Amber Benson on Writing: Creating is Kind of Intoxicating
She has multiple credits as a novelist and screenwriter, co-writing and directing an animated web-series, Ghosts of Albion, for the BBC, and co-writing several Buffy comics.
She has written, produced, and directed three feature films, including her latest, Drones. Her novels include “Among The Ghosts,” coming in August – a “spooky Boarding School/cool girl heroine/ghost story” as she describes it on her blog.
In various interviews, Benson describes some of her thinking and experiences as a writer.
She says about her first solo novel “Death’s Daughter” (2009):
“I had never written a whole book by myself. I was like, I have to do this. I want to find out if I can do this, by myself. And, it was really hard. It was much harder than I thought ‘cause there’s nobody to rely on. There’s just you.”
There are many forms of creative expression, such as acting and orchestral performance that are usually much more collaborative than writing a novel. That is one reason it takes courage.
Benson found her past experience was helpful:
“All the struggling I did, as an actor, was actually struggling to write also. All the suffering, rejection and crap that went along with that, I would have had to do as a writer, so I did that as an actor and it opened the door to both.”
The amount of rejection that actors deal with can be huge. For any given movie or TV show, there may have been many dozens, sometimes hundreds of people auditioning for roles.
The same holds for many writers trying to get published, at least in traditional media channels – or even just getting acknowledged and encouraged.
The psychology of creativity includes the emotional consequences of rejection – which can have a big impact on an artist or any creative person.
Stephen King comments in his book “On Writing” about his high school teacher saying, “What I don’t understand, Stevie, is why you’d write junk like this… You’re talented. Why do you want to waste your abilities?”… I was ashamed.”
King goes on to admit, “I have spent a good many years since — too many, I think — being ashamed about what I write.” [From my article: Shame.]
In an interview, Benson noted,
“I spent my life with first child syndrome, aka, the people-pleasing bug. Adam [her partner and co-director Adam Busch] showed me that I had to make myself happy first. That, invariably, when I was happy, it made other people happy, too. And that is a hard lesson to learn for someone like me!”
She also responded to the question, What is your favorite quote of all time?: “That’s easy. To thine own self be true. – William Shakespeare.”
[From my post People-pleasing may not be good for developing multiple talents.]
Being concerned with pleasing others can have a big impact on creative expression, acting as an insidious form of self-censorship.
It may be especially relevant for highly sensitive people who are concerned with others’ feelings.
Benson also comments about the vivid pleasures of exploring and expressing her imagination:
“I think just the act of creation itself is kind of intoxicating and enthralling. Because I see it all in my head when I’m writing prose anyway. It’s like I made a movie with Death’s Daughter.
“Because I see everything, I know what everybody looks like, I know what the world is, I know how it smells and feels and tastes. I play the whole movie in my head.”
Sources of quotes
For many more quotes and articles about writing, see my site The Inner Writer.
Eby, D. (2010). Amber Benson on Writing: Creating is Kind of Intoxicating. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 25, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2010/06/amber-benson-on-writing-creating-is-kind-of-intoxicating/