Stop Sugar-coating Creativity!

Sometimes the truth hurts. But knowing it still will set you free. The article below has a very businesslike tone, but don’t let that stop you from reading what is nothing less than the painful truth all creatives need to know:

by Milena Z. Fisher, Ph.D.

In response to a high demand for answers, the bunkum and balderdash of oversimplified creativity solutions are continuously shoved down a hungry market’s throat. The question remains: Is the current state of knowledge about creativity in a position to deliver meaningful, scientifically sound conclusions to what creativity is and how to foster it?

The Creativity Post just turned six years old. I want to thank our amazing authors and loyal audience for their active participation in this ongoing project exploring creativity from every possible angle. To mark this happy occasion, I would like to share with you a few remarks on how creativity studies are looking.

Before I start my soliloquy, I would like to express my most profound appreciation to all researchers working on understanding creativity. It takes a lot of guts to swing at this complex and vague subject with scientific tools. At the same time, I also want to emphasize that creativity, like every subject of science, needs constant reexamination—a permanent state of epistemological vigilance—which is even more critical when it comes to a discipline so young and yet so important to all of us.

Science is a noble pursuit of the truth in all things, and if you fully understand the process of scientific discovery, then you know that it rarely happens “on demand.” Science has its own dynamics, including a hypothesis and an empirical experiment, which make for a grueling and often slow process full of detours and retractions.

Right now, a rigorous science of creativity is still emerging. In fact, it’s a miracle we’re able to comprehend anything about creativity, knowing that our precise understanding of high mental processes is still in its infancy.

Here are some challenges we’re currently facing in the field of creativity research:

Supply and Demand

The biggest problem in the more “mainstream” side of popular creativity studies comes from a mismatch between supply and demand. While there is a high demand for definitive answers to questions like  “How does one foster creativity?” and “What makes some people more creative than others?” the supply, or a systematic and rigorous knowledge of the subject matter, is often limited, vague or incomplete.

So who is driving this demand? The eager audience comes from two sources: education and business. Smart and caring teachers know all too well that in order for kids to compete and succeed in the new, unknown world before us (a place that is increasingly more fast-paced and technology-driven than ever before), they must foster skills like mental flexibility, open-mindedness and the ability to come up with ingenious solutions to problems. We have no clue what jobs will be available for next generations, therefore nurturing creativity in students is a safe bet for the future. Creativity, to teachers, seems to be the last bastion of natural human excellence, especially when pitted against automation.

Simultaneously, the business world is interested in fostering creativity for their bottom line. It’s simply much cheaper (and more cost-effective) to retain the employees they already have and support those employees’ creativity skills than continuously rotate their workforce. However, creativity and open-mindedness diminish proportionally to the time employees work in a particular field. While they will gain experience and knowledge about their industry after enough time, the more employees settle and become comfortable with the status quo, the more they produce routine solutions and become less innovative…

Read it all at CreativityPost.Com

Kathryn Graham: ‘You’re No Hemingway’

by Kathryn Graham

When I was a freshman at Marist College, I was deeply insecure about my writing.

I didn’t trust the people I knew who said I had talent. Of course they did, I thought, they loved me. They were hopelessly biased (hi mom!), and even if they wanted to be objective, they never could be.

I needed real answers. A psychic. A guru. I didn’t want to pour my time, my heart, my agony into something that was going to amount to nothing more than ‘personal growth’ (yuck, who needs that?)

So I looked for another, more impartial judge. I went to the Writing Lab.

The Writing Lab’s main purpose is to help students who have trouble writing papers or need an extra set of eyes on an assignment. It is not to be the arbiter of skill or to encourage young writers. But I didn’t know where else to turn.

The man on duty that day was a greying older gentleman. I don’t recall his name. I handed him some poems, short stories, some semi-fanfiction. At the time, I rarely wrote without being motivated by class assignments.

I’m sure that he was expecting to help people construct a simple paragraph that day, not to hold the dreams of a kid in his hands. This wasn’t something he was prepared to answer, and he was deeply uncomfortable. I pressed him anyway.

Did I have talent? Could I be a professional writer?

His verdict: “It’s no Hemingway.”

I admit what I gave him wasn’t the best writing in the universe. I was eighteen years old. I always had potential, but I needed a lot more work, more guidance, more learning. You know, education.

Still, he could have encouraged me to seek out someone who could help me improve. He could said ‘I see potential here’ even if he saw none. He could have at least commented on the fact that I could write in complete sentences.

Instead, he broke my heart.

