A Greater Capacity to Create

By the end of the week I will have met my goals for 2009—well, not all my goals. I never learned to smile very well, a goal I will carry over and try again next year. I will, however, mail the manuscript of my novel to an editor for her consideration, which will lead to a goal for 2010—to see it published.

I don’t have a magic pen. I am neither a writer born with talent that pours upon the pages nor an artist inspired by a direct line to divine words. But in a way, I am both. My tools are not secret. Years of practice. Diligence to meet smaller goals. Life experience applied to fiction. And my motto that I pledged to use this year:

The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create.

These words by Deiter F. Uchdorf carried me through the solitary process of writing a novel, and it can propel each of us to fulfill our own desires to create. Like buying a house for the first time or raising a teenager, creating is a process that we learn by doing.

If I gave up on my goal in May or September or on chapter three or eleven, I would not have fully explored the whole process and missed the chance to enlarge my capacity. Learning to trust and rely upon the Spirit when I came to those negative points—fear, anxiety, boredom, discouragement or monotony—allowed me to press to the next part of the creative process.

I recently shared my understanding of this process with another writer friend, and today list some of the ways that I received a greater capacity to create.

Rays of Illumination

While I do not believe God handed me an inspired work and said, “Here put your name on it,” I do see that rays of light enhanced not only my work but my ability to work.

A real life experience inspired my story. Reflecting on the significance of it prompted me to ask “what if this happened next” and turned my imaginations into an idea for a fictional novel. I shared the inspiration for my story as a personal essay this fall, amd I plan to publish it next Monday as my Christmas gift to you, my readers.

While I feel that the initial idea to develop the story was inspired, the rest didn’t come as dramatic inspiration. I didn’t pray and then go write down what I heard. I studied the idea, considered settings and characters, fleshed out the plot on the back of large sheets of drafting paper and wrote scenes, one-by-one.

I also teach a religion class every morning, and studying the scriptures, preparing and teaching the lessons kept me level-headed and in tune with the word of God first thing every morning. That aided me generally to understand what and how to write as well as rewrite during the revision process.

Cathartic Release

I faced tension this year that wasn’t related to writing my novel. While I didn’t write that stress into the book, having strong emotions allowed me to feel with my characters and influence what happened to them. I lived right beside them, and I was sometimes as surprised as my main character to find truths embedded in her experience that I know inspired her and me to continue.

I wrote through my own emotions in a way that brought me spiritual understanding and growth. The catharsis renewed my spirit to feel the peace that the Spirit can bring. Ironically, I finished my final chapters at the lowest point of discouragement with the life circumstances our family faced. Yet, writing in a purposeful way brought me peace and calm in these moments.

A Faith-Based Work

Creation is a faith-based work, whether that is creating a family or writing a book. This year required me to have faith that my idea was worth pursuing, faith that I could press forward without second-guessing my efforts throughout, but more importantly faith in Jesus Christ that through his power I might achieve what I did not know I could do.

At the start of the year, I had many blank pages and little written. I wrote a little bit at a time until I could see those pages adding up. A few months later, the success of people around me who were further ahead in their own endeavors caused me to doubt myself. I learned to focus not on what others did best but what I could do. Those acts of faith felt like light ahead of me instead of darkness.

I didn’t know I could write fiction, but now I do. I didn’t know that I could carry out a solitary project of this scale without the feedback and input of others, but I did. I didn’t know if others would care, but I think they will. And I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be able to publish and sell it, but I’ve got some hope that I will.

Sometimes what we create is part of what we know but other times, our best is yet to come in undeveloped talents. Trusting in those small rays that illuminate our own spirit not only helps us create but enlrages us in the process.

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4 Comments

  1. Trent
    Dec 14, 2009

    Congratulations on celebrating the success of the effort, struggle and completion. We often cannot control the final outcome but it is our actions to work toward that outcome that we should celebrate. In reading and hearing of your pursuit in your writing and others who have also undertaken a major writing project I am in awe of the creativity applied to the effort. As one who thinks it would be cool to do that personally, the challenge seems at times more than I can or am willing to take on so I respect and admire the effort you have made and can’t wait to read it. Bravo!

  2. Lisa
    Dec 14, 2009

    You are an inspiration! I hope I get the opportunity to read your novel.

  3. Emalee
    Dec 14, 2009

    You are amazing! Thank you for your insights/reminders about creativity including the talk from President Uchtdorf. I am so excited for you and what you have accomplished. Hope to see the published work.

  4. Carrie
    Dec 18, 2009

    I hope that I will be able to gain a better perspective about my own “creative works” as you have. You are amazing 🙂

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