Friday, June 18, 2010

On Creativity Manuals

Lately I am designing and laying out a book about creativity. It is a paying job. It is a well meant book, full of examples and research. And I can understand why people want, and need, books that give them permission to express themselves through the arts. If I have any religion, it a feeling that the muse sometimes shows up, takes possession of me, and skews space and time while doing so.

But... so many books on creativity use too much paper validating their approaches in science. Or offer such detailed step-by-step recipes that I sometimes feel the message gets lost. Cheerleaders don't have footnotes. Muses don't fly on wings of statistics. My favorite books inspire me to create by example. Give me Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, Richard Hugo's The Triggering Town, and Annie Dillard's The Writing Life. There are more. Brenda Ueland, Ray Bradbury... But what makes each of them effective is the author's ability to take me on the journey with them, and to be there when the muse strikes their prose into unexpected and exhilarating swoops.

And when the less inspiring manuals tell me to contact my inner child or accept that I'm so Special because I'm so Very Sensitive, I shrug. The truth is I write and draw because it feels good. I like wrestling with words. I like making lines and smudges. Something happens when I allow myself to play. It could happen to you.

No comments: