The Sense of Creative Urgency Non-Writers Just Can’t Understand

Yes, we mean “right now.”

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Have you ever felt as though, if you don’t sit down and let the idea in your head pour out onto paper immediately, it might suffocate you?

As if the ability to write things down as they come to you — as soon as logistically possible — is the only thing keeping you alive?

I have. You have. We all have. Because that’s how the brains of the creatively inclined work, somehow. We are so dependent on taking raw ideas and shaping them into tangible things that even the thought of not being able to do it terrifies us.

We know, on the outside, it makes us look and sound a little strange. I have literally stopped someone in the middle of our conversation — just for a “sec” — so that I could spend half a minute typing a headline idea or story concept into my phone.

We know this doesn’t make sense, if you’ve never experienced it from our point of view. After all, time can’t just stop and wait for your idea high to wear off — can it?

Here’s why our family and friends — those who don’t regularly engage in creative endeavors for no reason other than it’s essential — will never truly understand this part of our lives: it’s not logical.

It never has been. It never will be.

We are aware. We have tried to revolt against the urge. We are all still learning to live alongside it.

Granted, it’s not like this every moment of every day. In fact, there are stretches during which we’d give anything to be able to grab onto even one fragment of a partially formed idea, just to have some much-needed motivation to keep writing when we’d rather not.

But when something does come along — when our motivation and inspiration do align, and we know deep down it’s worth holding onto — we, in some way, have to claim it before it slips away.

We have to make a note of it in our phones. Scribble it onto our hands. Sketch it into the margins. Hit the pause button, just for a moment. Just in case this idea is worth chasing after.

Because the truth is, you never know. You never know if your latest idea will ever make it past its infancy. Maybe that’s part of the fun of all this. Taking a chance on something your brain created. Daring to believe that it could make all your dreams come true, someday.

Why do we feel the urge to respond to inspiration just as suddenly as it appears? Because we’re risk-takers. Perhaps a little reckless. We wouldn’t stand a chance out there in our world if we weren’t a little … dangerously spontaneous.

It’s really hard to deal with us sometimes. Always running off on new adventures. Always lost in thought. Always daydreaming. Sometimes actually writing.

We’re doing our best. Honestly, it’s part of the package. Us. And all our inconveniently timed, seemingly never fully formed, big, scary, and somehow pretty cool ideas.

If we have to briefly interrupt our deep conversation every once in awhile, well. Sorry. (: It’s kind of urgent.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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9 thoughts on “The Sense of Creative Urgency Non-Writers Just Can’t Understand

  1. I can’t count how many times I’ve shot out of bed from dead sleep just to write down the next big idea. Luckily, my husband is use to this behavior and has learned to ignore it.

  2. There’s definitely a way in which writing often feels like a big pile of ideas and words that are taking up space in my mind, and the only way to clear it out is to write it down, and then my mind is free to think about other things.
    There is an urgency to it, a desire to “get it out” so that I don’t have to carry it in my mind.

    Also, many times I’ve frantically struggled to get to a writing impliment, and jot down whatever it is I’m thinking before it slips away. I feel like “frantically jotting” could be the title of my biography.
    It is a lot of fun though, browsing through ideas. Almost like wandering through a mental candy shop. Everything looks good, but what are you in the mood for right now?

    1. Frantically jotting is all fun and good until you CAN’T READ WHAT YOU WROTE or remember what your shorthand means :) But I agree, we do have to be a bit selective even though we’d rather have it all. Sigh.

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