What is creativity? It is using your imagination along with your sense of curiosity. Gathering your facts and being open to thinking out-of-the-box. Having the courage to take a risk.
Some of these ideas came from a talk on creativity given by Northern Colorado Writers director Kerrie Flanagan at a recent SCBWI schmooze. She gleaned her information from a book by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly called, what else, Creativity.
Kerrie explained Milhaly’s creative process in five steps:
1. Preparation – gather the facts/information.
2. Incubation – think about those facts and brainstorm how to stretch them to the limit in fiction or make them interesting in non-fiction.
3. Insight – discover the “aha” moment when the pieces come together.
4. Evaluation – ignore self-doubt and uncertainty and make an educated decision to pursue or not.
5. Elaboration – decide to proceed and tackle the hardest part – writing.
In Story by Robert McKee, he suggests “creativity means creative choices of inclusion and exclusion.” He says the writing “demands the invention of far more material than you can possibly use, then the astute selection” from the quantity of ideas to find a viable story that is true to character and his world. You must be sure the ideas haven’t been used over and over, such as romantic characters who meet in a singles bar – a definite cliché.
Make a list of several possibilities for each event or character’s feelings in your tale. Let the ideas incubate in your mind for a day or more before making a final decision.
Creativity takes over your thoughts. It invades your everyday life until you can’t think of anything else. Be sure to jot the thoughts someplace where you can find them later – a journal or sticky notes all over your computer. Test each to make sure it fits the character and his world. According to McKee, 90 percent of what we do is less than our best. Don’t be afraid to discard that percentage. Search for the brilliant 10 percent choices that make your manuscript sing and hard to put down.
Can you close the door to all distractions, use the creative process, and fill the blank pages creatively?