Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spark Note #6: Creative Overload

Have you ever been to a site like this? I have. That one's mine, yours might be different. The important thing, the defining and unifying factor, is what a site like that does to you. You get the link for the first time, and hours later you're still there with thirteen different tabs open. Three weeks later, you still find yourself going back - knowing that it will do the same thing again.

It's a few months later now and the fever has passed. Looking back, the biggest cost I paid for my brief obsession with reading every single article on the TV Tropes website wasn't the time I wasted reading - it was the time I lost not writing.

I learned quite a few things on that website - like the Lancer character. So the next time I wanted to write something, part of my brain wanted to include the Lancer - maybe with a Secret Identity Identity leading to a Gambit Pileup and a hundred other things that couldn't possibly fit into any one project. It caused complete and total writer's block, and I'm still not completely free of it.

It wasn't a lack of ideas - I had too many and I couldn't write any of them.

The problem was that I became focused on the things I wanted to do - thinking how cool it was when they did it in that one thing, and how cool it would be if I could do it too - and I let the stories I wanted to tell evaporate from my head. How do you work through a problem like that?

My solution was time. Eventually, the huge mass of raw data was no longer at the front of my mind when I tried to write. Even later, the actual stories I wanted to write started to assert themselves again, and I'm finally back on track to where I want to be again, more or less.

Consider this to be a cautionary tale against over-self-education. You may do yourself more harm than good in the short term, so take it slow and remember that the most important education is going to be your own experience.