One of the worst trends in advertising is the commoditization of the creative process. Lowered budgets and an increasing unwillingness on the part of agencies to stand up for anything has created a pervasive drive-through mentality: Just shout your order into the little box, drive around to the window, and your order will be ready when you get there. There is no time for second-guessing, no time for wonderment. I have been witness to a lecturing by an account person when a creative spent a little time doing research that might have yielded a more solid and imaginative idea. So goes the industry.

This trend is, I believe, responsible in large part for seasoned creatives abandoning their lifelong profession for pastures greener—or for no pastures at all. The oft-stated reason: It just isn’t fun any more. Damned straight.

For those with the courage and independent income to pursue other life-work, that may turn out to yield something wonderful…creativity, like energy, must go somewhere.

For many of the rest of us…ummmm…not so much.

This forced march of creativity is so destructive that one is hard-pressed to keep it from leaching into the fiction-writing life. Making unreasonable time demands of one’s self is not the way to write a book. At least not for me.

That’s not to say that I (or perhaps any writer) spend my days/evenings contemplating my navel and calling it work. Okay, I do indeed do that. But that seeming idleness is an essential part of the process.

It’s a strange place and a wonderful one. The not-knowing from whence the idea will come from. The mental foreplay that makes the eventual realization even more exciting. The emotional leisure to just let the idea happen as it will—as it must…on its own schedule, a thing that can be irkingly different from your own. Pressure it and it evaporates. Or refuses to come to you at all.

Creativity is an invitation, not a summons.

And like so many of us who live the writer’s life, those daytime demands of time and commerce become an increasingly unwelcome distraction.