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Exercising imagination

scarpelius

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I believe creativity is strongly tied to the amount of literacy. And I am not meaning only the academic, the kind of knowledge that is forced into your brain by rigid mechanics of learning for a diploma, but the kind of knowledge you acquire every day, reading/seeing interesting subjects. This is why the number of creative people exploded in our days, people are bombarded with so many information, it puts their brain in motion, connecting (conscious and unconscious) bits of disparate information and creating something new (well, at least new to them).
But creativity without structure (the hero's journey, 8 point arc, or anything else) can fall flat. If you are creative and never think of any pattern for your story, it doesn't mean you didn't use it. Those are patterns filtered over time, applied with success in every book you read before.
 

Cathbad

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But creativity without structure (the hero's journey, 8 point arc, or anything else) can fall flat. If you are creative and never think of any pattern for your story, it doesn't mean you didn't use it. Those are patterns filtered over time, applied with success in every book you read before.
This is what i was thinking. Not familiar with the term (I learned methods of outlining in school, but not this), I looked up the 8-Point Story Arc. After looking at it, the first thing that came to me was, "Isn't this simply the result of good storytelling, rather than a method?"

So, I'm not sure one should (or will) actually apply this as the foundation of his/her story. I doubt most of the writers before, say, 1960, ever heard of this, but still came out with some great stories - that still followed this pattern. I can't help but wonder if trying to consciously keep up with this 'formula' might actually stifle creativity?
 

Robert Zwilling

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Is sheer volume evidence of creativity?
More than 50 years ago a lot of authors spent a lot of time writing one story. Back then people who cranked out a lot of material definitely were talented as it was physically harder to write sheer volumes of material. Now it is too easy to crank out volume after volume after volume which makes it possible for anyone to do it.
 

scarpelius

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@Cathbad I believe those patterns emerged from the analysis of the existing stories. There are people who thrive by ordering things, discerning patterns and laws in the chaos that surround us.
Real life is messy, often unpredictable and unfair. That does not means it does not follow any rules, on the contrary.
Is the same with writing. You can be messy, creative, but you need to follow rules if you want to exist in your environment. Knowing about those patterns might help you to plan and structure your story better.
 

Stephen Palmer

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Good thread, this, and good post from K2.
Creativity isn't a thing in itself, it's a response to the outside world, a response that varies according to what kind of brain you were born with. One of my "outside world" things for instance is non-fiction, which I mostly read. But walks, landscape etc are all fantastic triggers.
Tolkien's creativity came a lot from his love of nature, and sensitivity to it, which you sense strongly in Middle Earth.
 

Stephen Palmer

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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.
Research for me comes after the initial subconscious splurge of imaginative ideas.
It's the support to the original desire to do a particular thing.
 

Biskit

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I would argue also that there are definitely creative people compared to those who are more scientific (Is that the antonym? :eek: cos, for a Sci Fi site for writers, that seems implausible ;) ) but that is from my own experience of life and teaching art subjects. However, there's a lil place for everyone ;)
I'm don't think "scientific" precludes "creative". Aside from anything else, just thinking about it, two of the authors I read in my teens (Fred Hoyle and Issac Asimov) were both scientists. I imagine there are plenty of others. Outside of writing, Brian May and Jonathan Miller spring to mind.
 

Toby Frost

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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.
Er, great? Hilarity aside, I could probably have expressed that better. For "deliberately" please read "consciously".

What this thread tells me is that there isn't a single or guaranteed way to encourage imagination, but that there are half a dozen basic things to try, and it's worth considering all of them until you find what works.
 

Phyrebrat

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I'm don't think "scientific" precludes "creative". Aside from anything else, just thinking about it, two of the authors I read in my teens (Fred Hoyle and Issac Asimov) were both scientists. I imagine there are plenty of others. Outside of writing, Brian May and Jonathan Miller spring to mind.
Yes. We agree on that. Perhaps left brain/right brain might’ve been better terminology than science/arty.

pH
 

Cathbad

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The key is to do it on your own terms.
Introverts need lots of rest time because of the sensitivity which is the source of introversion.
You can get out into the world when you like, but you'll need to rest afterwards...
;) Actually, although I am an introvert, I'm not really afraid of public gatherings, even public speaking. (That fear went out the window while I was in the Army.)

Introverts simply gather their energy by being alone for a while, while extroverts 'become alive' in crowds. Crowds are draining on introverts, being alone is exasperating for extroverts. So, yes, I'd rather be at home, alone, left to my writing and (ugh!) marketing, but I can easily make forays into the jungle that is the city. :D
 

Phyrebrat

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Trying to explain to extroverts - or even low-spectrum extroverted people why you’re the way you are - or how you experience life, rather - is nigh on impossible.

The best way is to answer questions with, ‘I don’t want to.’ And after a while they’ll stop asking...

