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On The Edge: What Does “Standing on the Edge of Creativity” Mean?

This column is devoted to stirring the creative senses, overcoming writing fears, and learning ways to produce creative writing even when you think you can’t do it. “Standing on the Edge of Creativity” is dedicated to writers of all abilities and genres. The main goal will be fiction; however, many of the exercises will be applicable to writing in general since the focus is creativity.

All meditations are non-denominational and stem from the premise that some part of the writer is the creative force at work. A few of the exercises may seem surreal but that is merely an attempt to break down mechanical constructs or formulaic ways of looking at the world around us.

A transmutation of the writer’s mind must occur in order to be a true creative force rather than simply a talking head.

Standing on the Edge of Creativity” is akin to teetering on the edge of a dark crevasse–the edge of the unknown. That moment is filled with fear and self-doubt. The creative writer must release the filters of fear and doubt in order to see the world in a new or exciting way. Like the artist, who paints the sunset of her predecessors, a writer who copies and regurgitates the old will never succeed. As the world evolves, so must art–and so must the creative writer. If the creative writer uses only her own life as a measure for evolution-then she may also succeed. To find passion in one’s own life, a passion that stems from exceeding expectations can be the most satisfying success. As an enduring love of spirit and soul may flow through the artist’s skilled hand–so the writer must find her own way toward creativity. She must learn to let it flow through her unencumbered by fear and guilt -unheeded by society’s whining of what is beautiful and what is worthy. “Standing on the Edge of Creativity” is about leaving those things behind in the rumble of yesterday’s moon.

Sometimes the writer will be encouraged to do free-writing exercises. At other times, the writer will be asked to hone her observational skills in an attempt to build a new set of symbols by which she can define her world. No matter what this column may become “about,” a common thread is: “writer’s empowerment.” Creative power is a positive energy that can nurture and enlighten. Without it, many people wither as if flowers removed from a sunny windowsill. Learning to be your own source of illumination is an acquired skill.

Standing on an edge of a canyon can mean looking into the unknown and wondering what might hurt us. If we learn to belay that fear then we can let our hearts shine through in our own writing. Many of us can remember the summer camp “trust” exercise-the act of falling into someone’s arms and hoping our partners will catch us! “Standing on the Edge of Creativity” will deal with a similar process but the writer will need to be her own net…she will need to trust in her own abilities. You, the writer, must take serious steps to build a portfolio of creation rather than simply trying to “get published.”

Does it have to be that scary? For many of us, the answer is yes. The reason is that we are sharing part of ourselves created from our experiences and our minds. Though writing can be a non-emotional issue, the access to creativity is often connected to our emotions and blocked by our fears. So often new writers have difficulty separating themselves from their work-and when someone criticizes it, they stop writing. The act of creation itself is incredibly personal but the end product shouldn’t be. If a piece of writing can only make sense to the writer then it has failed. As a form of communication, the writer must be able to convey images, thoughts, and feelings to others. As a necessary means to that end, the writer must learn to associate creativity less with the self and more with the external concept of creativity. This is akin to how Kahil Gibran describes the relationship between the lover and the beloved in “The Prophet.” From the section, “On Marriage,” Gibran states that the loving must move through the two separate entities- “But let there be spaces in your togetherness,/And let the Winds of Heaven dance between you.”

The writer and her work must be the same way. Creativity is the love that must flow through the writer as well as flowing between the writer and the work: the marriage. Once a writer can conceptualize this, then emotions should not interfere with writing. “I can’t write because…” should no longer have any meaning. The writer must learn how to quiet her mind and tap into that flow of creativity.

We must also accept the inevitability of taking risks. Every thought placed on paper is a risk. Every query sent is a risk. Every manuscript submitted to an editor is a risk. We all must risk rejection in order to be writers. To begin this journey of risk taking, we each must assume an act of will similar to Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith.” We must believe in our own abilities to act as our own creative inspiration even if this cannot be proven to our self-critics. How does this relate to a religious philosopher’s treatise? Put aside the voice of reason (the self-critic) and trust in one’s self –as a writer- even without proof for doing so. That is the foundation to use as a “leaping” stone.

Standing on the edge in the moments before action…we must decide to act, to make a decision. We must make the conscious effort to belay our fears and move through the EDGE to the dark crevasse below. The outcome is unimportant-the process is. We writers must learn to cross over the edge in order to face our fears of rejection and success.

~~~~~~~~Writing Meditation: On The Edge~~~~~~~~

Put aside fifteen minutes to complete this meditation.

Imagine yourself on an edge of a canyon, gorge, windowsill of a skyscraper, window-washer’s scaffold on the Empire State Building–any landscape or architectural entity that you can visualize clearly. See your favorite shoes on your feet. You are balanced on the narrow ledge of a building or edge of a rocky slope. Picture your body standing there and delve into how you might feel. Would your life flash before your eyes as many would surmise? Would you recite The Lord’s Prayer? Would you press your body quickly against whatever is behind you and be paralyzed with fear? Would you calmly assess your situation and figure out how to get out of it? Now calm your racing mind for a moment. Your vision blackens. Slowly your sight comes back. You are standing on the edge of a great canyon–Is this Bryce? -Is this Zion? -Somewhere along the rim of the Grand Canyon? Can you appreciate its beauty even though you’re in a personally threatening situation? The light starts to fade along the landscape and you are paralyzed. The wind nudges your body toward the edge. You could try to back away even more but you may lose your footing and fall anyway. If you step forward it is certain you will fall–but fall to your death? Perhaps. So you stand still doing nothing until your legs begin to quiver and your body longs to take action. Your mind searches in the darkness that has fully cloaked the night for every reason not to move…Something could hurt you-you could fall and hurt yourself. Thus is the nature of creativity…the choice to leap into the unknown.

Suppose there is no way but “through.” Your only choice other than inactivity is to jump. Would you do it? If you want to be a writer there will be many times when you must take a “leap of faith” and believe in yourself even when your family or friends do not.

Now imagine your fear of falling, your fear of the unknown. Acknowledge it and stand on its edge. Now JUMP!

© 2002 by Renee Faucher

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