One of the tactics I’m using to re-energize my writing is to take ten or fifteen minutes to re-read a scene or two at the beginning of a writing session. Usually, I read the scene just prior to the one in progress to jumpstart my writing, but I’ve also skipped back to scenes that were written a while ago (usually looking for some bit of information). Almost invariably, I’ll come across a chunk of narrative or a line of dialogue that takes me by surprise. Did I write that, I think. It’s happen more than once and it never fails to amaze me. It’s like reading someone else’s words.
An idea which may have a grain of truth.
How many times have you had a really awesome writing session when the words seem to flow from nowhere? When lines of dialogue or narrative fly off the tips of your fingers and onto the page like magic? I’m fairly certain most of us have had that experience at some point. Here at eight ladies, we chalk it up to the “girls” but to me that’s really a code word for creativity. To best selling author, Amy Tan, it’s something else. To her it’s:
“Thinking about luck & fate, coincidences & accidents, God’s will, the synchrony of mysterious forces.”
Holy moly, what does that mean?! She explains in her smart, funny, thought-provoking Ted Talk, “Where Does Creativity Hide“. In fact, she asks the same question many of us have. “How do I create something out of nothing?”
When I began watching this presentation, I had pen poised all ready to take down bullet points that would serve as a road map to enhancing my own creativity. First I stir in a little imagination, then whip in a dollop of experience, shake, and voila, the creative juices will begin to flow like magic.
Amy’s formula makes more sense:
How We Create (the mathematical formula by Amy Tan): If we=w, and you=u, and me=I, then the magical formula for finding your own creativity is: W=(I, -U)
Get it? Still confused? Okay. Here come the bullet points and my translation of Amy Tan’s thoughts on creativity (be sure to watch and form your own thoughts and assumptions because that is key to developing your own creativity):
- Creativity comes from the inability to repress associations or anything else in life.
To me this means pay attention & make connections.
- Question Everything. Why do things happen? How do things happen? How do I make things happen? And then accept that there are no absolute truths, there are only specifics in the story and in the story past.
This one is simple and complex at the same time. I see it as keeping an open mind, letting go of old assumptions and beliefs (easier said then done), and question what you’ve been told by others–question what you think you know.
- Don’t simply focus on the “about” of the story — if you do, you won’t discover anything new (and writing the story is all about discovery).
Write the story and all will become known to you (or as Jenny C so wisely said, “Listen to the Girls First”).
- Notice disturbing hints from the universe (my personal favorite). In Amy’s view once you have a focus you will notice that things magically seem to come to you. Help (call it luck, chance, serendipity) will come to you from the universe. She has some not-to-be missed examples from her own writing life, and I realize those unrecognizable passages I spoke of earlier are one example of my own.
- Find personal meaning in your story by:
- Imagining. Put yourself in the story until there is a transparency between you and the story. Become your story.
- Never stop evolving. Let go of the knowledge and assumptions others have handed to you.
- Think about your role in the universe, and then decide what to think, do, feel.
As I look over the bullet points, I realize this particular Ted Talk cannot be adequately summarized. It has to be experienced, and (in Amy’s words), while you won’t find the absolute truth or the complete truth, you will find a “particle of truth”.
Hopefuly your own personal truth.
So what do you think? Can we develop creativity? Nurture it? And if so, how?