I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about creativity lately because I’m trying to write my second novel and I’m sucking at it. HARD.
From what I can tell creativity is a chemical reaction in the brain caused by the colliding of ideas (helped along with a sprinkling of pixie dust) and the outcome will always be different for different people because the inside of our heads are different.
Let me explain.
I might hear someone getting a text message, the tone sounding perhaps like a bleating goat, while I’m watching a Van Damme movie, and a story idea about a ninja goat named Axl will pop into my head. Because that’s how my brain works. But another person might take the same ingredients, goat + Van Damme, and they’ll come up with something completely different, like an algorithm for figuring out how many likes a Kardashian will get on an Instagram post based on the number of nipples in said post.
And that’s what makes it all so freaking exciting.
A x B = y, where A is known and B is known but y can never be known! Well obviously until we’re all replaced by robots who like to sing 80’s songs and aren’t intent on destroying the planet. (If you’ve read even a handful of my posts you will know how I like to go on about robots and the aliens and any and all impending zombie apocalypses. Sometimes I think my posts should come with a disclaimer. Warning: This post contains sentences of an alarming nature including but not limited to zombies, robots and how the aliens are watching us RIGHT NOW.)
And just so we’re clear, creativity it isn’t just rapping folk music and extreme adult colouring.
It’s Einstein coming up with the theory of relativity and Martin Luther King Jnr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It’s the caveman who decided to charcoal his mammoth steak one day and the invention of tap shoes. And yes, before you kindly point it out, it is also Psy coming up with Gangnam Style. (Because that is some catchy shit.)
Another angle on the creativity hologram is that the good stuff doesn’t really come from us. It comes from something outside of us that we have no control over. (Hence my earlier reference to pixie dust.)
So if we revisited the highly scientific formula that I posited earlier and we added to it this idea, we’d get something like:
(A x B)^the muse, fairy jizz or similar = y (where ^ is to power of for those who don’t speak maths)
Sometimes when I’m stuck on a blog post or a particular part of my new book I’ll get out a notebook and I’ll scribble down whatever comes to me, and I’ll pretend I live under the sea or I’ll ask myself questions about the noises that rhinos make and I’ll draw pictures and if it’s absolutely necessary I will jump around on one foot and cluck like a chicken.
If it sounds like a big stinking pile of strange that’s because it is.
Creativity isn’t clean and tidy. It’s messy and it smells like doughnut holes. But I know that if I get stuck in eventually I’ll solve my problem. Because if I show up, my muse will show up too. (Her name is Magenta Elvis Ashworth and she has purple hair.) And she likes it when my bum goes numb after hours in the chair and appreciates a little sweat and as many stickmen drawings as I can fit onto the page. This shows her that I’m serious about the business of creating.
An added benefit of you putting some of the responsibility for making things into the hands of the Muse/your dead great auntie Madge/your spirit guide Dr Spock is that it takes some of the angst out of the process, ratcheting the body-shaking terror that comes from creating something (that nobody even asked for) all the way down from DEFCON 2 to a mildly violent typhoon.
I know all of this makes me sound like a crazy person. But weirdly enough, it actually helps keep me sane.
Because if my writing sucks it’s not all on me. You feel me?
I think that creativity is real magic, like chemistry and cheese. Why do you think Liz Gilbert called her New York Times best-selling book on creativity Big Magic? It’s because creativity is BIG MAGIC. It’s like BIG DATA or BIG DICKS.
Do you have any particular ideas about creativity that you’d like to share with the class?