Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bashing a Few Myths That Stifle Creative Flow

Have you been on the lookout for good material on creativity but not found anything new? Check out the business section in any bookstore or library. Since the 1980’s Corporate America has poured billions of dollars into creativity research. Their word innovation = creativity.

Why do they bother? Because creativity pays. The newest, most unique, and superior quality can corner a market.

Let’s a look at some of the creative myths that can hold us back from developing our potential.

  • Myth: Only a few people are creative

“In the beginning… God created man to his own image and likeness: to the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” (Genesis: 1:27)

Our Creator endowed us all with creative abilities that we might continue the work He began, shaping and molding the world into Paradise. Romance writes in particular strive for the happily-ever-after ending. We take people living in Purgatory, throw them together in Hell, and make them find Paradise.

Children run around asking why questions until someone tells them “don’t bother me” one too many times. Discovery is part of the creative process. Children sing and hum wherever they go until they learn this is not acceptable behavior. Self-expression is part of the creative process.

Get the idea?

We have learned how not to be creative. Think of the rules most often given to children. We find many stifling lessons that are passed on.

We need to focus on re-learning the behaviors that influence creativity and how we can best utilize them in our writing.

  • Myth: Only people with high IQ’s are creative
    Does it really take an Einstein to disprove this one?
    Read the biographies of Einstein, Edison, De Venci, or anyone you think of as creative. Most of their greatest inventions were accidents. On the other hand, if you watch a mentally retarded person move a stack of bricks from one side of the room to the other and replace them in the same order, you’ll see true creativity in action.
    Some studies do point to higher creative flow in highly intelligent people, but that may be only because they tend to seek out and learn creative capturing techniques that the masses have un-learned.
    More often than not, we can refer to the adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Most inventions come about by everyday people who have a problem and need a solution.
    Example: Once upon a time, a secretary grew tired of retyping letters every time she made a typo or her boss decided the change the letter after it was typed. She set to work at home in her kitchen sink, and eureka! White Out was born. She went from being a secretary to a corporate leader overnight.

  • Myth: Only artists are creative

Painters carry sketchbooks. Composers carry manuscript books. Writers carry notebooks/index cards or write on napkins. These are capturing skills. I even keep pen and paper on my night stand in case my hero and heroine decide to wake me with some bit they want in their story.

Painters learn shading and texturing techniques. Composers learn the art of harmony. Writers learn character development, plot points, etc. These are learnable skills.

  • Myth: Only right-brainers are creative

I could gag on this one. The theory arose in the 1960’s based on a report on brain-hemispheric observation done on about 40 patients at a mental institution during surgery. These brains were already abnormal, which is why the surgery was needed.

Fact: NO ONE HAS A SPLIT BRAIN. The two hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum and are in constant dynamic interaction. If you are a writer with an intact brain, be assured that both sides are working.

We’ve all been to workshops and taken the fun right-brain/left-brain/no-brain tests. The traits rendered to right-brain and left-brain are better addressed by temperament and personality theories (a course in themselves), which do play a role in creative flow.

  • Myth: Creativity is mysterious

Creativity is a matter of learning processes and techniques and how to best use them with our individual gifts of insight, wisdom, humor, etc. What works for one person may not work for another. We all respond differently to different stimuli. Just because one person does 22 character sketches, plotting charts, etc., doesn’t mean her/his book will be any better than the pantzer in the end. Sometimes we have to march to the beat of our own drummer and let others march by in unistep. Our way is best for us.

We all have creative capacities and valuable gifts waiting to be unleashed. Some of us have already learned capturing techniques. Some of us have never quite figured out how writing a novel can seem so easy for Patricia Potter, Vicki Henzi, or Carolyn McSparren while we struggle for each word. Want some new? Those three will be the first to tell you they work to meet deadlines. It’s not a matter of ease. It’s a matter of enjoying the creative process that becomes your work (or play as some might say).

Every story may have been told, but it has never been told through your pen with your voice and your unique finesse.

Don’t let rule-makers and myth-mongrels say, “You can’t.”

Truth: We all can.

Assignment: Go to the children’s section at your favorite bookstore. Pick up and read “The Little Engine that Could.” Put it on your bookshelf with your other most used resources and reread it whenever you feel you’re struggling. It’s one of the best books ever written for tapping internal motivation sources and conjuring positive attitudes.

Until next time, happy reading and writing.