Creativity unleashed

I was on the phone with another writer, who mentioned that she stops before she starts, and as a consequence, she doesn’t write the way she wants.

And I posed to her a question that just popped into my head. Her answer was nothing at all like what I’d have predicted, a surprise and a delight and something I really do wish she would go ahead and do.

Because it was such a surprise, I figured I’d pass along the question to my blog readers, because you guys always surprise me, and we’ve got such a variety of readers here.

Hypothetical situation:

You have just won a fellowship award from the Creativity Council. For one year, this fellowship will give you a fairly large sum of money; maybe as much as you’d have earned at your regular job, and at least enough to cover expenses, on the condition that you create something.


What would you create? If you would write something, what would be the one work that’s on your heart and which you’d take this opportunity to create?

And if your creativity lies in other areas, expand the question for yourself: what would you paint, sing, craft — what would it be? Finances are not a consideration. It’s just you and your creativity, unleashed.

What would you do?


  1. lbdiamond

    Wow. Well, I’d write (for sure), also paint, draw, and decorate my house ’til it just couldn’t be decorated any more!!!!! *rawr*


    Ok, so I’ll still do those things, but not on such a grad scale, LOL!

    Nice post!

    1. philangelus

      But would you keep working on the same book, or if you were given the freedom to do anything you wanted and not worry about the market or what others would think, would you have a different project you’d write?

      House decorating never appealed to me, personally, as you’d know within four seconds of entering my house. LOL! My sister-in-law has TALENT, that raw you-wish-you-could-bottle-it kind of sense where she sees how things work together and how you make a house look splendid without being over-decorated. Me? Hah. So I wouldn’t mind if someone else decorated the house, but for me it would be an exercise in frustration.

      What would you draw?

  2. lbdiamond


  3. Becky

    I would start a community garden project locally (preferably in an urban area) — of course, this assumes the Creativity Council would fund the project in large part.

    1. philangelus

      That would be awesome! Would you be teaching people how to garden, or just making the gardening area available to them?

  4. Scott

    Wow….This question is so open-ended that you can drive a truck through it, powerful enough that you should be able to see your destination as soon as you drive through it, and yet, I can’t think of anything πŸ™ Is that bad?

    1. philangelus

      It took my friend a few minutes to come out with her idea. I think a lot of us have This Project we’ve toyed with in our heads from time to time and there are just too many obstacles to complete it. But if you’ve already been doing your “This Project” then there wouldn’t be an answer.

      For the most part, whenever I’ve had an idea for a project, I’ve done it. So I’d have a hard time answering too.

  5. Pamcee

    I’d work diligently (;-)) on getting pregnant and have a 3rd child. That counts as creating something, right?

    1. philangelus

      I was wondering if someone would answer that. πŸ™‚

  6. Kimberlee Turley

    I’d write the ending of the trilogy I started.

    It makes me so sad that I didn’t finish, but I can’t possibly justify wasting a year on a project that won’t sell in the current market.

    And I have 8 sewing projects I started but have not found time to finish. (Okay, they’re ballgowns, and the real reason I haven’t done anything is because I don’t have an event to wear them for, even if I finished them.)

    1. philangelus

      Maybe with the Creativity Council grant, you’d throw a ball at the end of the year and wear one. πŸ™‚

      It’s sad that the market keeps us from finishing projects we love. But that’s part of why the question came up.

  7. Cricket

    From what I’ve heard, unless you’re a fast writer it’s best to write something you love so it will be ready when the right market shows up, rather than rushing through something that won’t be ready before the current market crashes. Several good, experienced authors have written good stories that they sat on until the market was right.

    I have no clue what I’d create. Sometimes I would have said a book or a computer game. Now, though, I have plenty of time that I don’t use. Does the grant include someone with a whip?

    1. philangelus

      You’ll have enough money that you could hire a creativity consultant who wields a whip. πŸ™‚

      1. Cricket

        In which case, finish decorating the house, fanfic epic, shorthand, storytelling archives, design and program a computer game (turn-based version of Age of Empires or StarCraft), or an original novel. Knitting Masters, grade 5 voice exam, sing a ballad in public, learn piano, replace every sock in the house with hand-knit.

