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Creativity – As Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Many are familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Long before he began work on any of these stories, he wrote something he called The Book of Lost Tales, which was published posthumously as The Silmarillion. It serves as a prequel to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as a reference book for the history of Middle Earth for the few thousands of years of the beginning of Tolkien’s legendarium.

The story of Sauron and the Ring of Power is the final section of The Silmarillion. A good deal of the book discusses the origin of Middle Earth, Tolkien’s creation myth for his fantasy world. The One true God creates his angels, and through these, He creates the rest. This is not some Gnostic demiurge creation story because God still is the sole creator, but his creation is simply mediated by these angels.

Sub-Creation
These angels are sub-creators, according to Tolkien. The notion of sub-creation is a big element in Tolkien’s entire mythology, and it relates to all of us who are Creative Writers. Tolkien writes of angels as created beings who help create the world as a means of indicating his idea that mankind is intended to be God’s sub-creators in the Primary World.
Before we read about the love or the holiness of God, we see His creative powers. He creates the world in six days. Man in the highest order of God’s creation, made in His image, and into whom is given a soul. Since God is a creator first, then that made in his image is creative, as well. All artists are specifically sub-creators, but so is the doctor and the nurse, the lawyer and the judge, the smith and the mason. In this, man has not only the ability to create, or the right to create, but the obligation to create.

Leaf on the Tree
We will limit our consideration to writers. Tolkien did not think that writers originated anything. That would be creation. We are still sub-creators in that we only deal in representation of what God made, even in worlds of fantasy (here’s a little secret: all fiction is fantasy). Fiction is not invented, but rather discovered. He compared it to a leaf on a tree. Each story is a single leaf that indicates there is a whole tree full of others leaves from which it sprang.

The job of the author is take the leaf given to him by the tree and talk all about that leaf, not forgetting the tree, but not mentioning it, either. How artistic the author is seen in how he relates the leaf to others and allows them into the tale of that leaf. Each leaf is on its own glorious, but still a single leaf from an even grander tree. God made the tree and lets us have whatever leaves He will in His own time and in His own manner.

Escapism
Another image Tolkien used to describe the concept of sub-creation is that of light and a crystal. God is the light, and is described as a single shaft of light that comes down from above and strikes a piece of crystal, which represents the individual person as sub-creator. The light is fractured and comes out of different sides and at different angles, and often in different colors. These different individual branches of light is the story sub-created by the writer. The splinter of light is impossible without the one true shaft of light coming down from above. Likewise, our individual tales of fiction are only possible because they come from the Great Creator down into us and through us as His sub-creators.

The fact that all human sub-creativity comes God as Creator feeds into the reason and purpose of our fiction. Tolkien wrote of his books as means of escapism, but not in the way it is often used today. People say they want to read a good book and escape this world and all of its problems. Tolkien calls that foolish. As a Christian man, Tolkien believed in Heaven, and that this world is not all there is. Escapism is considering the world to come, that there may be something better than this one. For Tolkien, this is the stories ability to remind the reader of the greater tree.

We all have the ability to be a sub-creator of God. The author who writes as well as the reader who recreates what the author wrote all use their creative capacities given by God. This is more than a talent, but a task – but what a wonderful obligation it is!

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Creativity: Part One – As Inspired by Osho

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Anyone can benefit from a study of Creativity, but all artists are dependent upon it. And to be sure, Creative Writers need to develops a continual sense of Creativity. In this first article, we will consider the book Creativity by Osho. She gives us four points that should help us work on our own use of Creativity.

Be a Child Again

Our brains are separated into a pair of hemispheres, the left and the right. The left is the more reasonable and intellectual side and the right is more emotional and creative. Children are very creative and imaginative. But it seems our school system and society at large restricts and shuns this right brain work far too often. Bosses say they like people who think outside of the box (which is such an inside of the box sort of phrase), but it’s usually the innovators who are fired and the people who plod along with the expected who advance. Remember Jerry Maguire?

