Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Monday, 20 October 2014

tricking creativity

Some great ideas here from the Brainpickings site:

Oblique Strategies: Brian Eno’s Prompts for Overcoming Creative Block, Inspired by John Cage

...and also very interesting links at the end of this piece..

These two quotes from the first link above:

'First of all, being creative is not summoning stuff ex nihilo. It’s work, plain and simple — adding something to some other thing or transforming something. In the work that I do, as a writer and a metaphor designer, there’s always a way to get something to do something to do something else. No one talks about work block.
Also, block implies a hydraulic metaphor of thinking. Thoughts flow. Difficulty thinking represents impeded flow. This interoperation also suggests a single channel for that flow. A stopped pipe. A dammed river. If you only have one channel, one conduit, then you’re vulnerable to blockage. Trying to solve creative block, I imagine a kind of psyching Roto-Rootering.
My conceptual scheme is more about the temperature of things: I try to find out what’s hot and start there, even if it may be unrelated to what I need to be working on, and most of the time, that heats up other areas too. You can solve a lot with a new conceptual frame.'

'I don’t believe in writer’s block.
Yes, there may have been days or even weeks at a time when I have not written — even when I may have wanted to — but that doesn’t mean I was blocked. It simply means I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, as I’d like to argue, exactly the right place at the right time.
The creative process has more than one kind of expression. There’s the part you could show in a movie montage — the furious typing or painting or equation solving where the writer, artist, or mathematician accomplishes the output of the creative task. But then there’s also the part that happens invisibly, under the surface. That’s when the senses are perceiving the world, the mind and heart are thrown into some sort of dissonance, and the soul chooses to respond.
That response doesn’t just come out like vomit after a bad meal. There’s not such thing as pure expression. Rather, because we live in a social world with other people whose perceptual apparatus needs to be penetrated with our ideas, we must formulate, strategize, order, and then articulate. It is that last part that is visible as output or progress, but it only represents, at best, 25 percent of the process.
Real creativity transcends time. If you are not producing work, then chances are you have fallen into the infinite space between the ticks of the clock where reality is created. Don’t let some capitalist taskmaster tell you otherwise — even if he happens to be in your own head.'


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

the art of not knowing what you're doing

'Twenty-five years ago when I was a first year PhD student, a friend talked me into attending a creative writing workshop. Since I’d never done anything like that before, I had no prior expectations…but I was totally unprepared for what happened. We were given some topic to write about, I put my pen to the page and I found myself writing a weird fantasy-fairy tale about a comic strip character who was clearly on acid. It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. 

So many of my clients think that they need to know in advance what their creative work will look like. But when we open up the creative, we don’t know what we’re going to get. By definitioncreativity is about bringing something forth that you haven’t seen before. It’s NEW. You’re not going to KNOW what it is beforehand. 

People get confused about this. They think they need to figure it out ahead of time, have a 5-year plan for how they’re going to complete it (and earn an income from it) and have all their ducks in a row before they begin to write, paint, dance, make music. I get emails that sound something like this, “Every day I think about a written book, so I know it is coming. However, I need clarity in order to bring it into manifestation. I have no idea what the finished piece will look like.”The creative process doesn’t work that way. You're not going to figure it out ahead of time.

I love film director David Lynch’s comment to Terry Gross when she interviewed him on NPR’s Fresh Air a few years ago. She asked him something about his work and he said, “You know Terry, when I’m making a movie, I don’t know what I’m doing.” The sculptor stands in front of his marble slab and the image of what wants to be created is likely already there, but hidden in a dimension that can’t be seen. The sculptor just needs to show up, and intuitively “feel in” to where he’s being led to start carving.

One of the biggest misnomers about creativity is that we need to have clarity about something before we begin. Of course you don’t know what the finished piece will look like. Creativity is about NOT knowing. You aren’t going to know. All you can do is value the creative process enough to allow yourself to be “pulled” by something. Trust that if you devote your love to it, you will be led to a door that you didn’t know existed. Once you open that door, something amazing will come. It always does.'

Kim Hermanson: 

Monday, 13 October 2014

top ten tips for being a successful poet

Top ten tips for being a successful poet. from Andrew Motion.

Top 10 tips for being a successful poet

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Sir Andrew Motion is an English poet and novelist who was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.
He has been awarded several poetry awards, including the Arvon Prize, the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize. He was knighted for his services to literature in 2009.
Here are his top 10 tips for being a successful poet.

1. Let your subject find you

My parents were not writers and they didn't really read very much either. My Dad once told me he had only read half a book in his life. I had a wonderful English teacher called Peter Way. He walked straight into my head, turned all the lights on and he gave me my life really.

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If I get stuck I go for a walk or if I don't have much time, I wash my hair - it seems to wake my brain up”
When I was 17, quite soon after I started tinkering around with poems, my mother had a very bad accident, which eventually killed her. So I found myself wanting to express my feelings about that in ways that were relieving to me.
It sounds a slightly self-aggrandising thing to say, but I've always thought that death was my subject. You don't find your subject, it finds you. Writing poems for me is not simply a matter of grieving, though very often it is that, it's wanting to resurrect or preserve or do things that pull against the fact of our mortality.

