Friday, May 6, 2011

Creative DNA

Dear readers, Claire here in Spokane is jumping back in as a regular blogger for the next few months. I've enjoyed following my comrade's posts and look forward to joining in again.

Even when my writing is going well, I am never far from reflecting on my process. I ask my students to keep a process journal throughout the semester. I often ask fellow writers about theirs, perhaps in search of some magical formula that will eliminate the hard parts. Alas. Every book, every story has stages in the writing process that make me jump out of bed in the morning and others that make me tear my hair out.

Children's author Louise Borden was here recently for Spokane's Get Lit! festival. It was great to spend time with Louise, as I had admired her fiction and nonfiction picture books for many years, especially those on historical subjects. During her talk she asked the writers in the room, "What is your creative DNA?"

Isn't that a terrific expression? I believe she was asking us to consider how our personality is wired for the writing process - the ups and downs and all arounds. She encouraged us to figure it out and build on that knowledge. She mentioned that when panic or doubt sets in on a project, she reminds herself that she has faced it before and come out on the other side.

My creative DNA loves beginnings and new ideas and characters and struggles more in the later revision stages. How about you? What is your creative DNA?


  1. In my creative DNA is the compulsion to get right to the drafting.

    I'm better served, though, when I use "prewriting" techniques--I'm thinking of them now as writing techniques. I need to build the car before I can go joyriding ;o)

    Maybe gaining better methods and habits is like mutating our creative DNA --we transform into better writers.

    I was going to try for a "recombinant DNA" metaphor but I think that would mean cloning ourselves...

  2. Great to hear your voice, Andy. I had to look up recombinant. Fascinated to learn it means genetic material. I think so much of our writing comes from there - who we are, where we came from and how we respond to the world. Better methods, ah, yes. A continual fine tuning of work habits and attention to our process.