Exercising imagination

AlexH

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#21
I think the list Jo posted is a good starting point to find out what works for YOU.

You mention broadening 'your' interests, which is great, yet your mind will never diverge in new directions and expand unless you 'look for the interesting aspects of things... that don't interest you.'
I definitely agree with this one.

There are things that seep into my stories that I have no interest in - I wrote a story about a ballet dancer for example, and have never liked ballet. However, I enjoyed the research into ballet, and it gave me an appreciation of it I didn't have before.

In my line of work I have to learn about stuff I have no interest at all in. There was even an interesting side to vaping (not that I'd go out of my way to learn any more about it).

It may be more important than ever to consciously broaden your horizons. On the one-hand, the Internet helps us find like-minded people. But on the other hand, Facebook, Netflix etc. recommends us stuff it thinks we like based on what we already like.

Without wanting to sound like a semantics fascist, I can't agree with this. If you struggle with anxiety, apprehension, low mood, PTSD or depression, your access to your creativity is very difficult.
I'm thankful not to have suffered with any of those apart from the occasional low mood, but I definitely agree with you. A couple of times recently I've suffered from lack of motivation when trying to write, and it's quite debilitating. I can't imagine what depression feels like - I've only seen what it does to others.
 

tinkerdan

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#22
Exercising your imagination: it might be similar to exercising your body.
Doing stretches and calisthenics and weight lifting and running: etc; doesn't mean you are a great athlete, though it could be a great base for getting there.

I exercise my imagination every day--reading, observing, studying and interacting with others. However there is a wide difference between activating the imagination and putting it all on paper; or for that matter actuating your imagination into some form of media that can be shared by others.

This difference may account for those people who know I have published books and approach me with the line, 'I have a great idea for a book, maybe you could use it'. They haven't yet found a way to express their imagination on paper.

I think that it is essential to expression to understand the media and that requires some form of study specific to that media. A difference today from back, over thirty years ago, when I first attempted expression is that there are far more writing help books available now then there were then and this unfortunately muddies the water for new writers. Sometimes there is so much difference between the nomenclature for the various descriptions of arc that it becomes confusing. This can increase an already existing problem for those people that over-think things.

Some times the best thing to do is to just jump in with both feet and get wet--some people have a hard time doing that.

Back in the 70's my writing was stiff and difficult and I think it might be considered similar to those people who decide to keep a dream log. Everything in the dream seems so real and clear at the time of dreaming and then when they wake they have a small window where it quickly goes from clear to confusing as the first fog of memory gets burnt away by the morning sun. The rational mind that looks for structure begins to interfere with the recollection of the dream experience.

For me, it wasn't until I could find the character voice and enter the character experience that I was able to sustain the flow of ideas. I think that was because at that point I realized that it wasn't necessary to flood the pages with the 'idea' and that I could let it trickle out slowly.

Even after that there was a lot to learn about where the story should start and what the structure should be and where I could fudge the structure to fit the story.

It worked out for me that I would let the story flood out at its pace and then go back and begin to bend it to fit some form of structure. So I'd have to say that I initially try not to actively adhere to the structure. This may amount to creating more work for myself; however I think it has allowed me to reach some unexpected discoveries that have helped the story.
 

Jo Zebedee

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#23
Because I think it comes across as shallow, Social Media-esque, and requires a fundamental strength of character in the first place, to merely implement it. You're right inasmuch as focusing on self-belief (for example) can improve the climate of your emotional and mental - and therefore creative state - but it's a bullet point thing that offers no depth. Okay, if that bullet point thing leads to someone going to the doc and getting referred to CBT or something, then fair enough, but I'm guessing that it's a numbered list because we now live in a bite-size junket society where attention spans are so short.

You and I have both been invoved in State Education for a long time now, and we've both bemoaned this kind of approach to educating our kids. Is that disdain not applicable to us as creative adults? I know it's an unfair question perhaps, as you didn't write the list. Don't you find in our hopelessly damned, automation-obsessed society that these crib sheets are becoming more and more common?

I could give that to a kid and say 'what are the ten best ways to augment creatvity?' and give A's out willy-nilly as everyone recounts it acurately by rote.

Not through experiencing the suggestions.

For those kind of lists to help, they have to be mined and interrogated in great depth, often as a life-change, and those things don't happen everyday.

Re education, I don't think we do anyone any favours by encouraging something that's not even dormant or latent. I've been teaching long enough to know that no matter how many graphs, diagrams, powerpoints or bullet lists we give some people, they're just not cut out for that 'x'.

How many times over the years have you seen a new member join Chrons and ask the kind of questions - or repeatedly resist the advice we've given - that tells you they're never going to finish a draft let alone get a book on the shelves? Not to be mean, but it's just a fact in the same way you know that lame gazelle is going to be the one that get's chomped on.

