One of the most striking characteristics of the creative individual is their sensitivity to, and fondness for, particular feeling tones or subtle moods. Artists of all kinds strive to capture their favourite mood (or moods) in their work. The desire to accomplish this combined act of self-gratification and sharing is often a major motivating factor in why the artist chose to work in the arts. However, the preoccupation with mood can infiltrate all aspects of a creator’s life. The taste for a special mood often extends to the creator’s work habits. They not only want to produce the mood in their work, they must inhabit the mood while working. Many artists are so sensitive to feeling tone, so dependent on a particular subtle mood in order to access their creativity, that they quite literally cannot work should the needed feeling tone be absent.
Mood (or atmosphere) and a sense of place are intimately related. Writers who have a strong sense of place prefer to work in specific locations. (Image: public domain.)
What is the theme of your life? Everybody has at least one; most of us have a number of them, each taking a turn in the spotlight, and then fading for a time. However, it may not have occurred to you to see things in that way. Writers consciously make use of themes in their works so they are accustomed to employing them as an important aspect of writing fiction. Not surprisingly, many great writers use the themes from their own lives as the themes in their books and stories. To put it another way, writers tend to write about what deeply interests or preoccupies them. Readers tend – often unconsciously – to choose writers and books that deal with their own themes.
Many great writers have used the themes from their own lives as the themes in their books and stories. Do you know what your themes are? (Image: public domain.)
Writers embody the theme or “idea” behind any particular story in the work’s characters, places, and events. They usually settle on a strategy during the conception and design stage of the writing process. You might say that the basic theme or idea of a novel has something to do with what the author “loves well.” In the course of the story, authors contrast what they love with what they reject, thus clearly presenting the theme, and their position on it, to the reader.
High-level creativity takes time, lots of it. It also needs peace and quiet. To secure the requisite time and tranquility, creators of all kinds have traditionally turned away from mainstream lifestyles and embraced less conventional ways of life. The taste among intelligent middle-class English writers for living quietly – and inexpensively – in the unsophisticated countryside is the stuff of literary legend. The goal is always the same: liberate as much time as possible for the creative work while ensuring congenial conditions for getting it done.
Cheap rural retreats such as George Orwell’s remote home in the Scottish Hebrides are a staple in the lives of creative people. (Image: public domain.)
Among important writers of the past who would have welcomed and used personal computers?
Word processor anyone? Would great writers of the past have welcomed personal computers? (Image: public domain.)
H. G. Wells was a great believer in science and progress. In fact, he was a science teacher until tuberculosis forced him to give up that profession. Always an early riser, and a disciplined writer who believed in regular daily production, he did all his work at a desk in his study. Writing came before all other tasks for the day. I see him as a definite candidate for a well-equipped desktop computer.
Alchemy was the medieval forerunner of chemistry. It was particularly concerned with trying to convert base metals (such as lead) into gold or to find a universal elixir – more popularly known as the philosopher’s stone – that would perform the conversion upon contact. In recent times, the word alchemy has evolved to indicate any process of transformation, creation, or combination that seems magical.
Writing over a long period can be a powerful alchemical process of personal transformation. (Image: public domain.)
Even the ancients realized that alchemy is as much about refining the alchemist as it is about distilling some raw material into the philosopher’s stone. Jung popularized this notion in his writings. In this process of self-refinement, the alchemist must pass through three stages: