In the beginning, creativity flowed!
It’s staggering to think that creativity played a role from the very beginning of time. It plays a key role in the beginning stages of our writing, as well. As we dare to think about our futures as novelists we must face the startling reality that daydreaming—seeing into unseen worlds—is not only acceptable, it’s critical to our survival. So, peel back the curtain of your imagination, novelist. Take a glimpse inside. Allow your eyes to grow accustomed to the kaleidoscope of colors that await you. Take a few tentative steps toward the characters that beckon you to come and play. Romp with them. Hide away in their world until you come out carrying their scent.
Not sure you can do it? Afraid too much time has lapsed since your last visit to the great unknown? Don’t let that stop you. Reach for a rag and send those dust bunnies twirling off into space then tiptoe inside that hallowed territory and spend adequate time dreaming as you did when you were little. The novelist is only as healthy as his—or her—imagination, after all. Maybe it’s time yours had a little infusion.
So, how do we tap in? We have to learn to “think” creatively. Imagine this: You have a computer in your home. It has a really large hard drive. Much of that hard drive space will never be touched. Think of the “untapped” creativity inside you the same as you would that “untouched” portion of your hard drive. It’s time to use that untouched space. It’s time to think outside the box! It’s time to begin looking for the story inside the story.
I once did an experiment with my students. I asked them to take their temperature every two hours over a twenty-four hour period. According to one theory, we are at our most creative when our body temperature is the highest. For me, that time is late afternoon/evening. I’m NOT a morning person. Perhaps you’re just the opposite. Maybe you’re the most refreshed/creative in the morning.
There’s another theory that we’re also more creative when we’re relaxed. Perhaps that’s why great ideas come to us while we’re in the shower. Some of us get our best ideas when we’re “nearly” asleep, or just waking up. That’s why it’s important to keep a pad and pen on your bedside table. Might sound crazy, but my laptop goes to bed with me every night. Well, not actually in bed. But it’s at my bedside all night long, just in case. Rumor has it that Mary Shelley conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein during “twilight sleep.” You just never know when a great idea might hit.
The Five Part Process
According to online site: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/creativity/section2e.asp, creativity is a five-part process, which occurs in interconnected phases:
STIMULUS: Could be anything from a picture to a song to a person’s face. Could be a perceived need or a story. Anything can stimulate us and cause us to want to act/create. (There are stories all around us. It’s up to us to find them!)
EXPLORATION: Looking at the possibilities, the what if’s. Moving beyond the first ideas, considering the alternatives. (What do you think the author/screenplay writer was really trying to tell us?)
PLANNING: Gathering information/thinking about the task (in writing a story, this is usually the point where I begin to lay out chapters or work off of a plotter or outline). Some people use diagrams.
ACTIVITY: Let the party begin! Create, create, create. It’s one thing to talk about the story you’re going to write or the project you’re going to begin (think home improvement here), it’s another altogether to strategize, to fly into action. Some of us are all about the planning and don’t like to get into the actual work of it.
REVIEW: What have I accomplished? Was it successful? What could be improved next time?
CREATIVITY EXERCISES Let’s get our creative juices spinning!
#1: TIMED PICTURE TITLES
Locate a piece of art. Set a timer for two minutes and write down as many titles as you can think of. Once the timer goes off, look at your title choices. Choose the one that speaks to you. Take it a step further. Using the title ONLY (not necessarily the picture) create a plotline for a movie.
#2: FORTUNE COOKIE STORIES
Pop open a fortune cookie and read what’s inside. Come up with a story idea based on the “saying” you’ve read.
Wrapping Things Up
I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into creativity. Who knows. . .you might have the Great American Novel hiding inside of you. Perhaps, with a little stirring it will rise to the surface. I will leave you with the words of Mark Twain, who said: You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.