Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I have to get my mind right.

OK, so some people may have noticed that my whole NaNoWriMoWroMo idea... didn't really pan out. Or at least they may have inferred that from the fact I stopped talking about it. I think that was down to a mixture of a sort of creative burnout and my inherent laziness.
That said, it worked a little bit. The 10000-odd words I wrote were still more than I've done for ages, and I managed to be moderately productive doing other things while procrastinating from the writing I was supposed to be doing.

But this has gotten me thinking about creativity, and how one tries to induce it. I mean, it's said that you can't force creativity - or is it inspiration that you proverbially can't force. Hmm. Because inspiration you can't really, but creativity you sort of can.
And even with inspiration, you can still possibly help it along.

Let's take writing as an obvious example. In all probability, the way I will come to start writing something, or at least wanting to write something, is by something just occurring to me as a good idea - a stroke of inspiration. Then I just have to put in some effort to figuring out the details to make the idea work, and actually do the writing.
Now say I feel like writing something, anything. Well, I can go to something I've already started, because then I don't need an inspiration - I've already had the main inspiration, I just need to get myself in the right mind-set for what I want to write. This is what I mean about being sort of able to force creativity. I have to get the conditions right for myself, I have to feel comfortable - this often involves trying to shut out any indications of the existence of the outside world, possibly shutting myself away in a room by myself, curled up with my laptop, in a hoodie, hood up, listening to music. But that's just the extreme. But the point is once I feel comfortable I just think about what I'm writing and I can come up with ideas, because I have parameters within which to work - I already know the setting, characters, etc.
As a sidenote, on obvious example for this is writing WW narrations, since they have deadlines (Technically at least - I'm not always the best at posting my narrations on time). But I can force myself to meet the deadline because I have simple parameters - a predetermined setting, and I know someone has to die, at the hands of either the village  or the werewolves. So to get a more precise idea for the narration I can just start free associating with those particular details in mind.

And here's where we get to the point where you can even kind of help yourself come to an inspiration. Obviously, random inspirations are unpredictable, but the thing is one is often inspired by something, so to try and get more inspiration, you can just look around for things to be inspired by. And this need not involve actually getting up, wandering around and looking at things. It's a mental process, so all it requires is thinking - like say, the free associating I was mentioning that I do when I don't really know what to write but I have maybe have some idea. Even if I really have no idea at all, under the right circumstances I can just throw my brain around and see where it lands, so to speak.

So really, all that I have to do is get myself into the right mind-set. Which seems to be a bit less simple than it sounds. An obvious point which applies to my recent failure in this regard is that being ill, as I have been for the past couple of weeks, really doesn't help me want to do anything. Then there's the possibility of shutting out the rest of the world, as I mentioned above. Just generally making myself comfortable - physically and mentally. If there's something that's bothering me, distracting me, it's likely to continue distracting me, which is not particularly conducive to me trying to think about writing or whatever.
Then another thing which I've found helps me think somewhat is just going for decently long walks. For some reason I tend to forget this - when I want to be writing something, it does seem a tad counter-intuitive to waste a load of time by shutting down my laptop, leaving the house and going for a walk for an hour or so, but a combination of the fresh air and the fact I really don't have anything else to do mean I start really thinking. And in any case I need more exercise.
And then there's simply the point of getting myself thinking in the right way. If I'm coming back to something I've already started, an obvious way to do this is just to read what I've already written. Again, slightly counter-intuitive, since it takes up time without advancing anything (Though it may lead to editing), but it gets me back into thinking teh right way, and reminds me of the details and how the story is flowing, etc, etc. And if it's something new? Just read something. Ideally something in a similar style to what I want to be writing, but if nothing else, reading is likely to bring me to more things which may inspire me, and seeing what someone else has done creatively helps me consider my own creativity.
So, my intention at this point is to get back to reading more, because I don't read enough these days (Unless you count forums and facebook, which I don't).

Now that I've written all that out, it seems really obvious. But that's partly because I've come across all these points before - and the significant point is that they're only obvious when I remember them, which is for some reason not all the time. Hopefully now that I've made this blog post I'll remember them more?

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