Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Practical advice on being creative

Timothy Hallinan, author of A Nail Through the Heart and The Fourth Watcher, has invited a string of guest bloggers to post some practical thoughts about creativity. First up is Christopher West, author of mysteries set in post-Mao China, and he gets the series off to a good start. My favorite of West's tips is this:

Seek out kindred spirits. Creativity flourishes best in an atmosphere of activity and excitement. Think Elizabethan theatre or the Liverpool music scene in the early 1960’s. OK, there may not be these prime examples going on where you live, but seek out the keenest, most able people around you. Don’t be afraid of competition. It’s good for creativity.
That's commendably non-wifty advice for such a weighty topic. More to the point, perhaps, it's applicable in the online world you inhabit as you read this. Schmoozing via blog can be productive — as long as you pick the right folks to schmooze with.

Starting Jan. 11, Hallinan plans to bring in a new guest each Sunday night. Have a look.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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15 Comments:

Blogger Dana King said...

I've been following Tim's blog and watching this project get off the ground. He did an excellent job pulling together the questions. The responses should be highly enlightening and entertaining.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

Great advice. I know that I only write to try and amuse my friends.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, writing to make a buck is not a bad thing, either. But I do like the suggestion that the company of other writers, etc.

In my humble case, hanging around authors at conventions the past year and exchanging blog posts has certainly been a mental massage. One result has been my own little online story. Of course, my precarious job situation is what really got me started, but that's for another, darker discussion of creativity.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I'll be interested to see who else he brings in and what kinds of discussion ensue.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

I nearly fell off my chair with laughter after reading your comment on "Runnning on
Resolutions," Peter! Interesting because when I had reread the original version the ending "A vow of silence" had an intimidatiang tone. The reason why I added a few more lines.
But returning to your post. I wholeheartedly agree with his advice. The stimulation by one's creative peers cannot be emphasized enough.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I was thinking "murder mystery" all the way when I read it.

Re creative peers, the trick, at least for me, will be knowing when to stop being stimulated and start working. Posting short story segments every couple of days has worked well for me. In my case, the stimulation from a creative person was direct: my story took off from John McFetridge’s own online meta-story. He had a character named Peter Rozovsky, so I thought, “Hey, I can do that, too,” and I started a story with characters named John McFetridge and Declan Burke.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger Martin Edwards said...

Good advice from a good writer. Anyone interested in China and crime fiction will find much to enjoy in Chris West's books. They deserve to be better known.

January 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I think Hallinan says that West was the first author to set crime novels in post-Mao China. That ought to make them worth a look.

January 07, 2009  
Anonymous Timothy Hallinan said...

Peter, I weasel-worded it to say that "in my knowledge" he was the first to set a series there, but whether he was or wasn't, I agree with Martin that he wrote four terrific books.

Next up, this coming Sunday, is a classical composer, Stephen Cohn, whose works are frequently commissioned by major ensembles and who also won an Emmy for best documentary score. His piece is extremely illuminating. The following week, it'll be Jonathan Carroll, one of my favorite novelists, and then back to mysteries and thrillers. The response has been remarkable.

And thanks to you for pointing it out here. I really appreciate it.

January 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're welcome, and I weasel-worded it to say, "I think."

Will you link to any audio files from the Stephen Cohn piece?

January 08, 2009  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

Just a little addition to this. Elmore Leonard has said he used to get up early and write before he went to work. To make sure he got something done, he made himself write a few lines before he made the coffee.

I make myself write a few lines before I check my friends' blogs - coming here is my reward for getting some work done.

January 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My little bit of discipline in my current online story, not the longest piece of fiction I've ever tried to write but certainly the msot sustained, has come from without: putting each segment up on a post is probably something like filling a set number of pages or writing a set number of words. It lends a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

In re Elmore Leonard's plan, which obviously worked out for him, maybe I'll start setting my alarm for 2 1/2 hours before work starts instead of 2 hours, and making sure I least jot something down in that extra time.

January 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, and it's nice to think that your comment here means you've written something today, John. This is good news for all.

January 08, 2009  
Anonymous Timothy Hallinan said...

Peter -- Great idea about linking some audio into Stephen's post. I'm working on it.

And John McFetridge is a terrific writer.

January 09, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A terrific writer who knows where to turn for practical advice on creating, too.

January 09, 2009  

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