Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Little Creative Spirit

"The opposite of war isn't peace. It's creation."
-Mark, from the musical Rent

We all have a little creative spirit in us. Whether you consciously or unknowingly tap it, it's there. The hard part is learning how to foster it. How to cultivate it. How to nurture it and watch it grow. And because it's hard is what makes it so worthwhile.

Of one thing I am convinced - you will never accomplish anything noteworthy unless you tap into this creativity and listen to the voice that speaks to you and you alone. This creativity can manifest itself in countless forms - literally countless.
  • A campaign slogan
  • The Post-It Note
  • A marketing plan
  • The light bulb
  • A stand-up comedian
  • A one-liner you create on the spot
  • The cotton gin
  • A new filing system for purchase orders
  • The comb-over (I mean really, who thought of that?)
  • A dick in a box
  • A simple sentence, with all its commas, prepositional phrases and direct objects
  • A dance routine
  • Mathematical equations - bringing to mind the concept of creativity within a set of rules
  • A different way of saying something that's been said a thousand times before
Clear your mind of the useless mental chatter. The creativity will flow through you if you can do your best to stop unconscious thought. It sounds hard because it is. You must learn to think literally of nothing, or at least of nothing besides what you're creating (and even then, limit the number of thoughts).

When I write, I let the pencil guide my hand. I'll begin a scene and have a general idea of where it's going to end up, but the details along the way are decided by the characters, not me. I've had a scene change its course entirely because of one hand motion from a minor character. I've had a good character turn out to be evil because of something she said. And I've had one minor character take on a leading role because I discovered, during a battle scene, that he was in love with the main female protagonist.

Messed up, I know. But each twist and turn happened when I let the pencil in my hand move of its own free will; when I started the idea and ran with whatever popped into this ol' brain of mine. Only because I was able to clear it and focus on nothing but my writing. On nothing but what I wanted to create.

The greatest minds are the ones with original thought. But originality requires creativity. And creativity represents part of the essence of what defines us as human.

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