Brooke Spencer Vigil

My cousin Dylan and I would write songs and chapter books when we were children.  We would watch classic horror movies with my mother and yell at the television screen saying we could do it better.  We'd talk for hours on our parents land-lines discussing characters and plots, figuring out ways to up-the-stakes and make the story authentically ours.  Time has a way of stealing those creative juices, the ones that were seemingly overflowing in my cup when I was ten.  Since then, about eleven years have passed and I'm unable to churn out those characters and plots the way I used to, even though the knowledge I've gained in my field has been plentiful and enriching along with all of those new, and yes, sometimes painful experiences that shaped me into the writer I am today.

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One of my favorite writers, Stephen King, once said 'The scariest moment is always right before you start.'  Finding time to be creative, no matter your profession is always daunting, here are some experiences that may inspire you in making the time to simply and effectively create.

It’s important in this rushed-to-order world to find time for art and one’s ability to be creative.  If we can find escapism in our livelihood, we have a powerful tool when faced with the inevitability of the permanence of the world we now find ourselves in.  Personally, I'm constantly trapped in the power of cellphones: they hold our schedules, our conversations, our maps, and more.  They create this unavoidable sense that creativity and the time it takes to be creative isn’t as important as all of those other tasks ringing constantly in our ears, unwaiting until we answer them.  We simply do not always answer when creativity is calling because we feel there is no time for it, or the time we did have had passed.  We live in a world filled with people trying to tell us what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done by.  Due to all of these responsibilities, I've found myself having a near-impossible time trying to find my 'time slot' for creativity.  Because, if what you're trying to create is good and natural, it often isn't found between 2-4:30 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I was in a rut for a solid month this January; it seemed like everything I churned out was a sugar-coated version of the things I really wanted to say.  There was no truth in any of my work—which is a trait of my writing that I believe has value and longevity.  It was missing, and I wanted to know where it went.  I shoved my 1978 Monterey Murray bicycle into my car and I went to Discovery Park around five.  I have lived in Seattle for about three years now, but always find I do my best work when I go out in nature, the park is as much nature I can get in the city and I loved going there.  I parked my car and took off, unsure of where I was going, not knowing if my old and rusty bike would make it.  I turned up my music loud and began to melt into the world around me.

Then I began to realize I didn't know where I was, and it was getting dark.  I took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong side of Discovery Park, in Seattle, far away from my car, no one in sight, no friends to help me get home.  The path turned from road, to dirt and roots, and then back to more road.  I didn't have any cell phone service and my headphones had just died.  I was alone, more alone than I was maybe comfortable with. I was so distraught and tired, but there was one more way I could try and go, the only way was uphill.  I fell straight on my back about a quarter up the trail, my backpack cushioning most of my fall, but I recall myself just lying there. Lost in the middle of a dark empty park feeling things I had been trying to feel and convey that whole month while trying to start this project, feelings mostly having to do with belonging.  I was trying to figure out the insides of my characters–what they wanted, where they were going, what they yearn for–over this period of time I was listening to what I wanted to listen for, selective hearing; the silent killer of our creative calling.  They were finally surfacing as I felt the pebbles of the trail in between my fingers, poking at my slightly bleeding skin.

Something was different though, I was crying, but I was smiling also.  I let my fingers dig into the earth and I laid there and laughed at myself, because I was so lost.  I understood that sometimes you just crash and burn in the middle of a dark park, with no one around.  Creativity feels like this sometimes. I thought it was a perfect place where all of the horror movies I watched came to life.  All of Stephen King's monsters, who were also my monsters in a sense, ones I had lived with and grew to know well, making their way towards me.

Wonderful stories of his like, The Girl who loved Tom Gordon; Big Bill Beats the Devil in It; The Long Walk.  They all grabbed me up by my shirt collar and shook me in the luminescing darkness that was surrounding me, telling me to get up off my ass, telling me I still had time to create.  The wind blew in my face and blood started to harden around the tips of my elbows.  I reached the parking lot and had just enough energy to drive home, sit on my front porch, and start to outline the novel I am currently working on.  A project I had been stuck on for well over that long month of January.

I learned these things while lying in the pebbles that night:

  1. Getting lost eventually leads to getting found.  
  2. Stepping outside of your comfort zone, kissing danger in the dark.  That’s where you find your voice.
  3. Stopping the noise of the world around you to make way for the world within you; that's how you beat the race against the clocks, the ones often counting down around  you, and knowing you have the power to do that.

As overwhelming as the world makes us feel, continue to do those stupid things that make you feel alive, because they aren't really that stupid.  They're just a part of the process.  The back-breaking, crying-because-you're-laughing-so-hard, lying-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-while-the-world-spins-around-you type of magic it takes.  To be able to step up in boldness to the page or screen and just run straight into vulnerability, to the truth. That's what I was searching for in the first place.

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Time has a way of stealing those creative juices, the ones that were seemingly overflowing in my cup when I was ten.

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Maybe you're looking for something different; we all have our careers and goals we're working towards.  But if you continue to find and chase after those moments of rawness and lack of structure and free thought, it will help you create whatever it is you are supposed to put into your project.  The one thing that transforms your work into your work.  

Continue to create; boldly, truthfully, and with authenticity.  

 

Brooke Spencer Vigil is a published poet and aspiring novelist in her early twenties.  Some of her favorite authors include Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, Vigil is also a big fan of poets like John Keats, Emily Dickinson, and Maya Angelou.  If you'd like to contact her for a potential freelance writing collaboration or publishing inquiries, you can reach out to her via social media or bSmart.  

 

Comments (1)

  1. Angelina Eimannsberger

Loved reading this, and not just because it brought back nice memories from my trip to Seattle a few months ago!!

Hang in there- creativity comes in waves and like you said cant be scheduled. I like following artists on social media and reading...

Loved reading this, and not just because it brought back nice memories from my trip to Seattle a few months ago!!

Hang in there- creativity comes in waves and like you said cant be scheduled. I like following artists on social media and reading their memoirs and essays about writing to remind myself that a lot of the literature, movies, tv, art, ... I admire comes from struggle and not in one piece- no novel ever has been written in one draft. That thing that's important is to find YOUR way to get to creativity.

You might have heard of this but I have heard great things about Elizabeth Gilbert's book on Creativity if you're looking for more advice on how to connect and nourish your creativity: https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/

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