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Archive for the ‘Writers’ Category

Source: John Cleese, ‘A lecture on Creativity’ Video Arts, 1991

Thirty-six minutes of pure genius.

What follows are my notes on the lecture.

Five Factors to make your life more Creative
or, Five Requirements for an Open Mode Mindset

Creativity is associated with play. True play is experiment. And humor is an essential part of spontaneity, playfulness, and creativity.

An open mode mindset requires the following five requirements:

  1. Space – Create some space for yourself away from the normal demands of life.

“Create an oasis of quiet.” – John Cleese

  1. Time – Create space for yourself for a specific period of time. You need both a specific time to begin and a specific time to end.

“Play is distinct from ordinary life both as to locality and duration. This is its main characteristic: Its secludedness. Its limitedness. Play begins and then at a certain moment it is over. Otherwise it is not play.” – Johan Huizinga

“It’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent than it is to do important things that are not urgent (like thinking) and it’s also easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.” – John Cleese

Note that it takes about a half hour for your brain to race and then calm down once you begin getting into the open mode. Therefore, you should allot more than a half hour to this endeavor.

  1. Time – Give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original. If you are prepared to stick with a problem longer and don’t take the obvious and easy way out, then you will almost always come up with something more original. The most creative people tolerate the discomfort of having a problem without a solution far longer than less creative people.

“The people I find it hardest to be creative with are people who need – all the time – to project an image of themselves as decisive and who feel that to create this image they need to decide everything very quickly and with a great show of confidence. Well this behavior I suggest sincerely is the most effective way of strangling creativity at birth.” – John Cleese

“What I’m suggesting to you is that before you take a decision you should always ask yourself the question, “When does this decision have to be taken?” and having answered that, you defer the decision until then in order to give yourself maximum pondering time which will lead you to the most creative solution.” – John Cleese

  1. Confidence – Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake. You’re either free to play or you’re not. Know that while you’re being creative nothing is wrong. There’s no such thing as a mistake. And any drivel may lead to the breakthrough.

“You can’t be spontaneous within reason.” – Alan Watts

  1. Humor – Nothing gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than humor. Things can be Serious – and thus involve humor, spontaneity, and play – without being Solemn.

“Creativity is like humor: In a joke, the laugh comes at a moment when you connect two different frameworks of reference in a new way. Having a new idea is exactly the same thing: It’s connecting two hitherto separate ideas in a way that generates new meaning.” – John Cleese

Finally, you also need to keep your mind gently resting against the subject. It’s very much like meditating. Allow your mind free reign to mull over a problem while you go about your normal routine. This leads to those Ah-ha! moments when solutions appear.

And make sure your creative friends are people you like and trust. Never say anything to squash them. Always be positive and uplifting. Try to establish as free an atmosphere as possible. If even one person around you makes you feel defensive, your creativity will be undermined.

Managers: How to stamp out Creativity in your Organization

  1. Allow your subordinates no humor.
  2. Don’t miss an opportunity to undermine your employees confidence. Be a fault-finder. Never balance negatives with positives. Only criticize.
  3. Demand that people always be active doing things. Never let them stop and think. Demand urgency at all times. Use lots of fighting talk. Establish a permanent atmosphere of stress, breathless anxiety, and crisis.

In a phrase, keep that mode closed!

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Source: C.S. Lewis on Writing | The Steve Laube Agency

On June 26, 1956, C.S. Lewis replied to letter from an American girl named Joan with advice on writing:

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
  4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”
  5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite

From: C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children, p. 64

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Source: Novel Journey: Author Interview ~ Terry Brennan.

Writing is a lot like life. Enjoy the journey. And let God handle the details.

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Source: Novel Journey: Interview with Tim Maleeny.

Writers are constantly learning and seem interested in everything, no matter how trivial or obscure. They are sponges, soaking up information that will one day be regurgitated in some other form, little bits of detail or trivia that define a place, a character or a plot.

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Source: Novel Journey: Interview with Tim Maleeny.

I think writers grow up as readers — passionate readers who get lost in books in a way that casual readers don’t. At some point a subset of those readers decide they have a story inside them, and then it becomes a question of stamina and commitment. And long hours in front of a keyboard for many, many years. So I guess I’d have to say a writer is made at that moment when a reader decides there’s a great story waiting to be read, only this time they have to write the story first. That’s what writing is…telling yourself a story.

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I had a fabulous time attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) this year! I met a lot of other great writers and made some great contacts in the industry. It was well worth my time and money.

Me with Angie Hunt

Angie Hunt and Me

I definitely have to take more photos next year, but at least I got this one with Angela Hunt. She’s a great writer who’s well published across a variety of genres. And she was a great mentor for my first writing conference. I learned a great deal from attending her sessions and recommend them to future conference attendees.

The conference is held each year in late May at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in the western mountains of North Carolina. Information about this conference (and some great tips on writing) can be found at the following links:

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I just found this very interesting web site. It’s called Daily Routines and includes posts on how writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days. The posts are mostly short at a paragraph or two, but they’re informative. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

I will definitely be subscribing.

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