Skip to main content

Creativity: The X Factor

One of the most popular toys in our household these days is a set of remote control bumper cars. One is red, one is blue, and to win a round of this game, you need to crash into your opponent’s car at just the right spot to eject the little helmeted driver.

wd0815_500

We acquired said bumper cars around the same time that our youngest learned to walk. She’d toddle after the cars, squealing with delight as she tried to catch them. There was no stopping her, so she became a part of the game, a sort of wild card. “The baby is the X factor,” we’d tell visitors as we handed over the controls.

A few weeks into the bumper car phase, I overheard my preschooler explaining to a neighbor that his sister is “the X factory.” I laughed, thinking that his dad and I needed to explain our jokes better, and then forgot about it—until I entered the living room days later to find him engrossed in an elaborate system of play. He’d lined up an activity cube, blocks, tiny cars, an airport runway, robots, animals and other seemingly unconnected toys, all strung together from one end of the room to the other.

“What are you playing, buddy?” I asked, curious.

“This is the X factory,” he explained. He spent the rest of the evening busy on his assembly line, manufacturing imaginary Xs.

To watch a child at play is to witness creativity at its purest. What would we create if we didn’t have so many preconceived notions about the world around us? If we didn’t ascribe meanings to certain words or situations, if we didn’t already know the purpose of actions and objects and even the role of particular people in society or our lives, how might we interpret things differently? What kind of magic might we bring to the stories we put on the page?

Our challenge as writers is to view the world day after day with fresh eyes, to assume nothing, to reinvent what our readers think they know, to all at once meet expectations and defy them, satisfy and surprise. It’s no easy task, and succeeding at it doesn’t happen by accident. Just like other aspects of the craft, creativity itself can be studied, practiced, invited, nurtured.

That’s where the July/August 2015 Writer’s Digestcomes in. (Preview the full Table of Contents here.) The feature articles in this special illustrated Creativity Issue are designed to help you tap into what inspires you in meaningful ways, to write better and write more, to rejuvenate your motivation when it runs dry, and to help you accept the X factors in your own life as a part of the writing game.

Or, of course, to construct your own X factory.

The beautiful thing about writing is it’s all up to you.

Special Sale on Our New Issue—And Other Creativity Boosters

This special Creativity Issue of Writer’s Digestis officially on sale this week—and as luck would have it, its release coincides with a huge 40% off site-wide sale going on in the Writers Digest Shop, today through the weekend. You can download or order the brand-new July/August 2015 Writer’s Digestfor just $4.19 (40% off the $6.99 cover price), and get the 40% off our already deeply discounted products, too, with offer code FFSUMMER40. If you have creative writing exercises on the brain, as I do, here are some of my other favorite idea-boosters that you can get now through Sunday for an absolute steal:

Shipping is free with all orders over $25, and this really is an incredible sale, so get these prices before they’re gone. Sale ends Sunday, June 7.

Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer's Digest magazine
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser
Like what you read from WD online? Subscribe today, so you’ll never miss an issue in print!

Who Are Sensitivity Editors? And How Much Does Sensitivity Reading Pay?

Who Are Sensitivity Editors? And How Much Does Sensitivity Reading Pay?

Sensitivity readers offer a very specific and focused edit to manuscripts. Here, C. Hope Clark shares what a sensitivity editor is, how much it pays, and where you can start.

Kate White: On Building In Brainstorming Time

Kate White: On Building In Brainstorming Time

New York Times bestselling author Kate White discusses the process of writing her new psychological thriller, The Second Husband.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 615

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a desire poem.

Writer's Digest Best Writing Advice Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Writing Advice Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top writing advice websites as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Love the Art. Work the Business. | Nikesha Elise Williams

Nikesha Elise Williams: On the Power of Self-Publishing

In this indie author profile, novelist Nikesha Elise Williams shares her path to self publishing and the creative marketing strategy that's led to her success.

Change of Plans

Change of Plans

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, there's been a sudden and unforeseen change of plans.

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

Author Ashley M. Coleman gives you her top five tricks for writing about the music industry—even if you're not an industry expert.

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

From planning ahead to staying late, Alison Hill shares 10 tips for journalists while covering events as a freelancer.

From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.