Tag Archives: creativity

Inherited Creativity

So you want to write a novel? You must be born with it:

“Researchers from Yale in the US and Moscow State University in Russia launched the study to see whether there was a scientific reason why well-known writers have produced other writers. …

“This work is unique in its objective to investigate the familiality and heritability of the trait of creative writing,” the researchers write, “while controlling for general cognitive ability and for the general level of family functioning. Despite the lack of systematic research on the aetiology of writing in general and creative writing in particular, it is rather difficult not to acknowledge the familiality of creativity in writing, given the families of writers who have entertained and educated us over the years. These findings constitute the tip of an interesting iceberg, indicating that there may be some components of creative writing that are familial and heritable.

“It may be worth further studies to confirm that creative writers are indeed born, as well as made. When writers capitalise on these inborn propensities and expose these propensities to rich experiences, we, as readers, can enjoy books that not only form the foundation of cultural life but also impact the biology of the human brain.”

More: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/want-to-be-a-writer-have-a-literary-parent-8200777.html

The Election. The Coup. The Black Vault. http://www.SPYWRITER.com

The 7 Reasons to Read Fiction

“If you’re anything like me, then you’ve been searching for justification for your fiction reading habit. So, I decided to create that justification instead of waiting around for someone else to do it!

1. Fiction increases your creativity.
2. Fiction sharpens your writing skills and boosts your vocabulary.
3. Fiction reduces stress and provides a safe haven through escapism.
4. Fiction provides insights into the human condition.
5. Fiction improves your focus.
6. Fiction polishes your analytical abilities.
7. Fiction gives you something to talk about.

You see, there’s no need to feel guilty about picking up that novel. … The fiction genre is brimming with vast knowledge just waiting to be tapped.”

From: http://www.business2community.com/marketing/7-ways-your-fiction-addiction-makes-you-a-sharper-marketer-0244129

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Writers are obligated to live for themselves

“And yet I had not been wrong, perhaps, after all, in sacrificing not only the vain pleasures of the world but the real pleasure of friendship to that of spending the whole day in this green garden.  People who enjoy the capacity—it is true that such people are artists, and I had long been convinced that I should never be that—are also under an obligation to live for themselves. And friendship is a dispensation from this duty, an abdication of self.  Even conversation, which is the mode of expression of friendship, is a superficial digression which gives us no new acquisition. We may talk for a lifetime without doing more than indefinitely repeat the vacuity of a minute, whereas the march of thought in the solitary travail of artistic creation proceeds downwards, into the depths, in the only direction that is not closed to us, along which we are free to advance—though with more effort, it is true—towards a goal of truth.  And friendship is not merely devoid of virtue, like conversation, it is fatal to us as well. For the sense of boredom which it is impossible not to feel in a friend’s company (when, that is to say, we must remain exposed on the surface of our consciousness, instead of pursuing our voyage of discovery into the depths) for those of us in whom the law of development is purely internal—that first impression of boredom our friendship impels us to correct when we are alone again, to recall with emotion the words uttered by our friend, to look upon them as a valuable addition to our substance, albeit we are not like buildings to which stones can be added from without, but like trees which draw from their own sap the knot that duly appears on their trunks, the spreading roof of their foliage.”
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove

Reading literature helps you understand life

Feeling foggy about the world around you? Read literature:

“Literary works are portrayals of the thinking patterns and social norms prevalent in society. They are a depiction of the different facets of common man’s life. Classical literary works serve as a food for thought and a tonic for imagination, creativity and national integration. Exposing an individual to good literary works is equivalent to providing people with the finest of educational opportunity”. source

Surroundings vs Creativity

“The future poet laureate revealed his private reservations in a series of letters to Olwyn Hughes after moving to Massachusetts with his first wife, the American poet Sylvia Plath, in 1957.

In one letter, penned shortly after the move, he said that he would rather “eat mud” than continue to be exposed to American consumerism.

[…] in one letter to his sister, written in 1957, the poet complained that he felt stifled by being surrounded by fast food chains, stores and branding which he felt were all aimed at the “average man”.

He wrote: “Luxury is stuffed down your throat – a mass-produced luxury – till you feel you’d rather be rolling in the mud and eating that.”