If you don't have the chops for something that's competitive, you really shouldn't be wasting your time. You can, but that will be a frustrating experience. That's my opinion.

pH

Edit: Sorry, Jo, just read my post and it really comes across as if I'm bashing you! I'm not!
No, no I didn’t think you were don’t worry. I agree with lists being sound bites - but supported by good content around them, they can be useful. It’s the standalone element that fails - which I’d never use it for :)
 

Robert Zwilling

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#24
The rules are based on corporate claptrap that are designed to sell a product. No corporate claptrack is designed to not sell something. There is nothing wrong with that, as it actually allows a wider audience that has conflicting viewpoints to enjoy the same thing. All that is happening is that you are running through a checklist to see if anything pops up that can be used. Another aspect of writing is entertaining people. Most people don't find boring to be entertaining so it takes a bit work to create something that is interesting. I look at the world everyday, looking to find something I don't know. In some ways the world is a lot more interesting than it was 50 years ago without having to imagine anything. There has never been so much information available to the individual and so easy to get while at the same time I find walking along a beach that hasn't been sanitized and still has remnants of it's wild side still present to be very invigorating. I haven't thought of dictating my thoughts while I walk but I do write down anything that comes to me when I am half asleep or half awake as that can be quite helpful in working out what comes next in or later in what I am writing and is almost never remembered word for word in the morning. I don't care if people don't like what I write, I find that gives me a greater range to roam in, if I end up writing for myself than that's what happens.

While education is a good thing, it doesn't take into account that not everyone senses and subsequently inputs the information into their brain the same way. For example everyone does math in their heads all the time or they wouldn't be able to drive a car or ride a bicycle without going off the road. The problem is that math is presented in it's raw form which is great for some people and completely confusing for others. Being able to rewrite something that is confusing in its raw form so others can understand it is a highly underrated feature of writing that really needs to be applied to the way textbooks are written. I think skills like that are more important than being structurally correct.
 

Jo Zebedee

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#25
While education is a good thing, it doesn't take into account that not everyone senses and subsequently inputs the information into their brain the same way.
Of course it does! Any decent educator knows that both learning styles and sensory perception differ from person to person and tailors their content to reach each style. It’s central to any teacher training course, to any accredidated coaching qualification and to any educator training. I bet @Phyrebrat and I (who work in completely different fields) are very familiar with Honey&Mumford or the VAK input spectrum. You can’t teach effectively without understanding that.

As a consultant, if I don’t deliver material that reaches students I don’t get more work. Period. To do that I not only need to know about how information is processed across parameters (including, these days, things like how ASD affects processing) but also how to identify learning styles.

Corporate training is getting a real bashing here and that’s sad. The best corporate training is transformational and people centric. The worst is awful.

Grrr.
 

AlexH

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#26
I think it's easy to bash corporate training and corporate "claptrap" because many of us have had a bad experience with it (or know someone who has).

I work in search engine optimisation and it's annoying (but unfortunately understandable due to spammers and scammers) what a bashing it gets from some. To me, it's as simple as making user-friendly websites. Which isn't as simple as it sounds!
 

Phyrebrat

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#27
Corporate training is getting a real bashing here and that’s sad. The best corporate training is transformational and people centric. The worst is awful.
Argh, sorry, that's my fault. It's a trigger for me - like motivational Instamemes :rolleyes: - and I'm prolonging it, sorry.

There are great teachers and there are bad teachers, and students alike, so it all depends, as has been said UT. I think the ish with the corp training model is those training days usually end up with a certificate declaring some sort of proficiency for the benefit of the employee/employer and/or facilitator. And those kind of things give the wrong message - as if we've achieved it.

As if you're now qualified to say, 'Yeah, I'm doing imagination now, I'm great at doing creativity, cos I don't need a spark or gift, just application.'

If I might (apolgetically) veer even further awry on this topic I've seen that kind of mindset cause more damage than good. For example, my huge increase in intake of new students every year has been unquestionably down to the insidious virus of shows like X-Factor and BGT - even Strictly. We have all these kids coming to train in the vicious, highly competitive dance industry with the "Can do" attitude. That's because they've been indoctrinated at school that they can do anything if they put their minds to it.

No, they can't. And no we can't: I've given up two passions over my 46 years because I had honest teachers who said I wasn't going to be good enough. Now we have schools like the Petchey Academy in Hackney, London with school mottos of "I can if I think I can." (I went up against the Governors on that one), and "All Can Achieve" at the Harris Academy Crystal Palace. Mine was Pulchritudo et Salubritas which, although elitist and counter to my princples on equality, I can get behind and groove to. Sure 'All can achieve' but what do I say to that kid who is going to 'achieve' the menial - although crucial - job?

These days it seems more imperative that we baby our children, and protect them from any kind of critcism or hard knock. How does a child learn from that? I suggest they try to be raised like me in a Geordie family and learn true suffering for your art :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: )

pH
 

The Big Peat

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#31
Suggesting us Introverts "get out into the world more"??

*gulp*
This is what books, movies, computer games, wikipedia etc.etc. is for. Ideas for introverts.



Anyway.

