talks on writing - elizabeth gilbert

i recently stumbled across this talk by elizabeth gilbert and thought i'd post it here for those who haven't heard her or don't know about TED.

she discusses muses and genius and how they affect us... and suggests how to handle them - both before and after our successes. how to not become that twisted, manic-depressive, angst-riddled pile of slush on the floor. it could even help alleviate writers block, meh, gah and all their derivatives.

the talk is interesting, funny and very well presented... well worth a few minutes!


I'm not sure I've ever heard such a load of rubbish in my life. Anyone who believes themselves to be a channel for supernatural -- nay, _divine_ -- forces is engaging in some serious wishful thinking.



You wouldn't happen to be a Capricorn by any chance would you Ryan?

*runs for cover* ;D

Miladysa: Nope. :P



I actually dug Amy Tan's talk on TED, as well as JJ Abrams's. Tan talks a lot about inspiration, "How do we create?" and how we stumble upon things that work for our stories, and Abrams talks about "The Mystery Box," mystery in stories, and gets into writing because you can, especially right now. Got a story? Write a story.

elizabeth gilbert admits herself that the idea is far-fetched, and one does not need to subscribe to the idea of the "supernatural -- nay, _divine_ -- forces" - however, her point was that we need to be able to remove ourselves from our work or we open ourselves to the notion we are either demi-gods or worthless dellusionals. some may have struck that balance already, ryan, but some need to still find it :P

Amy Tan was good too, although i have a thing about powerpoint presentations... one speaker will never satisfy everyone :) i also liked ken robinson - he made some good points about education and creativity. i should look up JJ Abrams...

Nicole: I just don't see the point. Feeling good about your own writing is not something I think should be discouraged, and if you can't find any value in what comes out of your fingers then maybe it's time to consider a different career path.

I've always opposed making the craft into something mystical. Gilbert's speech is completely blind to the negative effects of that way of thinking. The second you add supernatural elements, you decide that a part of the work isn't under your control, which is a counterproductive fantasy and can harm your work more than it helps. After all, what to do if your 'muse' no longer likes a story you're in the middle of writing? If you no longer have any inspiration or desire to work on something that you have to finish? Because if it's not under your control, then you no longer have any hope of pulling it back. I've seen plenty of creative people and works destroyed by that sort of reasoning, just as many as by any other philosophy.

The very idea that disassociating creativity from the self is a way of dealing with stress is a fallacy. It just redirects the stress into different paths, without making it any less powerful.

It makes for interesting discussion, though -- I might use this for my new writing column on Xenagia.



I have a number of opinions on creativity and the mystical, but shall keep them contentedly to myself and thus start no fights. I DO, however, think that writing is both powerful and perhaps-mystical and is *at the exact same time* as bare-bones and working-class as plumbing, or painting a house.

(I am rather uncertain that making writing something mystical makes it something out of your control. I think that really, it is the idea and term "mystical" which has to be redefined, and really seriously defined, in this idea.)


And all that said...even if it's a mad idea, well, I always heartily encourage writers to chase mad ideas. It can be rubbish. It can be lunacy. But it can be interesting. And as long as you hang onto a little perspective, you can pursue madness and return with interesting thoughts and new knowledge. And anything which grants you new knowledge is a very good thing.

Wow, this seems interesting enough to get into. Downloading and checking out in the morning.

you make a valid point, ryan (as usual; blast you and damn you to a hell full of faerie folk).

it is an interesting balance i think we need to create for ourselves. yet, as with every opinion we hold, it will always be shaded by our past experiences. now i don't know of anyone who has given up writing because they thought it was all in 'something else's' hand - and if they did, i would say they are then not a writer. because, as peedee says, majority of writing is the practical, honest working-class labour.

a writer is compelled to write (shoot me). all the years i spent not writing was an active denial in my head... and i have come across numerous people who don't / didn't write because of debilitating fears.

but disassociating creativity from self does not need to be self-destructive - as long as you are fully aware of what you are doing. 'know thyself' and all that...

everyone needs to strike their own balance and look for the most rewarding moments of lunacy to invigorate their tight-rope walk...

look forward to your comments too, busterwolf :)

I'll definitely agree that it's a compulsion! :P If I wasn't writing creatively in some capacity I'd go mad with the sheer frustration of not telling the stories that pop up in my head.



ha! you have an invisible genie, don't ya? *grins*

Not at all! I just have a mind that easily rebounds off other things. If I had a penny for all the times I've said, "Yeah, that's cool and all, but what if they'd done _this_ instead . . ."

. . . Well, I'd have a lot of pennies.



Hmmm... my brain doesn't seem to rebound so much as spontaneously short-circuit now and then.

*stares at a piece of soap*

Frogs in Outer Space Dancing the Nutcracker!


nomesque: Have you considered phoning the manufacturer for a refund?



Ryan - I asked for a refund, but they claimed I'd immersed it in water and dropped it, and therefore voided the warranty. Umm... whoops?

Then you have no choice but to take it up with your local customer service watchdog.