2. Tap into your own feelings

I never quite believe it when poets say that they're not writing out of their own feelings, and when that is the case, I tend not to be terribly interested in what they're doing.
I don't mean to say that they are writing bad poems, but those aren't the poems that I like most. The poems I most like are where the engine is a very emotional one, where the warmth of strong feeling is very powerfully present in the thing that is being given to us. I think poetry is a rather emotional form and when it isn't that, I'm not very interested in it.

3. Write about subjects that matter to you

I didn't always cope with being commissioned very happily as Poet Laureate to tell the truth. The best poems get written, not by going in the front door of the subject, but round the back or down the chimney or through the window.
Andrew Motion'Reading your poetry out loud is crucial and absolutely indispensable,' says Andrew Motion
'Tell all the truth but tell it slant,' said Emily Dickinson and that's always been a very important remark for me. It can be quite difficult to do that if you're standing in a very public place.
People who live in public, as I very suddenly found myself doing, can get very bruised in the process if they're not used to it. I found all that public stuff extremely difficult to deal with. I never wanted to cut myself off, but wish I had devised better ways of protecting myself.

4. Celebrate the ordinary and be choosy

Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary. What we very badly need to remember is that the things right under our noses are extraordinary, fascinating, irreplaceable, profound and just kind of marvellous.
Look at the things in the foreground and relish stuff that can lose its glow by being familiar. In fact, re-estranging ourselves to familiar things seems to be a very important part of what poetry can do.
If you can, be choosy about what you do, so that the things you do write are the things that you do best.

5. Use everything in your toolbox

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Don't go live in an ivory tower, read the newspapers and involve yourself in the world - where do you think subjects come from if not the world?”
I haven't written a rhyming poem now for many years, I seem to have lost my appetite for it but I haven't lost my pleasure in reading them. I think anybody that insists on the presence of rhyme is really not thinking hard enough about what poetry is or can be.
Having said that, it is important to bear in mind that as poets we have a kind of toolbox, in which there are all kinds of different pieces of equipment, not available to any other kind of writer and rhyme is very importantly one of those.
So never to use rhyme in your poetry would be a bit like buying a car and never getting out of second gear. Use everything in your toolbox.

6. If you get stuck, go for a walk or wash your hair

Wordsworth once said that the act of walking was closely related to the creative process. I do love walking and if I get stuck I go for a walk or if I don't have much time, I wash my hair - it seems to wake my brain up!
Even when I'm on a hair washing day, rather than a walking day, I walk up and down my study, just to get myself going.
Poems are so crucially to do with the movement of words through a line or a series of lines, and that is just as important as their shape and the way that we understand them I think.

7. Let your work be open to interpretation

People will interpret your poetry in different ways, but provided the interpretation that is brought to the poem isn't plainly bonkers, I actually enjoy that, I rather hope for it.
Your poem can be a world in which your readers can go and live themselves and seek out things which resonate for them. And it would be completely bonkers of me to try to restrict their reaction.
In Auden's beautiful eulogy for Yeats, he said, 'He became his admirers,' and I think that's kind of what he had in mind actually. You give your work over to your readers and provided they're not crazy, it's absolutely open to them what they find in it.

8. Read your poetry out loud

Andrew MotionAs Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion was called upon to celebrate numerous national events such Remembrance Day at the Imperial War Museum
Reading your poetry out loud is crucial and absolutely indispensable because wherever we reckon the meaning of a poem might lie, we want to admit that it's got as much to do with the noise it makes when we hear it aloud, as it has to do with what the words mean when we see them written down on the page.
In a really fundamental way, I think poetry is an acoustic form and we've slightly forgotten that in the last thousand years. Since the invention of the book, the aliveness of poetry has been perhaps slightly pushed to the edge of things.

9. Find the right time to write

Find your own writing time. Everybody will have a slightly different time of day, I have yet to meet the person who thinks the early afternoon is good, but I expect there is someone out there who thinks that that's a good idea.
For me it's very early in the morning, partly because the house is quiet and partly because I feel I'm stealing a march on things and that makes me feel good.
I think there might be some kind of hook up between what happens in our minds when we're asleep and writing imaginative material. I think good poems get written, as no doubt good paintings get painted, as a result of these two things coming together in an appropriate way.

10.. Read a lot, revise and persevere

Read lots, write lots of course too, but assume that your first thoughts are not your best thoughts, so revise, revise, revise and don't expect every poem to work, because it won't.
Don't go live in an ivory tower, read the newspapers and involve yourself in the world - where do you think subjects come from if not the world?
Persevere. I think right at the beginning of your writing life you really have to accept that within a few years, or possibly even a few months, you are going to be able to wallpaper quite a large room with rejection slips. But don't let that put you off - if you've got it, you've got it!



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