Then you’ll get your solitude :D

pH
 

Stephen Palmer

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;) Actually, although I am an introvert, I'm not really afraid of public gatherings, even public speaking. (That fear went out the window while I was in the Army.)

Introverts simply gather their energy by being alone for a while, while extroverts 'become alive' in crowds. Crowds are draining on introverts, being alone is exasperating for extroverts. So, yes, I'd rather be at home, alone, left to my writing and (ugh!) marketing, but I can easily make forays into the jungle that is the city. :D
I'm well aware of what being an introvert is like! I'm right at the far end of the introversion scale...
It was interesting that a recent piece in the Guardian where the author lazily confused shyness and introversion was lambasted in the comments section. Fear of public gatherings is often shyness.
 

CTRandall

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Research for me comes after the initial subconscious splurge of imaginative ideas. It's the support to the original desire to do a particular thing.
For me research and imaginative work move in a continuous cycle--a kind of yin and yang. Imagination pops up with an idea, I do some resrarch on relevant subjects, that research spawns new imaginative work, etc.

Obviously, I have to stop at some point and put in the creative work of setting words on a page. But it is hard to draw a line between where research ends and imagination takes over. If I consider research in the broadest sense, i.e. observing and participating in the world around me, then the boundary between research and imagination becomes fuzzy, ambiguous, porous.
 

Stephen Palmer

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I find my novels arrive in two distinct stages.
The first is the general overall picture - the world/scenario, the main charatcer/s, the voice.
After that and a rough idea of the story, stage two arrives: research & details. I try to do that part in the months before writing the book.
 

Serendipity

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Sounds as if I really must rewrite my idea generation mechanisms paper into a lighter reading format and publish it. I have used all the mechanisms in this, and t one honest, the choice of mechanism I use depends on what mood I'm in at the time!

However in my humble opinion - every story starts with a single key idea/thought. Sometimes, that thought/idea comes with baggage of a whole world e.g. a story-line for the Star Trek universe. Sometimes you have to build the whole universe - or if you're greedy like me have two very different sub-universes in your novel's world!
 

drmatteri

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So my question is, how do you go about stretching, exercising and pushing the boundaries of your imagination?
Whenever I feel the need to recharge my creative energy, I simply take a break from writing to do other things, like reading, teaching, or chores around the house. Writing every day can be exhausting like any full-time job, so I believe breaks are needed to maintain a healthy imagination.
 

sknox

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I agree about breaks, but isn't that weird? I mean, does anyone say that doing mathematics every day is exhausting? That they have to take a break from anthropology in order to recharge? I'm pretty sure I've never heard of anything called sculptor's block.

There just seems to be a special vocabulary attached to this business of creative writing. Is it because the vocabulary itself comes from writers? Or does it describe something real? Or is it a form of self-indulgence? I answer yes to all three questions, depending on time of day, so don't look at me for answers. But I do find the whole topic intriguing.
 

Steve Harrison

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I agree about breaks, but isn't that weird? I mean, does anyone say that doing mathematics every day is exhausting? That they have to take a break from anthropology in order to recharge? I'm pretty sure I've never heard of anything called sculptor's block.

There just seems to be a special vocabulary attached to this business of creative writing. Is it because the vocabulary itself comes from writers? Or does it describe something real? Or is it a form of self-indulgence? I answer yes to all three questions, depending on time of day, so don't look at me for answers. But I do find the whole topic intriguing.
It is intriguing. I have discussed this with other writers and my take is that creativity seems to be a separate entity. And I'm sure it's much the same for any creative pursuit.

There are times when I am consciously writing and become taken over by my 'creative muse.' I'll be hammering away at the keyboard and seeing the words appear on the page for the first time, drawing them from some supernatural point about two feet above my head. When that happens, it's a kind of literary orgasm.

Other times writing becomes so hard and workmanlike I grind to a halt. I have to take a walk, watch TV, have a shower or even stop writing for a week or more. The answer to my woes will always pop into my head when I am not thinking about writing at all. So I don't see these periods as a break from writing. They are just unconscious writing periods.

Intriguing and weird!
 

Cathbad

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I agree about breaks, but isn't that weird? I mean, does anyone say that doing mathematics every day is exhausting? That they have to take a break from anthropology in order to recharge? I'm pretty sure I've never heard of anything called sculptor's block.

There just seems to be a special vocabulary attached to this business of creative writing. Is it because the vocabulary itself comes from writers? Or does it describe something real? Or is it a form of self-indulgence? I answer yes to all three questions, depending on time of day, so don't look at me for answers. But I do find the whole topic intriguing.
I've spoken to several artists who say they too get some version of 'artist's block'. One was quite indignant - nearly angry, I'd say - that writers think this applies only to them.

*shrugs*
 
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