Roughly 66% of my ideas come from my subconscious. They're usually triggered by hearing or seeing something and the subconscious goes "What about" i.e. walking along listening to the Pogues' Lullaby of London, hearing the line about ghosts and wondering "What about a man whose job is to free ghosts who are trapped from entering heaven?"

To a certain extent, I think I've trained myself to do this. To keep seeing ideas everywhere. I didn't always do this, or I'd have tried writing books before I was 30. I'm not sure the ideas themselves are more creative than when I was younger, but they come far more consistently.

And I've also noticed that they mostly come while I'm doing something else, and that they're mostly bouncing off of other things, mainly other stories or music or a conversation.

Also, this goes up to 100% when talking about all my original story ideas.


Of my remaining ideas -

Half I'd say come from deliberate brainstorming, which I typically do when looking for characters and worlds to flesh out the ideas above.

And half comes from reading something interesting and thinking "Right, I'm nicking that".


This doesn't include the amount of ideas that I just keep stored until later and eventually find a home for.
 

Bagpuss

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#34
I don't do anything deliberately. I tend to mull things over for a while before committing them to paper.
Decorum, and possibly several laws, forbids me to express what I actually thought when I read these two sentences. But I can assure you, on the inside, I am doubled over with laughter.
 

CTRandall

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#35
I'm kind of surprised at how many people emphasize their subconscious, particularly when I know for a fact that several of you do a lot of research.

Seems to me that a lot of people are clinging to a Romantic (as in 19th-century) idea of the artist being in touch with some transcendant sense of the sublime and downplaying the reasearch you do and work you put into your craft.

Time for me to duck and cover....
(And, honestly, I'm not sniping at anyone here. The only thing I'm certain of in the arts is that everyone has a different way of doing it. And that, in my opinion, is one of the primary reasons we will never run out of new and great art/writing/music.)
 
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#37
Let me pose this to all of you to press my earlier post's points...

If you come up with an idea, work it out, build on it and so on in solitude, it ends up at 'X' place.

Now, take your idea, flesh it out some, keep an open mind then come here and present it or fractions of it to folks, get their input (god or bad, essentially brainstorming), and now see how much that "X" place has expanded, become more refined and detailed.

Two heads are better than one ;)



K2
 

Cathbad

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#38
I'm kind of surprised at how many people emphasize their subconscious, particularly when I know for a fact that several of you do a lot of research.

Seems to me that a lot of people are clinging to a Romantic (as in 19th-century) idea of the artist being in touch with some transcendant sense of the sublime and downplaying the reasearch you do and work you put into your craft.

Time for me to duck and cover....
(And, honestly, I'm not sniping at anyone here. The only thing I'm certain of in the arts is that everyone has a different way of doing it. And that, in my opinion, is one of the primary reasons we will never run out of new and great art/writing/music.)
Research is to make sure I've got my facts right, or to confirm what I'm saying won't reveal me to be the fool I actually am! :p

I do at least as much research after writing the story as I do before. (But, since I make the rules for my fantasy world, I don't need to do research for those stories. Nyah! :p )
 

Steve Harrison

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#39
I'm kind of surprised at how many people emphasize their subconscious, particularly when I know for a fact that several of you do a lot of research.

Seems to me that a lot of people are clinging to a Romantic (as in 19th-century) idea of the artist being in touch with some transcendant sense of the sublime and downplaying the reasearch you do and work you put into your craft.

Time for me to duck and cover....
(And, honestly, I'm not sniping at anyone here. The only thing I'm certain of in the arts is that everyone has a different way of doing it. And that, in my opinion, is one of the primary reasons we will never run out of new and great art/writing/music.)
My subconscious merely (!) takes over when writing and provides the creative spark that makes my writing unique* Research, plotting, storyline, characters and the million and one other ingredients are conscious choices I make before going into 'the zone,' where my subconscious translates all this material into written form. I consider myself very fortunate that this happens, it would drive me insane if I had to think about all of it when actually writing.

I am a very visual writer and my outlines run like movies in my head, so I am often surprised by my written interpretation of what I 'see.'

*Note that by unique, I don't claim that my writing is anything special. I mean the way each writer's work is unique to them.
 

sknox

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#40
>If you struggle with anxiety, apprehension, low mood, PTSD or depression, your access to your creativity is very difficult.

I do not wish to downplay the challenges these difficulties bring with them, but I also have to point out that a great many highly creative people are described as being depressed, either by themselves or by later biographers.

Travel, a change of scenery, is great. I'm not sure I'd say it increases creativity, since to me just about all human activity is inherently creative. But it definitely can increase one's vocabulary. By that I don't mean just words, but smells, sounds, sights, people, experiences--the raw material from which an artist works.

Another problem I have with this word (along with its cognates such as imagination) is that it's deeply entangled with productivity. If an artist never makes anything, how is one to say that person is creative? Is sheer volume evidence of creativity? It's gotta be, at least to some extent, but few of us are willing to set a hack writer over against someone truly brilliant and say the former is more creative than the latter. It's not entirely quantity, but neither can quantity be removed from consideration.

I've been into this jungle before. I finally threw down the machete and walked out. Much happier now.
 

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