The Atlantic Online is doing a lot of interesting writing about writing. Here’s another article from them about creativity, and how it happens. The gist is some people are better wired for creativity than others, but without formative experiences, that creativity isn’t triggered.
In a lot of ways, theories about magic systems in fantasy seem to echo how we think about creativity. In some stories (my favorites), anybody can do magic if they try hard enough. Some have more natural talent, others have more immediate incentive, and still others put in the hours and hours to make it work. A mediocre magician who practices can defeat a natural genius who has no training. The average witch out in the hedges can do more useful magic when her neighbors are dying from something mysterious than the fancy, powerful wizard at court who is only called upon to entertain the nobles.
I’d like to think writing is the same way. Sure, talent counts for something. But it doesn’t count for everything or even most. It needs an environment that produces the details for a story, and it needs the courage and stamina to keep trying, keep writing.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the writer of Frankenstein, kept on writing, even after her famous debut novel, Frankenstein. Although we don’t hear much about her later novels today, as a page over at Brandeis says, “By 1851, the year of her death, she had established a reputation as a prominent author independent of her famous husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.”
Where does most of your creativity come from?