I never should have asked him. It was stupid. I know that. It didn’t stop me from carrying that around like a ‘shard of glass’ that cuts me even now. That’s the problem with ‘knowing’ something in your mind. It doesn’t always communicate well to your heart.

Instead of giving me the validation that I craved, he inflicted on me the wound I’d asked for. I gave this random guy in the Marist College Writing Lab the edict of the gods, and he had found me lacking.

I’ve never read Hemingway. Or if I had, it hasn’t stuck with me. This certainly didn’t motivate me to start.

Fifteen years later, in an interesting twist, my dad setup a new writing laptop for me and named it “Hemingway”. I feel like there’s a message here, but I don’t know what it is.

I want to say something inspiring, like: I didn’t let him stop me! But, I kind of did. At the very least, I let him slow me down. This guy whose name I don’t even remember. This guy who didn’t deserve the power I gave him.

I’m not Hemingway. I don’t want to be. But I’m still here, still writing, still hurting, still starting and stopping, and going slower than I’d like. Still wondering if I’ll find an audience – a genuine human connection – and a career that I ‘wouldn’t trade for the world’.

In the end, I’m not that much different than that insecure kid now. I just have more help to push past it. I hope one day I forget all about it. Maybe it’ll never go away, and that’s all I can do. Take it and keep going, no matter how bad it feels.

For me, it at least reminds me to take extra care to be kind when someone presents me a piece of their soul. It’s the least I can do.

NOTE FROM LB: For the record, Kate, from my keyboard to your eyes: Hemingway sucks. Just another moderately talented show off who parlayed his ability to make his life sound like one God would’ve wanted to lead into a highly overrated literary career. If I told you, “You’re no Hemingway,” I’d mean it as a compliment.

ANOTHER NOTE FROM LB: So I think I will. Congratulations, Kate! You’re no Hemingway!


Kathryn Graham is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor and munchman’s secret fav. Learn more about Kate HERE

“Failure ain’t nuthin’ but success misspelled.”

Successful people don’t give up when they fail at something. They use the lessons they’ve learned from this bump in the road and roll right ahead. Really, they do. We read it somewhere on the interwebs. And you’re going to read more right here:

5 Times I Failed and What I Learned
from This Yuppie Life

Last Saturday, I attended my final goal-group meeting of the year. This is the meeting where we are asked to stand up in front of the group and state what our biggest challenges and our biggest achievements were this year: Insert panic here! When I looked back at the goals I’d set last January, I couldn’t check many off the list. I wondered if perhaps I’d set the wrong goals—or maybe I hadn’t tried hard enough? Or could it be that I just simply suck? Have you ever had a year like that?

If I had to sum up 2017 in one word, it would be challenging. My husband left his very good job at a prominent company last August to launch his indie virtual-reality game; what set out to be a six-month project has turned into fourteen months of the unknown—and I’m sorry to admit that I don’t handle the unknown very well. Funny that I chose to be an entrepreneur!

This morning, as I was reading my e-mail in bed as usual, my husband came in the room, sat down in our chair, and said, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.” Uh-oh, I thought. This can’t be good. Turns out, overnight he had found the clarity that I had been praying about for months. For twenty minutes he sat there and rattled off all the ways he felt like he had failed over the last year with his launch, and what he needed to do about it, and he was REALLY hard on himself. But he was also on fire in a way I haven’t seen from him in a very long time. It really got me thinking about all the times I have “failed”—but more importantly, the lessons learned from failure. I hope that sharing some of my own challenges will help you feel less alone in your proclaimed “failures,” and realize that like the Phoenix, you, too, can rise from the ashes.

Read on for 5 Ways I Failed and What I Learned…

1. I DIDN’T MAKE CHEERLEADING IN HIGH SCHOOL: This may sound ridiculous, but truly, it was the first time that I remember being stunned by a disappointment, and that you don’t always get what you want. I had been captain of the cheerleading squad in 8th grade, and I just assumed that of course I would make the squad in high school. It was very competitive—and simply put, I  didn’t do the work required to make the squad. It’s the best lesson I got as a young person: those who work hard will succeed over those who don’t. I think that lesson has driven me to push myself harder in everything I do.

