A Storyteller Versus Three Theorists: One Writer's Creative Process and Current Creativity Theory
Date of Completion
Open Access Capstone
Master of Arts (MA)
Patricia A. Cordiero
The author -- a writer and student of creativity -- sets out to record her creative process while writing a novel and then match it to prevailing creativity theory. However, in her process notes she finds none of the typical concerns of cognitive psychology, such as problem-finding, risk-taking, breaking set, and other heuristics. The three theorists -- Amabile, Perkins, and Howard -- who seemed impressive to the author as a student, turn irrelevant when she reads them through the eyes of a writer-storyteller. From the fatty flesh of her notes and unformed recollections, elements of the author’s own personal process work their way out like livers from the palm of the hand. The chapter “All Artists Are Two-headed Calves,” shows how tension between opposing ways of knowing and working moves creative work forward. Unlikely connections generate tension and tension generates ideas. Intuition versus reason, empathy versus objectivity, letting go versus controlling, discovery versus planning -- these opposites press against each other to give creative work traction. The author finds particular value in the tension between a closed and open focus. A storytelling must focus like a laser beam on the voice of the story rather than on effort to be creative or original. But, simultaneously, he must maintain a loose, passive, open receptivity to the universe of appropriate ideas. Much as a bicyclist veers off the road when he looks down at wheels and gears, the viewer loses her focus on a story when she looks at processes. Although she sees much out of the corner of they eye, the writer sees different processes than cognitive creativity theorists. And her process notes must support rather than disrupt focus on the story. To offset the “cognitizing” of creativity, the author presents “creating’s other side.” The chapter, “The Ground: Wizards and Engineers,” shows how the writer stands in relation to her work -- as servant, midwife, listener. The storyteller’s work includes nurturing the qualities that allow the full flowering of intuition, inspiration, and insight. The fruit of creativity is more than the finished story. It is the “feel” of the process -- transformation, surprise, potential, simple pleasure.
Els, Susan, "A Storyteller Versus Three Theorists: One Writer's Creative Process and Current Creativity Theory" (1991). Critical and Creative Thinking Capstones Collection. 100.