Tuesday, October 24, 2017

On Maximizing Creativity

By Bonnie Randall

Part of the How They Do It Series
(Monthly Contributor)

Every writer will report a time or state when the creative faucet flows quickly and effortlessly—and also times when the water barely trickles from the hose. What constitutes a spate of really good writing? When the ideas flourish and the volume of what you’ve written astonishes you when you peek at the word count at the bottom of the page? Most of us, of course, will answer that an entire list of variables contribute to good writing sessions versus unproductive ones, and many of the items on each of our lists would be the same. As for myself, though, (and maybe for many of you), I find that when I engage in artistic pursuits within other mediums, that my fiction writing in turn blossoms and that I can accomplish a lot more at the keyboard.

My question, though, is ‘Why?’ Why, when I paper-craft and create cards and scrapbook pages, do I then want to sit and write a lengthy, fine narrative or crackling dialogue? Why, after I’ve engaged in my newest pursuit of up-cycling furniture, can I then get ‘unstuck’ by a plot or a scene that won’t cooperate?

I confess I have only guesses, not answers, and in offering this post I invite any of you to also share your thoughts and feedback. So here goes:

Could creating art enhance writing because—

Crafting art parks the brain wholly within the realm of imagination? 

When I am sanding down a piece of furniture, I am working with a wrecked relic; I have to completely rely on how I visualize its restoration in order to go through the process of up-cycling it. I literally have to immerse myself in imagination or I won’t be able to bring the piece to fruition. This is, of course, not unlike being immersed within the worlds I create in my fiction, and so I wonder if, by parking my brain within imagination for one project, it simply finds it just easier to stay there for the next. Or:

Does creativity beget creativity? 

There is something deeply fulfilling about the ‘finished product’, be it a greeting card I’m about to mail off, a scrapbook page of beautifully preserved memories, or a chapter of prose that has hit all the right notes with my plot. In finishing one project am I merely ‘chasing the high’ and therefore wanting to dive in and finish another? Maybe. Or:

Do the different mediums merely act as an echo of each other? 

There are, after all, dynamics within all my pursuits that are the same. Writing a story involves introducing a concept then plotting the events that will lead to the conclusion. Same for upcycling; a piece is introduced, I know what I want the outcome to be, and therefore I have to follow a scripted sequence of tasks in order to arrive at the finished result. Ditto paper-crafting. There is a ‘plot’ to adhere to before the ‘HEA’ happens. So perhaps it is just the comfort of the pattern and process which allows the brain to stay ‘in the zone’ when I move from one project to another. Then again—

Perhaps crafting art allows for maximum creative brainstorming. 

I face a wrecked piece of furniture and I wonder: what colors will I use? Which stencils will I impose? Where will I place them? Upon looking at a scrapbooking layout I’m flooded with similar variables: which paper? Which photos? What sort of trim, embellishments and where will I position the journaling? Fiction, we know, is the same: which character is privy to what information? Where should the action go down? What time of the year? Which era? Is it present or past tense? Whose viewpoint holds more power for any given scene….etc. Brainstorming, it seems, be it within art or writing, engages the same track in the brain.

But…what the heck do I know? It could be any of these, all of these, or something one of you see that I am oblivious to. And with that I now ask you: What do you think? For any other artists out there—how does your art inform or amplify your writing? And for non-artists—do you find that certain activities you engage in augment your abilities at fiction? Please share and thoughts and feedback and let’s discuss.

And, so you know what I am talking about re: upcycling and paper-crafting, here’s a couple examples of my work:

A scrap-booked page of me and my daughter’s ‘Harry Potter Tour of England & Scotland’

The ‘before’ and ‘after’ of a bureau I took an orbital sander and bucket of paint to:

How do you maximize your creativity?

Bonnie Randall is a Canadian writer who lives between her two favorite places—the Jasper Rocky Mountains and the City of Champions: Edmonton, Alberta. A clinical counselor who scribbles fiction in notebooks whenever her day job allows, Bonnie is fascinated by the relationships people develop—or covet—with both the known and unknown, the romantic and the arcane.

Her novel Divinity & The Python, a paranormal romantic thriller, was inspired by a cold day in Edmonton when the exhaust rising in the downtown core appeared to be the buildings, releasing their souls.

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About Divinity & The Python

Divinity - Where deception and desire both hide in the dark...

The Cards Forecast Work

Shaynie Gavin is so much more than the sexy siren who mixes cocktails at The Python. A carpenter with a business plan, Shaynie is trying to amass enough funds to launch her own dream - Divinity, a place where up-cycled furniture from the past is sold alongside Tarot readings forecasting the future - and all in a setting that could not be more perfect: a former funeral parlor. Shaynie's belief that Divinity is attuned with the passions, the loves, and even the lies of its departed souls, allow her to feel satisfied when the cards she draws there reveal Wands, the Tarot's symbol for work. And yet...Shaynie would be so grateful if the Tarot would also, just once, illuminate a Hellnight from her past. A lost evening whose scars still slither over her skin, Hellnight haunts Shaynie. Yet when she calls the question of that chilling evening into her deck...

The Cards Forecast Love

...and love appears in the form of pro hockey star Cameron Weste. Weste is haunted by scars and superstitions of his own, and he wants Shaynie's Tarot to answer far deeper questions than she first guesses this sexy Lothario to be capable of. Who knew Weste was this intense? The Tarot, apparently. And yet...

The Cards Forecast The Devil

When Cameron Weste lands in her life, a stalker surfaces too, dropping clues to a connection between Shaynie, Cameron, and her lost, brutal Hellnight. Suddenly every card warns of deception, and nowhere feels safe. Shaynie and Cameron have to fight for their love - and their lives - as The Devil, their stalker, is determined to turn the Death Card for them both.

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