If I could share one thing with young writers of all ages, it’s that creativity is never a linear process. It’s always full of detours, rabbit holes, and dead ends. And that’s frustrating, but it’s also wonderful! There’s magic in that messiness.
For example, I’ve recently become reacquainted with my notebook pages from when I was first noodling around with a new structure for THE FIRE OF STARS (five years ago now!). Below are my messy and illegible notes. Don’t worry. I’ve included captions to help with the translation.
Before I got to this point with THE FIRE OF STARS, I’d been researching and working on various drafts for almost three years, trying to find just the right way to tell the story of astrophysicist Cecilia Payne. But nothing had come together in quite the right way — yet.
Creating these messy scraps in my notebook through scribbling , experimenting with words, and (badly) sketching led to my eventual creative breakthrough with the book.
The process is a lot like star formation. It stars start with tiny “bits” — dust and hydrogen atoms. Soon the tiny pieces start to clump together, slowly growing until they explode in a breathtaking show of light.
This is also the way Cecilia Payne worked. She tried different things, hit obstacles, and needed a lot of patience before everything came together in her final, ground-breaking discovery.
Creativity — whether writing or science — is messy … and that’s a beautiful thing. So grab your notebook and collect scraps of words, snatches of an idea, and all your swirly scribbles.