Monday, June 15, 2009

Steps in Creating Something

In my first-year psychology class today, my professor listed the following steps in doing something creative:
  1. Orientation - defining the problem that needs to be solved
  2. Preparation - gathering relevant information
  3. Incubation - setting the thing aside and doing other stuff, meanwhile figuring out things in the background
  4. Illumination - after awhile of incubation, a solution suddenly comes to you
  5. Verification - you check out the insight you had and make use of it (or else go back to stages 2-3, I guess)

That's a pretty good description of how I write essays or other assignments. Stages 1 & 2 occur when I read the work I need to write about, find out my assignment and then reread what I'd most like to write my essay about. If I don't have an idea right away, I let it simmer a bit and then decide what exactly I want to write about (stages 3 & 4) and then I write it (stage 5). But I also write fantasy stories on my own time, a more creative act than writing an essay, and I don't follow these stages at all in writing fantasy.

Here's my impression of what steps I do follow:

  1. I have an idea - like, for example, 'imagine if a half-vampire was going around biting people and then pretending to hunt himself down in order to get money?' These ideas can come from reading another story, pondering some problem, having a weird dream, whatever. I don't always know where the idea came from, but often I do.
  2. I ponder the idea a bit, and maybe combine it with other ideas, let it simmer awhile, and eventually come up with a starting scene and (hopefully) a plot.
  3. I write the starting scene, and keep on writing along the plot, stopping when I get stuck on something.
  4. I talk over what I'm stuck on with someone else, or just let it simmer awhile. Then I get another idea, and either keep on writing from where I was before or rewrite part of the story and continue.
  5. Eventually, I come to a point where I can say that it's done. Usually by then I've had ideas for a sequel, whether or not I write one depends on how good my ideas are.

Anyone else want to share?

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I like how you explained your teacher's steps in a way that you apply them. Because when I was reading through teacher's steps and got to step number three, I was like well this is where it usually ends. However your approach about talking to a person or waiting till a new idea emerges is priceless. I also liked how you don't get stuck with one idea, if a new one appears, you can easily change it up or add it to the previous one. I think this is one of the most useful things that a writer can do, because a lot just get stuck...writer's block they say. Last time I was trying to write about how to write a hook for an essay I got to the part after the research and was stuck for a long time till I realized that in order for me to finish I just need to step back, get a coffe and while I was walking an idea struck on how to originally talk about this topic. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!

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