Saturday, May 29, 2010

Keeping the Creativity Faucet Turned On

I'm all for finding ways to improve my writing.

Sometimes when I sit down to write the resulting effort is nothing more than a mess. After such unfruitful sessions, I wonder if I even know how to put a sentence together, or how I have the cheek to call myself a writer at all. At other times, the words flow from my creativity faucet, and I marvel at the miracle of my thought processes. It is at these times I ask myself, “Where do the words come from, and how can I keep inspiration’s faucet turned on?”

These are good questions. In his mentoring programs, the motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins, suggests people can learn to create consistent results in whatever they do.

“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you'll achieve the same results,” says Robbins.

His advise has helped top professional athletes, Fortune 500 executives, parents, and world leaders achieve consistent results on a variety of subjects. He has helped individuals manage weight, improve relationships, and obtain a better outcome in virtually every domain of life.

So how can using Robbins’s method help us achieve consistent creativity in our writing? We can’t exactly copy another successful writer’s work. That would be unprofessional and unethical. Mr. Robbins clarifies that it is the successful person’s state we should model—reproducing the same strategy and syntax—the order, the timing, and the way in which they do things.

Since writing is a lone endeavor, we might have a difficult time observing another writer’s syntax as he works within the confines of his private office—how he sits in his chair, the routine he carries on before he types the first word, the way he breathes, or any of the tricks he uses in the writing process. If we can't talk to the writer or read about his writing syntax, our only alternative is to analyze ourselves for these intimacies during our more successful bouts with creativity.

When the words are flowing out of us, we need to see what we do and in what order we do them and then repeat that process the next time we write. According to Robbins, if we accurately repeat the steps, something triggers in our brain, and we are able to reproduce the same results as before. My question is this: does the brain cooperate every time, especially if sleep-deprived, or aged, or under the influence of fluctuating hormones? It seems to me brain functionality is more complex than we think and inconsistent at best, even if we use the same syntax every time. And does talent have anything to do with a writer's success? I'd love to talk to Mr. Robbins and pick his brain on the subject.

Strategy is another matter, however. We can observe an author’s strategy: how he uses nouns, verbs and adjectives, how he sets pacing and constructs plot. If we find an author whom we admire and then examine and recreate the formula he uses to write books, perhaps the books we create will end up winners. The trick is to allow our own style to develop and shine as we use the proven techniques.

The only way we'll discover if such a process works is if we practice, practice, practice. Every successful athlete, musician, or writer practices his field of expertise. And it seems logical, the more we apply what we observe, the more adept we’ll become at mimicking strategy and syntax.

You might be skeptical about the success of such a program. I know I was when I first read Robbin's book, Unlimited Power. But so many people swear by his methods. We may not become bestsellers *or maybe we will* but if we apply Robbin's techniques to our writing, we might actually become better writers. That result, in and of itself, makes me think his ideas might be worth a try.


Jan Cline said...

I love that strategy advise. I have often wondered how each author can have a distinctive voice - as many authors as there are out there. But when you put it that way - find a formula and then put your own touch on it = then it makes sense.
Happy weekend.

Lydia Kang said...

I definitely see things that other writers do and tuck them away, hoping that I might make those concepts or skills mine in my own way.
Great post! And hope you had a wonderful weekend!

WritingNut said...

New to your blog - great post!

I know this is something that all writers struggle with - finding our own unique, creative voice.

Peggy Shumway said...

Jan- Finding a distinctive voice is difficult in the sea of writers. It's worth a try to find new ways to discover who we are as writers.

Lydia-We do need to keep our eyes open for the techniques that work for others. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope your week has been great as well.

WritingNut- Welcome to my blog. I hope you find bits worth your time.

Terri Tiffany said...

I'm always open to finding new ways to do things. Especially my writing until I find what totally works for me:)


I like this post a lot. Very encouraging.

Dr. Mohamed said...

I find that it helps to read MANY great authors. Then you run those brilliant literary constructions through the unique system called "you"...and re-synthesize your ingestion of greatness into your own syntheses. Sometimes it comes out OK. Other times it's crap. Keep at it!

prashant said...

find a formula and then put your own touch on it
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