“Me write pretty someday” (March 22, 2017).
Isn’t it so attractive when someone can write really well? I think so. Honestly, writing is something I have come to enjoy in my life and I have wanted to do this for a career, as I am so passionate for it. I think some of the worst advice I have ever received probably ever, but this semester, was from an English Advisor that I visited with concerning my English degree. When I told her what my dreams and goals for my future career were and that I wanted to become a professor and lecturer, she stopped me in my conversation to give unsolicited advice. She saw this as an opportunity to dream crush. I feel that her take on my thoughts was her experience and perhaps she was just trying to be honest with me about her knowledge of graduate programs, and maybe to prevent disillusionment in my goals.
However, she told me that I should rethink my goals and the program all together. That the graduate program is highly competitive, meaning that I would have to constantly compete with my friends for grants and funding, so I wouldn’t have any friends. She went on to say that the department was losing three professors in Rhetoric and Writing this semester, and that they were not hiring replacements, and that there is a glut in the market with people who have their PhD, and not enough fellowship positions to fill the demand. She said all of this in a matter of a few minutes, in between talking to me about the MFA in creative writing or a classic PhD in English. I walked away feeling kind of crushed in my desire to do anything, ever.
I say all of this because over break I have realized some more things about writing and life in general. I was attracted to read, “The Anticreativity Letters: Advice from a Senior Tempter to a Junior Tempter” by Richard Nisbet, and I couldn’t find this advice any more invaluable and true! His style of writing is interesting and the way he presents the letters in two different perspectives and a reverse psychology of sorts. To sum up some of the advice given, the Senior Slump is telling the Junior Slump everything that will kill creativity, expansion or new development in science projects.
Yet, this advice can be applied to anything you want in life, in this case, writing pretty. In one of the examples, the Senior tells the Junior to make sure and reiterate to his researcher, “to overwork,” 10-12 hour days on end, in fact. This was a fine example of what not to do, yet many of us scientists, scholars, Americans in general, tend to be workaholics not finding the value in a break. This is a sure way to kill creative ideas, thinking, and the analytical skills needed for writing, or really doing anything. Another one of the ideas I liked from Nisbet’s reading was the idea that collaborative efforts, talking about ideas, and getting a new perspective, instead of just working alone, closed off from anything or anyone, can be very beneficial at coming up with creative, innovative endeavors in writing or life.
This is all to say that this “anti-creative” advice is valuable and beneficial to letting ideas flow. When you are efforting, interrupted, stressed out, frustrated and feeling the need for competition between yourself and others, this is absolutely the worst time to write a novel. In contrast, when you are relaxed, feeling freedom, talking through ideas, feeling inspired, and letting it all flow in the “creative zone,” that is when you are most likely to produce an innovative, creative project. In other words, mood and feeling matter in everything that you do. When you are competing and told that you can’t do something, or you won’t have friends, well, it’s no wonder there aren’t options and you can’t find a job or be successful in a graduate program. Well thank you to my English advisor for your knowledge, anti psychology of sorts, and for being honest with me. Now I know what I don’t want!