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Creativity in Time and Space

Posted by Priscilla on April 6, 2013

Forgive me if I repeat myself, but I am thinking about creativity again. Creativity is innate. I create because I am.

And yet.

Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that Middle School kids are less creative than preschoolers, teenagers less creative than pre-teens. By the time we hit our twenties and thirties, most of us don’t have time to be creative. We’re too busy making life work -- or working the life we’ve made. We admire the artists and writers, the designers and inventors , but sigh and close that door for ourselves. 

Two weeks ago, I received this report on my novel from an editor:  “Beautiful writing and keen poetic vision, but some serious seam-ripping and reconstruction needed. “ Or words to that effect. What to do? I went to Cape Cod, sat in a house by myself for a week, and got to work, even though my biggest fear was making the novel worse. I needed creativity--a huge dose of it--because I was petrified I would sit in that house for a week and accomplish nothing.

I learned some things about creativity this week.

1)      Creativity must have TIME in order to flourish.

Yes, every one of us is creative. But the creative is choked out by the cares of life just as weeds choke out life-giving seed.

“I used to think I’d keep an easel up at all times. Come home from work and paint, you know? But I’m too tired.”

“Oh, yeah. I always wanted to write. But I’m not ambitious enough. “

“Are you nuts? I teach (practice law, operate, run the city/state/country, raise four kids under five…).”

I was fortunate to be able to use a friend’s house to get away from meal prep,  cleaning, internet and TV,  and even relationships. And it worked. Because I had time, ideas began to flow. In the past, I have gone to retreat houses, hotels, and even locked myself into a room of my own house. Whether I go away for a week or a day, the common denominator is that I cut ties with every part of regular life. 

2)      Creativity must have SPACE in order to spark.

Before leaving, I had asked for ideas to come. At Cape Cod, I sat in front of my manuscript, thought carefully, logically, globally, and got nowhere. And so I went to the kitchen to pop popcorn. A solution to my writing problem began to glimmer and gleam. On another day, I worked steadily, making good progress, but it wasn’t until I got into the car to go to the public library that an entire scene suddenly arrived fully formed into my consciousness.

I experienced the same Eureka moment as Archimedes who was lounging in his bath when he suddenly understood (discovered) the physical law of buoyancy. I’m sure he’d been trying to figure things out for months. Only when he stepped away from his work did his creative subconscious offer up the answer.

 Taking TIME away from regular life to concentrate on my work enabled me to reach deep into areas my conscious mind had forgotten. But I needed to give the work itself SPACE in order to discover connections that I had never thought of before.

Now that’s creativity.

What do you think?


Posted by Jerry on
HI Priscilla,

Very insightful. I have never separated myself from my life. I have thought about it. Have been on the verge of doing it, yet never had. I think you've pushed me over the edge. Thanks.

Posted by Priscilla on
Go for it!
Posted by Sparker on
The title of your post caught my attention as creativity in terms of time and space are my current conundrums in the fantasy novel I am writing. The novel takes place in a world that exists outside of time. I’ve struggled some days to shape that space. As I read your post and realized it spoke to the daily pressures of finding time and space to write, I thought on how the element of setting applies to our writing lives almost as critically as setting influences what happens in our writings. I’ve been blessed to find a writing space that parallels the world I’m creating. As I write of a princess, I sit in a rented office space that’s repurposed from an old building. The place has been decorated to resemble a castle, complete with a fireplace, stained glass, dim lights and lots of red and wood. The time I write is often as late afternoon shifts into night; the setting at the beginning of my novel. Getting away to this place is like entering the world I’m creating. The setting I write in has helped me create the setting in my book.
Posted by Priscilla on
I can only imagine your struggle to create a world outside of time, since time influences everything. That certainly demands a high level of creativity. More power to you!
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