A Stream of Consciousness about Writing and Creativity

I’ve woken up early on a Sunday morning to write. Without trying, this has become a bit of a routine. I go to church in the evenings and keep my mornings deliciously free, quiet and slow like dew. This is where I recenter myself, among coffee and instrumental music and empty space. Sometimes the most beloved, necessary routines develop when we’re not looking.

I’ve poured a cup of coffee into a giant mug that says “Write.” It feels fitting–a nod to the creativity that no one will see but me.

For these morning writing sessions, stream of consciousness is best. It’s when the authentic stuff comes out. I teach myself things I didn’t know I knew.

I have to be careful to not think of myself as a writer when I’m writing. It ruins everything, especially a first draft. When I write, I do it with my eyes closed (metaphorically). I can’t look or evaluate, I have to simply write. I drift into that magical space of rest and open-mindedness and find the good stuff beneath the surface. It may take several hundred words to hack through the weeds, but it’s there. Of course, revising and editing will come later, but when I’m getting words on a page, overthinking is the enemy. Method and discipline takes a temporary back seat when I’m drafting.

But I have to patient. I can’t strong arm my way into art, and this dewy meadow of a first drafting space isn’t as easy to find as it sounds. I want brilliance to emerge immediately; I want to know where I’m going before I start. But in reality I have no clue where I’m going until I arrive. I write and write and write until––“Ahhh, this is what I want to say.” And then I edit it down, cutting anything that doesn’t pertain to my final destination until it’s half of the original length. That’s okay. It’s the process of discovery, broad to narrow, meandering until you find your way, the beauty and inevitability of art. There are infinite ways of creating; the exhilaration lies in figuring it out.

I have to throw out my fear of failure if I’m going to be an artist at all. I simply start, knowing there’s a 50/50 chance of it being brilliant or it being shit. It’s scary and wonderful––like flying. I’ve created things I didn’t know were inside of me, things that came out when I stopped overthinking and just started.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am and how others perceive me, especially in writing. I see people seeing me, and wonder if they see the real me. But people will see the real me when I stop thinking about what that is and just be. Maybe even I can learn something about myself when I stop forcing a destination and enjoy the process, seeing where pure enjoyment takes me.

Instead of constantly observing myself, I want to drink in the world around me and respond to it. I want to interact with the world with my whole body. I want to write sentences that feel like home and sentences that feel like they’re breaking all the rules. I want to use words that make me burst with delight or screech like nails on a chalkboard and figure out why. I want bright colors and floral patterns and the smell of lilies at the corner bodega. I also want monochrome and minimal, neutral and safe. I want to explore the range of what I know I love and press into what makes me uncomfortable. I want art to be a thrilling and risky journey where, at the end, I look back and learn about myself, seeing how far I’ve come.

And maybe I’ll write beautiful essays or create a personal brand or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll grow in some areas and backslide in others. Maybe I’ll see that I’m constantly changing as the world around me is changing, up and down and in seasons. Maybe “who I am” is not a one time thing to pin down, but a river to surrender to, riding every ripple and rapid.

Maybe “who I am” is what comes out when I stop trying and simply be.

And maybe the best way to start writing it just to start writing. Maybe there’s more inside of me than I thought, and it’s waiting to come out until I let go of control. Maybe I don’t even know the art I’m capable of. Maybe the art I’m creating is for me and no one else.

Elizabeth Moore