Artists working for the predatory animal

In between challenging books, or after a book that had a profound impact on me, I like to pick up something neutral, or something that I already know and enjoy reading, such as Turgenev’s or Chekhov’s short stories. I read the latter last weekend, to cracking freeze, and an inch of snow:

“Science and art, when they are true, are directed not to temporary or private purposes, but to the eternal and the general–they seek the truth and the meaning of life, they seek God, the soul, and when they are harnessed to passing needs and activities, then they only complicate and encumber life. All our intellectual and spiritual energy is wasted on temporary passing needs…. Scientists, writers, painters work and work, and thanks to them the comforts of life grow greater every day, the demands of the body multiply, but we are still a long way from the truth and man still remains the most rapacious and unseemly of animals, and everything tends to make the majority of mankind degenerate and more and more lacking in vitality. Under such conditions the life of an artist has no meaning and the more talented he is, the more strange and incomprehensible his position is, since it only amounts to his working for the amusement of the predatory, disgusting animal, man, and supporting the existing state of things.” Anton Chekhov, in “The House with the Mezzanine.”

The photograph shows Chekhov’s grave.

Advice for a young writer

“Do not trust the dominant ideologies and the princes. Stay away from the princes. Do not contaminate your language with language of ideology. Believe that you are stronger than generals, but do not measure against them. Do not believe that you are weaker than generals, but do not measure against them. Do not believe in utopian projects, except in those that you create yourself. Be equally proud in front of the princes and the people. Have a clear conscience of the privileges a writing profession bestows on you. Do not confuse the curse of your choice with that of class oppression. Do not be swept by the tides of history, and do not believe in the metaphor of a train of history. Do not jump on the train of history, it’s just a silly metaphor. Always remember that he who reaches the target misses the point. Do not write reports from countries that you’ve visited as a tourist. Do not write reports at all, you’re not a journalist. Do not believe statistics, numbers, and public statements; the reality is that which cannot be seen with the naked eye. Do not visit factories, collective farms, or businesses; progress is that which cannot be seen with the naked eye. Do not get involved in economy, sociology, or psychoanalysis. Do not occupy your mind with Eastern philosophy, or teachings such as Buddhism, or Zen, you have a smarter job. Be aware that imagination is a sister of lies, so it is dangerous. Do not get involved with anyone, a writer is alone.”
Danilo Kiš

Elements of a novel

Folks often ask me: How to write a suspense novel?

Being an author of three novels (published and pending publication) I do not feel competent to answer this question definitively. I doubt I will have a definitive answer even with 10 books under my belt. As someone once said: When a writer begins to think that he knows how to write – he will never write anything worth reading again. I do not pretend to know how to write, however, being also an avid reader, I can at least attempt to describe my combined writer/reader observations.

When you pick up any novel, be it a thriller or a mainstream story, you will notice that it starts off with some sort of a crisis. To cut it short: the rest of the story deals with solving the crisis.

In more detail: the crisis is where something happens, and where the main characters are introduced. This must grab the readers’ attention or else the novel is a bomb.

Next major step is required to keep the tension growing, and that step is called a twist. It involves some kind of trouble, or a turn in development of the plot that is surprising to the main character and readers.

Most authors of suspense and thriller novels will add a second twist, to keep the tension boiling, but also, and just as importantly so the reader doesn’t think she already solved the mystery. This is where the protagonist’s efforts at figuring out the first twist are shattered.

I think that readers are often way ahead of the writer in terms of figuring our where the story leads, and after the second twist they can usually tell the outcome, sometimes staying with the novel to the end, but often fingering through or outright dumping it. Yeah, I am that reader. So, as a writer I like to add a third twist, where any readers’ notions of figuring out the plot are shattered into pieces. 

The twists should be constructed and presented in such a way that the buildup of tension leads to the climax, that point in the novel, not too far from- and not too close from the end where it is very difficult to put it down, whether or not one figured out what is about to happen.

Then the climax brings the resolution, that point where all the twists become clear, and lead to the only natural closing. The closing is the most difficult stage. It depends entirely on the previous stages. It is here that many authors fail their readers – where readers just shake their heads and say – It’s ridiculous! Keep in mind that closing also means open end, if that is what comes as a natural result of everything that happened.

Of course the above treats the subject in the most shallow way -perhaps I will find the time to expand on it some day…