We need to learn to be like a child again so we can regain the right brain use we have lost in our present world. We need to spend time being imaginative and innovative. Ask the eternal What? but always follow it up with How? and most importantly Why? Curiosity is that vital first step in Creativity. Imagine things both real, potential, and impossible.

Be Ready to Learn

It takes 10,000 hours to master any subject or discipline, at least that’s what the experts say. No one says I always wanted to be a musician and picks up a saxophone and starts playing, even trying to be a professional. They take lessons. It has to be the same for Creative Writers. I have read far too much stuff from people who always wanted to write, or their mommy told them how good their stories are when they were kids, and it’s always awful. They think they can write a novel just because they have the desire and determination.

I spent a good five to six years learning the craft of authorship before I began a novel. I wrote many short stories, and each of them was an exercise. I took as many Creative Writing classes as I could get into. I knew I wanted to be an author and took it seriously enough to learn how to write the English language. And I am still learning because I don’t know it all. Every novel is an exercise where I try to develop this or work on that. I read books and articles on writing. Maybe the best schooling is from the masters themselves. I read the greats to learn how to write as well as I can.

Be a Dreamer

Many will call it a waste of time, but Creative Writers need to give themselves time to daydream. Part of this has to do with being a child again, and some it has to do with letting scenes and characters act things out before our eyes. But mostly, daydreaming is like anything else in that the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Take time to daydream, but not necessarily about any writing project, just dream about anything, everything. Try not to control it, but let it happen. The best daydreaming is intuitive. That’s because the best daydreaming is actually a line of communication between our conscious and sub-conscious minds. This is the true self, and that part our conscious mind often tries to hide from us.

Here’s a little secret: all of my novel ideas come from dreams. I don’t mean daydreams, but sleeping dreams. I’ll awake and remember if I’m lucky, and think about it for the morning or the day. And if I think it’s got enough juice, I’ll develop it and write it. So when I say be a dreamer, I mean both kinds.

Find Greatness in Ordinary Things

This blends the analysis of left brain with the wonderment of right brain. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to do. But like anything else, if you do it often enough and consistently enough, it can be a habit. And what a wonderful pattern for your life, to watch a bug on a leaf, a bird eating tossed out bread, or a sunset from beginning to end.

This is one reason I like watching some of these nature shows (another reason is there is nothing good on TV these days). But when I speak of ordinary things, I mean look at your life and the ordinary tasks of human existence we all do every day. Find pleasure in the simple things and enjoy what most ignore as mundane. This will keep your minds active, both left and right, conscious and sub-conscious. This works the soil for Creativity and makes sure your brain is fertile ground for anything you may write or do.

We are made by God to be Creative, but like all other personal aptitudes, it takes work to develop and maintain it. Anyone will benefit from a Creative mind, but authors and artists are skilless without it. Try these things and you’ll see an improvement I your writing and your life.

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Harnessing Your Creativity

 I try to emphasize that I am not just a Writer, but a Creative Writer. I feel as if that is an important distinction to make. Novelists and short story writers go about their business differently than, let’s say, professional writers. So here is some advice on how to stretch wider and dig deeper our creative aptitude.

  • Keep a daily writing journal and chronicle your day’s productivity.
  • Keep a notebook with you at all times for ideas and observations.
  • Learn to be observant.
  • Re-write a piece of yours as a stream of consciousness work and see where it goes.
  • Try clustering.
  • Study nature for simile possibilities.
  • Try pen and paper instead of a keyboard once in a while.
  • Talk to strangers and then write about the experience.
  • Write it out with your other hand. Listen jazz when you write, you’ll internalize their improvisation.

I hope these help. If they do, let me know in the Comments section below. Or, give us your Creativity tips. I’d love to see them.

I would like to invite everyone to be a part of my monthly newsletter, THE PANDORICA OPENS. If you would like to sign up, drop me an email, abbott.neal@yahoo.com, and I’ll add you to the list. This is exceptionally timely now since I will launch my novel, PRINCE, on November 6th. Newsletter subscribers get access to early releases, extra goodies, as well price breaks – and a few free copies will be available.

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