Worldview: Philosophy: A thought on creativity

For whatever reason, I’ve come across several discussions recently wherein someone has opined that one creative person “ripped off” another creative person and that supposed theft was then presented as evidence that there is no real creativity anymore.

These sorts of observations make me shake my head. My study and observation of creativity–not just art, but all forms of creation–reveals to me that there has never been any other form of creation but theft by the standard presented above.

What makes me sad about that standard is that it has become so commonplace in everything from creative education to corporate litigation to patent law that fewer and fewer people are trying to create anymore. Far too many people believe that, in order to be truly creative, they have to create an astonishing new masterpiece the first time or they are a failure.

That last sentiment is a lie society has concocted on the basis of not even knowing, let alone understanding, the history of creativity. The fact is that there are very few new things and that nearly everything is in some way tied to something that already exists. In a lot of ways, creativity is about refreshing old ideas and combining them in new ways rather than about creating something new.

So my advice to all the creative types out there is this: steal and make it your own. The future will thank you for having done so even as the past approves of your method. These naysayers have no idea what they are talking about.

DLH

Read more at my Philosophy weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Writing: NaNoWriMo 2011 Day 8: A week in

[9860]

A week has passed since National Novel Writing Month began, and so far, I’m behind and having to work really, really hard to make this story I’m writing work.

And that’s ok.

What I have discovered over the past week is that there is a lot more to writing and to my style of writing than I originally allowed for. I tend to develop my stories in layers, often from a central premise, so that the layers become wider and wider circles, one covering over the one previous.

Why does that matter? Because now I understand something I haven’t for years: why my stories always seem unfinished after my first attempt at them. That’s because they are.

Now, how does that help me? Well, for one, it is making me realize that I need to loosen up a whole lot more while working on my first drafts. I need to let the story flow more, let it take wrong turns, let characters grow, appear, and disappear as necessary until I finally have a workable draft. I also need to focus more on developing my idea before I start writing so that I have a better framework to hang the whole story on.

And why should you care? Because I want you to see that writing is not just about creativity, inspiration, and desire. It’s also about style and craft and technique. Successful writers have to have both if they are going to succeed, and learning how to develop all aspects of your writing cannot help but help you succeed.

DLH

PS: If you want to read the final product of my NaNoWriMo 2011 effort, you can help make that happen by donating to NaNoWriMo and the Office of Letters and Light through my fundraising page. If I reach $250, I will post my story December 1st, and if I reach $500, I will also post an expanded version of my preview story January 1st.

Read more at my Writing site...

Worldview: The science of using what we already have

For a very long time, I’ve wondered about a core tenet of our modern, technology driven era: that what we have now is inherently better than what we have before. For example, most people will insist that farming with oil consuming tractors and modern implements is far better than anything we could have achieved continuing to use animal power, and they make that claim based on very little if any evidence.

It is because of that uncertainty that I was fascinated by the story of Bart Weetjens, a man who trains rats to sniff out landmines and tuberculosis. What Weejens has done is taken a modern, technological problem and solved it using an idea based on something that required very little technological development. His TED talk is an extraordinary understatement of the idea I think he has introduced.

And what is that idea? For me, it is the science of using what we already have instead of inventing some new, potentially damaging solution, to solve a problem. What if the problem with, say, using horses to farm isn’t that tractors are more efficient but that we never developed the technology to use horses far enough? Weetjens, I think, takes that approach with finding mines and disease.

What else can we apply this principle to?

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...