Is A Creative Mind Enough?

Today’s Friday Guest Post is by Carol, who writes as C.L. Roth.  C. L. Roth’s first novel will be available on Kindle in January of 2012. Check out her blog.

C. L. Roth was born in Kingman, Kansas and grew up in Lyons, Kansas. Even though she grew up in central Kansas, her heart lies in the Flint Hills of Eastern Kansas. The beauty of the hill country never leaves her. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, full-time caregiver, artist, and writer. She has a deep love of nature, in particular dogs and horses.

 A Matter of Balance

I am blessed with a creative mind. But is a creative mind the component needed to become an effective writer?

I have no idea if creativity is a result of nature; one is simply born with it. Or if it’s a result of nurture; the impact of how you are raised. It’s most likely a bit of both.

In some of my early childhood memories, my make-believe world is stronger than real events. So writing comes easy to me. Characters romp through my head with ease. Stories pop up on a regular basis. I have notebooks stuck in various boxes and shelves that hold snippets of stories and ideas. So I would have to say that creativity is necessary to write.

But is it enough? When I look at the years I’ve spent writing vs. the years I’ve been published, then I have to say, no.

As my drive to be a writer grew, my frustration level also grew. I could come up with story ideas at the drop of a hat. My characters were as real to me as breathing. Why couldn’t I get these products to market?

Because, it’s not enough to be creative.

My life had given me right brain activity in abundance. I was heavy on ideas, and weak in follow through. Luckily, left brain activity, the analytical, logical part of the brain, can be learned. The craft of writing, the actual nuts and bolts of writing, can be taught.

First I analyzed my writing life; both the strengths and weaknesses. I concentrated on my weakness because recognition of a problem is step one. You can’t fix what you can’t see.

Step two is coming up with a plan of action.

In my case, finishing projects is a huge problem. The snippets of stories started vs. stories finished, is truly embarrassing. I needed strategies to finish my projects. A few of these strategies are using scene cards to establish the arc of the story. Making sure I know the genre I’m writing in, the audience I’m writing for, and how long the book needs to be.

Finishing work isn’t enough. To be published, you have to send those babies out into the world. Learning how to do market research is a critical component.

Writing those query letters, and actually mailing them, is necessary. I don’t give this part of the process very much thought. I simply do the job to the best of my ability and mail the queries.

I’m a poor planner. It was important to me to learn how to structure my days in order to increase my productivity. I use dry erase boards for this. They come in different sizes. I can prop them up so I can easily see them or actually hang them on the wall.

I have trouble maintaining focus, so the strategy I use there is breaking my goals down into long range, medium range, and short term goals. I write those goals in the appropriate spaces on the boards. They are visual reminders of what I need to do and why. No detail is too small.

Creativity will give you the ideas but it’s the left brain, analytical mind that will give you the product. You need both to be an effective, productive writer. Balance is the key. Too much creativity and you end up with notebooks littering your closets and shelves. Too much the other way and you’ll have a product nobody wants to read.

Marketing is tough. My creative brain threw a hissy fit when it found out it had to market. But the left brain, the analytical side convinced the flighty, creative side that marketing is a strategy game and that’s all it took. Dangling a game in front of the muse is much like shining a laser light in front of a kitten. Bait taken. The creative brain is having a great deal of fun thinking up ways to market.

Balance. Strengthening weaknesses. Planning strategies. Playing mind games.  All these things combine to create an effective writer. For me, the greatest of these is Balance.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and welcome your comments.



Filed under About writing

6 responses to “Is A Creative Mind Enough?

  1. Having ideas is only the first step of the writing process. We also need discipline, and a willingness to work on our craft. I like to think that my novels are created from a happy marriage of both sides of my brain playing to their strengths.

  2. Rabia, I totally agree. Balancing creativity with discipline of the craft is crucial to success. Thank you so much for commenting.

  3. Sue

    Yes, all the talent in the world won’t write the book unless we use self-discipline and just do it.

  4. On marketing, I had the benefit (and disaster) of working with a marketer. I don’t think he understood how to market a novel any more than I did. I haven’t rebelled against the marketing, though I did against some of the tools. Cowriter-marketer thought it would ideal to market the book by me (not him) dressing up in Civil War clothing at a re-enactment — in essence focusing on a very specific angle of the book instead of the overall career. I also had problems with Twitter, because it was very time consuming in the beginning. Add to that, everyone seemed to be saying that I needed to do Facebook, Linked In, etc. — many of which I saw no value in and would only consume more time. The one thing I recognized — and some writers don’t, judging from Twitter — is that writing still needs to come first. I settled on Twitter and a blog, and I have managed to get Twitter to 30 minutes a day.

    But I’ve also recently taken Bob Meyer’s Self-Publishing Options and have really begun to hone what my platform is: adventure, magic, honor, loyalty and humor. It’s in the story already. Just needs to be in everything else I do. I’m probably going to take Kristian Lamb’s blog course in January (along with Bob Mayer’s writing one) to see if it’ll help me further along in figuring out what I want to do. The one thing I’ve been trying to figure out how to work around is that I don’t want it to be advice blog for writers — that’s just going to attract writers, and not necessarily people who want to read my books.

    On goals: I’d never done them until I got to this class. But I did take the time to write out a five year goal, as well as some short term goals. Some were marketing based like going to four science fiction conventions in 2012 and getting 1500 followers by the end of the year. Most were more story-based, like finish Miasma by the end of the December, and finish (a very aggressive goal for me) three books in 2012.

    • Linda, thank you for commenting. One of the things I miss the most is dialogue with other writers. I live a rural life, and as a full-time caregiver my time and energy is, by necessity, focused on my son’s goals ahead of my own.
      You’ve voiced some of the same concerns I have and you’ve brought up points I haven’t had an opportunity to work through yet. Thank you for that.

      A lot of my marketing goals and plans are on hold until I have an actual product in my hands. I have ideas. Fun ones, that I’m looking forward to trying. Only time will tell if my ideas and plans are effective.

    • Sue

      Thanks for dropping by, Linda.

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