Intellectual Alchemist at Work

From time to time, people ask me where I find so many and such varied post ideas. I always answer that I have been a steady reader for most of my life, and since 1990, I have had the habit of writing down my thoughts about whatever it is that I am reading. I also copy out a few quotes now and then. Over the years, those thoughts and quotes have accumulated in paper diaries, journals, notebooks, as well as their digital counterparts. Taken as a whole, they form a loosely structured representation of an ongoing attempt to understand the world around me and my own way of relating to it.

Old Computer Work Station

Working out a thorough understanding of my writing had the alchemical effect of illuminating and solidifying my entire worldview. (photo: Pdphoto)

Continue reading “Intellectual Alchemist at Work”

Writers Are Often Early Birds or Night Owls

At what time of the day do you prefer to write? Do you have a choice as to when you do your writing or are you limited by a day job and other important responsibilities? Constraints can be a problem since writers often have unusually strong preferences for when they like to get the work done. In fact, it may go beyond being just a preference. There is good evidence from creativity research that people function best at certain times of the day, and what time that is varies on an individual basis.

Owls are the quintessential image for the night person

Writers can use hours of the day when little is happening. The need for a more certain income may leave them no choice. (Image: public domain.)

As for preference, there are two main camps: the morning crowd and the late evening / nighttime set. There are even philosophical and psychological arguments supporting the two strategies.

Continue reading “Writers Are Often Early Birds or Night Owls”

Creative Freedom Is Overrated

Many myths surround the creative process. One of these is the notion of creative freedom. It seems obvious that having a free rein could only be beneficial. So prevalent is the attitude that many contemporary creators will refuse to tackle a project that has restrictions. They turn up their noses and stalk haughtily away proclaiming that they could not possibly compromise their artistic vision and personal integrity by acquiescing to anything as philistine as limitations.

H. G. Wells

Where anything is possible, nothing is interesting. — H. G. Wells (Photo: public domain)

I am going to argue the counter-intuitive idea that restrictions are actually an asset. You may be surprised to learn that many famous creators share the point of view.

H. G. Wells expressed a related sentiment when he said, “Where anything is possible, nothing is interesting.” He was referring to stories, of course. He believed that a hero who could do anything or a situation where anything was possible meant there were no challenges to overcome, no obstacles to surmount, and no dangers to survive. Where is the interest in such a scenario? Who wants to read a story where there are no limits on what a hero can accomplish? Where is the suspense in a story based on the assumption that at any moment some miraculous turn of events will save the day? Only a story where the hero faces the possibility of humiliation, failure, or even death can engage the reader’s concern.

Continue reading “Creative Freedom Is Overrated”