Waiting for the Muses – for the lazy? Creative techniques and their effectiveness or Muse vs. Creative techniques: the eternal struggle? How to create a masterpiece? The effectiveness of creative techniques on the examples of famous people. Why does inspiration choose those who love to work?
There is a widespread belief: a creative act is something spontaneous, unknowable and descending on a person from above. Creative people are terribly fond of this stereotype – after all, laziness and limitation are most easily explained by the lack of inspiration. But then it will come, and then …! But why is the 70-year-old Stephen King still writing his novels, and the young and full of energy Vasya Ivanov still will not give birth to at least one masterpiece? Does Stephen have a divine monopoly on inspiration?
Creativity: inspiration or method?
Heinrich Altshuller, inventor of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), identified five levels of inventive activity:
- For a finished task, a ready-made solution is applied.
- Selected one of several possible tasks and one of the alternative solutions.
- A change in the original problem leads to a change in the usual solution.
- A new problem has been found, a new solution is being applied.
- A new problem has been discovered, a new principle is opened, suitable for solving not only the current, but also other problems and tasks.
It would seem, what does the techie Altshuller have to do with it, when it comes to humanitarian work? But if we think about exactly what – purely creative – the tasks are solved by Stephen King and what the author of the epigraph, world-famous scriptwriter Robert Mackie, makes his students solve, it will become clear that according to Altshuller’s classification, these are the highest levels, if not inventive, but creative activities – the third, fourth, fifth. Are you sure you are still talking about such air substances as inspiration and insight? Or do these people simply set themselves certain creative tasks and successfully solve them? And do they have a specific technique for solving them?
“What a technique!” Declares an uncomplicated creative personality. “King just writes brilliant novels!” Would you like to say that he is engaged in some kind of database analysis and other technical nonsense ?! What databases are we talking about in his case? ”
Stephen King and his technique
It is worth paying attention to King’s first advice to future writers: to read as much as possible and to write as much as possible. We are now interested in the first part of the council … A joke has been roaming the Internet for a hundred years, which has been teased by too self-confident, but not too high-quality authors: “Chukchi is not a reader, Chukchi is a writer?” And really, why is this a writer who is eager to share his revelations with the world, to bother with strangers?
Stephen King argues that this must be done without fail. Read in any free time. Goal? You:
- Understand how to write is not necessary;
- Learn what you should strive for;
- find out what and how they wrote about your topic (solved the same creative task) before you
What is this if not an analysis of the database of available data? And will it help you solve the problem in the best way? Creative individuals committed to their tales of divine inspiration may be offended to read King’s book, Craft Memoirs. Firstly, because of the name, which so belittles the greatness and value of the literary gift, it is a craft! Not even art. Secondly, because the author compares the tools of the writer with the drawer of the carpenter, where in the upper compartment are the dictionary and grammar, and below – the elements of style. And what he calls “magic” is hiding at the very bottom and, without mastering the basics, not understanding the method, it is impossible to bring this magic into your texts.
Yes, King can well be called the creator of his own writing technique, suitable for solving his creative tasks. And she is fully justified.
A simple plot: an unsuccessful, drunken writer is hired by a caretaker in a mountain hotel, where in winter there is no one but him, and moves there with his wife and child. But the hotel is not the best place for an alcoholic with a developed imagination, besides, strange things happen in it, and the writer, having caught the “squirrel” and seeing around himself the monsters generated by this place, tries to kill his family.
The author, not prone to mysticism, developing the plot, will write a psychological drama about the dangers of drunkenness. Another, a lover of horror or science fiction, will invent a plot of fun and populate the hotel with bloody monsters from other dimensions or even from space.
Throughout the first book, we will follow the plot, built on the writer’s internal conflict with himself and external with the family. The plot of the second will plunge us into the abyss of battles with monsters, and we will follow who is who.
Stephen King would never have written one or the other option. Because he does not use the plot at all, considering it limiting the field of creativity. Instead of the plot, he uses a situation in which the characters fall: what if …?
He compares the work with a fossil hidden in the ground – the writer must extract it with his tools – and do it with the least loss. He compares the plot with a jackhammer, “but at the same time it will be no less broken than it is removed.” Following the plot deprives the creative search for an element of spontaneity, makes everything that happens in the work expected, predetermined and expectedly boring.
Thus, he did not get a psychological drama about the problems of a drunken creative person, he did not get a fervent action with elements of horror – but he got an ambiguous and multi-layered novel, his famous “Overlook” (in the Russian translation “Shine”), where the writer is crazy not drunkenness at the hotel and not monsters from the parallel universe, but the premium hotel itself, the embodiment of the American dream, where the whole VIP-America visited – and under the shiny wrapper there was so much blood and shit that it’s hard to lose your mind …
Actually, the original title of the novel is a metaphor for this very idea. Overlook – “top view”, “review”. The hero of the novel, pulling out albums from the cellars of the ill-fated hotel with newspaper clippings containing the history of the hotel, sees in front of him an overview of the history of the country in which he lives. Fame, glory, wealth, love? Loneliness, dirt, a corpse in the bathroom, a bloody stain on the wall …
Is it necessary to say that neither the first nor the second author would have climbed into the basement behind newspaper clippings? He is not up to it, the plot needs to be moved! After which almost nothing will remain in the reader’s head, except “it’s bad to be a drunk because you will be devoured by monsters – internal or external”. What a fresh thought … But it was written so enthusiastically about the hero’s suffering / various monsters, who suddenly attacked around the corner for the fifth time!
Robert Mackey and his method
Teaching people scriptwriting, Mackey also forces them to analyze the database: “Take a dozen of your favorite films, spend every week – review it, analyze, write out elements that work and don’t work … A dozen films – twelve weeks. And after three months, you as a screenwriter are already much better than you were before. ”
He teaches people to tell stories in the language of cinema, literally on the fingers really explaining all the working ways to influence a person through this language. To do this, he arranges for them a real performance. He operates with concepts like “chemistry of history”, “three components of love.” And he sees the main trouble of his students in one thing: no one needs a technique – everyone needs a magical formula for an ingenious script and quick success.
Real artists want to express something that they have inside. I do not teach them how to do this; I tell them what a story is. If I taught music, I would tell them that there are twelve notes, they add up to chords, chords combine into a melody, there is a point, a counterpoint … I would teach an abstract form of music. And then they could play rock and roll, Mozart, noise – I don’t care what they do, it’s their problem. My problem is to teach them to be aware of exactly what they are doing. Because if they do not understand this, they are not able to understand what impact their work will have on the audience. And they must manage their talent, manage the form in order to create and communicate with people through creativity. Otherwise, this is some kind of egocentric masturbation …