Maybe Goldilocks Doesn’t Need a Chair At All: Smack Dab in the Imagination by Dia Calhoun

 Whenever I’m stuck making an either/or creative choice—I know my imagination is on vacation. Imagination is a land of both/and. Don’t get me wrong. Either/or does have its place. But it’s not always generative and often negative because it doesn’t allow for possibility.

The struggle to hold a both/and place, at least for a while, often allows a third thing—a new solution—to arise. This is hard to do, of course. We want to know the answer and want to know it now. Rational brain is a necessity for writers, but relied on too much, it can limit options.

Both/and is not a simple formulation such as: this chair is too soft, this chair is too hard, so this chair in the middle must be just right. In a choice between a hard chair and a soft chair, the solution might not be a chair at all. It might be a swing. A hammock. A hot air balloon. The writer must allow herself to dwell in the discomfort of not knowing in order to give imagination time to create that third thing. I call this creative drift.

Trust process. In your creative life, make process goals like time for creative drift as important as outcome goals (generating a certain number of words or pages). If you do, your work will be easier in the long run, better, and much more imaginative.


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