Creativity

There is a post on the Goodreads blog by Cynthia (26-10/15): “Elizabeth Gilbert’s Top 10 Tips to Stay Inspired and Kick-Start Your Creativity”

The To 10 are:

  1. Start writing: set a timer for 15 minutes, sit down and write anything. Stuff will start to happen.
  2. Be creative every day. Do a little bit every day.
  3. Go looking for inspiration. Seek ideas everywhere.
  4. Surround yourself with optimists. Pessimists should be avoided.
  5. Dare yourself to keep working.
  6. Trust your curiosity. If something interests you, pursue it.
  7. Create a ritual. Research and preparation are essential.
  8. Don’t believe in writer’s block.
  9. Write for yourself
  10. Imagine your reader. Tell the story to that person.

This advice is from Ms Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

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Elizabeth Gilbert

The only one of these Top 10 that I agree with whole-heartedly is no. 8: Don’t Believe in Writer’s Block. In my experience, writer’s block is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Yes, there are times when I don’t feel like writing, but rather than attributing it to writer’s block, I ask myself why I don’t feel like writing. If I’m tired, that’s not a good time to start writing. Otherwise, I’ll start trying out opening phrases in my head until one of them sounds good. I’ll type it, and see where it leads me. Frequently, when I begin to feel inspired, I’ll go back and re-create that opening phrase. In this sense, for me, creativity is a trial and error process. I’ll re-read what I’ve written, an hour later, a day later, a month later and six months later. I’ll re-read it slowly and ‘loudly’ in my mind. Anything that jars me gets attention. Maybe it’s the wrong word, or phrase or emphasis. And again, I’ll try alternatives in my mind until something clicks.

I think I know what Ms Gilbert means by ’write for yourself’. It is that one should write for personal pleasure. But then she says, “I never promised the universe I would be a GOOD writer.” If one doesn’t care about being ‘good’ at a major activity (apart from exercise) what’s the point?

In my opinion, creativity can’t be forced with timers, rituals or dares. I’m at my creative best when I’m feeling alert, unencumbered by extraneous concerns, and with no visual or auditory distractions. I’ll start the process with a question like ‘how can I make the sinister nature of this character more believable?’ Suggestions will pop into my head. I don’t grab the first one or one of the first three. I find that the suggestions help me redefine the question, making it more specific.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I tend to be quite creative when I’m awake, in bed, in the dark, with no distractions. My mind will generate almost endless ideas. I just have to narrow down and refine the alternatives.

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