Process #3: Deviate from the Plan

This post is about a week late: how better to illustrate the next point in my creative process, Deviation!

Deviation: the action of departing from an established course or accepted standard.

Over the last two installments of this series, I’ve given you a lot of reasons to map out ideas, drafts, proposals. But let’s face it – too much prescribed business is boring; and once things get boring, they tend to get stale. Whenever possible (and probably when it shouldn’t be), I take a little mosey off the beaten path and behave like the rebellious teenager I always wanted to be (I wasn’t. That’s okay, too).

It is okay to take your project in a new direction. It is okay to abandon initial plans, and follow them somewhere entirely other than expected. It is okay to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy your process and let it surprise you – there may be wolves in the forest, but if you’re up on your fairy tale revisionists (i.e. Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine, Into the Woods), you’ll recall that Little Red Riding hood cuts her way out of the wolf that ate her up, and makes a fashionable cape out of the body (Original Broadway song provided here as proof). So, you know, own your deviance. You’ll get out of the woods just fine.

How do I apply this concept practically?

  • Exploring other media – Just because I thought this was a picture book, doesn’t mean it couldn’t be something else. Tired of writing in rhymes, I decided to spend some time painting. I went to my trusted Pinterest “Monster” board for images to work from. I painted a jelly-fish sort of creature.

    I liked the colors on my palette, so I ended up working on an old canvas and creating a stormy looking abstract, too.  It may not seem related, but it’s all informing the original project – and more importantly, keeping my momentum going.

  • Taking the story off on a tangent – I started in rhyme, but that doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. I became interested in this beastie I had drawn, and not knowing exactly where the story was headed, I thought I’d waltz a bit with characterization. One of my favorite activities, Character Interviews, comes from a wonderful Grad school professor. I keep this exercise (and many others) at the ready.
    The Creative Process and Deviating from the Plan - on by Alex Landers
    Character Questionnaire at the ready!

    I won’t use all – or any – of this in the final piece, but asking my character these questions will provide me the kind of background I need to create a richer piece. Again, it’s all about activities that will inform the narrative.

  • Reading a book – Inevitably, I become sick of my own voice. This can be frustrating when you’re on a deadline, but ultimately, I just take it as a reminder that I’m not a total narcissist, and that’s a good thing. No need to stop work, though. I borrow someone else’s voice for a while and let my mind wander into their thoughts. It might inspire me, it might give me a new place to go, or it might remind me exactly what it is I don’t want to do with this project. And if it’s Lewis Carroll, it’ll just soothe me with its quiet nonsense.
    The Creative Process and Deviating from the Plan - on by Alex Landers
    A little nonsense never hurt anyone.

    Alice and her Wonderland are very probably the key to life. Don’t ask me how I know that. It just seems terribly obvious, don’t you think?

How do you deviate? Or are you one of those perfect people who never gets stuck? Because if you exist, please email me directly and give me all of your secrets – Queen Deviant needs them.

But of course, this has to get back on track eventually. Hopefully by next week I’ll have steered my creativity back to a clear pathway, and be within site of that imaginary finish line. Join me?


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