  8. Greenland

    I would write, write and write! I would finally polish my book till it’s ready for agents. One hour a day at 11 pm that I can spend writing is not enough, I started to feel detached from my book and it horrifies me.

    1. philangelus

      Oh, that’s awful. πŸ™ Can you work other hours into your day as it stands now? I used to write on my lunch hours at work, or on the subway commute, or during class in high school, or while waiting for my kid’s karate class to get out. Sometimes those little “snatchettes” of time are the perfect thing to make us feel attached again to our work.

  9. Jeanne Gassman

    Ah, this is a topic of daily discussion in our house. How much money do we need for hubby to retire, for us to pay off college loans, and for me to stop teaching and just write? I need my Creativity Council grant to cover all of the above. Too much to ask? If the grant came through, I would do two things: get this house ready to sell and immerse myself in completing my novel-in-progress, a book I truly adore. But the time lag is in the research. To write this book the way it needs to be written, I need to take a few trips and interview some folks. I plan to do some of that this summer (alas, on my own dime!). Oh, I might take another oil painting class, too–in my spare time. πŸ™‚

    1. philangelus

      Research is one of those things that either flies along or else it’s a roadblock. You could definitely use your CC grant to fly around the world interviewing people and visiting archives and museums. πŸ™‚

      If you take an oil-painting class, maybe I should take a drawing class. It’s silly, but I’d love to be able to draw my characters.

      1. Cricket

        If I can hire a consultant with a whip to keep me focused, you can hire someone to unblock the research and do the grunt work, as well as the dangerous research that leads you down trails of interesting ideas which have no effect on the story or any other story. (Your call on research that doesn’t affect this story but might affect the next one.)

        1. philangelus

          That would be a “spucket.” πŸ™‚ Each grant should come with the use of a spucket.

  10. mgudlewski

    Like you, Jane and Jeanne, I might go to art school. The goal would be to become a picture book author-illustrator. Dreaming!! Another project would be to spend a year photographing the rural county where I live, and create a book.

    1. philangelus

      The photography sounds really interesting. I didn’t realize you had an interest in that. And yeah, illustrating your own books would be awesome, wouldn’t it? πŸ™‚

  11. The Sojourner

    I was just thinking earlier today “I want to go someplace quiet where I can finish my book.” (I always want to start that with, “I want to see mountains again” but I don’t really care about the mountains as long as it’s quiet.)

    To answer a follow-up comment above, I’m definitely not writing this book because I think it’ll sell. It lives and breathes Catholicism, so even though I stringently avoid being preachy I’m sure it’d come across as preachy to a secular market. But I doubt it’d fly in a Catholic market either because one of my main characters has to grapple with the fallout of incest. (I’m tempted to try to explain that, but I’ll just leave it as is. There’s no real way to prettify incest, though of course I avoid being gratuitous about it.) You know you’re in trouble when you describe your novel as a Catholic take on the central problem of Oedipus Rex. (Which is actually not incest so much as the inescapability of fate, but still…)

    Sorry if you got more than you bargained for in that answer.

    1. philangelus

      That’s a fine answer. πŸ™‚ Have you read Colleen Spiro’s book? She deals with the same issue, unfortunately from a non-fictional perspective πŸ™

      1. The Sojourner

        Oh wow. No, I haven’t, and I’m a little afraid to lest it set off another year-long revision process. But I’ll be brave and see if it’s at the library.

        (I’m *just* getting to the point where I feel like everything is clicking together with the plot–my first draft was okay but full of rabbit trails that went nowhere and other plot elements that just appeared out of thin air because I didn’t think of them in time to set them up.)

  12. Victoria

    I think I would paint. I am not a painter, nor do I have any real talent for it, but I find it so soothing. I like the texture and the smell of paint, the feel of it going onto the paper through the brush in my hand. I don’t know what I would paint, but just that I would do it.

  13. Eliza Tilton

    I’d beg RA Salvatore to let me write a spin off novel about Cattibrie and Drizzt.