Creativity, although not confined to the arts, is certainly the mainstay of artistic endeavour. And it is in this context that we are talking this week. Creativity is not just following instructions; I don’t think anyone feels particularly creative after putting together flat pack furniture. So creativity means more than just producing something, creativity means producing something unique or original, it means accessing the unconscious and finding new meanings and knowledge.
Of course, that is the problem, how does on access the unconscious to tap into their latent creativity? Tristine Rainer, talks about using the journal or ‘new diary’ as a way of collecting material which can later be used to trigger creative output. Such material is not gathered with that intention, but collected and recorded as a matter of a writer’s practice, providing them with a ‘safe’ place to start, a non pressurised space, which feels less threatening than the blank page. A well spring of inspiration that the writer can return to when one feels ‘dry’.
Susan Kolodny, discusses how developmental blocks or repressions can inhibit creativity in later life. Which I found interesting, but not terribly relevant to my own practices, as blocks of the kind that Kolodny talks of have never been a problem for me. I find personally that a ‘block’ is usually a signal from my subconscious that something is going to go horribly wrong and derail the whole work and that I should backtrack and work out where the problem started. It is like screwing up the plumbing in a house you are building, it will eventually destroy the whole structure if you don’t fix it when you realise there is a problem.
When it comes to planning a creative act, or tapping into my creativity, I am a big fan of what Keats called Negative Capability, the quality of being able to leave oneself open to the stirrings of the subconscious. I find that this can happen when between books and looking about for something to write; I try to stay open to any idea which shows potential. While writing, I try as much as possible to be in the moment of writing, though I try to be open as much as possible, and it is not uncommon to have a revelation while reading a book, even when it has nothing to do with the subject matter being read. I had a great revelation about one of my characters once while watching Hamlet with the director’s commentary on and listening to Sir Kenneth Branagh and Russell Jackson discussing Gertrude and the closet scene. In my own practice, creativity happens when I make space for it. To feel creative is to feel unfettered and unruffled by day to day occurrences, which is probably why I ritualise my writing time and space to such a degree. Heaven help anyone who touches my pen or manuscript.
Kondny S, 2000, ‘Creativity and the stages of psychological development’. The captive muse: on creativity and its inhibition, Psychosocial press Connecticut.
Rainer T, 1978, ‘Expanding creativity’, The New Diary, Angus and Robertson.