The Creative Process

 art 2What is Creative?

didactic teacherFirst of all creativity is a skill, not knowledge and not science. That’s why writing and art instructors fail. They teach you what was considered good art or good fiction. They analyze it, and the can break it down into techniques and styles, but the creative skill is not something you get canned in a box. Writers often rehash materials or use a type of style to project their work into. Artists do the same. They tend to review other art and then copy that style. But just like musicians can play a piece of well-crafted music, that doesn’t mean they are creative. Copying someone’s work and playing someone else’s tune is performance. Creativity requires spontaneity.

In reading about what the intellectual world describes as creative, you start sensing that those whocreative crazies are the most creative are the ones who pull away from the norms of society. You read that folks have nonconforming attitudes and behaviors. But I seriously do not hold that viewpoint. People can be creative and use pre-existing styles and patterns of thought and function to generate a new design. Some creative work requires coming up with nuances of change rather than scrap the whole 25,000 years of history of mankind. You get a sense that the loft philosophical evaluators of society only recognize bizarre works as creative. It would seem that you have to be crazy to be creative.

I find it reassuring that you are no more apt to likely to suffer from a psychiatric disorder that the normal human population when you are a creative type. There are correlations between feeling positive and creativity. I like that. I tend to get moody, and when I’m not feeling good, I’m not productive nor creative. Stress is also a killer of the creative powers.

creative penSome writers talk about hearing characters speaking to them when they are writing fiction. I don’t hear any voices, do you? Sometimes I wish my characters would just join in my thinking and tell me what to write. I think having voice talking to you is a sign of mental illness. But if your imagination is powerful enough, then maybe you can hear your fictional characters chatting over lunch in a little café. Do you imagine having your stories come alive in your imagination?

How to Sharpen the Creative Skill

Often we are told as writers and creative people to go and put down a prehistory of the characters we are creating. We give them personalities, have them have backgrounds, to give them context, to add dimensionality. These are the type of exercises one does to sharpen their creative skill.

sketchbook11But an artist can write as well, but instead of with words they can create sketches or story boards.   If one thinks of what they are working on as a scene in a movie, then they can perceive more – but it is when to add the detail, where to add the focus, which makes the focal point of a piece.

Creative Living

Creative Living

Brushing out a few sketches like an artists, gives the creative juices the right to flow. It’s like saying the magic words for the door to open.

Some say that they get their ideas from dreams, from what they’ve read and scene, but whatever it is, it comes through the gates of the mind. It’s not the sensational experience of seeing the scene in real life that makes it work, but the thought of the scene. Sometimes having a pen & notebook in your possession helps you capture more effectively those creative bursts.

An illustration:

You may be walking in a park. You are like a camera, mic and recording device on two legs. Someone is approached and mugged. Now the description of these individuals is not the story, but only a reflection. You the artist or the writer can choose what to focus on. Camera angle one: you film camerawrite down who the individuals are in the focus. Where do they come film camera twofrom? Where were they headed? As soon as you pull them apart, and reverse the film from that camera angle, you start seeing that the palette of colors is of your choosing, just like the painter. Camera angle two: You can lean forward, and reflect what the person would think of the incident in the future tense. Say you have these character now described 30 days out from the event. Where are the two now? This makes you decide what they are doing in the future, and what they may think of the event from that perspective. Camera angle three: what happens after 3 years of time. You can now write about how the event is affecting the two prime actors in the story.

Furthermore, you can go back to these cuts and add defining light, a voice over, music and change the feel of the story as it is developing. Think about this. If you just veneer the scene with odd narration and commentary, like the input of a sports caster narrating the scene as it were a sporting event, you create a comedy of the mugging.

score cardsIf you added three stand-byers who hold up number cards with 8.8, 6.9 7.8 like scores for the sporting event you add another comic veneer. That changes the story. If you switch to commentary about the politics of law enforcement, and focus the reader’s attention to facts and figures regarding crime in that local, you completely change the nature of the story. You could also have the event occurring, in front of another character, who could comment on the event from their point of view.

Writing exercises related to the creative process are a great way to sharpen one’s skills and exercise their creative talent.

Link to a great TED talk on creativity.  For more great art.

piece of doodling


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