Saturday 29 November 2008

What is Creativity? Part Three: Creativity as Preparation

So far, we’ve come to realise that creativity harnesses an innate trait with learned technical skills. To achieve the best union of these two, a writer also needs to be prepared. How can a writer be published if he[1] doesn’t buy a ticket in the lottery of publishing?

Pasteur’s famous dictum “Chance favours the prepared mind”[2] was aimed more specifically at scientific creativity. But in terms of creativity as a combination of learned technique and the awakening of an innate trait, it could equally apply to artistic creativity.

There is no guarantee to creativity. Although, in writing a novel, one often experiences a “Eureka!” moment, these moments do not come from nowhere. Finding exactly the right word that changes a sentence from bland to brilliant comes from mastering the necessary writing skills and uniting them with the unconscious creative intuition. This increases the probability that the mind can original and creative by preparing it to be so.

And the mind that has been actively prepared to be creative has a greater chance of producing a novel that is original, valuable and needed.

Original in terms of a novel is not necessarily that which has never been done before. This type of originality refers more to the expression of the author’s unique ‘voice’, although it also encompasses an unusual hook or premise for the novel.

A valuable novel is one that adds a new dimension to the world. J K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are valuable in that they approached the generic themes of, inter alia, adolescence, death and the battle between good and evil in an original way. Rowling’s work has received both critical acclaim and commercial success: the ultimate value for any novel.

For a novel to be needed it must fill a gap in the collective psyche. The heated debates that raged around Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code are an indication of just how much the novel tapped into the collective angst about religion and brought to the surface of the collective psyche deeply buried issues surrounding organized religion.

Successful novels such as the Harry Potter series and The Da Vinci Code arise from a combination of conscious skill, creative intuition and a great deal of preparation. But there is still one final key to fully understanding just what creativity is: inspiration.

Continued in the next blog post.

[1] For ease of reading, the artist is referred to in the male gender. This reference does, of course, mean either the male or female gender.
[2] Harnad, Stevan. Creativity: Method or Magic? Cognitive Sciences Centre Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ UNITED KINGDOM.


Usiku (oo-SEE-koo) said...

Creativity that comes from a spirit driven purpose is endless. That doesn't mean writers will always write or write in the same genre. It means creativity will always be present and will change in accordance with our changing growth and changing purposes.

Creativity Poem

Ann Victor said...

Yes. Very true. As the banks of a river are shaped by the timeless flow of the water, so too must intuitive creativity grow and change as the artist lives his life.

I'm going to cover spirit driven creativity in Part 4 (tomorrow's blog).

The last two lines of your poem "Eloquence" raise a whole new discussion! Lovely piece!