The Creativity Feedback Loop / by jean-francois dubeau

I shouldn’t be writing this. I have other things to do. Other fishes to fry. However, sometimes you get thoughts in your head that echo so loudly that it’s hard to hear the other thoughts beneath and I need those other thoughts if I’m going to get anything of consequence done.

Lately, I’ve been wasting a lot of time. In a way I’m very fortunate; I won a publishing opportunity with Inkshares but while most others with a similar chance are still working on their manuscript, I have everything ready and in the hands of my content editor. Still, I want to finish the first draft of the sequel to The Life Engineered and to do that I need to write. A lot. Yet, I’m spending most of my weekends putting together a 1:1 scale model of Koalemos, a character from The Life Engineered. I’m doing this because I promised to do so and raffle a copy to my supporters but apart from that, it’s not a productive investment of time. I’m also trying to make time to get some illustration work done for The Life Engineered. Essentially, I’m putting a lot of time into a few projects that aren’t writing the god damn book and it’s starting to make me feel guilty.

This little post is my Mea Culpa and also my list of excuses. It’s my way of reasoning through why these activities aren’t a waste of time but necessary tangents to breed a better sequel.

I can't stop drawing robots!

I can't stop drawing robots!

Forgetting that the model, the illustrations and even this post contribute to my marketing and visibility efforts, there’s a strong creative reason why I’m doing these things. It’s the Creative Feedback Loop. You see, most of the time, unless I’m eating sushi, I’d usually rather be writing. So unless an activity consumes me intellectually, every time I’m doing something that isn’t writing, I’m thinking about writing. I’m pondering my stories, character details, higher philosophical questions about my plot, etc. This is especially true if I’m diving deep into a project that is connected to what I’m writing. When I’m drawing robots, I’m considering the various forms my characters could take. If I’m modelling a character, I’m thinking about him and his relationship to other characters. Even the challenges I encounter while working on these other projects only serve to train me in solving challenges in my writing.

The writing feeds the side projects which in turn feed the writing. I drew a ton of sketches of robots and space ships while I wrote The Life Engineered and in a very real, if difficult to nail down way, it makes the book better. Sculpting and casting Koalemos has made me discover a series of world-building details about my universe that I hadn’t considered before and that will bleed back into the sequel as richer information for the reader to enjoy.

So while the end goal is to write stories, there is value in forcing myself to work on other projects. They can be a welcome distraction but also they help inform the process. Other writers might enjoy free association, or stream of consciousness writing to break down the walls of creativity. It’s the same thing for me except I also like to be doing something else with my hands while I think. I simply wander a little bit further out from the garden to find my ideas and assemble them into a pleasing pattern.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to mix silicone and sculpt some legs.

If you want to know more about my modelling efforts and my book, The Life Engineered, follow me on Inkshares!