Can we be TOO creative? #writing

I worry a lot. Like what if the end of the world isn’t zombies but vampires, post-nuclear mutants or Democrats? I also used to worry about not being a real creative person, but just some hack who only has the most commonplace of ideas, but is too dull to know the ideas are dreck.

I don’t worry about that second one any more, though. My real problem is that I am too creative. And that wreaks havoc on my writing productivity.

Here’s how it goes. One morning I have a killer idea for a writing project and I get started. I get enthusiastic for a day or a week or for two weeks. And then it hits. Another killer idea. And it’s better than the old idea. Or at least it’s less familiar and and seems all shiny and new. And so I switch projects and have one more abandoned writing project for my file.

What about you? How many creative projects do you have lying around half-finished? Do your new ideas get in the way of your old ones so nothing gets finished?

I remember reading an employment ad where the prospective employer was looking for a worker who was a ‘self-starter.’ I guess that’s better for business than a worker who had to be started by a supervisor with whips. But when you are working for yourself, maybe it’s better to ask if you are a self-finisher. Because finishing is the thing. No one ever gets the first three chapters of an unfinished novel on the best-seller lists.

I wish I could trot out a shiny new solution to this old problem that would fix everything without any effort or willpower. But that’s not the real world. You just have to make yourself finish things you start. And I’m terrible at that. Long ago I had writing projects that I worked on for weeks before I gave up on them. Lately it seems I can come up with a brand-new writing project every writing day. I guess that’s why I write short poems and blog posts so much. At least I know how to finish those.

What about you? Does your burgeoning creativity get in the way of getting your creative projects finished? Do you have a good way to overcome it?

“People with Asperger Syndrome lack Creativity”

Katniss as a baby kitten.

Katniss as a baby kitten.

Some time ago an expert with power over my life announced to me that as a person with an autism spectrum disorder I could not possibly be creative.  Since this expert ALSO seemed to conclude that I did not have Asperger Syndrome during my childhood but somehow acquired it later, making me ineligible for certain benefits, I tended not to believe him.

After all, people like Vincent van Gogh, Herman Melville and Emily Dickenson are suspected of having Asperger Syndrome. They weren’t exactly uncreative, talentless hacks.

But once the poisonous idea has infiltrated my mind it becomes fuel for doubt. Maybe all my writing ideas, stories, poems are all flat and lacking in creativity. Maybe no one will ever tell me because everyone somehow detects my inferior Aspie status and lies to me out of pity.

Take a story idea I’ve been working on, that I call ‘Jane Eyre in Space’ because the early history of the main character, Hana Kelly, is similar to that of Jane Eyre. And the story takes place on another planet, a colony of the Terran Empire, sometime in the future.

Well, using Jane Eyre as a model proves I’m not original, since if I were really creative as only neurotypical people can be I wouldn’t need to use another book as a model for part of my story.

And setting stories on other planets isn’t original, it’s been done to death. And every single one of the little ideas I’ve had that make this story different— well, I had to come up with the ideas from somewhere. Something inspired them. So I just uncreatively take ideas from other places and that’s all there is to my fake claims of creativity.

But no matter how much that kind of self-doubt hammers through me, I know from my reading of writing books that other writers— REAL writers, neurotypical writers— do the same thing as I do. They get their story ideas from someplace. Think of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, which essentially retells fairy tales as fantasy romances in Edwardian England.

In fact, if the majority of our story ideas were not taken from other, familiar sources, the reader would find them too unfamiliar and bizarre to make for a comprehensible read.

So: I am Aspie, I am writer. If I can do as well as those other uncreative, defective Aspies like Herman Melville, I’ll be happy with it.