A big thanks to Yoda from Star Wars for helping me see what I have been going through recently in my creative life.
The quote ‘you have to unlearn what you have learned’ is from The Empire Strikes Back film. It is featured in the scene where Luke Skywalker is training in the ways of The Force. His fighter spacecraft (or X-Wing) is sinking in the swamp. Luke thinks it’s impossible to get his ship out but Yoda tells him to think differently.
After watching this Star Wars movie yesterday I realised that last year was all about unlearning what I had learned.
During the second half of last year I fell apart creatively. I lurched from painful bouts of writer’s block to intense episodes of sweaty binge writing. I didn’t want to go back over anything and I hated any form of planning. ‘Words come first’, I told myself on many occasion, ‘I will think about the rest later.’ I never did think about the rest. Once I was done I would simply move onto writing something else. It felt transactional and soulless.
Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way’ saved me after I hit rock bottom. I would like to point out that rock bottom part didn’t follow a rejection or a load of negative feedback. I was actually on a Circle Line tube train. In between Westminster and Embankment I came to the conclusion I was tired of being the writer I had become. Words were being churned out but there was no depth or structure. I had become a word addict. Gasp!
Once I got off the tube train I found some free wi-fi and bought the Artist’s Way on my Kindle.
Through this book I started to ‘unlearn’ my craft.
I threw out all my old methods and processes of writing. I started writing long hand using Morning Pages and soon this evolved into note taking. I made so many notes. I read writing craft books about plotting and I kept telling myself, ‘thinking comes first, words come later.’
Well, I feel like a different writer and I am glad I went through this period of unlearning. My current W.I.P has benefited a lot from my new processes and methods. I am actually plotting and planning – squeal! Parts are being re-engineered and thought out. My pace has slowed and words are coming last.
I have no idea where this new approach will get me but I am glad things got messy last year.
It has made me see that sometimes we have to unlearn what we knew before we can move into unchartered waters.
Take care out there, writers.
I have added the famous Yoda clip here.