Can Creativity Be Taught?

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Have you written a book?

If the answer to the first question is Yes, but the answer to the second question is No, there might be a few reasons for this. One reason I frequently hear from potential ghostwriting clients is, “Well, I’m just not creative.”

That leads me back to the question in today’s blog headline: Can Creativity Be Taught?

In a word – No.

Now, I’m not trying to stir up controversy here (well, okay, maybe a little), but I firmly believe that creativity can’t be taught. Or, more specifically, you can’t turn a non-creative person into a creative person.

This begs a similar question: Can you turn a non-technical person into a technical person?

Again – No.

However – and this is a big however – you can take a non-technical person and train them to be pretty decent at a technical skill. Case in point, of course, is me. I am not at all technical, but I’ve learned to adapt in an increasingly computerized world. That doesn’t make me a technical person. I’m just not as bad as I used to be.

But Can’t It Be Taught A Little?

Here’s the thing about creativity as a way of life: unlike what we think of as technology, creativity as a way of life can be taught, but not really learned.

What do I mean by that? Well, I can teach some basic strategies to a non-creative person, but they’re not likely to work well for them. Even if they try over and over again to let go, be a channel, and so on, they’re never in a million years going to come up with something as good as what I could knock out in a couple hours.

Why? I can’t really answer that, other than to say I’ll never be a technical person, and they’ll never be a creative person. True creativity – the kind that makes something from nothing, like a novel, a poem, a painting – remains pretty mysterious. Artificial intelligence will never create something as brilliant as Beethoven’s Ninth or The Last Judgment because it can’t.

So yeah, creativity can be taught, sort of…but what good is something that one person can teach but the “right” student can’t learn? A creative student can learn from a good teacher, but a non-creative…ain’t gonna happen.

And that’s why people who say, “I’m going to write a book someday” don’t do it. They can’t. They need help from a professional in this area. Thankfully, there are people like me who can do it for them, with their input, so it feels like their baby…even though I’m the one who wrote it.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Instafreebie and The Perils of Evil

Instafreebie and The Perils of Evil

Most of you who read this blog know that I’m not a big one on writing about the perils of evil…at least not at the same level as the serial killers or the kings of genocide.

Sure, I’ve got some pretty bad people in my books: Johnny, the doper and rapist in Brothers’ Hand; homophobe Barbara in Jana; and Graham the white collar thief of Miles of Files. Still, it’s not often I really put something out that really addresses Good Vs. Evil in an overt manner. I believe most people are shades of grey, and my novels reflect that.

Every once in a while, though, something clicks into place, and I write a character who is beyond the pale. Such is the case in the title story of Rides From Strangers, where one of the two main characters…well, I think he’s the devil. Read it and let me know what you think!

The Giveaway

So I’m not shy about saying, “Hey, read this,” because it’s free. Yes, free. If you click that Rides From Strangers link above, you’ll see it takes you to my Home Page. Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, and you can get the e-book for free. And if you want it right away, you can also get it through an Instafreebie giveaway.

Now, I’d never done an Instafreebie giveaway before, but I’ve found it a pretty good way to reach more new readers. My fellow author Jay Lemming has enrolled a few of us in this one, and it’s called the Instafreebie Meditation on Evil and Death: Free Books and Stories that Contemplate the End. I leave it to you to decide who else to download, but, most importantly, I leave it to you to determine who that dude is in Rides From Strangers. The giveaway closes down in a couple more days, so get ’em while they’re hot, folks.

Finally, if you like what you’ve read from me (and these other authors), please tell your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Heck, tell the mail carrier! We indie authors find word of mouth the best way of spreading the word. As always, thanks for reading.

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Game of Thrones and Storytelling

Game of Thrones and Storytelling

Writing is a funny game. You make stuff up and it goes from your head to your fingers, then to a screen via keyboard, or a page via writing implement. But of course, we all know that’s not the oldest way of telling stories.

Really, stories began with cave drawings and people talking…presumably around a fire. And I’ve been thinking about this oral version of storytelling a lot this past week, because I just got back from a three-day boot camp on speaking. The theme I heard over and over again at the event: storytelling.

Businesses focus a lot of energy these days on telling their stories, but that’s not enough. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to tell more stories…not the story of your business alone, but illustrative stories. For example, let’s say you’re a therapist. If you’re giving a talk about dysfunctional relationships, why make it a big information dump? Instead, tell a story about the power of “bad boys” (or “exciting” girls for a talk to men). A story with an example of a person, rather than a case study, will engage and drive home the point much better.

Dragons and Divas

So what does this all have to do with Game of Thrones? Not much at first glance, I suppose. But it’s on my mind today because the past couple weeks, I’ve finally gotten on board the GoT bandwagon. (Ironic, I know, now that the series has nearly run its course.) If you know me, you know I’m not a genre guy. I don’t typically go for fantasy or romance; I love the real-life stuff that makes up dramas, literary fiction, and so on.

Now, I hope people who are into the GoT series will actually pick up the books at some point, just because I want people to read more. The reason I bring it up in a blog post, though, is to focus on the importance of storytelling on the show. I have peripherally watched the series out of one eye, while my wife has been totally absorbed by it. And to be frank, I find long battle scenes to almost always be boring – the monotony of the violence, the soul-numbing aspect of man’s bottomless inhumanity to man. So I never got that into it.

However, I did pick up on a few major storylines, especially those involving the would-be kings of the north, south, etc. And last week, I watched most of the show because the stories of Cersei and Daenerys drew me in. Watching the confluence of events as we approach the endgame proved interesting enough to keep me entertained.

And last night’s episode continued the endgame, with a battle scene that was not only well-directed but also managed to avoid being overlong or monotonous. In short, these two episodes were masterly stories, which probably explains why people are already posting things like “best episode ever” online.

What about you? Do you have a story to tell, whether in your business or a fictional one? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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