March 6, 2018

A successful story; a flaw in the plot

Posted in Creativity, Fiction Writing, Flow, flow in writing, Harmony, Momentum in writing, music and writing, performance tagged , , , , , , , at 6:05 pm by Rebecca Hein

As we have seen, creative momentum can sweep the reader along, sometimes with such power that he or she doesn’t notice small faults in our plot or narrative. Since nobody can craft a story perfect in every technical detail, we need to generate this excitement to help our mission—to communicate the message that won’t leave us alone until we’ve at least tried to express it.

Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a good example of a story with a powerful message, embedded in a plot with at least one rather large flaw. How can the story succeed when the author obviously painted himself into a corner and, to escape it, has stretched the actions of one minor character beyond what’s plausible?

This contradiction—a compelling story with a significant flaw that doesn’t diminish the power of the narrative—has sent me back to the book several times, trying to figure out how the author did it.

In my own writing, I want the state of mind that can fire a brilliant story. As with my cello playing, I know that if I achieve total absorption for myself and my audience, they will be more likely to forget my small errors.

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March 1, 2018

The passion behind your writing can compensate for small errors

Posted in Creativity, Depth, Fiction Writing, Flow, flow in writing, Momentum in writing, music and writing, Tone tagged , , , , , , , at 5:17 pm by Rebecca Hein

Experienced musicians know that if they enthrall the audience, small imperfections can’t ruin their performance. An absorbed listener doesn’t notice an occasional out-of-tune note, or forgets it in the excitement of the music.

It’s the same in literature; while writing, if we build enough creative momentum, occasional omissions or small holes in our plot may not matter.

This is not an argument for sloppiness. We can only achieve excellence if we work at it with all our energy. However, we can’t let that high standard box us into scrutinizing every detail of our narrative at the same time we could be searching for the deep place within ourselves where we accomplish our best work.

I’m convinced that Dostoyevsky discovered that profound well of creativity while writing Crime and Punishment.

November 28, 2012

No Artifice, Part Three

Posted in Flow, flow in writing, music and writing tagged , , at 3:14 pm by Rebecca Hein

As noted, simple work frees the brain so it doesn’t interfere with the spontaneity of a good idea. In music we play easy pieces. What’s the equivalent in writing?

How about telling your own story in the first person? Never mind whether or not you think it will interest others. The point is to give yourself a no-effort writing exercise to find out what happens when the words are flowing.

May 2, 2012

Total Absorption

Posted in Creativity, Flow, flow in writing, freewriting, Peak Experiences, writing techniques tagged , , , , at 2:01 pm by Rebecca Hein

When technique and tools disappear, leaving only our work in full flow, our consciousness is altered and we carry the wonder of that experience for days. The problem is that in wishing for a recurrence, we’ll skew it just by trying for it.

If instead we cultivate a state of attentive waiting, we’ll predispose ourselves to more such moments, yet without forcing. In music, attentive waiting can occur anytime you’re playing, and when you let go of everything except that alert, open state of mind.

In writing, especially freewriting, the same applies. Forget trying to write a story, scene, or essay. Forget not trying to write it. Start writing and see what happens, and don’t be surprised when you find that you’ve forgotten everything but the energy of the moment.

April 18, 2012

The Mysterious Disappearance of My Cello

Posted in Creativity, Flow, Peak Experiences tagged , , , , at 4:19 am by Rebecca Hein

Today I was halfway through an excellent cello practice session when I realized I was unconscious of my cello. Melting out of my hands, it had left just me and the music.

Such moments are sublime, and lately I can nearly count on them. Of course I want the same for my writing, and it’s reasonable to suppose that similar principles will lead me in the right direction.

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