My CREATIVE PROCESS Based on Experience & Received Guidance

20 07 2023

Growing up, I went from drawing to practicing martial arts, to writing humor, to producing video, to performing comedy, to writing speculative fiction. For the sake of discussion, I use writing but this advice can be easily applied to any avocation.

Step One: WRITERS BLOCK – You are not adrift. You have your ideals and direction. You know what you like. Something hasn’t made you say “wow” lately. Lacking that “wow”, doubt creeps into your heart.

Step Two: SEEK – Fill yourself with music, graphic arts, literature, performance, look for what people haven’t found. Someone mentions a book you haven’t heard of; seek out the book. Look into those artists you enjoy and find out what they enjoy. Don’t force yourself to like something; if a discovery grates on you, set it aside. One happy discovery will lead to others. In all things, follow what you enjoy. Repeat as needed.


WOW – Something seizes your attention. It invokes a strong, arresting emotion. Go down the rabbit hole pursuing that something. Gather information about the something. Gather together a bunch of somethings and switch between researching and daydreaming about each something.

These next activities may happen in any sequence.

CONNECT – Interrogate the something. “Why do you mean so much to me? What do you mean to me?” It may answer: “This something causes harm to the world and must be stopped” or “This is wonderful and must be shared” or anything else. Ask: “Why is this so?” Reduce the something to the emotion it inspires in you and ask yourself “What experiences in my life remind me of this emotion?” No experience is too small; note smells, sounds, music, time of day, movies, books, feelings, people, era, location, more.

EXTRAPOLATE – Is there a visual artist you love? How would you describe their work in your writing? How about a sound? A smell? (Is there such thing as “a ridiculous stench”?) Can you use those descriptions? Extrapolation happens naturally in that creative bliss state. That said, an awareness of what you enjoy will bring you more tools to your conscious effort.

RANDOMIZE – Remove elements. Add elements. Change POV. Encourage Whim in your life. I’ve gotten into Sigil Magick to open my brain up and allow myself to think outside of expectations. Some writers go to the I Ching for plot twists, or Tarot, or gaming manuals, or opening books at random. You may be inclined to wait for inspiration; what is that but your subconscious rolling the dice? Whatever you discover and like, go with it.

BE USELESS – Do not expect reciprocity in anything. Your best, favorite effort may be utterly disdained. Something you dash off without a thought may be widely acclaimed. Do not create to an imagined audience. Create for so much for yourself, you feel really awkward showing it to anyone else. If you feel awkward, you are on the right track.

STEAL – If you are writing, what existing story (print, movie, TV, whatevs) resembles this glop of Something? This glop will remind you of some well-known story, and that’s okay. What aspects of that story can you use? (Only lately have I allowed myself to do this. I believe if I had allowed myself to write fan-fic decades ago, I would be farther along in my creative journey. Que sera!)

EXPOUND – Has your something sprouted an idea, character, or setting? Try the MICE quotient. Or my crude method, Put the character in the worst possible setting, or the setting gains the worst possible character, or the idea pits the setting against the character.

END – That’s right. END the story. Come up with an ending FIRST so you know what you are writing toward.

SPLORP – At this point you may have some dialogue or scene leaping into your heart and you can’t wait to write it. Don’t wait! Write the fun bits first! After you’ve written the fun bits, find the gaps in the plot and write a couple of sentences describing what needs to happen. Finish the SPLORP draft before going back and fixing anything. When you fix stuff, that will be your “first draft”.

FEEL – Whatever you feel as you write, the reader will feel it too. Did an idea appear that you love? The reader will be surprised too. We want to be nice to our characters, sure. But their pain will dismay the reader and heighten emotional impact. Be twice as hard on your characters, and the reader will feel it.

SCREAM – The story has a strong open and a satisfying end. Now you have to get the opening to grab onto and shake hands with the ending. You will need to tweak the ending or merge characters or do other aggravating, unexpected changes to make the story work as a whole. This is where authors scream. So scream and fulfill this proud artistic tradition.

MIND THE GAPS – Go back to your plot gaps? Do you need these filled in? Can you convey their information through dialogue or description?

JAZZ HANDS – Now that everyone is so fixated on Three-Beat, Save-The-Cat structure, I’ve started playing with expectations. In “Saints Of Flesh” when something bad happens, another bad thing happens. Or the third climax will resolve, but OOPS! Here’s the *actual* climax! I’m eager to write something where the huge event happens on the second climax, then comes a veer into an unexpected, barely-related, even-worse problem. Screwing with the audience is fun! (Trademark)

Now that you’ve done all that, finish your draft by doing these:

STEW – This work is not what you expected, is it? It’s surprised you pleasantly in some parts, but falls short in others. Set the first draft aside. SEEK and BE USELESS with this work until after you have worked on another project. Then you will approach this work with a fresh perspective.

SENSUALIZE – I hate being cliche. I want what I create to be the first time anyone has ever encountered such a thing. Imagine each moment. If that moment was a painting or a movie, what would that moment look like? What sounds would heighten the scene? Add three senses per page. Punch up smells, kinesis, and textures. Make sure all dialogue has attribution or description. This can be paralyzing because how can you innovate a new description of a cloud? Even this ferocity has its boundaries.


Each Audience Is A Different Animal. What worked for one will not work for another. Same presentation, same content, same tone that the audience loved before, may be loathed by the next, only to be liked by the one after that. Trends come and go. Works are evaluated, then reassessed. No matter what, keep your work. If you like it, then it just needs to find its audience.

A shooting star streaks over a sleeping mountain town.



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