top of page

Creativity is a Dog

Not sure if it is my nature to be contrarian or if Abigail and I have a uniquely different experience with writing. In a previous blog post, Abigail compared creativity to a cat needing to be coaxed out and soothed with quiet and the promise of treats. Creativity for me has never been elusive. I’ve always had it in spades. The problem I’ve had is focusing that creativity into manageable projects which may be why I became a planner. I needed a way to train and control my creativity or the wildfire of creativity was going to set my house on fire.

For me, creativity never leaves me alone. It wakes me up in the middle of the night and barks at every squirrel it sees. If not kept on a leash it will run down the street looking for new characters to meet and play with it. To get anything done, I need to find a way to keep its playful energy in an enclosed dog park where it is free to wander but not so free it could run off and never be seen again. Like with my dog, sometimes I get exhausted and I don’t feel like playing fletch or I’m too busy to stop and enjoy the magic in the duck my dog has stopped our walk to look at. This is where the comparison (thankfully) stops. If I don’t let my creativity play, it dries up and abandons me when I need it. It doesn’t work on my schedule, it works on its own. Imagine if you were too busy to play with your dog and then suddenly, she stopped bringing you the tennis ball. Then, to encourage her to play again you start throwing it but she has no interest. That’s what it’s like for me when I don’t give my creativity room in my life.

Though it’s not impossible to coax her out again, you have to let her relearn how to be a puppy again, running without abandon. I find when I lack the creative spark to write, there is always something else I can write. Not necessarily another writing project but some other writing I can do. I can’t work on my novel so I write a poem about my impostor syndrome or make a comic about how I’m a failure or maybe I write a journal entry about what I’m feeling. When I give space to write outside of the scope of what I think I’m supposed to write, creativity starts to learn to trust me again.

As I hinted before, too much creativity can be a bad thing because it makes my approach scattered and I lose focus. I ended up having six different projects and none of them finished which led to self-doubt and the beginning of a spiral of whether I will ever be able to get it together enough to do this thing. How can you balance both being controlled and wild? For me, I set timers. I start all of my writing time with 25 minutes of free writing. I let my imagination play and run around with whatever idea she’s interested in exploring but when the time is up, it’s time to refocus on the project I want to work on. It works in two ways, giving me a warm-up for the work I’m about to do, like stretching before a run, and it helps me light that fire of creativity without letting it get too far away from the objective.

What I struggle with the most is letting creativity take the reigns and so sometimes I resist it. I’m afraid of losing the one thing I want to have over it: control. So, I have to remind myself that like a dog, it’s part of her nature to be playful. Part of the fun is allowing your creativity to take you to places you’ve never been before. When I started this practice of free writing, it made creativity so much easier to access and it started to become my favorite part of the day. With free writes, I could explore thoughts, ideas, and characters I didn’t have room for in my novel which led to breakthroughs in places where I had been stuck in my novel.

Even still, there are times when I can’t access that creativity. Mostly at times when I am too much in my head with my doubts and insecurities. Others say that doing things like the laundry or taking a walk or something equally mundane can help but for me what works best is getting lost. I always like to have things planned in real life and in my novels so when I find myself stuck, I let myself wander. I mean this literally. I get in the car and I drive. No agenda, no direction. I put on my music and let the world take me where it will. Alone in the car with my thoughts surrounded by strangers, I find creativity. But the second I start writing poetry in my head or get the idea for a scene in my novel, I don’t write it down, I let the thoughts stir in my head and grow. Giving space for creativity to go where it wants to go.

If taking over this blog temporarily has taught me anything, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all all for anything regarding writing. Writing comes from this basic need to make sense of the world and to be understood. When everyone sees the world differently how can you expect that everyone finds what they need to write the same way? Whether you have too much creativity or not enough, finding the right way to cultivate and grow what you have can be challenging. You can read other people’s thoughts and ideas about how this all works and perhaps that makes you feel a little lost. Maybe you are not like me or Abigail. Maybe for you, creativity is a carrot or a door but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

My advice to anyone struggling to put words on the page is to do the opposite of what you’re doing to accomplish that. Whatever it is you are trying to do that isn’t working, find the opposite of that. For example, you sit at your computer at a certain time every day and open your doc and nothing happens. Maybe you need to take your computer somewhere else or maybe you need an old-fashioned pen and paper.  If anything, doing the opposite of what you are doing may help you get unstuck. Don’t be afraid to try something unexpected or do something you don’t want to do as you might surprise yourself. Maybe your dog wakes you up extra early and you aren’t looking forward to taking her on a walk but maybe if you let her lead the way and let yourself wander, you might see something that sparks your creativity. Give yourself permission to stop and admire the ducks.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page