2. I DIDN’T GET ACCEPTED TO THE N.C. SCHOOL OF THE ARTS: As a young person, I never remember a time when I didn’t want to be an actress. I was from a very tiny town, however, and we just didn’t have access to training programs that those in larger towns had. When it came time to apply to the School of the Arts, the most prominent college in our state for the performing arts, my mom did everything she could to make sure I was prepared. She hired an acting coach in Charlotte and drove me there to work on my monologues. I thought I was prepared until I walked into the audition, and realized that half of the audition requirement was to sing a song. OH %$@!  I had nothing prepared! Not only that, but I can’t really sing! I sat in the hallway with my dad, where you could hear the other hopefuls with these powerhouse voices coming through the door of the audition. I wanted to die. How in the world had I missed that significant detail?! Rather than leaving, I decided to pick myself up, go inside when they called my name and at my dad’s suggestion, I sang—wait for it—”Happy Birthday to You,” and swallowed my mortification. What did I learn? You can never be too prepared, and most of the time it’s better to try than to run away and do nothing…

Read it all at ThisYuppieLife.Com

Steven Spielberg Gives Us Some Advice

And now a few words from Steven Spielberg on filmmaking, success, directing, success, writing, success, living an authentic life, and, hmm, what’ve we left out? Oh, right – success.

Anyway:

The Ultimate Writing Mixtape

Never let is be said that TVWriter™ doesn’t give you all the important stuff when it comes to writing, creativity, and all those other great hashtaggy things:

by Robert Lee Brewer

Recently, I had iTunes on random and a couple songs played back-to-back that had lines about writing. It didn’t take long for me to wonder, “What are the best songs for writers and about writing?” So I started making my own list, and I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter (find my handles below if you love being part of such conversations).

Anyway, this post puts together my ultimate writing mixtape of the best 20 songs for and about writers and the process of writing. Sure, there are many other great songs about the subject, and please share them in the comments below. But this is the mix I’m going to start rocking on my way to and from writer conferences, open mics, and writing retreats.

20 Best Songs for Writers and About Writing Mixtape

Track 1: “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” by Fats Waller

This is the perfect intro track with a bit of an instrumental opening before getting into the lyrics, which include, “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you.” The song was composed by Fred E. Ahlert and Joe Young in 1935 and made popular by Waller. But it’s been covered by a range of artists, including Billy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Linda Scott, and Paul McCartney–just to name a few.

Track 2: “I Could Write a Book,” by Dinah Washington

There are two ways to make a transition on a mixtape: smooth or jarring. Both are effective, but I prefer smooth early on in a mix. Enter this wonderful version of “I Could Write a Book,” which was a tune in the Rodgers & Hart 1940 musical Pal Joey. I first heard Harry Connick’s version from When Harry Met Sally…, but a range of artists have performed this song as well, including Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, and Miles Davis.

Track 3: “Dancing in the Dark,” by Bruce Springsteen

According to the Boss, “you can’t start a fire without a spark.” So here we go. The biggest hit off the bestselling album (Born in the U.S.A.) of Bruce Springsteen’s career, “Dancing in the Dark” includes the line that he’s “sick of sitting around here trying to write this book.” Musically, this song jump starts the mix with synths, quick beats, and that fade out sax.

Track 4: “Write About Love,” by Belle and Sebastian

Anyone who has participated in either my April or November poem-a-day challenges knows how I feel about love poems. So of course, Belle and Sebastian’s song “Write About Love” from the album titled Write About Love had to make the cut. In addition to the writing theme, it keeps the upbeat momentum of the early mixtape.

Read it all – complete with videos of all the songs – at WritersDigest.Com

Why Even The Best TV Storytellers Need To Know When To Call It Quits

Yeah, yeah, we know. There you are, barely having gotten started on your TV writing career, and what are we doing over here? Yep, we’re bringing you info on knowing when it’s time to cash out. But if you think about it a minute, what we’re doing makes sense. Cuz if we can persuade just one of you to leave your staff gig, that’s one more slot that’s open to…yeah, hehe…us.

Evil, thy true name is desperation!

pic found at pickthebrain.com

by Andy Crump

Knowing when a story no longer needs to be told matters as much as knowing whether it’s a good story in the first place.

Take “Transparent,” Amazon Studio’s first major original programming success, which is in its fourth season with a fifth waiting in the wings. Jill Soloway’s evolving narrative, encompassing a family’s mundane travails against the backdrop of its patriarch’s transition from male to female, has no visible ceiling, but begs for a conclusion. “Transparent” is, according to Soloway, a series about the quest to find selfhood through God and spirituality. That’s a search that, at least in theory, never ends.

But that doesn’t mean the show shouldn’t end. (Though if it does go on, it will be without Jeffrey Tambor, who announced he may leave the show amidst sexual harassment allegations against him.)

