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Aug
23
2014

Creativity -- by Paul Lawless

Writing about creativity comes from reviewing and commenting on other CC members work.  What I see at CC is a mix of various skill levels of writing.  Some are beginners while others easily exceed my skills as a writer.  I am trying to gear a blog for those who are building their skills and perhaps for some wanting to review writing skills.  If you are interested in a high quality tract on creativity, I recommend: John Cleese, Creativity, on You tube.  It’s about 36 minutes and well worth the view.

Creativity for writers is the process by which ideas become stories.  Creativity by itself is limitless.  The only real limit on creativity is your audience.  So the first step in creating a story is to define your audience.

Are you writing for yourself?  All of do this to a certain extent, but we aren't the primary audience unless we're keeping a journal or dairy.  So who is your audience: children, teens, young adult, mature adults?  Genres will also help define our audience.  Defining the audience allows us to focus on the words to use and how to build plot.  From the stories at CC I have reviewed and commented on, many of CC's writers are working on adult themes (young or mature).  There may also be writers among us who are oral story tellers.  Story telling can involve a different style of writing but it isn't so different from a screen play, a speech, or a standup comedy routine.  All these avenues of expression start with ideas which become stories through individual creativity.

Let's start with a simple idea, a meal, and see what becomes of it. 

Food, sitting on a table.  Is it a romantic candle light dinner or a bag of fast food?  Maybe it's dinner for twelve or a meager plate containing a potato and a chicken leg.  It could be a prepared meal for a condemned prisoner.  The meal idea could be in a plastic bag marked add water and microwave, aboard the space ship approaching Mars or it could be a birthday party dinner for a Hobbit.

How this idea unfolds initiates the story development.  The book I published last year (2013) started with an unfinished Christmas Ornament (The Ghost of Christmas Past, AP Dollar). 

If we follow the path of the romantic dinner for instance and make like a camera and pan back from the table.  Where is the romantic couple?  Coiled in a passionate embrace near the cook top, nose to nose in a heated argument.  Where does creativity take us?  Is there a burglar hiding in the corner, listening; or their child, clinging to his/her teddy bear? 

Following the argument path; is their shouting interrupted by a child's tears, does the burglar knock over something trying to slip out the unlocked back door?

Creativity is exercise for the mind and writing is running with your imagination.  Any idea leads in thousands of directions.  It all depends on where you want to take your audience.

If you're writing for friends, a small theater group, or you have your heart set on the next Pulitzer, creativity can take you where you want to go.  But my music teacher always told me music is 1% talent and 99% hard work.  So is writing.  We'll get into making ideas into stories, turning sentences into building blocks and maybe visiting some of the genres out there to see what makes them tick.  For a conclusion to this blog let's take a quick look at the curse of writer's block. 

If you get stuck behind writer's block or some other ailment that dampens your writing creativity, try some basic exercises to get around the log jam. 

Some suggestions:  write a short piece describing a sun rise to a blind person.  How about making a visit to the International Space Station, you tube has some great videos to assist you.  Another possibility could be describing a chance meeting with a friend you haven't seen in many years and catching up on life.  Exercise can get you around some obstacles but not all.  Some ideas may not have enough gas to finish the race.  Some wanna-be novels make better short stories.

I would appreciate comments and I hope you find this helpful.  Thanks, for reading, and indulge your creativity.

Posted by Paul Lawless 23 Aug 2014 at 02:58
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Responses to this blog

Fairchild 23 Aug 2014 at 11:00  
That Cleese video! I've never seen it before. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention.
Anitaplee 23 Aug 2014 at 13:09  
Great comments. Just a note to add - I've been reading Stephen King's "On Writing: A memoir of the Craft." King states that you should have a person in mind when your write. A "DR" i.e. "Dear Reader" or "Designated Reader." This could be someone who is actually going to do your second draft reading for you or (as in my case) a person you have made up out of a composite of people you know, or admire, or existed in your past.

As to what you describe in your suggestions to help get past writer's block, and to generally generate creativity, I agree with the method, and it is something King calls "situational." I have tried it, writing a story by taking a situation only - as you mention for instance "Food sitting on a table" and going with it. Every time I have ever been remotely stuck in writing it is always when I've tried to strong arm my characters, creating them to do my will, instead of letting them evolve within the situation in which they find themselves. When I go situational, I go unstuck, and the creativity flows. Just my two cents, or rather, two paragraphs...
Troya 29 Aug 2014 at 12:50  
Stephen King's memoir on writing is godly and is by far the best guide to writing. I have read 42 Stephen King books now and he is my favorite author, he is a great author to follow in the way he writes, especially short stories as he has written hundreds.
Tammygibau 2 Sep 2014 at 16:52  
Love hearing a brilliant comedian talk about his creative process. Thanks

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