep on the same side of the bed even when sleeping alone; and, my somewhat weird behavior was reinforced by twenty years in the army where habits of behavior were the order of the day.

Now, you might be thinking that having two distinct personalities like this inhabiting the same body would lead to contradictions.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

I find that by having an established routine for my routine daily tasks; such as writing no less than 1,000 words each day; actually help stimulate the creative juices.  By not having to give much thought to what I wear, how I wear it, or other mundane tasks throughout the day, I have more of my brain available when I sit down at the keyboard and start manipulating characters through yet another improbable adventure.

My wife thinks I’m crazy; and, for all I know, she might be right.  After all, I’ve heard often that the line between genius and insanity is awful thin. Not, mind you, that I think of myself as a genius.  Far from it; I’m must a simple person who has complex thoughts; often weird thoughts that strike unbidden in the middle of the night.  I think in pictures and scenes, and I bring that thought process to my writing.  Because I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what to wear or what to eat, or any of the other dozens of things that consume inordinate amounts of the average person’s time during the day, I have time to think about things like; what would happen if your long-dead grandmother came back as a foot-tall spirit determined to turn your boring life around?  What in the dickens is a frog doing nesting in my running shoe in the garage?  Things like that; things that almost always trigger an idea for a story or poem, or an article.

So, there you have it; I’m a creative creature of habit; possessed of the same curiosity about the world around me as I was when I was a child taking apart my mother’s record player to see how it worked.  I only hope I never grow up.