I love a good writing prompt. They have a way of taking you somewhere entirely unexpected, or viewing something familiar with a different perspective. At a recent writing group session, one of the prompts evoked insight into the creative tension that I feel all too often. It is set out as pessimist and optimist.
Prompt: I reached for a glass (or cup) and let my inner pessimist and optimist fight it out.
Pessimist: There’s no point in trying. You might as well give up while you’re ahead.
Optimist: But what if this is the start of something great, something that we’ve been striving towards all these years? I know we can do it. It only needs a bit of effort.
Pessimist: Effort? That seems like hard work to me. Is this just going to be yet another of those fanciful notions that you have which requires time that we don’t have or skills that we lack and don’t have the capacity to develop?
Optimist: I don’t know why I even ask for your input. You are such a glass half-empty kind of thinker.
Pessimist: And talking of glasses, how about you pour a bit more alcohol into this one? It might change my viewpoint.
Optimist: That’s the way. Here you go, you drink up while I remind you of some of the excellent things we’ve managed to achieve when we pull together, rather than apart.
Pessimist: Steady on. Don’t get too carried away. It’s going to take more than a glass or two to forget all the failed attempts you’ve got us started on.
Optimist: But there wasn’t anything like this opportunity. And I can think of loads of times when my ideas and energy have resulted in great changes.
Pessimist: All I can think of is the littering mess of failures and half-baked schemes. And who’s got the energy to try anyway? All this talking is making me sleepy. (Snores).
Optimist: (Quietly) So that’s a yes, then? No reply means yes. That’s my rule. Looks like we’re going to learn to crochet after all.
The above is alarmingly close to my decision-making process on a regular basis, with enthusiasm trying to outlast practical limitations. And whilst I can knit, crocheting remains beyond my powers of coordination.
What is your internal monologue like with new creative challenges? Optimistic, or otherwise?
[Photo: one of the bars at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath]