Creativity and Knowledge

My sister Whitney and I had an interesting discussion about creativity last night.  I have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating; Whitney is one of my fans – perhaps even my #1 fan – and we frequently discuss my Serial Central story and novel in progress when we get to chat.  I highly value her opinion and input; she’s a great sounding board.

I am also one of her fans – perhaps even her #1 fan – and we also frequently discuss her creative efforts.  She is a choreographer (primarily musical theater but she is gifted in many forms of dance) and while I am only a mediocre choreographer and less-than-mediocre dancer, she values my input and opinions. 

Last night we decided that we are the perfect example of creativity working better when there is training and “vocabulary” involved.  We are both creative and have similar thought processes.  We are both talented at many things, and in similar ways.  So we can eliminate “talent” and “creativity” from the mix for a moment – Whitney and I may not be the same, but in these ways we are comparable.

Whitney and I started dance around the same age.  I got bored and quit early on, returning to dance in high school, while she realized her passion for dance and made it her primary extra-curricular focus.  (Conclusion: she has training and I don’t.)  We also learned to read at similar ages, and were exposed to a household with lots of books.  Whitney never truly developed a passion for reading, while I was a voracious reader who was often in the middle of three or more books at the same time (and never used a bookmark!) through most of my schooling.  (Conclusion: I have read a lot more novels than she has.)

 We’ve eliminated the “talent” and “creativity” piece of the comparison, assuming that we are relatively similar in that regard.  We’ve concluded that I have more exposure to books, particularly novels, and she has more training in dance.  Now for the fun comparison. 

First, for dance.  We both tried our hands at choreography in high school and college, and I must admit that her pieces were always more beautifully constructed than mine.  Not only that, her creation of them is relatively effortless – I have watched her work and unique and varied movement comes naturally to her.  There was one piece, in my opinion her best non-theater piece, that made me somewhat jealous and very proud; she had managed to capture a concept that I had struggled (and mostly failed) to achieve in one of my own pieces.  The difference?  She has the dance “vocabulary” that I am lacking.

Now to the writing side.  My sister, to my knowledge, has written poetry and perhaps a short story or two but never tried to write anything larger-scale.  She communicates very well in writing (she’s pickier about grammar than me!) and she can always tell where my story is going before most other readers.  She has told me that there are many things that I think about or do naturally when it comes to my stories and novel that would never occur to her.  It’s not that she can’t create a plot, or characters, or describe a scene.  It’s the little things, like chapter transitions and point of view, that don’t come naturally to her.  The difference this time?  I have been exposed to the form and format of a novel many more times than her.

One piece of advice that all aspiring authors hear often is “read a lot.”  This is where it comes in to play.  Creativity, talent, and desire are all important, but without the familiarity that comes from avid reading, creating a novel is going to be a lot more work.

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  1. Trackback: Get the Picture? « Butterflies and Dragons

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