Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Art of the Idea

The principal at my school recently attended an amazing conference, and this afternoon she spoke to us about one of the sessions she attended - The Art of the Idea, by John Hunt. I've since googled this guy (I hadn't heard of him before) and have discovered his website, The Art of the Idea, and his book, The Art of the Idea.

The reason I'm posting about this is that I wanted to share a few of the points my principal mentioned - the ones that I think apply the most to us writerly types :-)

Image available from iStockphoto

  • Logic (facts) kills creativity. Those of us who write fiction (especially fantasy) don't have a problem here - why bother with silly things like logic and facts when you can just make stuff up?!
  • Trust your instincts or they will go away. If your gut feel is that that passage/scene/chapter/idea isn't working - then change it! Don't ignore your instincts, or it's likely that your critique partner/beta reader/agent/editor will pick up on that exact part that your instinct told you to change in the first place.
  • It is not plagiarism if you copy ideas. My favourite point! Of course, if your entire novel has the same idea as someone else's, well... I'd say that's not a good way to go. But I'm happy to admit that I've "borrowed" ideas from all over the place and pieced them together to create my own work.
  • We don't know what we don't know until we do what we normally don't do. (Feel free to read that sentence again if it doesn't make sense yet!) So... if you're following the same writing routine every single day and inspiration just isn't coming your way, mix it up a little. Do something completely different. Break away from the mundane, the habits.

And that's it for now :-)
Do you have any pointers for nurturing creativity and the growth of ideas?


Stephanie said...

I don't let myself get bogged down with facts while writing, but I have discovered that researching obscure, weird facts can spark my creativity.

I like to do all sorts of things to get my right brain working. Knitting and sewing projects, drawing, or just taking a walk somewhere scenic. Ideas really do hit you out of nowhere sometimes, from the simplest things.

P.S. Rachel, I wanted to let you know I've given you some awards on my blog.

Kittie Howard said...

Great points! I think a bit of general research before starting a project helps...bits of info float around and can pop onto the page for a bit of flavor.

Scrolled back and saw you were sick the end of August. Sorry! Hope you're really back to feeling like your ole self!

Rachel Morgan said...

Stephanie - now that you mention it, looking up certain things (like random lists of names on Wikipedia, for example!) can really help spark some ideas.

Kittie - thank you for all your comments this evening. I am much better now and looking forward to a week of holiday (it's our Spring holiday) to get lots of writing done (only 8 more sleeps till the end of term!).

Jeigh said...

I love that last one! Breaking out of the routine definitely gets my creative juices flowing. And I'm glad it's not bad to borrow ideas, because I'm guilty of that, too :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Great points!

I definitely agree with the last one. :) I often find that if I try something even a little different, it will lead to something else that's new.

J. A. Bennett said...

Great tips! I especially like the one about instincts. So true :)

Cally Jackson said...

I agree with all of these - especially two and three. My crit at the Brisbane Writers Festival was evidence that you shouldn't ignore the little voice niggling at you about plot holes - unfortunately. :-)

And if we weren't allowed to get inspiration from other writers, then half the books we've read and loved wouldn't exist. I'm pretty sure it was one person originally that dreamed up the concept of a 'vampire', for example!

Maria said...

I think ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, and think you should gather them from where ever, I know of writers whose best stuff has come from the oddest thoughts.

Totally agree with your point on instinct too.

If something is niggling away at me, then its probably because its not right.

Good post, thank you.

Judy said...

What a thrill that you are able to transfer this info into your real passion of writing (love the Principal x)

Anonymous said...

#2 is so true. Sometimes I work so hard to get something to be the way I want it in a scene, and the characters are trying to do something else, and when I just give up and do what they want it ends up even better than what I had planned. Or sometimes it's scrapped completely. Always a gamble :)