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The Joy of Creating is Hard Work by Sally J. Walker

Young people and brand new writers are frequently impatient to show their work to the world so may give the finished project a quick once over when finished. Experienced writers know they will spew an error-filled first draft then go back over the document several times, each time being more critical than the time before. They have learned to devote themselves to the concept that their readers deserve only their very best. The emotional intensity of first-timers runs hot while the experienced writers tend to be calmer, more controlled. Both rely on the hope that the reader will enjoy the story and connect with the characters.

The Learning Curve              

No matter the discipline, Creatives tend to be excitable and passionate about their craft. Recognizing the mind’s ability to imagine an image then feeling motivated to turn that into a viable, tangible thing is a profound experience, no matter one’s age or leel of maturity. The truly blessed human is the one who gets to repeat this experience throughout a lifetime.

The courageous Creative is the one who dares to open the mind to the DISCIPLINE of a craft. Young or old, this student is risking an assault on their personal creativity. They have to learn the fundamental tenants of their art form then nudge their own images to fit and stretch their imagination. Some lack the drive to endure when their emotions are assaulted with all these “requirements.” Others discover enlightenment and fascination that enhances their creativity. The very lucky Creatives are perpetually invigorated with each new project and focus on a well-crafted work that just might ignite awe in the world. Does that happen every time? No, but it is magic when it does.

Preventing Creative Frustration

When a person is new to a craft and testing their creativity, doubts plague the struggle to improve. That’s normal. When a fundamental confidence is established, that person frequently evolves a routine or habits of creation to honor the sparkling mental energy that struck the soul. Is that hyperbole? No, not to the Creative.

Discussing the daily routine and logical steps of creation with a number of people working in a variety of creative disciplines, I have found a common ebb-and-flow of expectations. New artists almost flutter with excitement and energy. Those who have learned their craft and worked at it for a couple of years vacillate between that new excitability and uncertain hope of public recognition. Those who stubbornly keep at their craft beyond a couple of years may sound a tad jaded and cynical about recognition, BUT their soul-deep need to create will not allow them to quit. Their soul hungers for connection with those who appreciate that the art still sparks to life in the mind. They turn their back on frustration and persevere. They recognize their creative images have to be realized for their life to have meaning.

I have concluded that the single most vital element in a Creative’s life is association with like-minded people. You must have access to these others, if not daily, then at least weekly. Communicating frustrations and anxieties with simple venting releases doubt’s pressure valve.

A Creative does not communicate in order to steal another’s concept. The commiseration simply strengthens the desire to solve a creative problem and defy the judgmental world. Thought-association is almost a tangible feeling in a group of excited Creatives. Whether new or experienced, the personalities challenge and feed one another.

Devotion to Learning

Besides associating with fellow artists, I have also found that everyone needs to seek new approaches, new awareness of how a craft works. Sometimes that happens when thought-associating in a group discussion. You perceive how the technique or material could enhance your work, your view of creation.

Other times you take a class or read a textbook on a topic.

Obviously, because I present classes and write textbooks (as well as work as a Creative), I am a proponent of structured learning. I never expect participants to mimic my approaches. I anticipate they will glean what works for them in their own creative process. My objective is to stimulate and challenge others. I expect they will, in turn, reciprocate. I have been a writer and storyteller my entire life. I babbled stories as a toddler, wrote my first short story at age seven, first novella at age 12 and first teleplay at age 16. I anticipate will be still be both writing AND learning at 103. Why? Because I live for my gray matter to continue to spark new images and there is so much in the world I do not know yet.

On March 6 I will begin a new course for Savvy Authors on “Finished Novel’s Objective Analysis.” I evolved this course as a progression from introductory courses to revising and rewriting courses to grabbing a project by the throat and logically, objectively assessing it as an acquiring editor and a discerning reader would. We write subjectively, but need to analyze objectively.

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Sally WalkerSally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, several creative writing textbooks, stage plays, poetry, and many magazine articles on the craft of writing, including staff contributions to two international film magazines for 10 years. With 30 screenplays written, several under negotiation at three different studios and her novel-to-screenplay adaptation on her plate, Sally has a well-respected manager representing her in Hollywood. In addition to long time active memberships in such national writing organizations as RWA, WWA and SCBWI, she was president of a state-wide writers organization 2007-2011. She keeps to a strenuous writing schedule and still has time to work as Editorial Director for The Fiction Works, supervising acquisitions and sub-contracted editors, as well as Script Supervisor for material sent to TFW’s affiliated Misty Mountain Productions. Sally has taught writing seminars, both on-site and on-line, for over 29 years and is the facilitator for the weekly meetings of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston, NE.  For more information on her works and classes go to her website at


Sally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, several creative writing textbooks, st...