My Creative Process: The Creative Mood

Is anything original? From Ecclesiastes 1:9: The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Perhaps the writer was speaking of human nature.

In The Origins of Creativity, Edward O. Wilson describes creativity as the driving force in humanity’s instinctive quest for originality…We judge creativity by the magnitude of the emotional response it evokes. (This is why we need beta readers to tell us what we’ve written.)

The dailiness of my life is not particularly stimulating. Even worse, when I’m compelled to use my left brain zealously for an extended period of time, as in gathering tax information for my accountant, I’m not creative at all. If I’m flush with creativity and have to shift to left-brain activity, I’m resentful and rush through whatever it is that interrupted me, and usually make mistakes.

Unlike John Lennon, who had songs running through his head, I must prime my creativity. I’m happiest when I’m in the grip of creative thought.

Fresh experiences open my mind. I tend to stay at home with my dogs. Recently on a shopping trip with family members, I stood on an escalator and marveled at the colors of an upscale shopping center. Ceiling displays jarred—they seemed to have sharp edges, the metal reflecting light. People in dark winter clothes swirled through the passageways. My senses caught bright lights, murmurs, aromas from the food court. I captured the essence of the experience in dissonant music, which only I heard. I could write a poem about the mall. I could place a fictional desperate escape in a shopping center. I saw atmosphere, the propensity for confusion.

Of course, reading stimulates me. I own most of the books I read, so feel free to write in them. I ponder over a well-constructed plot. I thrill over a clever metaphor. I learn new words. Did you know slides were heelless shoes? I watch films and documentaries with a notepad and pen. Who knows when a kernel of a poem or scene will pop up? I go to lectures, take notes. Social situations activate my mind. I’m a good listener. Hearing what others have to say piques my imagination.

Sometimes, I hit a brick wall with a scene. I need excitement, the element of surprise. My brain can’t come up with anything fresh. When this happens, I retire to a comfortable chair with a clipboard, tablet, and pen, and do free writing. I start with a word pertaining to the situation I’m writing about or the name of the character involved, and words flow from my pen. After fifteen minutes of this, I read what I’ve written. Most of the time, I find something to use to burst through the brick wall.

There are times when I must walk away from a scene, dust the bookshelves, play with my dogs. My mind needs rest. Next day, when I sit down at the computer, the right words come. Next blog—I’ll return to plot and character.

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