In our golden age of prestige television, the line between sticking around for just the right number of seasons and drastically overstaying one’s welcome is as thin as our patience for tips about our favorite show’s premiere date. For every “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad,” there’s a “Grey’s Anatomy” that threatens to go on forever.

In a roundabout way, those mainstays let us appreciate the creative labor that goes into higher quality content like “Transparent.” Banging out episodes of “Law & Order” and adjacent spinoffs doesn’t take much beyond daily perusal of newspaper headlines and negotiation of guest star cameos. Crafting a chapter in “Transparent,” on the other hand, demands its authors commit to personal soul-searching while also striving to understand trans American experiences enough to qualify for authenticity.

The same can be said of shows in the key of “Mad Men” or “The Leftovers,” and perhaps most of all “Game of Thrones,” which has outpaced George R.R. Martin’s source material and continues to outmatch direct competitors in scope and scale.

But maybe these are unfair comparisons; easily digested network fare doesn’t care about competing with television in the likes of Amazon, HBO, AMC or Netflix. Besides, to say that self-recycling network shows are lesser than their premium channel rivals isn’t to say they’re not worth watching. …

Read it all at Wbur.Org

Larry Brody replies to “I’m a beginner at this TV writing thing. Please help!”

by Larry Brody

A couple of TVWriter™ visitor questions that have been gnawing at me for the past few days:

1) From JW:

‘Morning Mr. B,

I’ve written and entered a TV pilot that has done fairly well in contests but has not been picked up or optioned. Does it make sense to write another episode from the same series and enter it in next year’s contests?

For example, my Season 2, Ep. 1 has a great opening and compelling new characters added to the cast but doesn’t establish the original “big picture.” Will I lose points with the judges for that?

And my reply:

Dear JW,

I can’t speak for other contests, but I do kind of know my way around the People’s Pilot, where, believe it or don’t, people do what you’re talking all the time.

Well, not exactly all the time but fairly frequently. Sometimes they entire another episode in the same running of the PP so that in effect the judges have two pilots to choose from. In the 2016 Peoples Pilot, for example, two different writers working on the same future series sent in two separate scripts to serve as pilots.

The actual creator of the show entered his pilot script, and his fellow writer on the hoped-for series send in a later episode. Both scripts placed highly. In fact, the creator’s script finished third in its category and the other script placed second because even without including a series set-up per se, it was an excellent example of what should or would happen on the show.

In other words, I think submitting another episode of your series would be a good idea. If the fact that the script doesn’t present what you call “the big picture” worries you, I suggest you also include a short series presentation as additional material for the judges to take into consideration. We’re big on additional material in the PP.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of original pilot scripts like yours not being picked up or optioned, I’d like to point out that very few series created by writers who are outsiders in the biz are ever sold. That’s just not how the system works.

Original pilots, however, are absolutely the best writing samples you can send out because they show both how you handle material you love and your understanding of the needs of whatever genre or category your script is in. And original pilots that have won, or placed highly in contests, are pretty much beloved by agents because they also demonstrate that other readers have been impressed by your writing so taking a chance on you, the new writer seems less risky. In the People’s Pilot, by the way, those other readers are TV and film writing pros, and that reduces the risk factor even more.

2) From WJ:

Hi LB,

I’m a college student in a film and TV program that has given me the chance to write two of my own pilot scripts in the past year. Both have been well received by my teachers and advisor.

One of the scripts is drama. The other is a dark comedy. I read where writing in different genres can cause identity confusion for potential agents, managers, hucksters. Should a writer avoid muddying the waters and stick to one niche until he/she is established?

My oh-so-very-thoughtful reply:

Dear WJ:

Oh, for Christ’s sake, WJ, give yourself a break. Who are you going to confuse? You’re brand new to the writing game and not even in L.A. yet. No one in a position of genuine authority or influence even knows you’re alive.

Your job is to get noticed. To demonstrate that you’re better than everyone else who’s showing their material to all those to whom you’re sending yours. Why in the name of the Great God of Ambition would you want to hogtie yourself by hiding one of the scripts you genuinely believe is the greatest of its type?

Send them both out wherever you can. Get yourself discovered. That’s what it’s all about. Besides, most people, even knowledgeable professionals, conflate dark comedy with drama anyway because of the serious undertones that dark comedy gets its name from.

The only reason to hold back material is if you have doubts about it. I mean genuine doubts with a basis in reality, not neurotic self-doubt.

Um, what’s that you just asked? How do you tell the difference? That, my friend, is between you and your shrink.

Thanks for the questions, you two! And to everyone else out there: I love hearing from you, so, by all means, keep ’em coming!

LYMI LB