Thursday, November 11, 2010

Creativity and Observation

Writers, along with musicians, artists and actors, fall into the category that most people classify as "creative." How wonderful for us that we're placed in such a special category. But before we start feeling so very special, we need to remember that creativity is not dished out only to those who work in those fields. Mothers can be creative when they come up with a new game to play with their children, or a new recipe to share with their family. Fathers can utilize creativity when they figure out a way to stretch the income to cover the bills. Even children can be creative, and sometimes quite quickly, when questioned about a broken vase or a spilled drink.

Whatever creativity is, it's floating through the universe at this very moment and landing on everyone in varying degrees at various times. It's a bit like the "Dust" that Lyra Silvertongue was obsessed with in The Golden Compass. And even though it may be everywhere, like money, some people just seem to have more of it than others.

So how does one go about tapping into that well of creativity? How do you get some of it? Maybe those with a large amount of it have had some experiences that the rest of us haven't had. Perhaps some event in the life of Suzanne Collins, something that may now be no more than a faded memory to her, provided the basis for The Hunger Games. What did Stephen King experience that gave him the embryonic idea that resulted in the creation of Needful Things? And where did that lightning bolt scar on Harry Potter's forehead have its basis for J.K. Rowling? I could go on with more examples, but you get the point.

Perhaps everything that happens in our lives leaves a footprint in our memory. Some prints may be deeper than others. Many may be fleeting things, events or thoughts that leave little or no impact and a very shallow mark in the sand of our gray matter. But even the lightest footprints leave a mark. At least temporarily, and sometimes permanently. Most of those events might never be called upon for future use, but one of them may be a catalyst that causes other thoughts to rearrange and finally gel into a unique combination that results in a best-selling novel.

Life goes on. Things are happening around us. Some of them happen to us, and have an impact, either good or bad. Other events are merely changes in the landscape we're passing through, and we are nothing more than observers of the action as it unfolds. We're witnesses to small snapshots of life as it continues. Those snapshots are like pages in a family album, each a single frame in time and in a life that goes on after the event, usually.

There are stories behind those snapshots. Some are frightening. Some are funny. Others are heart-warming and bring tears of joy. And any one of those may be a story that someone with a little creative talent can write. The great news is that the shutter is clicking continually, every second of the day, everywhere. We're all on a level playing field as far as the input is concerned. The only variant is in how observant we are and how creative we can be in putting the story together.

We need to be watchful. Look at that child, sitting in the grocery cart and crying as her angry young mother pushes the cart down the aisle. What's the story behind that? See that older man leaving the office building and loosening his tie as he shuffles toward his car? Did he just get fired? What will he do this evening? Is that dog running across the highway going to get hit before he makes it to the other side? Did someone dump him? Why is that police car sitting in front of my neighbor's house? Have they had another fight? And why is the ambulance there?

There are a million stories out there, and they're happening every day.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't posted on here in almost a year, but I love this post. I actually wrote a really long comment, and then it got deleted because I misspelled my username SO, because of lack of time, I can't write everything I want to. Suffice it to say, this really got me thinking. In a few years, when I get my own WIP published (positive thinking!) I hope someone thinks those same questions that you are about my book. I wonder if they'll ever guess what sparked my own particular type of creativity...



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.