Today is another psychology into writing kind of post. I just took an exam on intelligence and problem solving in my psychology class, and I actually did pretty well. One thing that stood out to me in the unit was this little section on creativity.
We are writers, right? So by nature, we are creative. We come up with stories for a living (and by “For a living” I don’t just mean money. Writing keeps us sane). We listen to the voices in our heads and distort our crazy dreams into novels. That’s great. The problem is when we face a blank sheet of paper and don’t have it already worked out in our heads. There are times, even for writers, where the world sucks the creativity out of you.
In psychology, we learned about the conditions in which people are more creative. So here are some tips on how to get that creativity back or even just boost your creativity for your writing.
Firstly, people are more creative when they have a wide knowledge base about the subject. Writing is like taking a bunch of puzzle pieces and arranging our own picture. We all use the same elements essentially (emotions, language, characters, plot, etc) for the puzzle pieces. If you don’t know much about what you are trying to write about, you are only working with a few pieces, but the more you know, the more pieces you have and combinations you can arrange them in.
This is where “Write what you know” comes in. Even though writing things that you have personal experience in can be a great method, you don’t have to start out knowing everything about what you are writing about. I know a lot about the mountains of Virginia from experience, but I still did research on the area and the towns I was writing about in Holding My Breath. I didn’t know hardly anything about the stages of grief, so I did research on that. Both of these were big in my story. This helped me to get a more creative outlook on the are and how I can use it to my advantage.
Do some research. Interview people. Go places. Gather data. It just helps to gather more pieces to add to your puzzle.
Secondly, people are more creative when they have imaginative thinking skills. If you find yourself tapped dry of imagination, it is an easy fix. Go search up some writing prompts and write the most interesting thing possible. Just keep going prompt after prompt until you are back in that rush of non-reality.
One thing I like to do is look at a picture and come up with the story behind it. I write a biography of what I see, but it can’t be what I see. If the picture is of a pig, I’m not going to write about a pig. I’m going to say that the thing in the picture is something else, like the statue created in honor of Neil Armstrong, a replica of his pet named Porkchop. I’ll say that Porkchop’s statue just sold for 20 bucks on eBay. Obviously none of that ever happened, but it got me thinking, didn’t it?
Next, people are more creative when they have an adventurous personality. Now, of course, we are writers. Leaving the house itself is an inconvenience. But you can read and go anywhere. I’d suggest just trying to take interest in more things that you usually wouldn’t find interesting. And when you do leave the house, try to find a way go on an adventure. My rule is that if it makes a good story, then it’s a good adventure. I’ve been going by that policy for a while and now I’ve got a lot of stories.
All of these contribute to one big thing. A person is more creative if they are intrinsically motivated. Intrinsically motivated pretty much just means that they are driven to be creative for their own reasons, from internal motivators, not external ones. They aren’t doing it for the money or for the fame. They are doing it for their own reasons, because the thing they are created is close to them. They care about it.
If you don’t care about your story, your characters, then you need new ones. If you are in it for the money or fame, I’ll go ahead and tell you that writing is not the way to go for that. And if you’re in it for the money, then your writing isn’t going to get you there anyway. In order to tap into that creativity, you need to be doing this for a reason other than what you will get from it. Care about what is inside the story more than you care about what happens outside the story.
My challenge for you is to try and be more creative. Whether this is through writing prompts or exploring other writers’ worlds, find a way to expand your horizons and get that imagination flowing. Another thing I want you to do is write down why you are writing. Write it down and stick it somewhere that you will see it everyday. Maybe it’s your bathroom mirror or it’s the front page of your current draft. But if you see it every day, you don’t forget it. You won’t give up on it. And most importantly, you won’t stray away from it in the months of writing to come.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!
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