In an earlier post on this topic, I stated that artists (of all kinds) develop their artistic vision by “examining and exploring the implications and ramifications of their personal vision of existence. In other words, they explore their philosophy of life.” The most powerful elements of a personal vision of existence or philosophy of life are the product of the creative person’s unique set of emotionally important ideas, which make up the self. High quality creativity springs from the struggle to attain self-knowledge and authenticity. Great literature, poetry, painting, and sculpture tells us something about life as the artist sees and experiences it. By recognizing, and then shining a light on, the archetypal aspects of their vision and their experience, artists include the illuminating sense of the universal in their work.
High level creators learn how to combine their own worldview with the process of self-discovery to develop their unique artistic vision. (image: wikipaintings)
The way to get creative projects rolling is to get enthusiastic about them. We must keep thinking about what we propose to do long enough for the priming effect of absorption to begin drawing forth the relevant ideas and information from our inner and outer lives. Isaac Newton believed that to solve a problem required “thinking on it continually.”
We are at our creative best when completely absorbed in what we are doing. (Photo: Wikipedia)
By continually thinking about our project, we get into the creative mood specific to that project. A cocoon or atmosphere of feeling surrounds what we are doing. We have enveloped ourselves in a creative possibility cloud. As our mood-focussed attention gathers the relevant ideas, images, and bits of information around the emotional nucleus, the proposed project will take shape and the momentum will steadily increase. American sculptor Louise Nevelson said of the artist’s work, “It absorbs you totally, and you absorb it totally, everything must fall by the wayside by comparison.”
Scientists studying human cognition have found that memory and mood are inextricably intertwined. Even more interesting is that we can take advantage of this situation by using a simple technique known as nuance priming.
We can deliberately use mood to enhance our ability to notice relevant information within ourselves and in the world around us. (Image: Vintage Printable)
Nuance priming is also a creativity research term. It means recalling or getting into a particular mood in order to exploit the brain’s habit of using feeling tones to sort and store information in related clusters called emotional cognitive structures. This is a fancy way of saying that the brain files ideas and memories in groups according to their feeling tone. Recall feeling tone X and we will get access to other things stored with the same, or similar, mood. This is a kind of deliberate associative (as opposed to logical) thinking. However, we are not actually doing the associative thinking. We are setting up a scenario to make use of the brain’s natural associative way of doing things.
Creativity involves a thought that goes beyond the generally accepted, provokes anxiety in others and tests the security of one’s own perceptions. – Peter Lomas in Cultivating Intuition
Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity. – T. S. Eliot
Strong innovation, striking originality, and prolonged gestation periods can all generate feelings of anxiety. (photo: publicdomainpictures.net)
These quotes may explain why so many great creators show signs of psychological stress. Depression is famously common among writers, for example. However, this is not to say that mental disorder is necessary for creativity to flourish.
There are many reasons why people write. Each writer has a reason of their own, and no two are exactly alike. Much of my writing is fantasy. Why that is so may help you understand your own impulse to write fiction of one kind or another.
Writers are often trying to recapture a favourite mood. Work after work is produced as they hone in on the cherished feeling tone, which can be quite specific and durable. (Image: public domain.)
Like so many people, when I was small I possessed a powerful ability to enter a state of enchantment. The feeling prospered until, at twelve, a broken heart drove enchantment from my life completely. How deeply we feel things at that age! Luckily, not all was lost. There were books in the world. My love of reading soon rekindled the magical feeling. It disappeared again during the trials and tribulations of late adolescence. This time I was more aware and made strenuous efforts to retain it. Those efforts were of no avail. The loss of enchantment made life seem grim and not terribly worthwhile. Thinking that enchantment was a thing for children, I entered adulthood in a sadly disillusioned state.